Azraq, Jordan

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Ruins of Azraq Castle and a street in Azraq
Ruins of Azraq Castle and a street in Azraq
Azraq is located in Jordan
Location in Jordan
Coordinates: 31°50′03″N 36°48′54″E / 31.83417°N 36.81500°E / 31.83417; 36.81500Coordinates: 31°50′03″N 36°48′54″E / 31.83417°N 36.81500°E / 31.83417; 36.81500
CountryFlag of Jordan.svg Jordan
 • TypeMunicipality
 • MayorKamal Ata
525 m (1,722 ft)
 • Total14,800
Time zoneUTC+2 (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (UTC+3)
Area code+(962)5
AirportsMuwaffaq Salti Airbase

Azraq (Arabic: الأزرق meaning "blue") is a small town in Zarqa Governorate in central-eastern Jordan, 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of Amman. The population of Azraq was 9,021 in 2004.[1] The Muwaffaq Salti Air Base is located in Azraq.



Archaeological evidence indicates that Azraq has been occupied for hundreds of thousands of years,[2] with the oldest known remains dating to the Lower Palaeolithic, around 500–300,000 years ago.[3] The spring-fed oasis provided a more or less constant source of water throughout this period, and probably acted as a refugium for humans and other animals at times when the surrounding area dried out.[4] The oasis itself changed as the climate fluctuated: at times a permanent lake, a marsh, or a seasonal playa.[4]

During the Epipalaeolithic period the oasis was also an important focus of settlement.

Later history[edit]

Azraq has long been an important settlement in a remote and now-arid desert area of Jordan. The strategic value of the town and its castle (Qasr Azraq) is that it lies in the middle of the Azraq oasis, the only permanent source of fresh water in approximately 12,000 km2 (4,600 sq mi) of desert. The town is also located on a major desert route that would have facilitated trade within the region.

Azraq street view

Nabatean period settlement activity has also been documented in the area. Qasr Azraq was built by the Romans in the 3rd century AD, and was heavily modified in the Middle Ages by the Mameluks. In the Umayyad period a water reservoir was constructed in southern Azraq.

During the Arab Revolt in the early 20th century, Qasr Azraq was an important headquarters for T. E. Lawrence.[5][6]

The Azraq refugee camp, sheltering refugees of the Syrian Civil War, was opened in 2014 and is located 20 km (12 mi) west of Azraq.[7] The site had been previously used during the Gulf War of 1990–91 as a transit camp for displaced Iraqis and Kuwaitis.[8]


The Azraq Castle

According to the Jordan National Census of 2004, the population of Azraq was 9,021, of whom 7,625 (84.5%) were Jordanian citizens. 4,988 (55.3%) were males, and 4,033 (44.7%) females. The next census was conducted in 2014.

Wildlife reserve[edit]

Azraq is also the site of one of Jordan's seven protected nature reserve areas (set up by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature): the Azraq Wetlands Reserve in Azraq al-Janoubi (South Azraq).

The separate and larger Shaumari reserve is about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of the town.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Department of Statistics-Jordan 2004 Census Archived 2011-07-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Garrard, Andrew; Byrd, Brian; Betts, Alison (1 January 1986). "Prehistoric Environment and Settlement in the Azraq Basin: An Interim Report on the 1984 Excavation Season". Levant. 18 (1): 5–24. doi:10.1179/lev.1986.18.1.5. ISSN 0075-8914.
  3. ^ Copeland, Lorraine (1988). "Environment, chronology and Lower-Middle Paleolithic occupations of the Azraq Basin, Jordan". Paléorient. 14 (2): 66–75. doi:10.3406/paleo.1988.4456. ISSN 0153-9345. JSTOR 41492296.
  4. ^ a b Cordova, Carlos E.; Nowell, April; Bisson, Michael; et al. (June 2013). "Interglacial and glacial desert refugia and the Middle Paleolithic of the Azraq Oasis, Jordan". Quaternary International. 300: 94–110. Bibcode:2013QuInt.300...94C. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2012.09.019. ISSN 1040-6182.
  5. ^ Lawrence, T.E. (1935). Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. pp. 414, 434–436, 559, 582–587.
  6. ^ Faulkner, Neil (2016). Lawrence of Arabia's War: The Arabs, the British and the Remaking of the Middle East in WWI. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 273, 367–368, 426. ISBN 9780300226393.
  7. ^ Hadid, Diaa; Akour, Omar (30 April 2014). "Azraq Refugee Camp Opens For 130,000 Syrians Fleeing War". The Huffington Post. Associated Press.
  8. ^ Oddone, Elisa (30 April 2014). "Azraq Refugee Camp officially opened". The Jordan Times.

Further reading[edit]

External Links[edit]