Artouz

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Artouz
عرطوز
Town
Artouz is located in Syria
Artouz
Artouz
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 34°01′N 36°43′E / 34.017°N 36.717°E / 34.017; 36.717Coordinates: 34°01′N 36°43′E / 34.017°N 36.717°E / 34.017; 36.717
Country  Syria
Governorate Rif Dimashq Governorate
District Qatana District
Nahiyah Qatana
Population (2004 census)[1]
 • Total 16,199
Time zone EET (UTC+3)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+2)

Artouz (Arabic: عرطوز‎) is a town situated 15 km to the southwest of Damascus, Syria. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 16,199 in the 2004 census.[1]

History[edit]

Evidence of the town's history is scarce. However, there are historical references to a town in approximately the same location as Artouz during the Assyrian empire. There is also a Roman canal that is still in use to this day to irrigate nearby farms.

Artouz may also be the location of the New Testament story of the disciples on the road to Damascus. The place where Jesus appeared is commemorated by a temple now, which Pope John Paul II visited during his visit to Syria in 2000. Most of the farms were owned by few rich families from Damascus during the Ottoman and French periods. The land was redistributed during the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Geography[edit]

Artouz is 15 km south west of Damascus, 6 km east of Qatana. It lies on the main road between Damascus and the Golan Heights. The Awaj river passes through the town and splits into three branches.

Artouze has a twin town only 2 km north called Jdeidat Artouz. Expansion of the two towns has erased the green spaces between them.

Artouz has great military importance, with many army detachments nearby.

Economy[edit]

Until the 1980s, the economy of Artouz depended largely on agriculture. Olives, wheat and garlic were the main agricultural products. However, with the expansion of Damascus, Artouz developed a fast-growing construction and service economy, which is now the main source of employment for its population.

Artouz has no industrial region. Light industry located in and near the town is mainly limited to some dairy and poultry facilities.

Trade is a source of income of many people, with the town serving as a commerce centre for several surrounding small villages.

Health care[edit]

There is only a small health centre, for day cases. The centre is not officially working as many of the public health centres in Syria. The nearest hospital is 3 km from the town centre: a private hospital in the nearby town of Jdeidat Artouz (Al kamal). Most patients go to Damascus for hospital care.

Artouz has a central water and sewage system. However, the water shortage is a serious problem affecting the whole region. There is no recycling centre.

Transport[edit]

Artouz is well connected by roads to all neighbouring villages. A highway connecting Damascus to Al Quneitra (Golan) passes through the town.

There is also a train station servicing a rail line built by the French between Damascus and the city of Qatana. However, the train has stopped running decades ago.

Public transport is now limited to buses and mini buses, which serve to connect Artouz to Damascus. Residents also use the small mini cabs as taxis for short trips within the town.

Population and ethnic groups[edit]

The main historical ethnic group are Arabs, and the town is predominantly Sunni Muslims. However, the nearby town of Jdeidat Artouz hosts a mix of Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Druze and Muslims.

There have been no sectarian issues in Artouz, but since 1967 many refugees (mainly Bedouin) have come to live in Artouz, and the newcomers (called nazheen (نازحين)) have clashed with the long-term residents. Some of these clashes have resulted in casualties. Also, a few Iraqis have moved to Artouz following the American invasion of Iraq.

Artouze has several mosques. Churches of other faiths are located only in nearby Jdeidat Artouz.

Secularism flourished in the town in the 1970s, but the last two decades have witnessed growing religious fervour among the population.

Education[edit]

Schools are mixed in the town, with boys and girls attending the same schools.

There are two secondary schools, one of which has been set up to serve the refugee community exclusively.

Artouz has good percentage of educated people in its population. English is the second language for most of the educated people, but the knowledge of it is also limited and not enough to communicate efficiently. French is also understood with limitation, especially between old educated Artouzians.

References[edit]