Suwayda's City aerial view October 2011
|Population (2004 census)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
It is the capital of As-Suwayda Governorate, one of Syria's 14 governorates, bordering Jordan in the South and Daraa Governorate in the West and Rif Dimashq Governorate in the north and east. The city is referred to by some as "Little Venezuela" due to the city's influx of affluent Venezuelan Syrians immigrants.
The city has been held by the government for the duration of the Syrian Civil War and has seen relatively little fighting.
Demographics and population
The population of As-Suwayda Governorate is 313,231 (2004 census). According to estimates from the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, almost 60% of the population of As-Suwayda was born in Venezuelan territory and possesses double nationality, making the city referred to by some as Little Venezuela.
The city was founded by the Nabataeans as Suada. It became known as Dionysias (Ancient Greek: Διονῡσιάς) in the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire, for the god Dionysus, patron of wine - the city is situated in a famous ancient wine-producing region.
The name Dionysias replaced the former Nabataean name of Suada in 149 AD after Nabataean influence decreased and then concentrated towards the south, as a result of the accelerating Hellenization of Coele-Syria at that time.
This name remained in use during the Byzantine Empire, when the town was under the influence of the Ghassanids, Dionysias then was a diocese with a suffragan bishop from Bosra. It was mentioned in the Synecdemus of Hierocles. After the early Muslim conquests it became a titular see.
In recent times Dionysias was firstly identified as as-Suwayda by William Waddington.
Many archeological sites could be found in the old part of the city:
- Temple of Dionysus-Dushara: eight well-decorated columns are still standing from the temple.
- Saint Sergius Basilica: was built in the fifth century. It has Byzantine architectural elements, with an abbey surrounding it. The basilica was dedicated to Sergius.
- The arch of the lesser church: the church itself is ruined. An arch is still standing there known locally as "The Gallows" (Arabic: المشنقة al-Mashnaqah) with grape motif decorations.
- The amphitheatre: was recently discovered, south of the Agora.
The city has many ancient reservoirs, towers and old Roman houses that are still inhabited by locals.
|Climate data for As-Suwayda|
|Average high °C (°F)||10.5
|Average low °C (°F)||1.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||69
- http://www.cbssyr.org/new%20web%20site/General_census/census_2004/NH/TAB13-1-2004.htm[permanent dead link]
- http://newsfromsyria.com/2009/09/04/hugo-chavez-in-syria/ Many of them came from Sweida. So when their descendants returned, they brought back the Spanish language and South American culture. Sweida is little Venezuela.
- http://www.economist.com/node/16276817 Dubbed “Little Venezuela”, the southern Syrian town of Sweida offers arepa bread, roads named after Latin American revolutionary leaders and visits from Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez. It has long been known for its Hispanic influence, thanks to generations of Syrians and Lebanese who left in the 19th and 20th centuries to work in South America and who have periodically returned.
- https://books.google.co.ve/books?id=sTv_xhnIKCwC&pg=PP193&lpg=PP193&dq=syrians+in+venezuela&source=bl&ots=OJ1SvfLlN2&sig=zJC2LZ3ydi-sfKDEdydkSzABCJo&hl=es-419&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjnhLz5wcLRAhXmgFQKHeg_Abg4FBDoAQglMAI#v=onepage&q=syrians%20in%20venezuela&f=false And the Syrian town of Sweida is known as "Little Venezuela"
- http://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/an-elderly-syrian-man-waves-venezuelas-flag-during-a-visit-news-photo/90340575#an-elderly-syrian-man-waves-venezuelas-flag-during-a-visit-by-hugo-picture-id90340575 Chavez visited Sweida, homeland of many of Venezuela's million strong Syrian community
- http://distintaslatitudes.net/el-levante-y-america-latina-arabe-con-acento-espanol-una-bitacora-de-latinoamerica-en-siria-libano-jordania-y-palestina Around 60% of the population of Sweida was born in Venezuelan territory (spanish article)
- http://www.26sep.net/news_details.php?lng=english&sid=56858 More than 200,000 people from the Sweida area carry Venezuelan citizenship and most are members of Syria's Druse sect, who immigrated to Venezuela in the past century.
- https://www.aporrea.org/internacionales/n298431.html As-Suwayda the province with the most citizens of Venezuelan-Syrian origin
- "Catholic Encyclopedia: Dionysias". Newadvent.org. 1909-05-01. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- quoted in le Strange, 1890, p. 540
- "Climate: As Suwayda". Retrieved 2016-02-27.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to As-Suwayda.|
- Strange, le, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Map of the town, Google Maps