Syria has four main geographical regions. A narrow fertile coastal plain, about 20 miles in width runs down the western side of the country. Parallel to this is narrow mountain range, known as Jebel an-Nusayriyah and south of these are the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, a much higher range which forms a border between Syria and the neighboring Lebanon. This range of mountains dwindles off into a hilly area in the south-west, known as the Golan Heights (captured by Israel in 1967).
Much of the rest of the country is a plateau bisected by the valley of the Euphrates (al-Furat) River, which flows diagonally from Turkey in the north to Iraq in the east. This plateau contains most of Syria's major towns and cities.
The Orontes is Syria's second longest river. This has its source in the Lebanon and flows from the Anti-Lebanese Mountains.
In the southeastern corner is the stony Syrian Desert.
Syria's fertile regions are mostly in the north, in the river valleys and along the coastal strip. Forest regions, containing pine and oak were once vast, but have been dramatically depleted by human activity.