Jordan

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Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية
al-Mamlakah al-Urdunīyah al-Hāshimīyah
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: الله، الوطن، الملك (Arabic)
Allāh, al-Waṭan, al-Malik
"God, Country, The King"[1]
Anthem: السلام الملكي الأردني
as-Salām al-Malakī al-Urdunī
(English: The Royal Anthem of Jordan)
Capital
and largest city
Amman
31°57′N 35°56′E / 31.950°N 35.933°E / 31.950; 35.933
Official languages Arabic[2]
Ethnic groups
  • 99% Arab
  • 1% othersa
Religion Islam
Demonym Jordanian
Government Unitary parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[3]
 -  King Abdullah II
 -  Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house Chamber of Deputies
Independence
 -  League of Nations
mandate
ended

25 May 1946 
Area
 -  Total 89,342 km2 (112th)
35,637 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.8
Population
 -  July 2014 estimate 7,930,491[4] (98th)
 -  July 2004 census 5,611,202
 -  Density 68.4/km2 (133rd)
182.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $39.29 billion (2012 est.)[4] (98th)
 -  Per capita $6,100 (2012 est.)[4] (108th)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $29.233 billion[5] (90th)
 -  Per capita $4,674[5] (96th)
Gini (2010) 35.4[6]
medium
HDI (2013) Steady 0.745[7]
high · 77th
Currency Jordanian dinar (JOD)
Time zone UTC+2[8] (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Calling code +962
ISO 3166 code JO
Internet TLD
a. Including Circassians and Armenians.

Jordan (/ˈɔrdən/; Arabic: الأردنal-Urdun), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: المملكة الأردنية الهاشميةal-Mamlakah al-Urdunīyah al-Hāshimīyah), is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River, and extending into the historic region of Palestine. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, the Dead Sea, Israel, and the West Bank to the west.

After the post-World War I division of West Asia by Britain and France, the Emirate of Transjordan was officially recognized by the Council of the League of Nations in 1922. In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. After capturing the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Abdullah I took the title King of Jordan and Palestine. The name of the state was changed to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 1 December 1948.[9]

Although Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. Jordan is classified as a country of "high human development"[10] by the 2014 Human Development Report, and an emerging market with the third freest economy in West Asia and North Africa (32nd freest worldwide).[11] Jordan has an "upper middle income" economy.[12] Jordan has enjoyed "advanced status" with the European Union since December 2010,[13] and it is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. It is also a founding member of the Arab League[14] and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

History[edit]

The Roman Oval Piazza in the ancient city of Jerash

In antiquity, the present day Jordan became a home for several Semitic Canaanite-speaking ancient kingdoms, including the kingdom of Edom, the kingdom of Moab, the kingdom of Ammon, the kingdom of Israel and also the Amalekites. Throughout different eras of history, the region and its nations were subject to the control of powerful foreign empires; including the Akkadian Empire (2335-2193 BC), Ancient Egypt (15th to 13th centuries BC), Hittite Empire (14th and 13th centuries BC), the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC), Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC), the Neo-Babylonian Empire (604-539 BC) and the Achaemenid Empire (539-332 BC) and, for discrete periods of times, by Israelites. The Mesha Stele recorded the glory of the Kings of Moab and the victories over the Israelites and other nations. The Ammon and Moab kingdoms are mentioned in ancient maps, Near Eastern documents, ancient Greco-Roman artifacts, and Christian and Jewish religious scriptures.[15]

Classical Transjordan[edit]

Jordan and its neighbors with a rare dusting of snow in several regions.[16]

Due to its strategic location in the middle of the ancient world, Transjordan came to be controlled by the ancient empires of Persians and later the Macedonian Greeks, who became the dominant force in the region, following the conquests of Alexander the Great. It later fell under the changing influence of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire from the North and the Parthians from the East.

The Aramaic speaking Nabatean kingdom was one of the most prominent states in the region through the middle classic period, since the decline of the Seleucid control of the region in 168 BC. The Nabateans were most probably people of mixed Aramean, Canaanite and Arabian ancestry, who fell under the early influence of the Hellenistic and Parthian cultures, creating a unique civilized society, which roamed the roads of the deserts. They controlled the regional and international trade routes of the ancient world by dominating a large area southwest of the Fertile Crescent, which included the whole of modern Jordan in addition to the southern part of Syria in the north and the northern part of Arabian Peninsula in the south. The Nabataeans developed the Nabatean Alphabet, a descendant of the Aramaic alphabet, which was eventually to lead to the formation of the Arabic Script in the 4th century AD.[17] Their language was originally Aramaic (a West Semitic language), but became infused with South Semitic Arabic with the migration of Arab tribes into Nabatea in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.[18] It acted as an intermediary between Aramaean and Classical Arabic, the latter of which evolved into Modern Arabic.

The Nabateans were largely conquered by the Hasmonean rulers of Judea and many of them forced to convert to Judaism in the late 2nd century BC. However, the Nabataeans managed to maintain a sort of semi-independent kingdom, which covered most parts of modern Jordan and beyond, before it was taken by the Herodians and finally annexed by the still expanding Roman Empire in 106 AD. However, apart from Petra, the Romans maintained the prosperity of most of the ancient cities in Transjordan which enjoyed a sort of city-state autonomy under the umbrella of the alliance of the Decapolis. Nabataean civilization left many magnificent archaeological sites at Petra, which is considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World as well as recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Following the establishment of Roman Empire at Syria, the country was incorporated into the client Judaean Kingdom of Herod, and later the Judaea Province. With the suppression of Jewish Revolts, the eastern bank of Transjordan was incorporated into the Syria Palaestina province, while the eastern deserts fell under Parthian and later Persian Sassanid control. During the Greco-Roman period, a number of semi-independent city-states also developed in the region of Transjordan under the umbrella of the Decapolis including: Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (Amman), Raphana (Abila), Dion (Capitolias), Gadara (Umm Qais), and Pella (Irbid).

With the decline of the Eastern Roman Empire, Transjordan came to be controlled by the Christian Ghassanid Arab kingdom, which allied with Byzantium. The Byzantine site of Umm ar-Rasas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Middle Ages to World War I[edit]

Due to its proximity to Damascus, Transjordan became in the 7th century a heartland for the Arabic Islamic Empire and therefore secured several centuries of stability and prosperity,[citation needed] which allowed the coining of its current Arabic Islamic identity. Different Caliphates' stages, including the Rashidun Empire, Umayyad Empire and Abbasid Empire controlled the region. Several resources pointed that the Abbasid movement, was started in region of Transjordan before it took over the Umayyad empire. After the decline of the Abbasid, It was ruled by several conflicting powers including the Mongols, the Crusaders, the Ayyubids and the Mamluks until it became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516.[19]

The Umayyad caliphs constructed rural estates such as Qasr Mshatta, Qasr al Hallabat, Qasr Kharana, Qasr Tuba, and Qasr Amra. Castles constructed in the later Middle Ages including Ajloun, Al Karak, and Qasr Azraq were used in the Ayyubid, Crusader, and Mamluk eras.

In the 11th century, Transjordan witnessed a phase of instability, as it became a battlefield for the Crusades which ended with defeat by the Ayyubids. Jordan suffered also from the Mongol attacks which were blocked by Mamluks. In 1516, Transjordan became part of the Ottoman Empire and remained so until 1918, when the Hashemite Army of the Great Arab Revolt took over, and secured the present day Jordan with the help and support of Transjordanian local tribes.

Arab Revolt Tribal Cavalry – Tribes of Jordan and Arabia, c. 1918.

During World War I, the Transjordanian tribes fought, along with other tribes of the Hijaz, the Tihamah, and Levant regions, as part of the Arab Army of the Great Arab Revolt. The revolt was launched by the Hashemites and led by Sherif Hussein of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire. It was supported by the Allies of World War I. The chronicle of the revolt was written by T. E. Lawrence who, as a young British Army officer, played a liaison role during the revolt. He published the chronicle in London, 1922 under the title "Seven Pillars of Wisdom",[20] which was the basis for the iconic movie "Lawrence of Arabia".

The Great Arab Revolt was successful in gaining independence for most of the territories of Hijaz and the Levant, including the region of east of Jordan. However, it failed to gain international recognition of the region as an independent state, due mainly to the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917.[citation needed] This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as betrayal of the previous agreements with the British, including the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence in 1915, in which the British stated their willingness to recognize the independence of the Arab state in Hijaz and the Levant. However, a compromise was eventually reached and the Emirate of Transjordan was created under the reign of the Hashemites.

British Transjordan mandate[edit]

In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the British Mandate for Palestine and the Transjordan memorandum, and excluded the territories east of the Jordan River from the provisions of the mandate dealing with Jewish settlement.[21] The Permanent Court of International Justice and an International Court of Arbitration established by the Council of the League of Nations handed down rulings in 1925 which determined that Palestine and Transjordan were newly created successor states of the Ottoman Empire whose sovereignty was in abeyance until such time as they would be recognised as independent of the Mandatory.[22] Transjordan remained under British supervision until 1946.

Arar (1897–1949), poet of Jordan

The Hashemite leadership met multiple difficulties upon assuming power in the region. The most serious threats to Emir Abdullah's position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory.[23] The emir was unable to repel those raids without support, so the British maintained a military base, with a small RAF detachment, at Marka, close to Amman.[23] The British force was also used to help the emir (and, subsequently, Sultan Adwan) suppress local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923.[23]

Independence[edit]

On 25 May 1946, the United Nations approved the end of the British Mandate and recognized Transjordan as an independent sovereign kingdom. The Parliament of Transjordan proclaimed King Abdullah as the first King.

The name was changed from Transjordan to Jordan in 1948.[9] According to the prime minister Tewfik Abul Huda at the time, the name of the kingdom had been changed in 1946. On June 1, 1949, he issued a public notice:

It is to be remembered that the decision of the Houses of Parliament which was taken on May 25, 1946, and which declared the independence of this country said that the name of this Kingdom is the "Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan." The Jordan Constitution, published at the beginning of February, 1947, approved this decision. However, it is noticed that the name of "Transjordan" is still applied to this Kingdom, and certain people and official institutions still use the old name in Arabic and foreign languages, which makes me obliged to point out to all who are concerned that the correct and official name which should be officially used in all cases is : Al-Mamlakeh Al-Urdunieh Al-Hashemieh and in English "The Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan."[24]

Following the war with Israel in 1948 Jordan occupied the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories, an act that was regarded as illegal and void by the Arab League. The move formed part of Jordan’s "Greater Syria Plan" expansionist policy,[25] and in response, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria joined Egypt in demanding Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[26][27] A motion to expel Jordan from the League was prevented by the dissenting votes of Yemen and Iraq.[28] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[29][30]

On 20 July 1951, as he was leaving the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Abdullah I was assassinated by Mustafa Ashu, a Palestinian al-Jihad al-Muqaddas militant. The reason for his murder was, allegedly,[citation needed] the power rivalry of the al-Husseinis over control of Palestine, which Abdullah I had declared a part of the Hashemite Kingdom. Though Amin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was not directly charged in the plot, Musa al-Husseini was among the six executed by Jordanian authorities following the assassination.

On 27 July 1953, King Hussein of Jordan announced that East Jerusalem was "the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom" and would form an "integral and inseparable part" of Jordan.[31] In 1957, Jordan terminated the Anglo-Jordanian treaty, one year after the king sacked the British personnel serving in the Jordanian Army. This act of Arabization ensured the complete sovereignty of Jordan as a fully independent nation.

Field marshal Habis Al-Majali and former prime minister Wasfi Al-Tal.

In June 1967, having signed a military pact with Egypt the previous month, Jordan joined Egypt, Syria and Iraq in the Six-Day War against Israel. It ended in an Israeli victory and the capture of the West Bank. The period following the war saw an upsurge in the activity and numbers of Palestinian paramilitary elements (fedayeen) within the state of Jordan. These distinct, armed militias were becoming a "state within a state", threatening Jordan's rule of law. King Hussein's armed forces targeted the fedayeen and open fighting erupted in June 1970. The battle in which Palestinian fighters from various Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) groups were expelled from Jordan is commonly known as Black September.

The heaviest fighting occurred in northern Jordan and Amman, during which a Syrian tank force invaded northern Jordan to back the fedayeen fighters but subsequently retreated. King Hussein urgently asked the United States and Great Britain to intervene against Syria. Consequently, Israel performed mock air strikes on the Syrian column at the Americans' request. Soon after, Syrian President Nureddin al-Atassi ordered a hasty retreat from Jordanian soil.[32][33] By 22 September, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo arranged a cease-fire beginning the following day. However, sporadic violence continued until Jordanian forces, led by Habis Al-Majali, managed to expel the fedayeen in July 1971 with the help of Iraqi forces.[34] The PLO's Yasser Arafat soon followed.

In 1973, allied Arab League forces attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line. Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory. At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan was now in a more secure position to agree, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people", thereby relinquishing Jordan's role as representative of the West Bank to it.

The Amman Agreement of 11 February 1985, declared that the PLO and Jordan would pursue a proposed confederation between the state of Jordan and a Palestinian state.[35] In 1988, King Hussein dissolved the Jordanian parliament and renounced Jordanian claims to the West Bank. The PLO assumed responsibility as the Provisional Government of Palestine and an independent state was declared.[36]

A handshake between Hussein I of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin, accompanied by Bill Clinton, after signing the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, 26 October 1994.

In 1991, Jordan agreed to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel at the Madrid Conference, sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on 25 July 1994. As a result, an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty was concluded on 26 October 1994. King Hussein was later honored when his picture appeared on an Israeli postage stamp in recognition of the good relations he established with his neighbor. Since the signing of the peace treaty, the United States not only contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in an annual foreign aid stipend to Jordan, but also has allowed it to establish a free trade zone in which to manufacture goods that will enter the US without paying the usual import taxes as long as a percentage of the material used in them is purchased in Israel.

The last major strain in Jordan's relations with Israel occurred in September 1997 when Israeli agents allegedly[citation needed] entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader. Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Visiting Washington, D.C., with Queen Rania, 6 March 2007.

Upon the death of his father Hussein, Abdullah became king on 7 February 1999. Hussein had recently named him Crown Prince on 24 January, replacing Hussein's brother Hassan who had served many years in the position. Abdullah is the namesake of King Abdullah I, his great-grandfather and founder of modern-day Jordan.[37]

Jordan's economy has improved greatly since Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999. He has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free-trade zone and Jordan's flourishing information and communication technology (ICT) sector. He also set up five other special economic zones: Irbid, Ajloun, Mafraq, Ma'an and the Dead Sea. As a result of these reforms, Jordan's economic growth has doubled to 6% annually under King Abdullah's rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s.[38] Foreign direct investment from the West as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf has continued to increase.[39] He also negotiated a free-trade agreement with the United States, which was the third free trade agreement for the U.S. and the first with an Arab country.[40]

During the suspension of Parliament between 2001 and 2003, the scope of King Abdullah II's power was demonstrated with the passing of 110 temporary laws. Two of these laws dealt with elections and were criticized as having the effect of reducing the power of Parliament.[41][42] In 2005, King Abdullah expressed his intentions of making Jordan a democratic country.[43] Thus far, however, democratic development has been limited, with the monarchy maintaining most power and its allies dominating parliament. Elections were held in November 2010.

In February 2011, responding to domestic and regional unrest, King Abdullah replaced his prime minister and formed a National Dialogue Commission with a reform mandate. The King told the new prime minister to "take quick, concrete and practical steps to launch a genuine political reform process", "to strengthen democracy," and provide Jordanians with the "dignified life they deserve."[44] The King called for an "immediate revision" of laws governing politics and public freedoms.[45] Initial reports say that this effort has started slowly and that several "fundamental rights" are not being addressed.[46]

Geography[edit]

Main article: Geography of Jordan
The mountains of Jerash Governorate
The Gulf of Aqaba is named after the historic port of Aqaba

Jordan lies on the continent of Asia between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 35° and 40° E (a small area lies west of 35°). It consists of an arid plateau in the east, irrigated by oasis and seasonal water streams, with highland area in the west of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry.

The Jordan Rift Valley of the Jordan River separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The highest point in the country is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854 m (6,083 ft) above sea level, its top is also covered with snow, while the lowest is the Dead Sea −420 m (−1,378 ft). Jordan is part of a region considered to be "the cradle of civilization", the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent.

Major cities include the capital Amman and Salt in the west, Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa, in the northwest and Madaba, Karak and Aqaba in the southwest. Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis town of Azraq and Ruwaished.

Climate[edit]

Main article: Climate of Jordan

The climate in Jordan is semi-dry in summer with average temperature in the mid 30 °C (86 °F) and is relatively cool in winter averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). The western part of the country receives greater precipitation during the winter season from November to March and snowfall in Amman (756 m (2,480 ft) ~ 1,280 m (4,199 ft) above sea-level) and Western Heights of 500 m (1,640 ft). Excluding the rift valley, the rest of the country is entirely above 300 m (984 ft) (SL).[47] The weather is humid from November to March and semi dry for the rest of the year. With hot, dry summers and cool winters during which practically all of the precipitation occurs, the country has a Mediterranean-style climate. In general, the farther inland from the Mediterranean a given part of the country lies, the greater are the seasonal contrasts in temperature and the less rainfall.

Politics and government[edit]

Although Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. He serves as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief and appoints the executive branch consisting of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet of Jordan, and regional governors.[48][49] The current monarch is Abdullah II.

The Parliament of Jordan consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives (Majlis an-Nuwāb) and the Senate (Majlis al-'Aayan). The 150 members of the House are democratically elected from 12 constituencies, but 75 members of the Senate are all directly appointed by the King.[50] Women's quota in the house of representatives is 15 seats. 108 seats are chosen from constituencies while the remaining 27 seats are chosen through proportional representation on nationwide party lists.

King Abdullah II succeeded his father Hussein following the latter's death in February 1999. Abdullah moved quickly to reaffirm Jordan's peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. During the first year in power, he refocused the government's agenda on economic reform.

Jordan has multi-party politics. Political parties contest fewer than a fifth of the seats; the remainder are assigned to independent politicians.[51] A new law enacted in July 2012 placed political parties under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior and forbade the establishment of parties based on religion.[52]

The last parliamentary elections were held on 23 January 2013. Because of a history of rigged elections, government critics have dismissed them as merely cosmetic. The Muslim Brotherhood and the protest network known as Hirak boycotted the vote.[53]

Law[edit]

A police officer in Amman

The Jordanian legal system is derived from Sharia Law and an Ottoman-Egyptian form of the Napoleonic Code. It has also been influenced by tribal Bedouin traditions.[54]

The highest court is the Court of Cassation, followed by the Courts of Appeal.[54] The lower courts are divided into civil courts and sharia courts. Civil courts have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases, while the sharia courts have jurisdiction over personal status for Muslims, including marriage, divorce, and inheritance; parallel tribunals handle such matters for non-Muslims.[54] Shari’a courts also have jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the Islamic waqfs. In cases involving parties of different religions, regular courts have jurisdiction.[55]

The Constitution of Jordan was adopted on January 11, 1952 and has been amended many times. Article 97 of Jordan's constitution guarantees the independence of the judicial branch, clearly stating that judges are 'subject to no authority but that of the law.' While the king must approve the appointment and dismissal of judges, in practice these are supervised by the Higher Judicial Council. Article 99 of the Constitution divides the courts into three categories: civil, religious and special. The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters in accordance with the law, and they have jurisdiction over all persons in all matters, civil and criminal, including cases brought against the government. The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, High Administrative Courts and the Supreme Court.

The Family Law in force is the Personal Status Law of 1976.[56] Sharia Courts have jurisdiction over personal status matters relating to Muslims.[57]

Jordan's law enforcement ranked 24th in the world, 4th in the Middle East, in terms of police services' reliability in the Global Competitiveness Report. Jordan also ranked 13th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East in terms of prevention of organized crime, making it one of the safest countries in the world.[58]

Foreign relations[edit]

Jordan has followed a pro-Western foreign policy and maintained close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. These relations were damaged by Jordan's neutrality and maintaining relations with Iraq during the first Gulf War. Following the Gulf War, Jordan largely restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the Southwest Asia peace process and enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq. Relations between Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries improved substantially after King Hussein's death in 1999.

Jordan is a key ally of the USA and UK and, together with Egypt, is one of only two Arab nations to have signed peace treaties with Israel.[59][60]

In Israel in 2009, several Likud lawmakers proposed a bill that called for a Palestinian state on both sides of the Jordan River, presuming that Jordan should be the alternative homeland for the Palestinians. Later, following similar remarks by the Israeli Speaker of the Knesset, twenty Jordanian lawmakers proposed a bill in the Jordanian Parliament in which the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan would be frozen. The Israeli Foreign Ministry disavowed the original proposal.[61][62]

Jordan is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.

Military[edit]

Jordanian troops in a military parade in Amman

The Jordanian military enjoys strong support and aid from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. This is due to its critical position between Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia with very close proximity to Lebanon and Egypt. The development of the Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the forces to react rapidly to threats to state security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[63][64]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. These soldiers provide everything from military defense, training of native police, medical help, and charity. Jordan ranks third internationally in taking part in UN peacekeeping missions.[65] Jordan has one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[66]

Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the world such as Iraq, the West Bank, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Congo, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Pakistan. The Kingdom's field hospitals extended aid to more than one million people in Iraq, some one million in the West Bank and 55,000 in Lebanon. According to the military, there are Jordanian peacekeeping forces in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Jordanian Armed Forces field hospital in Afghanistan has since 2002 provided assistance to some 750,000 persons and has significantly reduced the suffering of people residing in areas where the hospital operates.In some missions, the number of Jordanian troops was the second largest, the sources said.[67] Jordan also provides extensive training of security forces in Iraq,[68] the Palestinian territories,[69] and the GCC.[70]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Jordan is divided into 12 provinces known as governorates, which, in turn, are subdivided into 54 departments or districts called nawahi.

No. Governorate Capital
Governorates of Jordan.
1 Irbid Irbid
2 Ajloun Ajloun
3 Jerash Jerash
4 Mafraq Mafraq
5 Balqa Salt
6 Amman Amman
7 Zarqa Zarqa
8 Madaba Madaba
9 Karak Al Karak
10 Tafilah Tafilah
11 Ma'an Ma'an
12 Aqaba Aqaba

Human rights[edit]

The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of fifteen Arab countries.[71]

Civil liberties and political rights scored 5 and 6 respectively in Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2011 report, where 1 is most free and 7 is least free. This earned Jordan "Not Free" status.[72] Jordan ranked ahead of 6, behind 4, and the same as 8 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Jordan ranked 6th among the 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, and 50th out of 178 countries worldwide in the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International.[73] Jordan's 2010 CPI score was 4.7 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean). Jordan ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in February 2005[74] and has been a regional leader in spearheading efforts to promote the UNCAC and its implementation.[58]

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Jordan
Graphical depiction of Jordan's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as a country of "upper-middle income".[12] The economy has grown at an average rate of 4.3% per annum since 2005.[75] Approximately 13% of the population lives on less than US$3 a day.[75]

The GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990s.[76][not in citation given] Jordan has a free trade agreement with Turkey.[77] Jordan also enjoys advanced status with the EU.[78]

The Jordanian economy is based by insufficient supplies of water, oil and other natural resources.[4] Other challenges include high budget deficit, high outstanding public debt, high levels of poverty and unemployment.[75] Unemployment in 2012 is nominally around 13%, but is thought by many analysts to be as high as a quarter of the working-age population.[79] Youth unemployment is nearly 30%.[79] Jordan has few natural resources and a small industrial base.[79] Corruption is particularly pronounced and the use of wasta widespread.[79] Jordan also suffers from a brain drain of its most talented workers.[79] Remittances from Jordanian expatriates are a major source of foreign exchange.[80]

Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits. These are partially offset by international aid.[79]

Jordan’s economy is relatively well diversified.[80] Trade and finance combined account for nearly one-third of GDP; transportation and communication, public utilities, and construction account for one-fifth, and mining and manufacturing constitute nearly that proportion.[80] Despite plans to increase the private sector, the state remains the dominant force in Jordan’s economy.[80] The government employs between one-third and two-thirds of all workers.[79]

In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the Jordan–United States Free Trade Agreement; in 2001, it signed an association agreement with the European Union.[81]

Net official development assistance to Jordan in 2009 totalled USD 761 million; according to the government, approximately two-thirds of this was allocated as grants, of which half was direct budget support.[75]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan's GDP growth, impacting export-oriented sectors, construction, and tourism.[4] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011, hitting an important source of revenue and employment.[82]

In an attempt to quell popular discontent, the government promised in 2011 to keep energy and food prices artificially low while raising wages and pensions in the public sector.[82] Jordan's finances have also been strained by a series of natural gas pipeline attacks in Egypt, causing it to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[4] $500 million was required to cover the resulting fuel shortage.[82]

In August 2012, the International Monetary Fund agreed to give Jordan a three-year $2-billion loan. As part of the deal, Jordan was expected to cut spending.[79] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel,[83] increasing its price. As a result, large scale protests broke out across the country and the increase was removed.[79]

Jordan's total foreign debt in 2012 was $22 billion, representing 72% of its GDP. Roughly two-thirds of this total had been raised on the domestic market, with the remaining owed to overseas lenders.[83] In late November 2012, the budgetary shortfall was estimated at around $3 billion, or about 11% of GDP.[83] Growth was expected to reach 3% by the end of 2012 and the IMF predicts GDP will increase by 3.5% in 2013, rising to 4.5% by 2017.[83] The inflation rate was forecast at 4.5% by the end of 2012.[83]

The official currency in Jordan is the Jordanian dinar, which is pegged to the IMF's special drawing rights (SDRs), equivalent to an exchange rate of 1 US$ ≡ 0.709 dinar, or approximately 1 dinar ≡ 1.41044 dollars.[84]

The proportion of skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region. Agriculture in Jordan constituted almost 40% of GNP in the early 1950s; on the eve of the Six-Day War in June 1967, it was 17%.[85] By the mid-1980s, the agricultural share of Jordan's GNP was only about 6%.[85] Jordan has hosted the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa six times and plans to hold it for the seventh time in 2013 at the Dead Sea.[86]

Natural resources[edit]

A phosphate train at Ram station

Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of this mineral in the world.[87][88][89][90][91] Phosphates were first discovered by Amin Kamel Kawar in 1935 at the site in Russeifa.[92][dubious ]

Four nuclear power plants are planned, with the first due to start delivering electricity in 2019.[93] Jordan has been seeking US approval for the production of nuclear fuel from its uranium since 2010. According to Ha'aretz, the US position on the matter is the same as that of Israel and it has rejected Jordan's request.[94]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987. The estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a modest quantity compared with its other Arabian neighbours. The Risha field, in the Eastern Desert beside the Iraqi border, produces nearly 30 million cubic feet of gas a day, which is sent to a nearby power plant to produce nearly 10% of Jordan's electricity needs.[95]

Despite the fact that reserves of crude oil are non-commercial, Jordan possesses one of the world's richest stockpiles of oil shale where there are huge quantities (5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world)[96] that could be commercially exploited in the central and northern regions west of the country. This shale oil sits under 60% of Jordan’s surface.[97] The moisture content and ash within is relatively low. And the total thermal value is 7.5 megajoules/kg, and the content of ointments reach 9% of the weight of the organic content.[98] A switch to power plants operated by oil shale has the potential to reduce Jordan's energy bill by at least 40–50 per cent, according to the National Electric Power Company.[99] However, Jordan's oil shale also has a high sulphur content.[96]

Tourism[edit]

Main article: Tourism in Jordan

Tourism accounted for 10%–12% of the country's Gross National Product in 2006. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The result was $3.4 billion in tourism revenues, $4.4 billion if medical tourists are included.[100] Jordan offers everything from world-class historical and cultural sites like Petra and Jerash to modern entertainment in urban areas most notably Amman. Moreover, seaside recreation is present in Aqaba and Dead Sea through numerous international resorts. Eco-tourists have numerous nature reserves to choose from as like Dana Nature Reserve. Religious tourists visit Mt. Nebo, the Baptist Site, and the mosaic city of Madaba.

Jordan has nightclubs, discothèques and bars in Amman, Irbid, Aqaba, and many 4 and 5-star hotels. Furthermore, beach clubs are also offered at the Dead Sea and Aqaba. Jordan played host to the Petra Prana Festival in 2007 which celebrated Petra's win as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World with world-renowned DJs like Tiesto and Sarah Main. The annual Distant Heat festival in Wadi Rum and Aqaba ranked as one of the world's top 10 raves.

Excavated remains of Bethabara, Jordan, where John the Baptist is believed to have conducted his ministry.

Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Azraq Wetland Reserve, Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and Mujib Nature Reserve.

Medical tourism[edit]

Jordan has been a medical tourism destination in the Middle East since the 1970s. A study conducted by Jordan's Private Hospitals Association (PHA) found that 250,000 patients from 102 countries received treatment in the kingdom in 2010, compared to 190,000 in 2007, bringing over $1 billion in revenue. It is the region's top medical tourism destination as rated by the World Bank and fifth in the world overall.[101][102][103]

It is estimated that Jordan received 50,000 Libyan patients and 80,000 Syrian refugees, who also sought treatment in Jordanian hospitals, in the first six months of 2012.[104]

Jordan's main focus of attention in its marketing effort are the ex-Soviet states, Europe, and America.[105] Most common medical procedures on Arab and foreign patients included organ transplants, open heart surgeries, infertility treatment, laser vision corrections, bone operations and cancer treatment.[106]

Transportation[edit]

Main article: Transport in Jordan
A Royal Jordanian Airbus A310-300

As it is a transit country for goods and services to the Palestinian territories and Iraq, Jordan maintains a well-developed transportation infrastructure. Jordan ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the World Economic Forum's Index of Economic Competitiveness.[107]

In 2006, the Port of Aqaba was ranked as having the "Best Container Terminal" in the Middle East by Lloyd's List.[108]

Jordan has three commercial airports, all receiving and dispatching international flights. Two are in Amman and the third is in Aqaba. The largest airport in the country, serving as the hub of the flag carrier Royal Jordanian, is Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. The airport is currently[when?] under significant expansion in a bid to make it the hub for the Levant. Amman Civil Airport was the country's main airport before it was replaced by Queen Alia Airport but it still serves several regional routes. King Hussein International Airport serves Aqaba with connections to Amman and several regional and international cities.

Demographics[edit]

Graph showing the population of Jordan, 1960–2005

Transjordan had a population of 200,000 in 1920, 225,000 in 1922 and 400,000 in 1948.[109] Almost half of the population in 1922 (around 103,000) was nomadic.[109]

Jordan had two towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants in 1946: Amman (65,754) and Salt (14,479).[109] Following the influx of Palestinian refugees, Amman's population increased to 108,412 by 1952, and both Irbid and Zarqa more than doubled their population from less than 10,000 each to more than, respectively, 23,000 and 28,000.[109]

The Jordanian Department of Statistics estimated the 2011 population at 6,249,000.[110] In 2009, the population of Jordan was slightly over 6,300,000.[4] There were 946,000 households in Jordan in 2004, with an average of 5.3 persons/household (compared to 6 persons/household for the census of 1994).[111]

A study published by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza found that the Jordanian genetics are closest to the Assyrians among all other nations of Western Asia.[112]

Immigrants and refugees[edit]

Jordan in its surroundings

In 2007, there were 700,000–1,000,000 Iraqis in Jordan.[113] Since the Iraq War, many Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) from Iraq have settled permanently or temporarily in Jordan. They could number as many as 500,000.[114][dead link] There were also 15,000 Lebanese who emigrated to Jordan following the 2006 War with Israel.[115] To escape the violence, over 500,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan since 2012.[116]

The vast majority of Jordanians are Arabs, accounting for 95-97% of the population. Assyrian Christians account for up to 150,000 persons, or 0.8% of the population. Most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[117] Kurds, number some 30,000 people, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[118] Armenians number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[119] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.

There are around 1.2 million illegal and some 500,000 legal migrant workers in the Kingdom.[120] Furthermore, there are thousands of foreign women working in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom, mostly from Eastern Europe and North Africa.[121][122][123]

Jordan is home to a relatively large American and European expatriate population concentrated mainly in the capital as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions that base their regional operations in Amman.[4][124]

According to UNRWA, Jordan was home to 1,951,603 Palestinian refugees in 2008, most of them Jordanian citizens.[125] 338,000 of them were living in UNRWA refugee camps.[126] Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to resettle West Bank residents in Jordan. West Bank Palestinians with family in Jordan or Jordanian citizenship were issued yellow cards guaranteeing them all the rights of Jordanian citizenship. Palestinians living in Jordan with family in the West Bank were also issued yellow cards. All other Palestinians wishing such Jordanian papers were issued green cards to facilitate travel into Jordan.[127]

As of 2014, the Refugee Assistance Centre in Amman is distributing letters of encouragement to Syrian refugee children, from children at the Dadaab refugee camp."[128]

Languages[edit]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools. The native languages of most Jordanians are dialects of Jordanian Arabic, a nonstandard version of Arabic with many influences from English, French and Turkish. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community.

English, though without an official status, is widely spoken throughout the country and is the de facto language of commerce and banking, as well as a co-official status in the education sector; almost all university-level classes are held in English.

Russian, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, Tamil, and Chechen are quite popular among their communities and acknowledged widely in the kingdom.

Most, if not all, public schools in the country teach the English and Standard Arabic.[citation needed] French is elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector. L'Ecole française d'Amman and Lycée français d'Amman are the most famous French language schools in the capital. French remains an elite language in Jordan, despite not enjoying the popularity it did in older times.

German is an increasingly popular language among the elite and the educated; it's been most likely introduced at a larger scale after the début of the Deutsche Universität, or as officially named, the German-Jordanian University. A historic society of German Protestants of Amman continue to use the German language in their events and daily lives.[129]

The media in Jordan revolves mainly around English, with many British and mostly American programmes and films shown on local television and cinemas. Egyptian Arabic is very popular, with many Egyptian movies playing in cinemas across the country.

The government-owned Jordan TV shows programmes and newscasts in Arabic (Standard and Jordanian), English and French; Radio Jordan offers radio services in Standard Arabic, the Jordanian dialects (informally), English and French, as well. When an English-language film is shown in a cinema, translatations into both French and Standard Arabic are available.

Religion[edit]

Main article: Religion in Jordan
Abu Darweesh Mosque
Religion in Jordan (CIA World Factbook)[4][130]
Religion Percent
Muslim
  
92%
Christian
  
6%
Other
  
2%

Islam is the official religion and approximately 92% of the population is Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims in Jordan belong to Sunni denomination.[131] There are a small number of Ahmadi Muslims.[132]

Jordan has laws promoting religious freedom, but falls short of protecting all minority groups. Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries face societal and legal discrimination.[133]

According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, 46.2% of Jordanians regularly attend religious services in 2006.[134]

Jordan has an indigenous Christian minority. Christians made up 30% of the Jordanian population in 1950.[135] Traditionally, Christians occupy two Cabinet posts. The highest political position a Christian has reached is Deputy Prime Minister under Marwan Muasher. A Jordanian Christian though has never been Prime Minister or commanded the armed forces although there are Jordanian Christians who serve in high commands of the military and special forces. Christians are also very influential in media. In addition, Christians have 9 reserved seats in the country's 150-seat Parliament.[136] Christian Arabs, helped by their Western-oriented education and often superior knowledge of foreign languages, dominate business. A study in 1987 by a Western embassy concluded that almost half of Jordan's leading business families are Christian and most Palestinian Christian.[137]

Other religious minorities groups in Jordan include adherents to the Druze and Bahá'í Faith. The Druze are mainly located in the eastern oasis town of Azraq, some villages on the Syrian border and the city of Zarqa, while the village Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley is home to Jordan's Bahá'í community.[citation needed]

Culture[edit]

Mansaf, the national dish of Jordan[138]

Religion and tradition plays an important part in modern-day Jordanian society. Jordanians live in a relatively traditional society that is increasingly grappling with the effects of globalization. Jordan is considered one of the Arab World's most cosmopolitan countries.[139]

According to the Center for Strategic Studies, 90% of Jordanian Muslims describe themselves as "religious" or "relatively religious", with 52% of Jordanians regarding religious practices as "private matters that must be differentiated from social and political life".[140]

Arts[edit]

Further information: Jordanian art

Art in Jordan is represented through many Institutions with the aim to increase the cultural awareness in plastic and visual arts and to represent the artistic movement in Jordan and its wide spectrum of creativity in various fields such as paintings, sculpture, video art, photography, graphic arts, ceramics and installations.

The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman, Jordan.

Popular culture[edit]

Jordan imports the overwhelming majority of its music, cinema, and other forms of entertainment from other countries most specifically other Arab countries like Lebanon and Egypt as well as the West, primarily the United States. However, there has been a rise of home-grown songs, music, art, movies and television, although they still pale in comparison to the amount imported from abroad. Music in Jordan is now developing by a lot of new musicians and artist, who are now popular in the Middle East such as singer and composer Toni Qattan and singer Hani Metwasi who changed the old notion about the music of Jordan which was unpopular for many years.

Media[edit]

Main article: Media of Jordan

Jordan ranked 141 out of 196 countries worldwide, earning "Not Free" status in Freedom House's 2011 Freedom of the Press 2011 report.[141] Jordan had the 5th freest press of 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. In the 2010 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 120th out of 178 countries listed, 5th out of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Jordan's score was 37 on a scale from 0 (most free) to 105 (least free).[142]

Health[edit]

Main article: Health in Jordan

Jordan prides itself on its health service, one of the best in the region.[143] Government figures have put total health spending in 2002 at some 7.5% of Gross domestic product (GDP), while international health organizations place the figure even higher, at approximately 9.3% of GDP. The CIA World Factbook estimates life expectancy in Jordan is 80.18 years, the second highest in the region after Israel.[144] The WHO gives a considerably lower figure however, at 73.0 years for 2011.[145] There were 203 physicians per 100,000 people in the years 2000–2004.[146]

The country's health care system is divided between public and private institutions. In the public sector, the Ministry of Health operates 1,245 primary health-care centers and 27 hospitals, accounting for 37% of all hospital beds in the country; the military's Royal Medical Services runs 11 hospitals, providing 24% of all beds; and the Jordan University Hospital accounts for 3% of total beds in the country. The private sector provides 36% of all hospital beds, distributed among 56 hospitals. On 1 June 2007, Jordan Hospital (as the biggest private hospital) was the first general specialty hospital to gain the international accreditation JCAHO.[147] The King Hussein Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment center.

70% of the population has medical insurance.[148] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunizations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[147]

Water and sanitation, available to only 10% of the population in 1950, now reach 99% of Jordanians, according to government statistics.[149]

Education[edit]

Medical halls of JUST as seen with KAUH
Main article: Education in Jordan

The adult literacy rate in 2013 was 97%.[150] The Jordanian educational system consists of a two-year cycle of pre-school education, ten years of compulsory basic education, and two years of secondary academic or vocational education, after which the students sit for the Tawjihi.[151] UNESCO ranked Jordan's education system 18th out of 94 nations for providing gender equality in education.[152] 20.5% of Jordan's total government expenditures goes to education compared to 2.5% in Turkey and 3.86% in Syria.[153][154][155] Secondary school enrollment has increased from 63% to 97% of high school aged students in Jordan and between 79% and 85% of high school students in Jordan move on to higher education.[156]

There are 2,000 researchers per million people, compared to 5,000 researchers per million for the highest-performing countries.[157] According to the Global Innovation Index 2011, Jordan is the third-most innovative economy in the Middle East, behind Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[158]

Jordan has 10 public universities, 16 private universities and 54 community colleges, of which 14 are public, 24 private and others affiliated with the Jordanian Armed Forces, the Civil Defence Department, the Ministry of Health and UNRWA.[159] There are over 200,000 Jordanian students enrolled in universities each year. An additional 20,000 Jordanians pursue higher education abroad primarily in the United States and Great Britain.[160] Jordan is already home to several international universities such as German-Jordanian University, Columbia University, NYIT, DePaul University and the American University of Madaba. George Washington University is planning to establish a medical university in Jordan.[161]

According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are the University of Jordan (1,507th worldwide), Yarmouk University (2,165th) and the Jordan University of Science & Technology (2,335th).[162]

Internet-wise, Jordan contributes more content than any other Arab country: 75% of all Arabic online content.[163]

Environmentalism[edit]

Eco-Tourism[edit]

See also: Ecotourism

RSCN's Nature Guides & Politics[edit]

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) is an organization that was created in 1966, located in Amman Jordan.[164] The organization was developed to protect the natural resources, landscapes, and wild life native to Jordan.[165] The effects of Jordanian dinar 1.6 million from eco-tourism in Jordan provided through the RSCN's efforts have helped create much needed awareness.[164] The money has also been used towards expansion by hiring new nature guides and opening a second Wild Jordan Center in Ajloun.[166] The Nature Guides participated in a one year training in the ecology field of study in South Africa.[167] Four guides were selected through the Nature Guide Training Scholarship Competition.[167]

Foreign Assistance and Environmentalism[edit]

Jordan receives international aid moneys that are distributed to various kinds of environmental issues. The most important ones appear to be water management, energy issues, and agriculture. has partnered with multilateral organizations like the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the World Bank.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • El-Anis, Imad. Jordan and the United States: The Political Economy of Trade and Economic Reform in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, distributed by Palgrave Macmillan; 2011) 320 pages; case studies of trade in textiles, pharmaceuticals, and financial services.
  • Goichon, Amélie-Marie. Jordanie réelle. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer (1967-1972). 2 vol., ill.
  • Robins, Philip. A History of Jordan (2004).
  • Ryan, Curt. "Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah" (2002).
  • Salibi, Kamal S. The Modern History of Jordan (1998).
  • Teller, Matthew. The Rough Guide to Jordan (4th ed., 2009).
  • Eran, Oded. The End of Jordan as We Know It?, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 3 (2012)

External links[edit]