The University of Damascus (Arabic:جامعة دمشق, Jāmi‘atu Dimashq) is the largest and oldest university in Syria, located in the capital Damascus and has campuses in other Syrian cities. It was founded in 1923 through the merger of the School of Medicine (established 1903) and the Institute of Law (established 1913). Until 1958 it was named the Syrian University, but the name changed after the founding of the University of Aleppo. There are nine public universities and more than ten private ones in Syria. Damascus University and the entire education system in Syria was degraded dramatically during former President Hafez al-Assad and then Bashar al-Assad reign. It used to be a leading university in the Arab World, but currently its world ranking is 4404 and its Arab World ranking is 114, according to the "Webometrics Ranking of World Universities".
The University of Damascus consists of several faculties, higher Institutes, intermediate institutes and a school of nursing. One of the institutions specializes in teaching the Arabic language to foreigners, which is the largest institution of its kind in the Arab world.
Damascus (Arabic:دمشقDimashq IPA:[ˈdiːmaːʃq]) is the capital and the second-largest city of Syria after Aleppo. It is commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham (Arabic:الشامash-Shām) and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine (Arabic:مدينة الياسمينMadīnat al-Yāsmīn). In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 as of 2009.
Located in southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area of 2.6 million people (2004). Geographically embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range 80 kilometres (50mi) inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau 680 metres (2,230ft) above sea-level, Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate because of the rain shadow effect. The Barada River flows through Damascus.
First settled in the second millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750. After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. During Ottoman rule, the city decayed while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the central government and all of the government ministries.