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Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية
Al-Mamlakah Al-Urduniyah Al-Hashimiyah
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "God, Country, King"
الله، الوطن، الملك (Arabic)
Allah, Al-Waṭan, Al-Malik[1]
Anthem: (English: The Royal Anthem of Jordan)
السلام الملكي الأردني
Al-Salam Al-Malaki Al-Urduni

Map of Jordan showing influential governorate centers
Map of Jordan showing influential governorate centers
and largest city
31°57′N 35°56′E / 31.950°N 35.933°E / 31.950; 35.933
Official languages Arabic
Ethnic groups
Demonym Jordanian
Government Unitary parliamentary
constitutional monarchy
 •  King Abdullah II
 •  Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki
Legislature Parliament
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house Chamber of Deputies
Independence from the United Kingdom
 •  Emirate of Transjordan 7 April 1921 
 •  Independence celebrated date 25 May 1946 
 •  Independence actual date 17 June 1946 
 •  Total 89,341 km2 (112th)
35,637 sq mi
 •  November 2015 census 9,531,712
 •  Density 107/km2 (100th)
276/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $82.991 billion[2] (87th)
 •  Per capita $12,162[2] (86th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $38.210 billion[2] (92nd)
 •  Per capita $5,599[2] (95th)
Gini (2011) 35.4[3]
HDI (2014) Steady 0.748[4]
high · 80th
Currency Jordanian dinar (JOD)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 •  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code +962
ISO 3166 code JO
Internet TLD

Jordan (/ˈɔːrdən/; Arabic: الأردن‎‎ Al-Urdun), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية‎‎ Al-Mamlakah Al-Urduniyah Al-Hashimiyah[needs IPA]), is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, and Israel and Palestine to the west.[5] Jordan has a strategic location at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[6]

Inhabited since the Paleolithic period by individual communities, three self-governed kingdoms later emerged on the territory of modern Jordan at the very end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom.[7] The lands were later part of several kingdoms and empires, most notably the Nabatean Kingdom, the Roman Empire and finally the Ottoman Empire.[8] After the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I by Britain and France, the Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the then Emir Abdullah I and the Emirate became a British protectorate. Transjordan was officially recognized by the Council of the League of Nations the same year.[9] In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. Jordan captured the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the name of the state was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 1 December 1948.[10]

Jordan is a small semi-arid almost landlocked country with a population numbering at 9.5 million.[5] In the midst of surrounding turmoil, it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts as early as 1948, with most notably the estimated 2 million Palestinians and the 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country.[11] Jordan continues to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the Syrian refugees put on national systems and infrastructure.[12] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the Islamic State.[13] Jordan is considered to be among the safest of Arab countries in the Middle East,[14] and has managed to keep itself away from terrorism and instability.[15] Jordan has large investments despite having very limited natural resources, the country is not to be confused with oil-rich Arab states.[16]

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, and the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.[17] Jordan is classified as a country of "high human development" by the 2014 Human Development Report.[4] Jordan has an "upper middle income" economy,[18] its economy has been severely affected by regional turmoil.[19] The country is a major tourist destination in the region,[20] and also attracts medical tourism due to its well developed medical sector.[21] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).[22] The kingdom is one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.[23] Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan making about 92% of the country's population coexisting with an indigenous Christian minority.[24]


The kingdom is named after the Jordan River, the origin of the river's name is argued but the most usual explanation is it is from Hebrew and other related Semitic languages word "yarad" meaning "the descender" ("Yarden" is the Hebrew name for the river). Another is that it is from the Arabic root word "wrd" meaning "to come to", as in people coming to a major source of water.[25]

The name Jordan appears in an ancient Egyptian papyrus called Papyrus Anastasi I, dating back to around 1000 BC.[26] The lands consisting modern-day Jordan were historically called Transjordan, meaning beyond the Jordan River. During the crusader rule of Jordan, it was called Oultrejordain. The name was Arabized into "Al-Urdun" during the Muslim conquest of the Levant. In 1921, the Emirate of Transjordan was established and after it gained its independence in 1946, it became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949. "Hashemite" comes from the house name of the royal family.[27]


Main article: History of Jordan

Ancient period[edit]

One of the oldest human statues ever made by human civilization from 'Ain Ghazal on display at the Jordan Archaeological Museum, dating to about 7000 BC.[28]

Jordan is rich in Paleolithic remains with evidence of human inhabitance by Homo erectus, Neanderthal and later modern humans.[29] The Kharanah area in eastern Jordan has evidence of human huts from about 20,000 years ago, however, much older evidence also exists.[30] Other Paleolithic sites include Pella and Al-Azraq.[31] In the Neolithic period, several settlements began to develop, most notably an agricultural community called 'Ain Ghazal in Amman.[32] 'Ain Ghazal is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East,[33] and is believed to have had a population of 3,000 at its height.[34] In 1984, plaster statues estimated to date back to around 7000 BC were uncovered there and are among the oldest large human statues ever found.[35] Villages of Bab edh-Dhra in the Dead Sea area, Tal Hujayrat Al-Ghuzlan in Aqaba and Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley all date to the Chalcolithic period.[36]

The prehistoric period of Jordan ended by 2000 BC when the Semitic nomads known as the Amorites had entered the region. During the Bronze Age and Iron Age, present-day Jordan was home to several ancient kingdoms, whose populations spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group.[37]

The Mesha Stele recorded the glory of Mesha the king of Moab, around 1000 BC on display at the French Louvre museum.

Among them were Ammon, Edom and Moab which are described as tribal kingdoms rather than states. They are mentioned on ancient texts, including the Old Testament, and archaeology reveals that Ammon was in the area including the modern city of Amman, Moab controlled the highlands east of the Dead Sea and Edom controlled the area around Wadi Araba.[7]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighboring Hebrew Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, west of the Jordan River. Frequent confrontations ensued and tensions between them increased. This made the Assyrians reduce these kingdoms to vassals. However, when the region was later under the influence of the Babylonians, the Old Testament mentions that these kingdoms aided them in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem.[38] The Mesha Stele is a large black basalt stone that was erected in Moab and was inscribed by Moabite king Mesha, in which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[39] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of biblical history.[40]

These kingdoms are believed to have continued to exist despite the fluctuations in the regional imperial rule and influence. They remained under rule of several powerful distant empires, including the Akkadian Empire (2335–2193 BC), Ancient Egypt (1500–1300 BC), Hittite Empire (1400–1300 BC), the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1020 BC), Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC), the Neo-Babylonian Empire (604–539 BC), Achaemenid Empire (539–332 BC) and the Hellenistic Empire of Macedonia.[8] However, by the time of the Roman rule in the Levant around 63 BC, the people of Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their ancient identities and were assimilated into the Roman culture.[7]

Classical period[edit]

Alexander the Great's conquest of the Achaemenid Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, his empire split among his generals and much of the land of modern-day Jordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria.[41] In the south and east, the Nabateans had an independent kingdom.[42]

The Treasury in the ancient city of Petra, which was carved into the rock in 312 BC by the Arab Nabateans, is one of the New7Wonders of the World.

The Arab Nabateans established Petra as their capital; famed now for the massive buildings carved into the cliff sides. The Ptolemies were displaced from this whole region by the Seleucids. The conflict between these two groups had enabled the Nabateans to extend their kingdom northwards well beyond Petra in Edom, where the Nabateans and Edomites coexisted.[43] The Nabateans were nomadic Arabs who benefited from the proximity of Petra to the regional trade routes, in becoming a major trading hub, thus enabling them to gather wealth. The Nabateans are also known for their great ability in constructing efficient water collecting methods in the barren deserts and their talent in carving structures into solid rocks.[44]

The Greeks founded new cities in Jordan including Philadelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid). Later, under Roman rule, these joined other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and Syria to form the Decapolis League, a loose confederation linked by bonds of economic and cultural interests: Scythopolis, Hippos, Capitolias, Canatha and Damascus were counted among its members.[41] The most notable Hellenistic site in Jordan is at Iraq Al-Amir, just west of modern-day Amman. The Qasr Al-Abd (Castle of the Slave) there is constructed of very large stones, belonging to a governor of Ammon named Hyrcanus, a member of the influential Tobiad family. It was built in the late-second century BCE.[8]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted for centuries.[8] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed the nearby Nabatean kingdom without any opposition, and built the Via Traiana Nova road, in which Amman became a point along a road stretching from Aqaba to Damascus. This provided an economic boost for the region.[45] Despite the Roman rule, the Nabateans continued to flourish and replaced their local gods with Christianity.[46] Roman remains include, in Amman, the Temple of Hercules at the Amman Citadel, the Roman amphitheater, the Odeon theater and the Nymphaeum. Jerash also has a very well-preserved Roman city that had 15,000 inhabitants at its height.[47] Jerash was once visited by Emperor Hadrian himself during his journey to Palestine.[46] In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split but the Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire) continued to control or influence the Jordan region until 636 AD. Christianity had become legal within the empire in 313 AD and the official state religion in 390 AD, after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity.[46]

Ayla city (modern day Aqaba) in southern Jordan, also came under Byzantine Empire rule, where the world's first purpose built church was constructed around 300 AD.[48] The Byzantines built 16 historic churches just south of Amman in Umm ar-Rasas.[49] Administratively the area of Jordan was in the provinces of Palaestina Secunda in the north-west and Arabia Petraea in the south and east in the Diocese of the East. Palaestina Salutaris in the south was split off from Arabia Petraea in the late 4th century.[50] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines' rivals, they had a long period of frequent confrontations. This sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[51]

Islamic era[edit]

Main article: Jund al-Urdunn

The Arab Christian Ghassanids in the Levant, who were clients of the Byzantines, could not hold back the Muslim onslaught from the Arabian Peninsula even with imperial support.[52] The Muslim conquest began to sweep northwards from modern day Saudi Arabia, reaching Jordan when the Muslim forces lost to the Byzantines during the 629 Battle of Mu'tah in Karak Governorate of Jordan; this battle was the first engagement between the Byzantines and the Muslims. The Byzantines lost control of the Levant when they were defeated by the Muslim Rashidun army in the 636 decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of modern-day Jordan.[46]

Ajloun Castle in Ajloun built by the Ayyubid Muslim leader Saladin in the 12th century AD for use in his wars against the Crusaders.

Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of nearby Damascus.[53] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by those of the Ummayad (661–750). During the rule of the Umayyads, several desert castles were constructed, such as Qasr Mshatta, Qasr al-Hallabat, Qasr Kharana, Qasr Tuba, and Qusayr 'Amra, and a large administrative palace in Amman.[54] The Abbasid campaign to take over the Umayyad empire began in the region of Transjordan. After the decline of the Abbasid Caliphate, the area was ruled by the Fatimids, then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (1115–1189).[53]

The Crusaders constructed about nine Crusader castles as part of the lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal (Shawbak), Karak and Li Vaux Moyse (Wu'ayra).[54] In the 12th century, Transjordan became a battlefield for the Crusaders which ended with their defeat by Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubids dynasty (1189–1260). The Ayyubids built a new castle at Ajloun and rebuilt the former Roman fort of Qasr Azraq. Several of these castles were expanded and used by the Mamluks (1260-1516). During the next century Transjordan also experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260). The Mamluks divided Jordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus.[54]

In 1516, Ottoman forces invaded the Levant and clashed with the Mamluks. The war ended in the defeat of the Mamluks and the annexation of the Levant to the Ottoman Empire. Jordan lies in between Mecca and Istanbul, and therefore when the Ottomans constructed the Hejaz Railway linking these two in 1910, Jordan's importance increased. The railway was mainly used for the transportation of pilgrims to Mecca.[55] The Ottoman Empire ruled until 1918.[53]

Modern era[edit]

Soldiers of the Hashemite Arab Army holding the flag of the Great Arab Revolt in 1916.
The first visit of the High Commissioner for Palestine to Al-Salt city in Transjordan in 1920.

After four centuries of stagnant Ottoman rule (1516–1918), Turkish control over Transjordan came to an end during World War I when the Hashemite Army of the Great Arab Revolt, took over and secured present-day Jordan with the help and support of the region's local Bedouin tribes, Circassians and Christians.[56] The revolt was launched by the Hashemites and led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire. This came due to the emergence of Arab nationalism and resentment towards the Ottoman authorities who neglected the areas in the Levant and Hejaz that they had governed and often abused.[57] The revolt was supported by the Allies of World War I including Britain and France.[58]

The Great Arab Revolt was successful in gaining independence for most of the territories of the Hejaz and the Levant, including the region east of the Jordan River. 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. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1915, in which the British stated their willingness to recognize the independence of a unified Arab state stretching from Aleppo to Aden under the rule of the Hashemites. However, the region was divided and the four sons of Sharif Hussein received authority over four states. Sharif's son Abdullah established the Emirate of Transjordan, which then became a British protectorate.[59]

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.[60] 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. Transjordan remained under British supervision until 1946.[9]

Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership. In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[61] Repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into the southern parts of his territory in 1924 were the most serious threats to Emir's position in Transjordan.[61] The Emir was unable to repel those raids without the aid of the local Bedouin tribes and the British who maintained a military base, with a small RAF detachment close to Amman.[61]


The Treaty of London was signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946 as a mechanism to recognise the full independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries parliaments.[62] On 25 May 1946 the Emirate of Transjordan became the "Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan" when the ruling Emir was re-designated as 'King' by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London. 25 May is still celebrated as independence day in Jordan although officially the mandate for Transjordan ended on 17 June 1946.[63] The name was changed to "Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan" in 1949. However, Jordan was not a full member of the United Nations until 14 December 1955.[64]

King Hussein after checking an abandoned Israeli tank in the aftermath of the Battle of Karameh in 1968.

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[65] Following the war, 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. At the Jericho Conference on 1 December 1948, Palestinian delegates supported "the unification of Palestine and Transjordan as a step toward full Arab unity".[66][67] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan's expulsion from the Arab League.[68][69] The expulsion was prevented by the dissenting votes of Yemen and Iraq.[70] 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.[71][72]

King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, after rumors circulating about his intent to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal. However, the latter soon abdicated the throne due to illness in favor of his eldest son Hussein, who ascended the throne in 1953.[73] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein sacked a number of British personnel serving in the Jordanian Army and terminated the Anglo-Jordanian treaty a year later. This act of Arabization ensured the complete sovereignty of Jordan as a fully independent nation.[74] Neighboring Iraq was also ruled by a Hashemite monarchy; Faisal II of Iraq, who was Hussein's cousin. The year 1958 witnessed the emergence of the Arab Federation between the two kingdoms, as a response to the formation of the United Arab Republic between Egypt and Syria. The union lasted only six months, being officially dissolved on 2 August 1958, after Faisal II was deposed by a military coup.[75]

Jordan signed a military pact with Egypt just before Israel launched a preemptive strike on Egypt to begin the Six-Day War in June 1967, where Jordan and Syria joined the war. It ended in an Arab defeat and the West Bank became under Israeli control. Jordan also fought in the War of Attrition, which included the 1968 Battle of Karameh where the combined forces of the Jordanian Armed Forces and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) repelled an Israeli attack on the Karameh camp on the Jordanian border with the West Bank.[76] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces in the battle, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world. As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (fedayeen) within Jordan from different Arab countries, becoming a "state within a state", threatening Jordan's rule of law. In September 1970, the Jordanian army had to target the fedayeen and fighting erupted resulting in the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[23]

A Jordanian Bedouin forces officer in Petra 2004.

During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Arab league forces waged a war on Israel 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 agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people". Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[23]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate on a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration known as the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty on 26 October 1994.[23] In 1997, Israeli agents allegedly 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 after King Hussein threatened to cut relations with Israel.[23]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[77] Jordan's economy has improved since Abdullah II 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 Abdullah II's rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s.[78] Direct foreign investment from the West as well as from the countries of the Persian Gulf continued to increase.[79] 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.[80] However, regional turmoil in the 2010s has severely crippled the Jordanian economy and its growth, making it increasingly reliant on foreign aid.[19]

Al-Qaeda under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's leadership launched coordinated explosions in three hotel lobbies in Amman on 9 November 2005, resulting in 60 deaths and 115 injured. The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[81] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, Jordan's security as a whole was dramatically improved afterwards. No major terrorist attacks have been reported ever since then.[15]

The Arab Spring began sweeping the Arab world in 2011, where large scale protests erupted demanding economic and political reforms. However, many of these protests in some countries turned into civil wars and more instability. In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah II replaced his Prime Minister and introduced a number of reforms including; amending the Constitution and establishing a number of governmental commissions. 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".[82] The King called for "an immediate revision of laws governing politics and public freedoms".[83]


Main article: Geography of Jordan
Wadi Rum's resemblance to the surface of Mars has made it a popular filming location, including scenes in The Martian.

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.[6] Jordan is 89,341 km2 (34,495 sq mi) large and is 400 km (250 mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[84] The kingdom lies on the continent of Asia between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 34° and 40° E (a small area lies west of 35°). In the east is an arid plateau irrigated by oasis and seasonal water streams.[84] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall which includes the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the west, Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa, in the northwest and Madaba, Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[5] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[85]

In the west a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley. The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Jordan has a 26 km (16 mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[84] The Yarmouk River, an eastern tributary of the Jordan, forms part of the boundary between Jordan and Syria (including the occupied Golan Heights) to the north. The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow any well-defined natural features.[85] The highest point in Jordan is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854 m (6,083 ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea −420 m (−1,378 ft) (also the lowest land point on earth). Jordan is one of the countries of the Levant which is part of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[85]

Jordan has a range of biodiverse habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its diverse landscapes and environments.[86] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage the natural resources of Jordan. Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Azraq Wetland Reserve, Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and Mujib Nature Reserve.[87] Over two thousand species of plant have been recorded in Jordan.[88]

The Dead Sea is the saltiest water body and the lowest point on earth, swimmers can float effortlessly while receiving health benefits.[85]

Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the amount of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests, while further south and east, the vegetation becomes more scrubby and merges into a steppe-type vegetation.[89] Forests cover less than 2% of Jordan, making it among the world's least forested countries, with the internationally accepted average of 15%. The 2% amounts to 1.5 million dunums (1,500 km2). Green cover in Jordan is currently on the rise.[90]


Main article: Climate of Jordan

The climate in Jordan varies greatly.[91] It is hot and sunny in summer with average temperature in the mid 30 °C (86 °F) and is relatively cool in winter averaging around 13 °C (55 °F) with frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some elevated areas. 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). Although the desert parts of the kingdom reach high temperatures, the heat is usually moderated by low humidity and a daytime breeze while the nights are cool.[5]

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 further inland from the Mediterranean a given part of the country lies, the greater are the seasonal contrasts in temperature and the less rainfall.[92]

Politics and government[edit]

Main article: Politics of Jordan

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 Prime Minister, head of Intelligence Directorate and head of Public Security Directorate. The Prime Minister is free to choose his own cabinet and governors, generally from the legislative body.[17] The king's jurisdictions include dissolving the parliament and dismissing the government.[93]

Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: Northern, Central, Southern), these are subdivided into a total of 52 subdivisions called nawahi which are further divided into neighborhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[94] The Parliament of Jordan consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives (Majlis Al-Nuwab) and the Senate (Majlis Al-'Aayan). All 75 members of the Senate are directly appointed by the King, they are usually veteran politicians or are known to have held previous positions in the House of Representatives or in the government.[95] The 130 members of the House of Representatives, are elected through proportional representation in 23 constituencies on nationwide party lists for a 4-year election cycle.[96] Minimum quotas exist in the House for women (15 seats, though they won 19 seats in the 2013 election) and Jordanian Christians (9 seats).[97] Jordan has multiple political parties though they contest fewer than a fifth of the seats; the remainder belong to independent politicians.[98] The government can also be dismissed by a two-thirds vote of "no confidence" by the House of Representatives. 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.[99]

The Constitution of Jordan was adopted in 1952 and has been amended a number of times, most recently in 2016.[100] 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.' 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,[101] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[102] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[103] The religious court system's jurisdiction extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance [104] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[105]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein. Abdullah reaffirmed Jordan's commitment to the peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. He refocused the government's agenda on economic reform, during his first year. King Abdullah's eldest son, Prince Hussein is the current Crown Prince of Jordan.[106] The current prime minister is Hani Al-Mulki who received his position on 29 May 2016.[107] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of fifteen Arab countries.[108] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[109] also Jordan ranked as 55th out of 175 countries worldwide in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[110] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries listed, 5th freest press of 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Jordan's score was 44 on a scale from 0 (most free) to 105 (least free). The report added "the Arab Spring and the Syrian conflict have led the authorities to tighten their grip on the media and, in particular, the Internet, despite an outcry from civil society".[111] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions, popular Jordanian newspapers include; Ammon News, Ad-Dustour and Jordan Times. While the most two watched local TV stations are Ro'ya TV and Jordan TV. Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[112]

Administrative divisions[edit]

A forest in Ajloun, northern Jordan.
Map Governorate Center Population
Northern region
1 Irbid Irbid 1,770,158
2 Ajloun Ajloun 176,080
3 Jerash Jerash 237,059
4 Mafraq Mafraq 549,948
Central region
5 Balqa Al-Salt 491,709
6 Madaba Madaba 189,192
7 Amman Amman 4,007,256
8 Zarqa Zarqa 1,364,878
Southern region
9 Karak Al-Karak 316,629
10 Tafila Tafila 96,291
11 Ma'an Ma'an 144,083
12 Aqaba Aqaba 188,160

Foreign relations[edit]

The kingdom has followed a pro-Western foreign policy and maintained close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. During the first Gulf War, these relations were damaged by Jordan's neutrality and maintaining relations with Iraq. Later, Jordan restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq and in the Southwest Asia peace process. After King Hussein's death in 1999, relations between Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries greatly improved.[113]

King Abdullah II shows his son, Crown Prince Hussein, a photo given to them by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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.[114][115] Since Jordan agreed to the treaty in 1994, the United States has not only contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in an annual foreign aid to Jordan, but also 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.[23]

In Israel in 2009, several Likud lawmakers proposed a bill that called for establishing a Palestinian state in Jordan, arguing that Jordan should be the alternative homeland for the Palestinians. This angered both the Jordanian public and leadership, the original proposal was later disavowed by Israeli Prime Minister.[116] Jordan supports Palestinian demand for statehood and independence through the Two-state solution.[117] The Hashemite family has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem ever since the beginning of the 20th century, this is also stressed in the Jordan-Israel peace treaty. Turmoil in Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians has initiated tensions between Jordan and Israel, concerning the former's role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[118]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[22][119] Jordan enjoys "advanced status" with the European Union since December 2010 and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.[120] Jordan and Morocco tried to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 2011, but the Gulf countries offered a five-year development aid programme instead.[121]

Military, crime and law enforcement[edit]

A Jordanian soldier during a military exercise.

The first organized army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the "Mobile Force". At the time, it was 150 men strong. It was later renamed the "Arab Legion", which numbered some 8,000 soldiers in 3 mechanized regiments. Jordan's capture of the West Bank during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War proved that the Arab Legion, known today as the Jordan Armed Forces, was the most effective among the Arab troops involved in the war.[122] The Jordanian army today is considered to be among the most professional in the region, and is seen as particularly well-trained and organized.[123] The Jordanian military enjoys strong support and aid from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. This is due to Jordan's critical position between Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and 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.[124] Jordan also provides extensive training of security forces in Iraq,[125] the Palestinian territories,[126] and the GCC.[127]

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 and training of native police, to medical care and humanitarian aid. Jordan ranks third internationally in participating in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[128] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[129][130] 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. 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.[131]

An Amman City Centre Police Vehicle.

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition lead by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[132] In 2015, Jordan participated in the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 uprising.[133]

Jordan's law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 40,000 persons). The Jordanian national police is subordinate to the Public Security Directorate of the Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state, was organized after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921. Ali Khulqi Pasha Alsharairi was appointed as the first commander of the security force and as a National Security Counsellor (minister) in the first Transjordan government. The first security force was composed of the Gendarmerie Battalion, and the Gendarmerie regiment, the reservist regiment, the regulars, and the desert patrol force.[134] Until 1956 police duties were carried out totally by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year, the Public Safety Department was established.[134]

Jordan's law enforcement ranked 24th in the world and 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 very safe.[14][135] The number of female police officers is on the rise in Jordan. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[136]


Main article: Economy of Jordan
A proportional representation of Jordan's exports.
A view of the Zahran district in the capital city Amman.

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an "upper-middle income" country;[18] however, approximately 14.4% (as of 2010) of the population lives below the national poverty line.[18] The economy has grown at an average rate of 4.3% per annum since 2005 (as of 2011).[137] The GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990s.[138] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the Jordan–United States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan also has a free trade agreement with Turkey and Canada.[139] Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU which has allowed it to export to a number of European countries.[140] 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.[141]

Jordan's economy is relatively well diversified. 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 another fifth. Despite plans to expand the private sector, the state remains the dominant force in Jordan's economy.[142] 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.[137]

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.[143] The proportion of skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region, in sectors such as ICT and industry. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan. 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%.[144] By the mid-1980s, the agricultural share of Jordan's GNP was only about 6%.[144] Jordan has hosted the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa seven times.[145]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan's GDP growth, impacting trade, industry, construction and tourism.[84] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011, hitting an important source of revenue and employment.[146] Jordan's finances have also been severely strained by some 30 attacks on the natural gas pipeline supplying Jordan from Egypt by ISIS affiliates, causing it to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[147] This has caused the government to increase prices, which raised widespread public discontent.[146]

In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[148] As a result, large scale protests broke out across the country.[141] Jordan's total foreign debt in 2012 was $22 billion, representing 72% of its GDP.[148] In 2016, the debt reached $24.9 billion representing 90.6% of its GDP. This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing; decrease in tourist activity, increased military expenditure, electrical company debts due to attacks on Egyptian pipeline, accumulated interests from loans, the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria and expenses from hosting Syrian refugees.[19]

Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, where Jordan had started exporting highly skilled labour to the Persian Gulf States. The money that migrants send home, remittances, represents today an important source of external funding for many developing countries, including Jordan.[149][150] Remittances from Jordanian expatriates were $3.8 billion in 2015, a notable rise in the amount of transfers compared to 2014 where remittances reached over $3.66 billion listing Jordan as fourth largest recipient in the region.[151]


The Port of Aqaba in the southernmost city of Aqaba, Jordan's only coastal city.

Jordan's well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26 percent of gross domestic product in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2 percent; construction, 4.6 percent; and mining, 3.1 percent). More than 21 percent of Jordan's labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[152] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilizers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Company which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry has gained international recognition and has reached the United States; Empire State Building, at NASA, and in countless schools and buildings.[153] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma. The Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 2015 it acquired Roxane Laboratories; the acquisition will transform Hikma into the sixth largest company in US generics.[154]

Jordan's military industry thrived after conceiving the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) which is a Jordanian defense company. It was established by Royal Decree on 24 August 1999 to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces. KADDB was also created for the supply of defense and commercial equipment optimized for Middle East requirements. It manufactures all types of military products from heavy armored vehicles to military ballistic helmets and body armors. Many of KADDB's products are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. KADDB exports $72 million worth of industries to countries all over the world.[155]


Main article: Tourism in Jordan
Dana Biosphere Reserve in south-central Jordan is a popular tourist attraction..
Al-Maghtas ruins on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River are the location for the Baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist.

After Jordan's independence and its capture of the West Bank in 1948, the country's tourism sector started to grow. However, when Jordan lost the West Bank in 1967, the sector largely collapsed and it only began to reemerge in the 1980s when the country was hit with a severe economic recession. Tourism also suffered another severe blow during the 1990 Gulf War, which also damaged Jordan's economy as a whole.[56] The sector today is considered to be a cornerstone of the Jordanian economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The result was $3.4 billion in tourism revenues, $4.4 billion with the inclusion of medical tourists.[156] The most recent impact to the tourism sector is the regional turmoil in the 2010s caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Between 2014 and 2015, tourism revenues dropped by some $220 million, a 7% decrease.[157] Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2015.[158] The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[20]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[159] Some very well preserved historical cities include Petra and Jerash, the former being Jordan's most popular tourist attraction and an icon of the kingdom.[158] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include; Al-Maghtas where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, Mount Nebo where Moses looked on to the Promised Land, Umm ar-Rasas (a fortified Roman garrison that contains 16 Byzantine churches), Madaba that holds the Madaba Map which is the oldest mosaic map of the Holy Land, Machaerus which is a fortified hilltop overlooking the Dead Sea where John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed and Umm Qais (Gadara) where Jesus is thought to have expelled demons out of a man near the shores of the Sea of Galilee.[160] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad's companions who died during battles with the Byzantines in an attempt to spread Islam to Jordan; the site of the Battle of Mu'tah in Al-Karak where the shrines of 'Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Ja'far ibn Abi Talib and Zayd ibn Harithah lie.[161] In Al-Shuna Al-Shamaliya lie the shrines of the prophet Muhammad's companions Muadh ibn Jabal, Sharhabeel ibn Hasana and Umar ibn Sa'ad.[162] Ajlun Castle built by Muslim Ayyubid leader Saladin in the 12th century AD during his wars with the Crusaders, is also a popular tourist attraction.[163]

Modern entertainment and recreation in urban areas, mostly in Amman, also attract tourists. Recently, the nightlife in Amman, Aqaba and Irbid has started to emerge and the number of bars, discos and nightclubs is on the rise. However, most nightclubs have a restriction on unescorted males.[164] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[91] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present in on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[165]

Jordan has been a medical tourism destination in the Middle East since the 1970s. A study conducted by Jordan's Private Hospitals Association found that 250,000 patients from 102 countries received treatment in Jordan 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.[21] The majority of patients come from Yemen, Libya and Syria due to the ongoing civil wars in those countries. Jordanian doctors and medical staff have gained experience in dealing with war patients through years of receiving such cases from various conflict zones in the region.[166] Jordan also is a hub for natural treatment methods in both Ma'in Hot Springs and the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is often described as a 'natural spa'. It contains 10 times more salt than the average ocean, which makes it impossible to sink in. The high salt concentration of the Dead Sea has been proven as therapeutic for many skin diseases. The uniqueness of this lake attracts several Jordanian and foreign vacationers, which boosted investments in the hotel sector in the area.[167]

Natural resources[edit]

Main article: Energy in Jordan

The country is the world's second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita.[16] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams play a large role in providing Jordan's need for fresh water.[168]

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.[169] Jordan aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves with two nuclear plants scheduled for completion in 2023 and 2025.[170] 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 35 million cubic feet of gas a day, which is sent to a nearby power plant to produce nearly 10% of Jordan's electricity needs.[171]

Despite the fact that reserves of crude oil are non-commercial, Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world that could be commercially exploited in the central and northern regions west of the country.[172] Official figures estimate the kingdom's oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. Attarat Power Plant is a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant which will be completed in 2019 with a total capacity of 470 megawatts. The project is part of the kingdom's 2025 vision that aims at diversifying its energy resources.[173] 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.[174] However, Jordan's oil shale also has a high sulphur content. The extraction of oil shale had been delayed by a couple of years due to the advanced level of technology that is required to extract it and its relatively higher cost.[175]

Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7 m/s over the mountainous areas.[176] For this reason, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources launched several projects like Tafila Wind Farm and have set a target to obtain 10% of Jordan's electrical consumption from renewable resources by 2020.[177]


Main article: Transport in Jordan

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. This high infrastructural development is necessitated by its role as a transit country for goods and services to the Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and the Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[178]

Queen Alia International Airport near Amman was chosen as the best airport in the Middle East for 2014 and 2015 by ASQ.

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011 the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878 km (1,788 mi) of main roads; 2,592 km (1,611 mi) of rural roads and 1,733 km (1,077 mi) of side roads. The Hejaz Railway built during the Ottoman Empire which extended from Damascus to Mecca will act as a base for future railway expansion plans. Currently, the railway has barely any civilian activity, it is primarily used for transporting goods.[179]

Jordan has three commercial airports, all receiving and dispatching international flights. Two are in Amman and the third is in Aqaba, King Hussein International Airport. Amman Civil Airport serves several regional routes and charter flights while Queen Alia International Airport is the major international airport in Jordan and is the hub for Royal Jordanian, the flag carrier. Queen Alia International Airport expansion was completed in 2013 with new terminals costing $700 million, to handle over 16 million passengers annually.[180] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded 'the best airport by region: Middle East' for 2014 and 2015, and 'the best improvement by region: Middle East' for 2014 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world's leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark program.[181]

The Port of Aqaba is the only port in Jordan. In 2006, the port was ranked as being the "Best Container Terminal" in the Middle East by Lloyd's List. The port was chosen due to it being a transit cargo port for other neighboring countries, its location between four countries and three continents, being an exclusive gateway for the local market and for the improvements it has recently witnessed.[182]

Science and technology[edit]

A solar charging station in King Hussein Business Park.

Science and technology is the country's fastest developing economic sector. This growth occurs across multiple industries including information and communications technology and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes to 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[183] The Information and Communications Technology sector accounts for more than 84,000 jobs, and contributes 14% to the GDP. There are 400 companies in Jordan currently operating across the spectrum of telecom, IT, graphical designing and video game development. It has been estimated that these subsections of the information and communications technology industry will create over 18,000 jobs from 2015 to 2020.[184][185]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding; nuclear facilities are undergoing construction. Jordan Research and Training Reactor is a 5MW training reactor located in Jordan University of Science and Technology; the reactor is expected to start operations in 2017 and will be used by the university to train their students in the already existing nuclear engineering program. Jordan signed a contract with Russian company Rosatom in 2014 for the construction of two $5 billion nuclear reactors which are currently under planning and are expected to start delivering electricity in 2023 and 2025.[170]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) by CERN. This particle accelerator, which is expected to start operations in 2018, will allow collaboration between scientists across the Middle East despite the political conflicts.[186]


In 1920, Transjordan had a population of 200,000, which grew to 225,000 in 1922 and 400,000 in 1948.[187] Jordan conducted 6 censuses after its independence, first of which was in 1952 where the population numbered 586,200. The population grew to 900,800 in 1961, 2,133,000 in 1979, 4,139,500 in 1994, 5,100,000 in 2004 and 9,531,712 in 2015.[188] The 9.5 million population in 2015 consisted of 2.9 million non-citizens, many of these refugees from war and some of which were illegal immigrants.[11][189]

As the population increased, it also became more settled and more urban. Almost half of the population in 1922 (around 103,000) was nomadic.[187] In 1946 Amman had a population of 65,754 which grew to over 4 million in 2015.[11] There were 946,000 households in Jordan in 2004, with an average of 5.3 persons per household (compared to 6 persons per household for the census of 1994).[190] The vast majority of Jordanians are Arabs, accounting for 98% of the population. The rest is attributed to other ethnic minorities which include 1% Circassian and 1% Armenians.[84]

Immigrants and refugees[edit]

An aerial view of a portion of the Zaatari refugee camp which only contains a population of 80,000 Syrian refugees.

According to UNRWA, Jordan was home to 1,951,603 Palestinians in 2008, most of them Jordanian citizens. The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrival started during the 1948 Arab Israeli war and peaked in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given some Palestinian refugees citizenship. However recently, Jordanian citizenship is only given in very rare cases.[191] 338,000 of them were living in UNRWA refugee camps.[192] Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently 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 if requested. 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.[193]

Following the Iraq War in 2003, some 700,000–1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan, however, most have returned.[194] Since the Iraq War, many Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) from Iraq have settled permanently or temporarily in Jordan.[195] There were also 15,000 Lebanese who emigrated to Jordan following the 2006 War with Israel.[196] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[11] Jordan takes care of 63% of the total costs of the Syrian refugee crisis in the country.[197] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the considerable strain the Syrian refugees are putting on Jordanian communities and their infrastructure, some of which include competition on job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services.[12]

Assyrian Christians account for up to 150,000 persons, or 0.8% of the population. Most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[198][199] Kurds, number some 30,000 people, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[200] Armenians number approximately 6,500 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[201] 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.[202] Furthermore, there are thousands of foreign women working in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom, mostly from Greater Middle East and Eastern Europe.[203][204][205] 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.[84][206] As of 2015, several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[12]

The 2015 Jordanian census revealed that there are 1,265,000 Syrians, 636,270 Egyptians, 634,182 Palestinians, 130,911 Iraqis, 31,163 Yemenis, 22,700 Libyans and 197,385 from other nationalities residing in the country.[11]

Religion and languages[edit]

Main article: Religion in Jordan
Marsa Zayed mosque in Aqaba.

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 92% of the country's population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis—the highest percentage in the world, according to the Pew Research Center.[24] There are a small number of Ahmadi Muslims.[207] However, the kingdom sometimes falls short of protecting all minority groups. Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries face societal and legal discrimination.[208]

Jordan has among the oldest Christian communities in the world, Christians today make up about 6% of the population, down from 20% in 1950. This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, high emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[13][209] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom, though they are not free to evangelize Muslims.[210] Christians traditionally occupy two Cabinet posts, and are officially reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in Parliament.[211] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, held by Marwan al-Muasher in 2005.[212] Christians are also very influential in media. They own Jordan's most popular TV channel, Ro'ya TV.[213]

Other, smaller religious minorities include Druze and Bahá'ís. Most Jordanian Druze live in the eastern oasis town of Azraq, some villages on the Syrian border, and the city of Zarqa, while most Jordanian Bahá'ís live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[214] Non-Sunni Muslims in Jordan are few but include some Shiites, of which some belong to Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[215]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[216] Most Jordanians speak natively one of the dialects of Jordanian Arabic, a nonstandard version of Arabic. 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 and almost all public schools teach English along with Standard Arabic. Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[217] French is elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector. French remains an elite language in Jordan, though not enjoying the popularity it once did. 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 German-Jordanian University in 2005.[218]


Main article: Culture of Jordan

Religion and tradition play an important part in the modern Jordanian society, however, the country is considered liberal, relative to the other Arab countries as it grapples with effects of globalization.[219]

Arts, cinema and music[edit]

Jordanian military marching band playing bagpipes at Jerash.

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.[220] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[221] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[222] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[223]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new musicians and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. These include singer and composer Toni Qattan and singer Hani Metwasi who changed the perception of the music of Jordan which was unpopular for many years. There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic music bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World such as El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Ayloul. Jordanian pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[224]

The largest museum in Jordan is the Jordan Archaeological Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country,[225] including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of 'Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele. Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including the The Children's Museum Jordan, The Martyr's Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[220]


Main article: Sport in Jordan

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[91] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup. It reached 37th in September 2004 according to the FIFA Rankings, though it has since fallen. Little Leagues and Youth Clubs related to football are also widespread in Jordan, some of which are supervised and run by the Jordan Football Association.[220] In 2013, Jordan lost a chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost 5-0 to Uruguay in the home match and drew with the former World Cup champions 0-0 in the away match. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[226] The Jordan's women football team is also gaining reputation,[227] which in 2016 reached a ranking of 58th.[228] The country is hosting the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.[229]

However, other uncommon sports are also gaining popularity. Rugby is on the rise in Jordan and hundreds of people are playing and watching it. Youngsters established a Rugby Union, which was then recognized by the Jordan Olympic Committee, that now supervises over three national teams. Two of these teams are based in Amman and the other in Aqaba. The teams are; Amman Citadel Rugby Club, the Nomads and Aqaba Sharks.[230] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel and explore the country especially among the youth. In 2014, a non-profit organization Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, a 650 square meters concrete skatepark located at Samir Rifai park in Downtown Amman.[231]

Basketball is also played. Jordan's national basketball team is now being sponsored by Zain and participating in various Arab and Middle East basketball competitions. Local teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[232]


Main article: Jordanian cuisine
Traditional dish of Jordan, Mansaf. Inspired from Bedouin culture, it is a symbol of Jordanian hospitality.

As one of the largest producers of olives in the world,[233] olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan. Herbs, garlic, spices, onion, tomato sauce and lemon are typical flavours found in Jordan. A common appetizer is hummus, which is a puree of chick peas blended with tahini, lemon, and garlic. Ful Medames is another well-known appetiser. A typical worker's meal, it has since made its way to the tables of the upper class. A typical Jordanian meze often contains koubba maqliya, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives and pickles.[234] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rakı and pastis. Jordanian wine and beer are also sometimes used. The same dishes, served without alcoholic drinks, can also be termed "muqabbilat" (starters) in Arabic.[91]

The most distinctive Jordanian dish is mansaf, the national dish of Jordan. The dish is a symbol for Jordanian hospitality and is influenced by the Bedouin culture. Mansaf is eaten on different occasions such as funerals, weddings and on religious holidays. It consists of a plate of rice with meat that was boiled in thick yogurt, sprayed with nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one's hands, but the tradition is not always used.[234] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, there is also dessert, such as baklava, hareeseh, knafeh, halva and qatayef, a dish made specially for Ramadan. In Jordanian cuisine, drinking coffee and tea flavored with na'na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[235]

Health and education[edit]

Medical halls of Jordan University of Science and Technology as seen with the university hospital in the background in the northernmost city of Ar-Ramtha.

Jordan prides itself on its health services, some of the best in the region.[236] Qualified medics and the favorable investment climate have created a good reputation for the country's medical sector. Also, Jordan's stability has allowed its medical sector to develop unlike in other neighboring countries.[237] 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 for males to be 73 years and 75.78 years for females, for total population the life expectancy is 74.35 years.[84] The leading cause of death in the country is attributed to cardiovascular diseases followed by cancer.[238]

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 across 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.[239] The King Hussein Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment center.[240]

70% of the population has medical insurance.[241] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunizations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[239] Water and sanitation, available to only 10% of the population in 1950, now reach 98% of Jordanians, according to government statistics.[242]

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 exams.[243] UNESCO ranked Jordan's education system 18th out of 94 nations for providing gender equality in education.[244] 20.5% of Jordan's total government expenditures goes to education.[245] Education is not free in Jordan.[246] 79% of children go through primary education, while secondary school enrollment has increased from 63% to 97% of high school aged students in Jordan. Between 79% and 85% of high school students in Jordan move on to higher education.[247] The adult literacy rate in 2013 was 97%.[248]

There are 2,000 researchers per million people, compared to 5,000 researchers per million for the highest-performing countries.[249] 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.[250]

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 Defense Department, the Ministry of Health and UNRWA.[251] 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 Europe.[252] Jordan is already home to several international universities such as German-Jordanian University, Columbia University, DePaul University and the American University of Madaba. According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are the University of Jordan (1,010th worldwide), Jordan University of Science & Technology (1,907th) and Yarmouk University (1,969th).[253] Regionally, two Jordanian universities rank among the top 10 Arab Universities in 2015, according to the QS Intelligence Unit report, these are the University of Jordan (8th) and Jordan University of Science and Technology (10th).[254]

Prior to the millennium, there were very few documented efforts toward incorporating environmental education into the school system. In the late 2000s, Jordan implemented several environmental education programs in schools to assess the correlation between education and environmental practices of families in Jordan.[255]

See also[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).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°14′N 36°31′E / 31.24°N 36.51°E / 31.24; 36.51