Rawanduz, Rowanduz, Rwandz

View on Rawandiz

Location in Iraq

Coordinates: 36°36′43″N 44°31′29″E / 36.61194°N 44.52472°E / 36.61194; 44.52472Coordinates: 36°36′43″N 44°31′29″E / 36.61194°N 44.52472°E / 36.61194; 44.52472
Country  Iraq
Autonomous region  Kurdistan
Governorate Erbil Governorate
District Rawandiz District
Elevation 658 m (2,159 ft)
Population (2003)
  Total 95,089
Time zone UTC+3

Rawandiz (Kurdish: ڕەواندز, Rewandiz; Arabic: رواندوز), also spelled Rawanduz, Rowanduz, or Rwandz, is a city of Iraqi Kurdistan, located in the Soran District of 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.


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.[1]

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 (Merkor) will make the Reshagha his prime minister if he killed Ali Beg, head of Yezidi's, because Ali Beg was powerful though not as much as Reshagha. Reshagha accepted Merkor's offer and killed Ali Beg in front of the Ali Beg waterfall. Amir Muhammad then killed the Reshagha because Amir Muhammad 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, and setting fire to the towns. Merkor is usually attributed as Amir Muhammad, the then ruler of the Soran Emirate.[2]

In 1915, during the First World War, the town was occupied by the Russians and Assyrians.[3] 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.[4] In 1922 the town was occupied by the Turks, until they were driven out at the end of the year.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

In the past Rawanduz was known as a centre of Kurdish resistance against the Iraqi Government.

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. [8]


Rawanduz was known for its blood-feuds. 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".[7]

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. [9] [10]


Canyon of Rawandiz Valley
Rowanduz Gorge near the city of Soran in the North of Iraq

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.[11]

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. [12]


  1. Chahin, M. (1987). The kingdom of Armenia: a history. Croom Helm. ISBN 9780700714520. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  2. "Welcome to Tel Keppe". Chaldeans Online. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
  3. "Assyrians & the Assyrian Identity in the Ottoman Empire". Zinda magazine. 1999-11-16. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  4. Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires 1908-1918, Michael A. Reynolds, page 158, 2011
  5. "The Development of Air Control in Iraq.". National Archives (UK). October 1922. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  6. Sluglett, Peter (1976). "The Kurdish Problem and the Mosul Boundary: 1918-1925". Ithaca. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  7. 1 2 Hamilton, Archibald Milne (1930). Road through Kurdistan: travels in Northern Iraq. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  8. "Rwandz artists paint Turkish air raid debris in peaceful protest". AKNews. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  9. Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja (2002). Edmund Leach: An Anthropological Life. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521521024. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  10. Leach, Edmund (1940). "Social and Economic Organization of the Rwandz Kurds". London School of Economics. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  11. Hamilton, Archibald Milne (1930). Road through Kurdistan: travels in Northern Iraq. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  12. Howard, Michael (2007-06-16). "All the fun of the fair - it must be Iraq". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
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