What is the "Decapolis"?

Q. What and where was the “Decapolis” noted in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark?

A. Decapolis, which means in Greek “ten cities,” is the name given in Scripture and by other ancient writers (such as Josephus, Ptolemy, Strabo, and Pliny) to a region in Palestine lying to the east and south of the Sea of Galilee. It took its name from a political alliance of the ten cities that dominated the area (though the area included other cities as well).

The Decapolis is referred to in the Gospels three times: Matthew 4:25, Mark 5:20, and Mark 7:31. Many Gentiles (non-Jews) lived in the region, including descendants of the veterans of the army of Alexander the Great, who had conquered the Middle East. So these parallel passages seem to provide an example of Jesus’ ministry to Gentiles as well as Jews (see the question below). Today the cities of the Decapolis, with the exception of Damascus, are deserted ruins.