The Syrian Desert: photo, geographic location, climate

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The Syrian Desert: photo, geographic location, climate
The Syrian Desert: photo, geographic location, climate

Since ancient times, this desert served as the most important link in the trade message. Numerous caravans, heading through it to the Mediterranean, along the way enriched many oasis cities of this vast desert territory.

General information

The area of the Syrian desert is 1 million square meters. km. The territory extends at the junction of the Arabian Peninsula and the Fertile Crescent region (in the regions of Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia). The average heights are 500-800 meters, the maximum is 1100 meters.

Mostly Bedouins live in the region, their languages of communication are several dialects of the Arabic language. Nearest airports: Damascus International Airport and Palmyra.

Features of nature
Features of nature


The Syrian Desert (Esh-Sham), stretching across a vast territory, partially covers some areas of states such as Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In the west, it borders the valley of the Orontes River, and in the east, Mount Euphrates.


The vast plateau, the surface of which is covered with deserts and dry steppes, in some places has towering up to 1100meters above the desert island mountains.

A feature of this area is the alternation of sandy areas with Arabian rocky deserts (hamads). In addition, lava fields are located in the west and north of the desert, and the most lifeless rocky areas are located in the south and in the center.

For the Syrian desert (photo in the article), a decrease in heights from the west and north towards the Euphrates is characteristic. Dry river channels lead to the latter, which are only occasionally replenished with precious moisture during rains. Vegetation here is quite sparse and consists mainly of drought-tolerant grasses, subshrubs and shrubs, as well as lichens.

Geologically, the desert is mainly composed of Paleogene and Cretaceous limestones, as well as marls and cherts, sometimes overlain by bas alt covers.

Rocky areas of the desert
Rocky areas of the desert


The Syrian desert played an important role in the migration of the ancestors of the modern inhabitants of Syria and in the formation of a man walking upright. Thanks to numerous archaeological studies, it became known that life in this region was in full swing even in ancient times - about one and a half million years ago. Thanks to ongoing archaeological excavations, scientists are still making sensational discoveries that are increasingly clarifying the history of human development.

It is known that 12 thousand years ago (during the glaciation period) the Syrian desert acquired an uninhabited and lifeless appearance and remained so for quite a long time. FurtherBedouin nomads appeared who moved from their native Arabian desert (to the north) to these Syrian lands. Evidence of this fact are writings dating from the period of the 1st century BC - the 4th century AD. e.

The desert trade route once linked the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. Thanks to numerous trade caravans, cities grew rich and quickly settled down.

Ruined Palmyra
Ruined Palmyra

Roman Palmyra in the Syrian desert at that time was one of the richest cities. She was nicknamed "the bride of the desert." Although sands approached the city from all sides, it was perfectly equipped and adapted for people's lives. There were reservoirs here to collect rainwater, and the city itself was surrounded by several satellite settlements that provided the population with the necessary food.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the impoverishment of oasis cities began to occur, and some even gradually began to collapse. Palmyra was also among them. Due to the fact that the region continued to maintain an important strategic importance (especially transport), for many centuries it became a "bone of contention" for some world powers. And now the situation in this region is not stable, most likely terrible.

Desert of our days

Today, the desert is well developed. Over the past decades, it has been of great transport importance - its roads and highways cross it, and oil pipelines pass through it, connecting numerous Middle Eastern fields with ports. Mediterranean. All this plays an important role in the economy of Iraq and Syria. Explored in the desert and hydrocarbon deposits.

Syrian desert roads
Syrian desert roads

The strategic importance of the Syrian desert is determined by the fact that it has always played and is playing an important role in many military conflicts. At different times, various political forces seized control of oil facilities or destroyed them to destabilize the situation. In addition, during the war in Iraq, a route for supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents passed through the desert.

The war in Syria did not bypass the desert either. Terrorist actions caused considerable damage to this region. In addition to people, priceless monuments of architecture also suffered. Due to such a difficult situation in Syria, many residents of Syrian cities located in the desert have left their homes.

City of Palmyra
City of Palmyra


The Syrian desert is not very different from other deserts in terms of vegetation growing on it (sparse and sparse). Shrubs, grasses, subshrubs (ephemeroids and ephemera), desert lichens grow.

Tamarisk thickets occasionally grow along the streambeds. Nomadic animal husbandry (sheep, goats, camels) is carried out here.


The Syrian desert has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, in some inland areas dry, continental. In January, the average air temperature is +6.9 °С, in July - +29.2 °С. The average annual rainfall is approximately 100mm.

Water supply is provided by rare wells. The territory of the Syrian desert is drainless, only occasionally there are watercourses with dry channels.

Sights of the region

  1. The palace-fortress of Qasr al-Kheir Ash-Sharqi, founded in 728-729
  2. Palmyra ruins
  3. The Monastery of St. Moses of Abyssinia, built around the 6th century.
  4. El-Kovm - archaeological site.
  5. Byzantine fortress - the settlement of Kasr Ibn-Vardan, founded in the VI century and built on the border of the Sasanian and Byzantine empires.
  6. Umayyad ruins Qasr al-Kheir al-Gharbi is a fortress built in 727.
Byzantine fortress
Byzantine fortress

Interesting facts

  • For centuries, local Bedouins have been breeding the famous Arab hardy and frisky horses in the desert. The nomads did their best to protect the horses. It was forbidden to cross them with other breeds, as well as sell them in other regions. It was only as a result of the Crusades that Arabian horses came to Europe.
  • According to one legend, St. Moses of Abyssinia (a monastery located 80 kilometers from Damascus was founded in his honor), despite good prospects for gaining power and getting rich, left his family and began to live as a hermit. However, he returned to these parts after a long wandering. This happened at a time when these places were already known thanks to the numerous monks who lived in the caves.
  • In the Syrian desert, during the excavations of El-Kovm (2005), the remains of a camel of unimaginable size were founddimensions. Its age was estimated at about 150 thousand years. This animal was comparable in size to elephants (twice the size of a normal camel).
  • Dr. Robert Mason in 2009 in the Syrian desert discovered an unusual structure of stones, which was lined with rings. The ruins of buildings, presumably serving as tombs, were also found.