As-Suwayda

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This article is about the capital of as-Suwayda Governorate in southern Syria. For the village in Hama Governorate, western Syria, see Al-Suwaydah, Masyaf.
as-Suwayda
السويداء
The Roman amphitheatre
The Roman amphitheatre
as-Suwayda is located in Syria
as-Suwayda
as-Suwayda
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 32°42′N 36°34′E / 32.700°N 36.567°E / 32.700; 36.567
Country  Syria
Governorate As Suwayda Governorate
District As-Suwayda District
Population (2004 census[1])
 • City 73,641
 • Metro 138,822
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) +3 (UTC)
Area code(s) 16

As-Suwayda (Arabic: السويداء‎‎ / ALA-LC: as-Suwaydā’), also spelled Sweida or Swaida, is a mainly Druze city located in southwestern Syria, close to the border with Jordan.

It is the capital of As-Suwayda Governorate, one of Syria's 14 governorates, bordering Jordan in the South and the governorates of Daraa in the West and Rif Dimashq in the North and East. The city is referred to by some as Little Venezuela due to the city's influx of affluent Syrian Venezuelan immigrants.[2][3][4][5]

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[edit]

The inhabitants of the city are mainly Druze with a prominent Greek Orthodox Christians minority.

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,[6][7][8] making the city referred to by some as Little Venezuela.

History[edit]

Sweida's town square

The city was founded by the Nabataeans as Suada. It became known as Dionysias (Greek: Διονύσιας) in the Hellenistic and Roman times, for Dionysus the god of wine - the city is situated in a famous ancient wine-producing region.

The name Dionysias replaced the former Nabatean name of Suada in 149 AD after the Nabataean influence decreased and then concentrated towards the south, as a result of the accelerating Hellenization of Coele-Syria at that time.

Dionysias was a part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, and received the rights of civitas under the reign of Commodus between 180–185.

Dionysus was worshipped in the same Nabatean temple dedicated for Dushara. This practice of associating the worship of local and Hellenic gods was common in Hellenistic Syria.

This name remained in use during the Byzantine period, when the town was under the influence of Ghassanids, Dionysias then was a Diocese as a suffragan of Bosra. It was mentioned in the Synecdemus of Hierocles. After the Arab conquests it became a titular see.[9]

Yaqut al-Hamawi noted in the 1220s that As Suwaida was "a village of the Hauran Province".[10]

In recent times Dionysias was firstly identified as Sweida by William Henry Waddington.

Suwayda's City aerial view October 2011

Archaeology[edit]

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 A.D. It has Byzantine architecture elements, with an abbey surrounding it. The basilica was dedicated to Saint Sergius.
The arch of the lesser church
  • The arch of the lesser church: the church itself is ruined. An arch is still standing there known locally as Al Mashnaqa (English: The Gallow) 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.

Many parts of the old city are still to be excavated like the Roman aqueduct, a conical reservoir, and a larger Roman amphitheatre.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for As-Suwayda
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10.5
(50.9)
11.7
(53.1)
15.2
(59.4)
20.1
(68.2)
25.4
(77.7)
29.2
(84.6)
30.1
(86.2)
30.9
(87.6)
29.2
(84.6)
26.0
(78.8)
19.1
(66.4)
12.8
(55)
21.68
(71.04)
Average low °C (°F) 1.9
(35.4)
2.6
(36.7)
4.8
(40.6)
7.8
(46)
11.3
(52.3)
14.2
(57.6)
15.6
(60.1)
16.1
(61)
14.4
(57.9)
11.8
(53.2)
8.1
(46.6)
3.9
(39)
9.38
(48.87)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69
(2.72)
71
(2.8)
57
(2.24)
21
(0.83)
8
(0.31)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(0.04)
11
(0.43)
27
(1.06)
58
(2.28)
323
(12.71)
Source: Climate-Data.org

[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.cbssyr.org/new%20web%20site/General_census/census_2004/NH/TAB13-1-2004.htm
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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"
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ https://www.aporrea.org/internacionales/n298431.html As-Suwayda the province with the most citizens of Venezuelan-Syrian origin
  9. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Dionysias". Newadvent.org. 1909-05-01. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  10. ^ quoted in le Strange, 1890, p. 540
  11. ^ "Climate: As Suwayda". Retrieved 2016-02-27. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°42′0″N 36°34′0″E / 32.70000°N 36.56667°E / 32.70000; 36.56667