Damascus Arabic: دمشق / ALA-LC: Dimashq, Metropolitan Arabic: Dimisheʼ ; commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham (Arabic: الشام / ash-Shām) and, nicknamed as the City of Jasmine (Arabic: مدينة الياسمين / Madīnat al-Yāsmīn), is the capital and the second largest city of Syria. It is also the capital city of one of the country's 14 governorates. 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 (2009 est.).