As of 2011, Syria was officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic. It is a nation in Western Asia that borders Lebanon to the southwest, Lebanon to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan in the south, and Israel to the southwest. Damascus is the country's capital and biggest city. Syria is a land of rich plains, steep mountains, and deserts that is home to a wide range of ethnic and religious groups, the majority of whom are Syrian Arabs, but there are also Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Mandaeans, and Greeks among them. Sunnis, Christian, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandaeans, Shiites, Salafis, and Yazidis are among the religious groups represented. Arabs are the majority of the population's ethnic group, while Sunnis constitute the majority of the population's religion group.
Syria is a unitary republic with 14 governorates and is the only nation in the world that adheres to Ba'athism as a political philosophy. It is a member of one international organisation other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it was suspended from the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in November 2011, and it self-imposed suspension from the Union for the Mediterranean in December 2011.
After centuries of Ottoman control, the modern Syrian state was formed in the mid-20th century. Following a short time as a French mandate, the newly constituted state was the biggest Arab state to emerge from the previously Ottoman-ruled Syrian regions. After becoming a founding member of the United Nations on October 24, 1945, the Republic of Syria officially declared its independence as a parliamentary republic. This effectively terminated the previous French Mandate in Syria, but French forces did not depart until April 1946.