NameIn Arabic, the city is called دمشق الشام Dimashq ash-Shām.
Although this is often shortened to Dimashq by many, the citizens of Damascus, and of Syria and some other Arab neighbors, colloquially call the city ash-Shām. Ash-Shām is an Arabic term for North and for Syria. (Syria — particularly historical Greater Syria — is called Bilād ash-Shām — بلاد الشام, 'country of the north' — in Arabic.) The English name for Damascus is taken from the Greek Δαμασκός, via Latin. This comes from the old Aramaic name for the city — דרמשק Darmeśeq, which means "a well-watered place". However, pre-Aramaic tablets unearthed at Ebla refer to a city to the south of Ebla named Damaski. It is possible that the name 'Damascus' pre-dates the Aramaic era of the city. Damascus is designated as having been part of the ancient province of Amurru in the Hyksos Kingdom, from 1720 to 1570 BC. (MacMillan, pp. 30-31).
Damascus lies about 80 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Mount Hermon and about 60 miles east of Sidon, sheltered by the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. It lies on a plateau 680 meters above sea-level.
The old city of Damascus, enclosed by the city walls, lies on the south bank of the river Barada. To the south-east, north and north-east it is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages: Midan in the south-west, Sarouja and Imara in the north and north-west.