Rawanduz, Rowanduz, Rwandz
View on Rawandiz
|Elevation||658 m (2,159 ft)|
Rawandiz (Kurdish: ڕەواندز, Rewandiz; Arabic: رواندوز), also spelled Rawanduz, Rowanduz, or Rwandz, is a city of Iraqi Kurdistan, located in Erbil Governorate, Iraq, close to the borders with Iran and Turkey,it is located 10 km to the east from Bekhal Waterfall. Rawandiz was the capital of the historical Soran Emirate. The majority of its inhabitants are Kurds. In the past Rawanduz was known as a centre of Kurdish resistance against the Iraqi Government.
The name of the city derives from Rewandiz which means "castle of Rewands". The name "Rewand" was spelled as Orontes in ancient Greek sources.
In the time of the Neo Assyrian Empire, from the 10th to the 7th centuries BC, the area lay on the trading route to Nineveh. Rawandiz was the capital of the Soran Emirate, which is said to have lasted from 1399 to 1835.
The Assyrians relate that, in the 1830s, the governor of Rawandiz, nicknamed "Merkor", was known for his hatred of the Christian Assyrians. In 1833, he attempted to attack them but did not have enough manpower in his army. Merkor needed the soldiers in order to protect the Soran Emirate, thus he requested the Reshagha that he will make the Reshagha his prime minister if he killed Ali Beg, head of Yezidis. Reshagha accepted Merkor's offer and killed Ali Beg. Amir Muhammad then killed the Reshagha because he feared that the Reshagha would usurp his position. Amir Muhammad then used his enlarged army and attacked the unarmed Assyrian towns of Tel Keppe and Alqosh and killed thousands of their inhabitants, kidnapping the women and children. Merkor is usually attributed as Amir Muhammad, the then ruler of the Soran Emirate.[unreliable source?]
In 1915, during the First World War, the town was occupied by the Russians and Assyrians. The Muslim population was massacred by the Russians and Assyrians, after Nikolai Baratov's Cossacks recaptured the town only 20 percent of the Kurdish population managed to survive. In 1922 the town was occupied by the Turks, until they were driven out at the end of the year. The British army occupied the town on 22 April 1923. The British decided to stay in place to await the arrival of a special commission to fix the border between Turkey and Iraq, believing that if they left the Turkish troops would return.
Between 1928 and 1932 the British built a strategic road from Erbil, through Rawandiz, to the Iranian border near modern-day Piranshahr. The construction of the road was directed by the New Zealand engineer A. M. Hamilton.
As of July 2007, Rawandiz was undergoing major reconstruction. The bazaar was being relocated to make room for a new road. In July 2011, in a response to a Turkish military offensive, local artists decided to paint the debris from the raids.  In 1930, A. M. Hamilton noted: "it has always been a place of grim deeds and bloody retributions. Its greater and its lesser rulers alike have nearly all met with violent deaths and even today this reputation is being well earned". The anthropologist Edmund Leach went to Rawandiz in 1938, to study the Rawandiz Kurds, intending to make this the subject of his thesis. His field trip had to be aborted because of the Munich crisis, but he nevertheless published his monograph "Social and Economic Organization of the Rawandiz Kurds " two years later.  
Like most of Iraqi Kurdistan, Rawanduz has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) with very hot dry summers and cool, wet winters. The winters see lows below freezing in many nights, making frost prevalent. Snowfall occurs occasionally.
|Climate data for Rawandiz|
|Average high °C (°F)||9.5
|Average low °C (°F)||0.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||147
|Source: Climate Data|
The striking scenery has been noted by a number of visitors to the region. A. M. Hamilton relates that the Rawanduz gorge was said to be the finest in Asia.
The Pank Tourist Resort, which was opened in 2007 by Hazem Kurda, a former refugee of Saddam Hussein's regime, is the first such resort in Iraq. It includes a Ferris wheel and other rides, including a toboggan. When complete it will include a five-star hotel, restaurants, swimming pools, saunas, tennis courts, helipads and mini golf. 
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