San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

The Economic History
of Damascus, Syria


First there was an oasis. That oasis, now known as al-Ghutah, became a resting place for trade caravans crossing the desert. The city that grew up providing services for the traders became attractive to the martial leaders who then made it their capital. It helped to make Damascus attractive that it was at the eastern base of Jabal (Mount) Qaisiyun.

The city grew up in the area at an elevation of about 2300 feet above sea level. More recent growth extends up the slope of Jabal Qaisiyun to an altitude of about three thousand feet.

Notably Damascus is the oldest living city.

The major climatic problem for Damascus is its low rainfall. The average is about 7 inches per year, but it has fallen to 2 inches in some years and risen to 14 inches. This is in contrast to Beirut which is only about 50 miles to the west on the other side of the mountain chain where the average rainfall is about 33 inches per year. The rainfall in Damascus is limited to the period from November through February.

There is a river, the Barada, which flows eastward through Damascus to disappear into the desert.

The temperatures in Damascus are not extreme. January temperatures average 45° F. and August 81° F.

Timeline of the History of Damascus

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