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Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

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Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] Although, this is disputed by many historians who regard the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the de facto militarisation of the Sinai Peninuslar by President Nasser of Egypt as a casus belli – a legitimate reason to go to war. [103] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[104] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[104] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[104] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[104] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[104] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[105] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[106] Abdullah II 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.[106] He also set up five other special economic zones.[106] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[107]

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.[108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[111] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[111] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[112] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[112]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[113] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[114] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[116]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[117] 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.[118]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[117]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[119] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[121]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[122] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[123] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[124][125][126] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[127]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[128] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[129] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[128]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[128] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[128]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[130] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[131] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[132]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[133] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[133] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[133] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[134] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[135] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[136] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[137]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[138]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[139] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[140] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[141] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[142] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[143]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[144] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[145] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[146] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[147] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[148] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[149] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[150]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[151] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[151]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[152]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[153] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[154] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[155]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[156][157] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[158] 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.[159]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[160] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[161]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[162] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[163] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[164]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[165] 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.[166]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[167] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[167] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[168] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][169]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[170] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[170] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[171] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[172] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[173]

The official currency 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.[174] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[175] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[176]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[177] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[178] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[179] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[176][177]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[180] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[181] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[182] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[183]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[184] 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.[185]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[186]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[187]

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.[188] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[189]

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 neighbouring 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.[190]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[191] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[192] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[192]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[193] 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.[192] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[194] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[195] 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.[8]

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.[196] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[197] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[198]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[199] 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.[200] 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 proved as being 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.[201] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[202] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[202]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[203] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[204] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[205] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[206]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[207] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[208] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[209] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[210] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[211]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[212] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[213] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[214] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[215] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[216] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[217]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[218] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[219] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[220]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[221]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[223] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[223]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[224] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[224]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[225] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[225] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[225]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[227] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[228] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[228] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[229]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[230] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[231] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[232] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[233] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[234] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[235] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[236] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[237] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[238] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[239][240][241] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[197]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[242] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[243] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[244] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[245]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[246] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[247] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[248] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[247] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [249] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[250] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[251] Christians are also influential in media.[252] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[253] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[254]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[255] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[255] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[256] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[255] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[257]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[258] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[259] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[260] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[261]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[262] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[263] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[263]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[264] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[264] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[265] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[266]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[197] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[263] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[267] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[268] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[269] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[270]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[271] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[272] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[273] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[274]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[275] 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.[276] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[197]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[276] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[277]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[279] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[280] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[281]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

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2018 estimate

2015census

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Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] Although, this is disputed by many historians who regard the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the de facto militarisation of the Sinai Peninuslar by President Nasser of Egypt as a casus belli – a legitimate reason to go to war. [103] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[104] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[104] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[104] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[104] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[104] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[105] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[106] Abdullah II 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.[106] He also set up five other special economic zones.[106] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[107]

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.[108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[111] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[111] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[112] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[112]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[113] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[114] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[116]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[117] 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.[118]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[117]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[119] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[121]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[122] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[123] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[124][125][126] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[127]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[128] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[129] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[128]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[128] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[128]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[130] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[131] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[132]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[133] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[133] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[133] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[134] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[135] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[136] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[137]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[138]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[139] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[140] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[141] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[142] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[143]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[144] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[145] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[146] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[147] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[148] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[149] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[150]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[151] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[151]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[152]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[153] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[154] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[155]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[156][157] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[158] 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.[159]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[160] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[161]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[162] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[163] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[164]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[165] 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.[166]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[167] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[167] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[168] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][169]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[170] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[170] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[171] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[172] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[173]

The official currency 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.[174] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[175] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[176]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[177] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[178] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[179] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[176][177]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[180] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[181] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[182] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[183]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[184] 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.[185]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[186]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[187]

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.[188] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[189]

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 neighbouring 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.[190]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[191] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[192] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[192]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[193] 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.[192] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[194] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[195] 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.[8]

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.[196] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[197] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[198]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[199] 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.[200] 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 proved as being 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.[201] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[202] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[202]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[203] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[204] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[205] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[206]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[207] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[208] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[209] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[210] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[211]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[212] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[213] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[214] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[215] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[216] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[217]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[218] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[219] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[220]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[221]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[223] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[223]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[224] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[224]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[225] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[225] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[225]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[227] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[228] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[228] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[229]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[230] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[231] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[232] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[233] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[234] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[235] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[236] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[237] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[238] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[239][240][241] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[197]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[242] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[243] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[244] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[245]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[246] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[247] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[248] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[247] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [249] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[250] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[251] Christians are also influential in media.[252] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[253] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[254]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[255] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[255] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[256] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[255] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[257]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[258] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[259] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[260] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[261]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[262] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[263] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[263]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[264] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[264] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[265] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[266]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[197] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[263] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[267] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[268] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[269] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[270]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[271] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[272] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[273] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[274]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[275] 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.[276] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[197]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[276] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[277]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[279] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[280] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[281]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

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2018 estimate

2015census

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Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] Although, this is disputed by many historians who regard the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the de facto militarisation of the Sinai Peninuslar by President Nasser of Egypt as a casus belli – a legitimate reason to go to war. [103] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[104] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[104] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[104] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[104] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[104] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[105] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[106] Abdullah II 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.[106] He also set up five other special economic zones.[106] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[107]

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.[108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[111] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[111] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[112] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[112]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[113] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[114] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[116]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[117] 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.[118]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[117]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[119] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[121]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[122] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[123] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[124][125][126] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[127]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[128] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[129] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[128]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[128] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[128]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[130] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[131] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[132]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[133] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[133] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[133] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[134] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[135] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[136] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[137]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[138]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[139] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[140] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[141] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[142] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[143]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[144] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[145] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[146] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[147] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[148] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[149] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[150]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[151] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[151]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[152]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[153] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[154] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[155]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[156][157] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[158] 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.[159]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[160] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[161]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[162] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[163] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[164]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[165] 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.[166]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[167] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[167] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[168] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][169]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[170] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[170] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[171] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[172] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[173]

The official currency 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.[174] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[175] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[176]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[177] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[178] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[179] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[176][177]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[180] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[181] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[182] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[183]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[184] 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.[185]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[186]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[187]

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.[188] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[189]

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 neighbouring 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.[190]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[191] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[192] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[192]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[193] 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.[192] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[194] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[195] 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.[8]

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.[196] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[197] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[198]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[199] 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.[200] 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 proved as being 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.[201] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[202] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[202]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[203] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[204] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[205] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[206]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[207] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[208] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[209] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[210] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[211]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[212] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[213] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[214] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[215] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[216] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[217]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[218] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[219] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[220]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[221]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[223] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[223]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[224] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[224]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[225] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[225] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[225]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[227] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[228] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[228] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[229]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[230] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[231] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[232] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[233] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[234] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[235] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[236] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[237] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[238] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[239][240][241] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[197]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[242] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[243] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[244] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[245]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[246] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[247] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[248] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[247] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [249] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[250] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[251] Christians are also influential in media.[252] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[253] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[254]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[255] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[255] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[256] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[255] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[257]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[258] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[259] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[260] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[261]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[262] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[263] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[263]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[264] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[264] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[265] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[266]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[197] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[263] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[267] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[268] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[269] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[270]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[271] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[272] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[273] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[274]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[275] 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.[276] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[197]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[276] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[277]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[279] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[280] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[281]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

Total

Water(%)

2018 estimate

2015census

Density

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Per capita

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Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] Although, this is disputed by many historians who regard the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the de facto militarisation of the Sinai Peninuslar by President Nasser of Egypt as a casus belli – a legitimate reason to go to war. [103] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[104] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[104] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[104] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[104] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[104] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[105] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[106] Abdullah II 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.[106] He also set up five other special economic zones.[106] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[107]

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.[108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[111] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[111] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[112] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[112]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[113] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[114] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[116]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[117] 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.[118]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[117]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[119] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[121]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[122] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[123] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[124][125][126] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[127]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[128] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[129] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[128]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[128] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[128]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[130] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[131] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[132]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[133] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[133] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[133] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[134] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[135] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[136] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[137]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[138]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[139] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[140] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[141] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[142] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[143]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[144] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[145] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[146] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[147] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[148] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[149] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[150]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[151] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[151]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[152]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[153] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[154] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[155]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[156][157] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[158] 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.[159]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[160] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[161]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[162] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[163] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[164]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[165] 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.[166]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[167] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[167] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[168] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][169]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[170] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[170] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[171] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[172] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[173]

The official currency 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.[174] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[175] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[176]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[177] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[178] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[179] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[176][177]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[180] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[181] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[182] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[183]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[184] 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.[185]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[186]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[187]

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.[188] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[189]

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 neighbouring 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.[190]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[191] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[192] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[192]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[193] 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.[192] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[194] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[195] 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.[8]

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.[196] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[197] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[198]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[199] 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.[200] 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 proved as being 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.[201] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[202] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[202]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[203] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[204] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[205] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[206]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[207] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[208] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[209] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[210] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[211]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[212] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[213] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[214] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[215] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[216] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[217]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[218] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[219] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[220]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[221]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[223] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[223]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[224] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[224]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[225] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[225] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[225]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[227] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[228] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[228] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[229]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[230] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[231] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[232] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[233] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[234] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[235] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[236] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[237] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[238] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[239][240][241] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[197]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[242] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[243] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[244] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[245]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[246] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[247] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[248] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[247] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [249] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[250] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[251] Christians are also influential in media.[252] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[253] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[254]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[255] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[255] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[256] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[255] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[257]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[258] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[259] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[260] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[261]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[262] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[263] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[263]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[264] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[264] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[265] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[266]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[197] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[263] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[267] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[268] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[269] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[270]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[271] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[272] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[273] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[274]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[275] 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.[276] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[197]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[276] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[277]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[279] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[280] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[281]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

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2018 estimate

2015census

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Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] Although, this is disputed by many historians who regard the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the de facto militarisation of the Sinai Peninuslar by President Nasser of Egypt as a casus belli – a legitimate reason to go to war. [103] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[104] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[104] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[104] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[104] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[104] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[105] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[106] Abdullah II 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.[106] He also set up five other special economic zones.[106] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[107]

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.[108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[111] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[111] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[112] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[112]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[113] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[114] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[116]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[117] 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.[118]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[117]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[119] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[121]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[122] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[123] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[124][125][126] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[127]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[128] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[129] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[128]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[128] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[128]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[130] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[131] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[132]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[133] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[133] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[133] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[134] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[135] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[136] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[137]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[138]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[139] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[140] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[141] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[142] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[143]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[144] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[145] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[146] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[147] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[148] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[149] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[150]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[151] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[151]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[152]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[153] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[154] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[155]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[156][157] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[158] 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.[159]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[160] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[161]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[162] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[163] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[164]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[165] 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.[166]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[167] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[167] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[168] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][169]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[170] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[170] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[171] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[172] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[173]

The official currency 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.[174] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[175] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[176]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[177] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[178] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[179] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[176][177]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[180] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[181] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[182] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[183]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[184] 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.[185]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[186]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[187]

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.[188] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[189]

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 neighbouring 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.[190]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[191] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[192] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[192]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[193] 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.[192] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[194] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[195] 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.[8]

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.[196] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[197] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[198]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[199] 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.[200] 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 proved as being 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.[201] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[202] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[202]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[203] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[204] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[205] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[206]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[207] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[208] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[209] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[210] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[211]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[212] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[213] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[214] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[215] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[216] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[217]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[218] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[219] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[220]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[221]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[223] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[223]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[224] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[224]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[225] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[225] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[225]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[227] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[228] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[228] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[229]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[230] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[231] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[232] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[233] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[234] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[235] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[236] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[237] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[238] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[239][240][241] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[197]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[242] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[243] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[244] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[245]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[246] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[247] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[248] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[247] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [249] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[250] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[251] Christians are also influential in media.[252] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[253] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[254]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[255] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[255] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[256] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[255] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[257]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[258] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[259] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[260] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[261]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[262] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[263] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[263]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[264] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[264] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[265] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[266]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[197] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[263] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[267] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[268] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[269] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[270]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[271] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[272] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[273] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[274]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[275] 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.[276] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[197]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[276] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[277]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[279] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[280] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[281]

See the article here:

Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

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What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

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Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] Although, this is disputed by many historians who regard the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the de facto militarisation of the Sinai Peninuslar by President Nasser of Egypt as a casus belli – a legitimate reason to go to war. [103] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[104] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[104] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[104] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[104] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[104] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[105] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[106] Abdullah II 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.[106] He also set up five other special economic zones.[106] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[107]

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.[108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[111] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[111] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[112] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[112]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[113] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[114] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[116]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[117] 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.[118]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[117]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[119] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[121]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[122] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[123] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[124][125][126] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[127]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[128] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[129] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[128]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[128] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[128]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[130] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[131] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[132]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[133] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[133] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[133] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[134] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[135] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[136] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[137]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[138]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[139] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[140] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[141] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[142] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[143]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[144] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[145] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[146] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[147] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[148] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[149] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[150]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[151] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[151]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[152]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[153] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[154] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[155]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[156][157] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[158] 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.[159]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[160] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[161]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[162] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[163] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[164]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[165] 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.[166]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[167] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[167] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[168] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][169]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[170] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[170] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[171] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[172] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[173]

The official currency 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.[174] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[175] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[176]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[177] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[178] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[179] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[176][177]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[180] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[181] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[182] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[183]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[184] 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.[185]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[186]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[187]

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.[188] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[189]

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 neighbouring 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.[190]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[191] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[192] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[192]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[193] 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.[192] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[194] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[195] 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.[8]

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.[196] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[197] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[198]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[199] 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.[200] 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 proved as being 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.[201] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[202] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[202]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[203] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[204] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[205] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[206]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[207] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[208] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[209] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[210] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[211]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[212] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[213] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[214] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[215] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[216] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[217]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[218] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[219] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[220]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[221]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[223] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[223]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[224] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[224]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[225] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[225] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[225]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[227] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[228] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[228] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[229]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[230] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[231] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[232] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[233] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[234] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[235] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[236] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[237] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[238] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[239][240][241] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[197]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[242] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[243] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[244] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[245]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[246] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[247] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[248] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[247] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [249] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[250] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[251] Christians are also influential in media.[252] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[253] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[254]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[255] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[255] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[256] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[255] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[257]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[258] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[259] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[260] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[261]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[262] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[263] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[263]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[264] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[264] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[265] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[266]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[197] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[263] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[267] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[268] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[269] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[270]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[271] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[272] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[273] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[274]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[275] 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.[276] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[197]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[276] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[277]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[279] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[280] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[281]

Jordan prides itself on its health services, some of the best in the region.[282] Qualified medics, favourable investment climate and Jordan’s stability has contributed to the success of this sector.[283] The country’s health care system is divided between public and private institutions. On 1 June 2007, Jordan Hospital (as the biggest private hospital) was the first general specialty hospital to gain the international accreditation JCAHO.[280] The King Hussein Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment center.[284] 66% of Jordanians have medical insurance.[3]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

Total

Water(%)

2018 estimate

2015census

Density

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Per capita

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Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] While several theories for the origin of the river’s name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning “the descender”, reflecting the river’s declivity.[18] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river.[18] The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden.[19] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[103] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[103] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[103] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[103]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[103] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[103] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[103] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[103]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[103] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[103] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[103] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[103]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[104] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[105] Abdullah II 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.[105] He also set up five other special economic zones.[105] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[106]

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.[107] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[107] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[107] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[108] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[109]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[110] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[110] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[110] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[111] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[111]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[112] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[113] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[113] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[112]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[112] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[112] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[112] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[112]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[114] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[115] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[115]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[116] 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.[117]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[117] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[116] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[116]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[118] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[119] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[120]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[121] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[122] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[123][124][125] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[126]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[127] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[128] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[127]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[127] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[127]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[129] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[130] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[131]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[132] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[132] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[132] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[133] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[134] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[135] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[136]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[137]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[138] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[139] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[140] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[141] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[142]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[143] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[144] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[145] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[146] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[147] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[148] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[149]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[150] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[150]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[151]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[152] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[153] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[154]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[155][156] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[157] 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.[158]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[159] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[160]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[161] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[162] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[163]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[164] 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.[165]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[166] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[166] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[167] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][168]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[169] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[169] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[170] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[171] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[172]

The official currency 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.[173] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[174] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[175]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[176] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[177] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[178] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[175][176]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[106] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[106] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[179] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[180] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[181] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[182]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[183] 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.[184]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[185]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[186]

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.[187] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[188]

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 neighbouring 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.[189]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[190] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[191] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[191]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[192] 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.[191] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[193] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[194] 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.[8]

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.[195] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[196] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[197]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[198] 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.[199] 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 proved as being 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.[200] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[201] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[201]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[202] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[203] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[204] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[205]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[206] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[207] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[208] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[209] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[210]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[211] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[212] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[213] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[214] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[215] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[216]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[217] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[218] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[219]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[220]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[222] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[222]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[223] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[223]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[224] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[224] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[224]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[226] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[227] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[227] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[228]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[229] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[230] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[231] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[232] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[233] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[234] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[235] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[236] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[237] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[238][239][240] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[196]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[241] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[242] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[243] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[244]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[245] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[246] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[247] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[246] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [248] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[249] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[250] Christians are also influential in media.[251] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[252] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[253]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[254] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[254] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[255] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[254] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[256]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[257] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[258] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[259] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[260]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[261] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[262] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[262]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[263] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[263] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[264] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[265]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[196] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[262] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[266] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[267] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[268] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[269]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[270] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[271] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[272] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[273]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[274] 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.[275] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[196]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[275] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[276]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[278] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[279] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[280]

The rest is here:

Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

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2018 estimate

2015census

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Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically[when?] called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river. The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]The modern country was established in 1921 as the Emirate of Transjordan, a British protectorate, before becoming the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in 1946 and finally adopting its current name, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in 1949.

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[103] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[103] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[103] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[103]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[103] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[103] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[103] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[103]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[103] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[103] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[103] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[103]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[104] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[105] Abdullah II 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.[105] He also set up five other special economic zones.[105] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[106]

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.[107] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[107] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[107] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[108] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[109]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[110] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[110] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[110] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[111] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[111]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[112] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[113] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[113] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[112]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[112] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[112] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[112] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[112]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[114] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[115] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[115]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[116] 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.[117]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[117] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[116] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[116]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[118] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[119] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[120]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[121] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[122] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[123][124][125] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[126]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[127] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[128] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[127]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[127] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[127]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[129] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[130] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[131]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[132] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[132] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[132] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[133] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[134] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[135] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[136]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[137]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[138] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[139] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[140] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[141] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[142]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[143] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[144] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[145] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[146] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[147] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[148] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[149]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[150] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[150]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[151]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[152] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[153] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[154]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[155][156] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[157] 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.[158]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[159] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[160]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[161] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[162] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[163]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[164] 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.[165]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[166] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[166] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[167] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][168]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[169] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[169] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[170] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[171] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[172]

The official currency 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.[173] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[174] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[175]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[176] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[177] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[178] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[175][176]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[106] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[106] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[179] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[180] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[181] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[182]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[183] 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.[184]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[185]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[186]

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.[187] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[188]

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 neighbouring 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.[189]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[190] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[191] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[191]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[192] 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.[191] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[193] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[194] 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.[8]

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.[195] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[196] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[197]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[198] 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.[199] 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 proved as being 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.[200] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[201] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[201]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[202] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[203] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[204] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[205]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[206] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[207] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[208] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[209] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[210]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[211] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[212] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[213] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[214] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[215] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[216]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[217] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[218] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[219]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[220]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[222] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[222]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[223] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[223]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[224] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[224] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[224]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[226] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[227] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[227] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[228]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[229] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[230] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[231] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[232] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[233] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[234] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[235] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[236] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[237] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[238][239][240] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[196]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[241] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[242] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[243] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[244]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[245] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[246] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[247] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[246] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [248] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[249] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[250] Christians are also influential in media.[251] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[252] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[253]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[254] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[254] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[255] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[254] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[256]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[257] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[258] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[259] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[260]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[261] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[262] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[262]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[263] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[263] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[264] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[265]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[196] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[262] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[266] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[267] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[268] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[269]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[270] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[271] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[272] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[273]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[274] 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.[275] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[196]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[275] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[276]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[278] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[279] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[280]

See original here:

Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

Total

Water(%)

2018 estimate

2015census

Density

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Per capita

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Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically[when?] called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river. The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]The modern country was established in 1921 as the Emirate of Transjordan, a British protectorate, before becoming the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in 1946 and finally adopting its current name, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in 1949.

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[103] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[103] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[103] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[103]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[103] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[103] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[103] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[103]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[103] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[103] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[103] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[103]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[104] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[105] Abdullah II 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.[105] He also set up five other special economic zones.[105] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[106]

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.[107] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[107] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[107] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[108] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[109]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[110] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[110] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[110] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[111] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[111]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[112] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[113] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[113] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[112]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[112] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[112] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[112] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[112]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[114] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[115] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[115]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[116] 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.[117]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[117] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[116] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[116]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[118] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[119] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[120]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[121] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[122] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[123][124][125] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[126]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[127] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[128] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[127]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[127] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[127]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[129] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[130] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[131]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[132] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[132] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[132] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[133] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[134] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[135] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[136]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[137]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[138] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[139] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[140] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[141] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[142]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[143] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[144] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[145] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[146] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[147] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[148] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[149]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[150] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[150]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[151]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[152] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[153] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[154]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[155][156] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[157] 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.[158]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[159] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[160]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[161] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[162] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[163]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[164] 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.[165]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[166] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[166] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[167] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][168]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[169] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[169] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[170] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[171] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[172]

The official currency 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.[173] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[174] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[175]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[176] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[177] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[178] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[175][176]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[106] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[106] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[179] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[180] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[181] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[182]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[183] 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.[184]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[185]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[186]

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.[187] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[188]

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 neighbouring 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.[189]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[190] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[191] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[191]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[192] 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.[191] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[193] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[194] 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.[8]

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.[195] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[196] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[197]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[198] 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.[199] 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 proved as being 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.[200] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[201] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[201]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[202] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[203] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[204] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[205]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[206] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[207] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[208] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[209] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[210]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[211] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[212] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[213] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[214] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[215] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[216]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[217] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[218] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[219]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[220]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[222] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[222]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[223] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[223]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[224] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[224] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[224]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[226] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[227] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[227] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[228]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[229] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[230] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[231] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[232] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[233] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[234] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[235] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[236] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[237] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[238][239][240] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[196]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[241] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[242] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[243] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[244]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[245] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[246] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[247] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[246] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [248] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[249] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[250] Christians are also influential in media.[251] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[252] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[253]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[254] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[254] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[255] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[254] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[256]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[257] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[258] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[259] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[260]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[261] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[262] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[262]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[263] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[263] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[264] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[265]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[196] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[262] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[266] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[267] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[268] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[269]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[270] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[271] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[272] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[273]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[274] 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.[275] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[196]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[275] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[276]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[278] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[279] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[280]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan – The New York Times

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a relatively young, politically liberal Arab state in the Middle East. Once the home of ancient biblical kingdoms and outpost of several powerful foreign empires, Jordan fell under Ottoman Empire control in 1516, where it remained until the British took over governorship at the end of World War I. In 1946, Jordan won its independence, establishing a constitutional monarchy under the rule of King Abdullah I.

From 1953 until 1999, Jordan was governed by Abdullah Is grandson King Hussein, who sought to maintain a political balancing act between the many countries and territories that Jordan borders Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the West Bank. During this time, Husseins government often clashed with Jordans large Palestinian population, many of whom resented his annexation of the West Bank in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and refusal to fight for an independent Palestinian state. Concurrently, Hussein also traded hostilities with Israel, culminating in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Jordan lost its claim to the West Bank. In 1994, Hussein signed a peace treaty with Israel, officially ending the war between the two countries.

Husseins son Abdullah II, who took the throne in 1999 after his fathers death, has pledged to work toward a more open government and to ease restrictions on public expression that were tamped down during Husseins long reign. During the 2010-12 Arab Spring, Abdullah II responded to protesters in capital of Amman and elsewhere by putting into place modest democratic reforms, bypassing the violent upheavals that toppled other rulers in neighboring countries. Abdullah IIs government, following the nations pro-Western foreign policy and international peace efforts, continues to be a key ally to the United States and, in 2013, welcomed news that Jordan was elected a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Since the start of Syrias civil war in 2011, Abdullahs government has also struggled with massive influx of Syrian refugees, who have strained Jordans already limited resources.

Learn more about Jordan. Scroll below to view our archive of articles and chronology of latest news.

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Jordan – The New York Times

Jordan travel – Lonely Planet

Ancient Hospitality

Jordan has a tradition of welcoming visitors: camel caravans plied the legendary Kings Highway transporting frankincense in exchange for spices while Nabataean tradesmen, Roman legionnaires, Muslim armies and zealous Crusaders all passed through the land, leaving behind impressive monuments. These monuments, including Roman amphitheatres, Crusader castles and Christian mosaics, have fascinated subsequent travellers in search of antiquity and the origins of faith. The tradition of hospitality to visitors remains to this day.

Petra, the ancient Nabataean city locked in the heart of Jordans sandstone escarpments, is the jewel in the crown of the countrys many antiquities. Ever since explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt brought news of the pink-hued necropolis back to Europe in the 19th century, the walk through the Siq to the Treasury (Petras defining monument) has impressed even the most travel weary of visitors. With sites flung over a vast rocky landscape and a mood that changes with the shifting light of dawn and dusk, this is a highlight that rewards a longer visit.

Take a ride through Wadi Rum at sunset, and it’s easy to see why TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was so drawn to this land of weathered sandstone and reddened dunes. But Jordan’s desert landscapes are not confined to the southeast: they encompass a salt sea at the lowest point on earth, canyons flowing with seasonal water, oases of palm trees and explosions of springtime flowers scattered across arid hills. Minimal planning and only a modest budget is required for an adventure.

It takes tolerance to host endless waves of incomers, and Jordan has displayed that virtue amply, absorbing thousands of refugees from the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and most recently Syria. Despite contending with this and with large numbers of tourists who are often insensitive to conservative Jordanian values, rural life in particular has managed to keep continuity with the traditions of the past. While Jordan faces the challenges of modernisation and growing urbanisation, it remains one of the safest countries in which to gain an impression of the quintessential Middle East.

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Jordan travel – Lonely Planet

Jordan | history – geography | Britannica.com

Alternative Titles:Al-Mamlakah al-Urdunyah al-Hshimyah, Al-Urdun, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Jordan, Arab country of Southwest Asia, in the rocky desert of the northern Arabian Peninsula.

Jordan is a young state that occupies an ancient land, one that bears the traces of many civilizations. Separated from ancient Palestine by the Jordan River, the region played a prominent role in biblical history. The ancient biblical kingdoms of Moab, Gilead, and Edom lie within its borders, as does the famed red stone city of Petra, the capital of the Nabatean kingdom and of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. British traveler Gertrude Bell said of Petra, It is like a fairy tale city, all pink and wonderful. Part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918 and later a mandate of the United Kingdom, Jordan has been an independent kingdom since 1946. It is among the most politically liberal countries of the Arab world, and, although it shares in the troubles affecting the region, its rulers have expressed a commitment to maintaining peace and stability.

The capital and largest city in the country is Ammannamed for the Ammonites, who made the city their capital in the 13th century bce. Amman was later a great city of Middle Eastern antiquity, Philadelphia, of the Roman Decapolis, and now serves as one of the regions principal commercial and transportation centres as well as one of the Arab worlds major cultural capitals.

Slightly smaller in area than the country of Portugal, Jordan is bounded to the north by Syria, to the east by Iraq, to the southeast and south by Saudi Arabia, and to the west by Israel and the West Bank. The West Bank area (so named because it lies just west of the Jordan River) was under Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967, but in 1988 Jordan renounced its claims to the area. Jordan has 16 miles (26 km) of coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the southwest, where Al-Aqabah, its only port, is located.

Jordan has three major physiographic regions (from east to west): the desert, the uplands east of the Jordan River, and the Jordan Valley (the northwest portion of the great East African Rift System).

The desert region is mostly within the Syrian Desertan extension of the Arabian Desertand occupies the eastern and southern parts of the country, comprising more than four-fifths of its territory. The deserts northern part is composed of volcanic lava and basalt, and its southern part of outcrops of sandstone and granite. The landscape is much eroded, primarily by wind. The uplands east of the Jordan River, an escarpment overlooking the rift valley, have an average elevation of 2,0003,000 feet (600900 metres) and rise to about 5,755 feet (1,754 metres) at Mount Ramm, Jordans highest point, in the south. Outcrops of sandstone, chalk, limestone, and flint extend to the extreme south, where igneous rocks predominate.

The Jordan Valley drops to about 1,410 feet (430 metres) below sea level at the Dead Sea, the lowest natural point on Earths surface.

The Jordan River, approximately 186 miles (300 km) in length, meanders south, draining the waters of Lake Tiberias (better known as the Sea of Galilee), the Yarmk River, and the valley streams of both plateaus into the Dead Sea, which occupies the central area of the valley. The soil of its lower reaches is highly saline, and the shores of the Dead Sea consist of salt marshes that do not support vegetation. To its south, Wadi al-Arabah (also called Wadi al-Jayb), a completely desolate region, is thought to contain mineral resources.

In the northern uplands several valleys containing perennial streams run west; around Al-Karak they flow west, east, and north; south of Al-Karak intermittent valley streams run east toward Al-Jafr Depression.

The countrys best soils are found in the Jordan Valley and in the area southeast of the Dead Sea. The topsoil in both regions consists of alluviumdeposited by the Jordan River and washed from the uplands, respectivelywith the soil in the valley generally being deposited in fans spread over various grades of marl.

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Jordan | history – geography | Britannica.com

Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Alternative medicineAM, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), complementary medicine, heterodox medicine, integrative medicine (IM), complementary and integrative medicine (CIM), new-age medicine, unconventional medicine, unorthodox medicineHow alternative treatments “work”:a) Misinterpreted natural course the individual gets better without treatment.b) Placebo effect or false treatment effect an individual receives “alternative therapy” and is convinced it will help. The conviction makes them more likely to get better.c) Nocebo effect an individual is convinced that standard treatment will not work, and that alternative treatment will work. This decreases the likelihood standard treatment will work, while the placebo effect of the “alternative” remains. d) No adverse effects Standard treatment is replaced with “alternative” treatment, getting rid of adverse effects, but also of improvement. e) Interference Standard treatment is “complemented” with something that interferes with its effect. This can both cause worse effect, but also decreased (or even increased) side effects, which may be interpreted as “helping”.Researchers such as epidemiologists, clinical statisticians and pharmacologists use clinical trials to tease out such effects, allowing doctors to offer only that which has been shown to work. “Alternative treatments” often refuse to use trials or make it deliberately hard to do so.

Alternative medicine, fringe medicine, pseudomedicine or simply questionable medicine is the use and promotion of practices which are unproven, disproven, impossible to prove, or excessively harmful in relation to their effect in the attempt to achieve the healing effects of medicine. They differ from experimental medicine in that the latter employs responsible investigation, and accepts results that show it to be ineffective. The scientific consensus is that alternative therapies either do not, or cannot, work. In some cases laws of nature are violated by their basic claims; in some the treatment is so much worse that its use is unethical. Alternative practices, products, and therapies range from only ineffective to having known harmful and toxic effects.

Alternative therapies may be credited for perceived improvement through placebo effects, decreased use or effect of medical treatment (and therefore either decreased side effects; or nocebo effects towards standard treatment), or the natural course of the condition or disease. Alternative treatment is not the same as experimental treatment or traditional medicine, although both can be misused in ways that are alternative. Alternative or complementary medicine is dangerous because it may discourage people from getting the best possible treatment, and may lead to a false understanding of the body and of science.

Alternative medicine is used by a significant number of people, though its popularity is often overstated. Large amounts of funding go to testing alternative medicine, with more than US$2.5 billion spent by the United States government alone. Almost none show any effect beyond that of false treatment, and most studies showing any effect have been statistical flukes. Alternative medicine is a highly profitable industry, with a strong lobby. This fact is often overlooked by media or intentionally kept hidden, with alternative practice being portrayed positively when compared to “big pharma”. The lobby has successfully pushed for alternative therapies to be subject to far less regulation than conventional medicine. Alternative therapies may even be allowed to promote use when there is demonstrably no effect, only a tradition of use. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine and health care providers varies between and within countries. Despite laws making it illegal to market or promote alternative therapies for use in cancer treatment, many practitioners promote them. Alternative medicine is criticized for taking advantage of the weakest members of society. For example, the United States National Institutes of Health department studying alternative medicine, currently named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was established as the Office of Alternative Medicine and was renamed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine before obtaining its current name. Therapies are often framed as “natural” or “holistic”, in apparent opposition to conventional medicine which is “artificial” and “narrow in scope”, statements which are intentionally misleading. When used together with functional medical treatment, alternative therapies do not “complement” (improve the effect of, or mitigate the side effects of) treatment. Significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively impact functional treatment, making it less effective, notably in cancer.

Alternative diagnoses and treatments are not part of medicine, or of science-based curricula in medical schools, nor are they used in any practice based on scientific knowledge or experience. Alternative therapies are often based on religious belief, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or lies. Alternative medicine is based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, antiscience, fraud, and poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical. Testing alternative medicine that has no scientific basis has been called a waste of scarce research resources. Critics state that “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”, that the very idea of “alternative” treatments is paradoxical, as any treatment proven to work is by definition “medicine”.

Alternative medicine is defined loosely as a set of products, practices, and theories that are believed or perceived by their users to have the healing effects of medicine,[n 1][n 2] but whose effectiveness has not been clearly established using scientific methods,[n 1][n 3][4][5][6][7] or whose theory and practice is not part of biomedicine,[n 2][n 4][n 5][n 6] or whose theories or practices are directly contradicted by scientific evidence or scientific principles used in biomedicine.[4][5][11] “Biomedicine” or “medicine” is that part of medical science that applies principles of biology, physiology, molecular biology, biophysics, and other natural sciences to clinical practice, using scientific methods to establish the effectiveness of that practice. Unlike medicine,[n 4] an alternative product or practice does not originate from using scientific methods, but may instead be based on hearsay, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources.[n 3][1][4][5]

In General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, published in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), complementary and alternative medicine were defined as a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.[12]

The expression also refers to a diverse range of related and unrelated products, practices, and theories ranging from biologically plausible practices and products and practices with some evidence, to practices and theories that are directly contradicted by basic science or clear evidence, and products that have been conclusively proven to be ineffective or even toxic and harmful.[n 2][14][15]

The terms alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, holistic medicine, natural medicine, unorthodox medicine, fringe medicine, unconventional medicine, and new age medicine are used interchangeably as having the same meaning and are almost synonymous in most contexts.[16][17][18][19]

The meaning of the term “alternative” in the expression “alternative medicine”, is not that it is an effective alternative to medical science, although some alternative medicine promoters may use the loose terminology to give the appearance of effectiveness.[4][20] Loose terminology may also be used to suggest meaning that a dichotomy exists when it does not, e.g., the use of the expressions “western medicine” and “eastern medicine” to suggest that the difference is a cultural difference between the Asiatic east and the European west, rather than that the difference is between evidence-based medicine and treatments that do not work.[4]

Complementary medicine (CM) or integrative medicine (IM) is when alternative medicine is used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it improves the effect of treatments.[n 7][1][22][23][24] However, significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively influence treatment, making treatments less effective, notably cancer therapy.[25][26] Both terms refer to use of alternative medical treatments alongside conventional medicine,[27][28][29] an example of which is use of acupuncture (sticking needles in the body to influence the flow of a supernatural energy), along with using science-based medicine, in the belief that the acupuncture increases the effectiveness or “complements” the science-based medicine.[29]

CAM is an abbreviation of the phrase complementary and alternative medicine.[30][31] It has also been called sCAM or SCAM with the addition of “so-called” or “supplements”.[32][33]

Allopathic medicine or allopathy is an expression commonly used by homeopaths and proponents of other forms of alternative medicine to refer to mainstream medicine. It was used to describe the traditional European practice of heroic medicine,[34] but later continued to be used to describe anything that was not homeopathy.[34]

Allopathy refers to the use of pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions.[35] The German version of the word, allopathisch, was coined in 1810 by the creator of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (17551843).[36] The word was coined from allo- (different) and -pathic (relating to a disease or to a method of treatment).[37] In alternative medicine circles the expression “allopathic medicine” is still used to refer to “the broad category of medical practice that is sometimes called Western medicine, biomedicine, evidence-based medicine, or modern medicine” (see the article on scientific medicine).[38]

Use of the term remains common among homeopaths and has spread to other alternative medicine practices. The meaning implied by the label has never been accepted by conventional medicine and is considered pejorative.[39] More recently, some sources have used the term “allopathic”, particularly American sources wishing to distinguish between Doctors of Medicine (MD) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in the United States.[36][40] William Jarvis, an expert on alternative medicine and public health,[41] states that “although many modern therapies can be construed to conform to an allopathic rationale (e.g., using a laxative to relieve constipation), standard medicine has never paid allegiance to an allopathic principle” and that the label “allopath” was from the start “considered highly derisive by regular medicine”.[42]

Many conventional medical treatments do not fit the nominal definition of allopathy, as they seek to prevent illness, or remove its cause.[43][44]

CAM is an abbreviation of complementary and alternative medicine.[30][31] It has also been called sCAM or SCAM with the addition of “so-called” or “supplements”.[32][33] The words balance and holism are often used, claiming to take into account a “whole” person, in contrast to the supposed reductionism of medicine. Due to its many names the field has been criticized for intense rebranding of what are essentially the same practices: as soon as one name is declared synonymous with quackery, a new name is chosen.[16]

Traditional medicine refers to the pre-scientific practices of a certain culture, contrary to what is typically practiced in other cultures where medical science dominates.

“Eastern medicine” typically refers to the traditional medicines of Asia where conventional bio-medicine penetrated much later.

The words balance and holism are often used alongside complementary or integrative medicine, claiming to take into account a “whole” person, in contrast to the supposed reductionism of medicine. Due to its many names the field has been criticized for intense rebranding of what are essentially the same practices.[16]

Prominent members of the science[45][46] and biomedical science community[3] say that it is not meaningful to define an alternative medicine that is separate from a conventional medicine, that the expressions “conventional medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “complementary medicine”, “integrative medicine”, and “holistic medicine” do not refer to any medicine at all.[45][3][46][47]

Others in both the biomedical and CAM communities say that CAM cannot be precisely defined because of the diversity of theories and practices it includes, and because the boundaries between CAM and biomedicine overlap, are porous, and change. The expression “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) resists easy definition because the health systems and practices it refers to are diffuse, and its boundaries poorly defined.[14][n 8] Healthcare practices categorized as alternative may differ in their historical origin, theoretical basis, diagnostic technique, therapeutic practice and in their relationship to the medical mainstream. Some alternative therapies, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, have antique origins in East or South Asia and are entirely alternative medical systems;[52] others, such as homeopathy and chiropractic, have origins in Europe or the United States and emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some, such as osteopathy and chiropractic, employ manipulative physical methods of treatment; others, such as meditation and prayer, are based on mind-body interventions. Treatments considered alternative in one location may be considered conventional in another.[55] Thus, chiropractic is not considered alternative in Denmark and likewise osteopathic medicine is no longer thought of as an alternative therapy in the United States.[55]

Critics say the expression is deceptive because it implies there is an effective alternative to science-based medicine, and that complementary is deceptive because it implies that the treatment increases the effectiveness of (complements) science-based medicine, while alternative medicines that have been tested nearly always have no measurable positive effect compared to a placebo.[4][56][57][58]

One common feature of all definitions of alternative medicine is its designation as “other than” conventional medicine. For example, the widely referenced descriptive definition of complementary and alternative medicine devised by the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that it is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine”.[61] For conventional medical practitioners, it does not necessarily follow that either it or its practitioners would no longer be considered alternative.[n 9]

Some definitions seek to specify alternative medicine in terms of its social and political marginality to mainstream healthcare.[64] This can refer to the lack of support that alternative therapies receive from the medical establishment and related bodies regarding access to research funding, sympathetic coverage in the medical press, or inclusion in the standard medical curriculum.[64] In 1993, the British Medical Association (BMA), one among many professional organizations who have attempted to define alternative medicine, stated that it[n 10] referred to “…those forms of treatment which are not widely used by the conventional healthcare professions, and the skills of which are not taught as part of the undergraduate curriculum of conventional medical and paramedical healthcare courses”.[65] In a US context, an influential definition coined in 1993 by the Harvard-based physician,[66] David M. Eisenberg,[67] characterized alternative medicine “as interventions neither taught widely in medical schools nor generally available in US hospitals”.[68] These descriptive definitions are inadequate in the present-day when some conventional doctors offer alternative medical treatments and CAM introductory courses or modules can be offered as part of standard undergraduate medical training;[69] alternative medicine is taught in more than 50 per cent of US medical schools and increasingly US health insurers are willing to provide reimbursement for CAM therapies. In 1999, 7.7% of US hospitals reported using some form of CAM therapy; this proportion had risen to 37.7% by 2008.[71]

An expert panel at a conference hosted in 1995 by the US Office for Alternative Medicine (OAM),[72][n 11] devised a theoretical definition[72] of alternative medicine as “a broad domain of healing resources… other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period”.[74] This definition has been widely adopted by CAM researchers,[72] cited by official government bodies such as the UK Department of Health,[75] attributed as the definition used by the Cochrane Collaboration,[76] and, with some modification,[dubious discuss] was preferred in the 2005 consensus report of the US Institute of Medicine, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.[n 2]

The 1995 OAM conference definition, an expansion of Eisenberg’s 1993 formulation, is silent regarding questions of the medical effectiveness of alternative therapies.[77] Its proponents hold that it thus avoids relativism about differing forms of medical knowledge and, while it is an essentially political definition, this should not imply that the dominance of mainstream biomedicine is solely due to political forces.[77] According to this definition, alternative and mainstream medicine can only be differentiated with reference to what is “intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society of culture”.[78] However, there is neither a reliable method to distinguish between cultures and subcultures, nor to attribute them as dominant or subordinate, nor any accepted criteria to determine the dominance of a cultural entity.[78] If the culture of a politically dominant healthcare system is held to be equivalent to the perspectives of those charged with the medical management of leading healthcare institutions and programs, the definition fails to recognize the potential for division either within such an elite or between a healthcare elite and the wider population.[78]

Normative definitions distinguish alternative medicine from the biomedical mainstream in its provision of therapies that are unproven, unvalidated, or ineffective and support of theories with no recognized scientific basis. These definitions characterize practices as constituting alternative medicine when, used independently or in place of evidence-based medicine, they are put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but are not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method.[1][3][27][28][61][80] Exemplifying this perspective, a 1998 editorial co-authored by Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, argued that:

It is time for the scientific community to stop giving alternative medicine a free ride. There cannot be two kinds of medicine conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work. Once a treatment has been tested rigorously, it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset. If it is found to be reasonably safe and effective, it will be accepted. But assertions, speculation, and testimonials do not substitute for evidence. Alternative treatments should be subjected to scientific testing no less rigorous than that required for conventional treatments.[3]

This line of division has been subject to criticism, however, as not all forms of standard medical practice have adequately demonstrated evidence of benefit,[n 4][81] and it is also unlikely in most instances that conventional therapies, if proven to be ineffective, would ever be classified as CAM.[72]

Similarly, the public information website maintained by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Commonwealth of Australia uses the acronym “CAM” for a wide range of health care practices, therapies, procedures and devices not within the domain of conventional medicine. In the Australian context this is stated to include acupuncture; aromatherapy; chiropractic; homeopathy; massage; meditation and relaxation therapies; naturopathy; osteopathy; reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine; and the use of vitamin supplements.[83]

The Danish National Board of Health’s “Council for Alternative Medicine” (Sundhedsstyrelsens Rd for Alternativ Behandling (SRAB)), an independent institution under the National Board of Health (Danish: Sundhedsstyrelsen), uses the term “alternative medicine” for:

Proponents of an evidence-base for medicine[n 12][86][87][88][89] such as the Cochrane Collaboration (founded in 1993 and from 2011 providing input for WHO resolutions) take a position that all systematic reviews of treatments, whether “mainstream” or “alternative”, ought to be held to the current standards of scientific method.[90] In a study titled Development and classification of an operational definition of complementary and alternative medicine for the Cochrane Collaboration (2011) it was proposed that indicators that a therapy is accepted include government licensing of practitioners, coverage by health insurance, statements of approval by government agencies, and recommendation as part of a practice guideline; and that if something is currently a standard, accepted therapy, then it is not likely to be widely considered as CAM.[72]

Alternative medicine consists of a wide range of health care practices, products, and therapies. The shared feature is a claim to heal that is not based on the scientific method. Alternative medicine practices are diverse in their foundations and methodologies.[61] Alternative medicine practices may be classified by their cultural origins or by the types of beliefs upon which they are based.[1][4][11][61] Methods may incorporate or be based on traditional medicinal practices of a particular culture, folk knowledge, superstition, spiritual beliefs, belief in supernatural energies (antiscience), pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, new or different concepts of health and disease, and any bases other than being proven by scientific methods.[1][4][5][11] Different cultures may have their own unique traditional or belief based practices developed recently or over thousands of years, and specific practices or entire systems of practices.

Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.[61]

Alternative medical systems may be based on traditional medicine practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda in India, or practices of other cultures around the world.[61] Some useful applications of traditional medicines have been researched and accepted within ordinary medicine, however the underlying belief systems are seldom scientific and are not accepted.

Traditional medicine is considered alternative when it is used outside its home region; or when it is used together with or instead of known functional treatment; or when it can be reasonably expected that the patient or practitioner knows or should know that it will not work such as knowing that the practice is based on superstition.

Since ancient times, in many parts of the world a number of herbs reputed to possess abortifacient properties have been used in folk medicine. Among these are: tansy, pennyroyal, black cohosh, and the now-extinct silphium.[101]:4447, 6263, 15455, 23031 Historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz has written of the probable protoscientific origins of this folk knowledge in observation of farm animals. Women who knew that grazing on certain plants would cause an animal to abort (with negative economic consequences for the farm) would be likely to try out those plants on themselves in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.[102]:120

However, modern users of these plants often lack knowledge of the proper preparation and dosage. The historian of medicine John Riddle has spoken of the “broken chain of knowledge” caused by urbanization and modernization,[101]:167205 and Koblitz has written that “folk knowledge about effective contraception techniques often disappears over time or becomes inextricably mixed with useless or harmful practices.”[102]:vii The ill-informed or indiscriminant use of herbs as abortifacients can cause serious and even lethal side-effects.[103][104]

Bases of belief may include belief in existence of supernatural energies undetected by the science of physics, as in biofields, or in belief in properties of the energies of physics that are inconsistent with the laws of physics, as in energy medicine.[61]

Substance based practices use substances found in nature such as herbs, foods, non-vitamin supplements and megavitamins, animal and fungal products, and minerals, including use of these products in traditional medical practices that may also incorporate other methods.[61][119][120] Examples include healing claims for nonvitamin supplements, fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acid, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil, and ginseng.[121] Herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, includes not just the use of plant products, but may also include the use of animal and mineral products.[119] It is among the most commercially successful branches of alternative medicine, and includes the tablets, powders and elixirs that are sold as “nutritional supplements”.[119] Only a very small percentage of these have been shown to have any efficacy, and there is little regulation as to standards and safety of their contents.[119] This may include use of known toxic substances, such as use of the poison lead in traditional Chinese medicine.[121]

A US agency, National Center on Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), has created a classification system for branches of complementary and alternative medicine that divides them into five major groups. These groups have some overlap, and distinguish two types of energy medicine: veritable which involves scientifically observable energy (including magnet therapy, colorpuncture and light therapy) and putative, which invokes physically undetectable or unverifiable energy.[125] None of these energies have any evidence to support that they effect the body in any positive or health promoting way.[34]

The history of alternative medicine may refer to the history of a group of diverse medical practices that were collectively promoted as “alternative medicine” beginning in the 1970s, to the collection of individual histories of members of that group, or to the history of western medical practices that were labeled “irregular practices” by the western medical establishment.[4][126][127][128][129] It includes the histories of complementary medicine and of integrative medicine. Before the 1970s, western practitioners that were not part of the increasingly science-based medical establishment were referred to “irregular practitioners”, and were dismissed by the medical establishment as unscientific and as practicing quackery.[126][127] Until the 1970s, irregular practice became increasingly marginalized as quackery and fraud, as western medicine increasingly incorporated scientific methods and discoveries, and had a corresponding increase in success of its treatments.[128] In the 1970s, irregular practices were grouped with traditional practices of nonwestern cultures and with other unproven or disproven practices that were not part of biomedicine, with the entire group collectively marketed and promoted under the single expression “alternative medicine”.[4][126][127][128][130]

Use of alternative medicine in the west began to rise following the counterculture movement of the 1960s, as part of the rising new age movement of the 1970s.[4][131][132] This was due to misleading mass marketing of “alternative medicine” being an effective “alternative” to biomedicine, changing social attitudes about not using chemicals and challenging the establishment and authority of any kind, sensitivity to giving equal measure to beliefs and practices of other cultures (cultural relativism), and growing frustration and desperation by patients about limitations and side effects of science-based medicine.[4][127][128][129][130][132][133] At the same time, in 1975, the American Medical Association, which played the central role in fighting quackery in the United States, abolished its quackery committee and closed down its Department of Investigation.[126]:xxi[133] By the early to mid 1970s the expression “alternative medicine” came into widespread use, and the expression became mass marketed as a collection of “natural” and effective treatment “alternatives” to science-based biomedicine.[4][133][134][135] By 1983, mass marketing of “alternative medicine” was so pervasive that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) pointed to “an apparently endless stream of books, articles, and radio and television programmes urge on the public the virtues of (alternative medicine) treatments ranging from meditation to drilling a hole in the skull to let in more oxygen”.[133]

Mainly as a result of reforms following the Flexner Report of 1910[136] medical education in established medical schools in the US has generally not included alternative medicine as a teaching topic.[n 14] Typically, their teaching is based on current practice and scientific knowledge about: anatomy, physiology, histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology and immunology.[138] Medical schools’ teaching includes such topics as doctor-patient communication, ethics, the art of medicine,[139] and engaging in complex clinical reasoning (medical decision-making).[140] Writing in 2002, Snyderman and Weil remarked that by the early twentieth century the Flexner model had helped to create the 20th-century academic health center, in which education, research, and practice were inseparable. While this had much improved medical practice by defining with increasing certainty the pathophysiological basis of disease, a single-minded focus on the pathophysiological had diverted much of mainstream American medicine from clinical conditions that were not well understood in mechanistic terms, and were not effectively treated by conventional therapies.[141]

By 2001 some form of CAM training was being offered by at least 75 out of 125 medical schools in the US.[142] Exceptionally, the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore includes a research institute for integrative medicine (a member entity of the Cochrane Collaboration).[90][143] Medical schools are responsible for conferring medical degrees, but a physician typically may not legally practice medicine until licensed by the local government authority. Licensed physicians in the US who have attended one of the established medical schools there have usually graduated Doctor of Medicine (MD).[144] All states require that applicants for MD licensure be graduates of an approved medical school and complete the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).[144]

There is a general scientific consensus that alternative therapies lack the requisite scientific validation, and their effectiveness is either unproved or disproved.[1][4][145][146] Many of the claims regarding the efficacy of alternative medicines are controversial, since research on them is frequently of low quality and methodologically flawed. Selective publication bias, marked differences in product quality and standardisation, and some companies making unsubstantiated claims call into question the claims of efficacy of isolated examples where there is evidence for alternative therapies.[148]

The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine points to confusions in the general population a person may attribute symptomatic relief to an otherwise-ineffective therapy just because they are taking something (the placebo effect); the natural recovery from or the cyclical nature of an illness (the regression fallacy) gets misattributed to an alternative medicine being taken; a person not diagnosed with science-based medicine may never originally have had a true illness diagnosed as an alternative disease category.[149]

Edzard Ernst characterized the evidence for many alternative techniques as weak, nonexistent, or negative[150] and in 2011 published his estimate that about 7.4% were based on “sound evidence”, although he believes that may be an overestimate.[151] Ernst has concluded that 95% of the alternative treatments he and his team studied, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and reflexology, are “statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments”, but he also believes there is something that conventional doctors can usefully learn from the chiropractors and homeopath: this is the therapeutic value of the placebo effect, one of the strangest phenomena in medicine.[152][153]

In 2003, a project funded by the CDC identified 208 condition-treatment pairs, of which 58% had been studied by at least one randomized controlled trial (RCT), and 23% had been assessed with a meta-analysis.[154] According to a 2005 book by a US Institute of Medicine panel, the number of RCTs focused on CAM has risen dramatically.

As of 2005[update], the Cochrane Library had 145 CAM-related Cochrane systematic reviews and 340 non-Cochrane systematic reviews. An analysis of the conclusions of only the 145 Cochrane reviews was done by two readers. In 83% of the cases, the readers agreed. In the 17% in which they disagreed, a third reader agreed with one of the initial readers to set a rating. These studies found that, for CAM, 38.4% concluded positive effect or possibly positive (12.4%), 4.8% concluded no effect, 0.7% concluded harmful effect, and 56.6% concluded insufficient evidence. An assessment of conventional treatments found that 41.3% concluded positive or possibly positive effect, 20% concluded no effect, 8.1% concluded net harmful effects, and 21.3% concluded insufficient evidence. However, the CAM review used the more developed 2004 Cochrane database, while the conventional review used the initial 1998 Cochrane database.

In the same way as for conventional therapies, drugs, and interventions, it can be difficult to test the efficacy of alternative medicine in clinical trials. In instances where an established, effective, treatment for a condition is already available, the Helsinki Declaration states that withholding such treatment is unethical in most circumstances. Use of standard-of-care treatment in addition to an alternative technique being tested may produce confounded or difficult-to-interpret results.[156]

Cancer researcher Andrew J. Vickers has stated:

Contrary to much popular and scientific writing, many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective. The label “unproven” is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been “disproven”.[157]

A research methods expert and author of Snake Oil Science, R. Barker Bausell, has stated that “it’s become politically correct to investigate nonsense.”[158] There are concerns that just having NIH support is being used to give unfounded “legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[159]

Use of placebos to achieve a placebo effect in integrative medicine has been criticized as, “…diverting research time, money, and other resources from more fruitful lines of investigation in order to pursue a theory that has no basis in biology.”[57][58]

Another critic has argued that academic proponents of integrative medicine sometimes recommend misleading patients by using known placebo treatments to achieve a placebo effect.[n 15] However, a 2010 survey of family physicians found that 56% of respondents said they had used a placebo in clinical practice as well. Eighty-five percent of respondents believed placebos can have both psychological and physical benefits.[161]

Integrative medicine has been criticized in that its practitioners, trained in science-based medicine, deliberately mislead patients by pretending placebos are not. “quackademic medicine” is a pejorative term used for integrative medicine, which medical professionals consider an infiltration of quackery into academic science-based medicine.[58]

An analysis of trends in the criticism of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in five prestigious American medical journals during the period of reorganization within medicine (19651999) was reported as showing that the medical profession had responded to the growth of CAM in three phases, and that in each phase, changes in the medical marketplace had influenced the type of response in the journals.[162] Changes included relaxed medical licensing, the development of managed care, rising consumerism, and the establishment of the USA Office of Alternative Medicine (later National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, currently National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).[n 16] In the “condemnation” phase, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, authors had ridiculed, exaggerated the risks, and petitioned the state to contain CAM; in the “reassessment” phase (mid-1970s through early 1990s), when increased consumer utilization of CAM was prompting concern, authors had pondered whether patient dissatisfaction and shortcomings in conventional care contributed to the trend; in the “integration” phase of the 1990s physicians began learning to work around or administer CAM, and the subjugation of CAM to scientific scrutiny had become the primary means of control.[citation needed]

Practitioners of complementary medicine usually discuss and advise patients as to available alternative therapies. Patients often express interest in mind-body complementary therapies because they offer a non-drug approach to treating some health conditions.[164]

In addition to the social-cultural underpinnings of the popularity of alternative medicine, there are several psychological issues that are critical to its growth. One of the most critical is the placebo effect a well-established observation in medicine.[165] Related to it are similar psychological effects, such as the will to believe,[166] cognitive biases that help maintain self-esteem and promote harmonious social functioning,[166] and the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.[166]

The popularity of complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) may be related to other factors that Edzard Ernst mentioned in an interview in The Independent:

Why is it so popular, then? Ernst blames the providers, customers and the doctors whose neglect, he says, has created the opening into which alternative therapists have stepped. “People are told lies. There are 40 million websites and 39.9 million tell lies, sometimes outrageous lies. They mislead cancer patients, who are encouraged not only to pay their last penny but to be treated with something that shortens their lives. “At the same time, people are gullible. It needs gullibility for the industry to succeed. It doesn’t make me popular with the public, but it’s the truth.[167]

Paul Offit proposed that “alternative medicine becomes quackery” in four ways: by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful, promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning, draining patients’ bank accounts, or by promoting “magical thinking.”[45]

Authors have speculated on the socio-cultural and psychological reasons for the appeal of alternative medicines among the minority using them in lieu of conventional medicine. There are several socio-cultural reasons for the interest in these treatments centered on the low level of scientific literacy among the public at large and a concomitant increase in antiscientific attitudes and new age mysticism.[166] Related to this are vigorous marketing[168] of extravagant claims by the alternative medical community combined with inadequate media scrutiny and attacks on critics.[166][169]

There is also an increase in conspiracy theories toward conventional medicine and pharmaceutical companies, mistrust of traditional authority figures, such as the physician, and a dislike of the current delivery methods of scientific biomedicine, all of which have led patients to seek out alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments.[169] Many patients lack access to contemporary medicine, due to a lack of private or public health insurance, which leads them to seek out lower-cost alternative medicine.[170] Medical doctors are also aggressively marketing alternative medicine to profit from this market.[168]

Patients can be averse to the painful, unpleasant, and sometimes-dangerous side effects of biomedical treatments. Treatments for severe diseases such as cancer and HIV infection have well-known, significant side-effects. Even low-risk medications such as antibiotics can have potential to cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in a very few individuals. Many medications may cause minor but bothersome symptoms such as cough or upset stomach. In all of these cases, patients may be seeking out alternative treatments to avoid the adverse effects of conventional treatments.[166][169]

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been described as a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well-being. Boundaries within CAM and between the CAM domain and that of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed.[72][dubious discuss]

According to recent research, the increasing popularity of the CAM needs to be explained by moral convictions or lifestyle choices rather than by economic reasoning.[171]

In developing nations, access to essential medicines is severely restricted by lack of resources and poverty. Traditional remedies, often closely resembling or forming the basis for alternative remedies, may comprise primary healthcare or be integrated into the healthcare system. In Africa, traditional medicine is used for 80% of primary healthcare, and in developing nations as a whole over one-third of the population lack access to essential medicines.[172]

Some have proposed adopting a prize system to reward medical research.[173] However, public funding for research exists. Increasing the funding for research on alternative medicine techniques is the purpose of the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCIH and its predecessor, the Office of Alternative Medicine, have spent more than US$2.5 billion on such research since 1992; this research has largely not demonstrated the efficacy of alternative treatments.[158][174][175][176]

That alternative medicine has been on the rise “in countries where Western science and scientific method generally are accepted as the major foundations for healthcare, and ‘evidence-based’ practice is the dominant paradigm” was described as an “enigma” in the Medical Journal of Australia.[177]

In the United States, the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) required that for states to receive federal money, they had to grant religious exemptions to child neglect and abuse laws regarding religion-based healing practices.[178] Thirty-one states have child-abuse religious exemptions.[179]

The use of alternative medicine in the US has increased,[1][180] with a 50 percent increase in expenditures and a 25 percent increase in the use of alternative therapies between 1990 and 1997 in America.[180] Americans spend many billions on the therapies annually.[180] Most Americans used CAM to treat and/or prevent musculoskeletal conditions or other conditions associated with chronic or recurring pain.[170] In America, women were more likely than men to use CAM, with the biggest difference in use of mind-body therapies including prayer specifically for health reasons”.[170] In 2008, more than 37% of American hospitals offered alternative therapies, up from 27 percent in 2005, and 25% in 2004.[181][182] More than 70% of the hospitals offering CAM were in urban areas.[182]

A survey of Americans found that 88 percent thought that “there are some good ways of treating sickness that medical science does not recognize”.[1] Use of magnets was the most common tool in energy medicine in America, and among users of it, 58 percent described it as at least “sort of scientific”, when it is not at all scientific.[1] In 2002, at least 60 percent of US medical schools have at least some class time spent teaching alternative therapies.[1] “Therapeutic touch”, was taught at more than 100 colleges and universities in 75 countries before the practice was debunked by a nine-year-old child for a school science project.[1][118]

The most common CAM therapies used in the US in 2002 were prayer (45%), herbalism (19%), breathing meditation (12%), meditation (8%), chiropractic medicine (8%), yoga (56%), body work (5%), diet-based therapy (4%), progressive relaxation (3%), mega-vitamin therapy (3%) and Visualization (2%)[170][183]

In Britain, the most often used alternative therapies were Alexander technique, Aromatherapy, Bach and other flower remedies, Body work therapies including massage, Counseling stress therapies, hypnotherapy, Meditation, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Ayurvedic medicine, Nutritional medicine, and Yoga.[184] Ayurvedic medicine remedies are mainly plant based with some use of animal materials. Safety concerns include the use of herbs containing toxic compounds and the lack of quality control in Ayurvedic facilities.[112][114]

According to the National Health Service (England), the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) supported by the NHS in the UK are: acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, osteopathy and clinical hypnotherapy.[186]

Complementary therapies are often used in palliative care or by practitioners attempting to manage chronic pain in patients. Integrative medicine is considered more acceptable in the interdisciplinary approach used in palliative care than in other areas of medicine. “From its early experiences of care for the dying, palliative care took for granted the necessity of placing patient values and lifestyle habits at the core of any design and delivery of quality care at the end of life. If the patient desired complementary therapies, and as long as such treatments provided additional support and did not endanger the patient, they were considered acceptable.”[187] The non-pharmacologic interventions of complementary medicine can employ mind-body interventions designed to “reduce pain and concomitant mood disturbance and increase quality of life.”[188]

In Austria and Germany complementary and alternative medicine is mainly in the hands of doctors with MDs,[30] and half or more of the American alternative practitioners are licensed MDs.[189] In Germany herbs are tightly regulated: half are prescribed by doctors and covered by health insurance.[190]

Some professions of complementary/traditional/alternative medicine, such as chiropractic, have achieved full regulation in North America and other parts of the world and are regulated in a manner similar to that governing science-based medicine. In contrast, other approaches may be partially recognized and others have no regulation at all. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine ranges widely from country to country, and state to state.

Government bodies in the US and elsewhere have published information or guidance about alternative medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has issued online warnings for consumers about medication health fraud.[192] This includes a section on Alternative Medicine Fraud,[193] such as a warning that Ayurvedic products generally have not been approved by the FDA before marketing.[194]

Many of the claims regarding the safety and efficacy of alternative medicine are controversial. Some alternative treatments have been associated with unexpected side effects, which can be fatal.[195]

A commonly voiced concerns about complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is the way it’s regulated. There have been significant developments in how CAMs should be assessed prior to re-sale in the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) in the last 2 years. Despite this, it has been suggested that current regulatory bodies have been ineffective in preventing deception of patients as many companies have re-labelled their drugs to avoid the new laws.[196] There is no general consensus about how to balance consumer protection (from false claims, toxicity, and advertising) with freedom to choose remedies.

Advocates of CAM suggest that regulation of the industry will adversely affect patients looking for alternative ways to manage their symptoms, even if many of the benefits may represent the placebo affect.[197] Some contend that alternative medicines should not require any more regulation than over-the-counter medicines that can also be toxic in overdose (such as paracetamol).[198]

Forms of alternative medicine that are biologically active can be dangerous even when used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Examples include immuno-augmentation therapy, shark cartilage, bioresonance therapy, oxygen and ozone therapies, and insulin potentiation therapy. Some herbal remedies can cause dangerous interactions with chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, or anesthetics during surgery, among other problems.[31] An anecdotal example of these dangers was reported by Associate Professor Alastair MacLennan of Adelaide University, Australia regarding a patient who almost bled to death on the operating table after neglecting to mention that she had been taking “natural” potions to “build up her strength” before the operation, including a powerful anticoagulant that nearly caused her death.[199]

To ABC Online, MacLennan also gives another possible mechanism:

And lastly [sic] there’s the cynicism and disappointment and depression that some patients get from going on from one alternative medicine to the next, and they find after three months the placebo effect wears off, and they’re disappointed and they move on to the next one, and they’re disappointed and disillusioned, and that can create depression and make the eventual treatment of the patient with anything effective difficult, because you may not get compliance, because they’ve seen the failure so often in the past.[200]

Conventional treatments are subjected to testing for undesired side-effects, whereas alternative treatments, in general, are not subjected to such testing at all. Any treatment whether conventional or alternative that has a biological or psychological effect on a patient may also have potential to possess dangerous biological or psychological side-effects. Attempts to refute this fact with regard to alternative treatments sometimes use the appeal to nature fallacy, i.e., “That which is natural cannot be harmful.” Specific groups of patients such as patients with impaired hepatic or renal function are more susceptible to side effects of alternative remedies.[201][202]

An exception to the normal thinking regarding side-effects is Homeopathy. Since 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated homeopathic products in “several significantly different ways from other drugs.”[203] Homeopathic preparations, termed “remedies”, are extremely dilute, often far beyond the point where a single molecule of the original active (and possibly toxic) ingredient is likely to remain. They are, thus, considered safe on that count, but “their products are exempt from good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating and from finished product testing for identity and strength”, and their alcohol concentration may be much higher than allowed in conventional drugs.[203]

Those having experienced or perceived success with one alternative therapy for a minor ailment may be convinced of its efficacy and persuaded to extrapolate that success to some other alternative therapy for a more serious, possibly life-threatening illness.[204] For this reason, critics argue that therapies that rely on the placebo effect to define success are very dangerous. According to mental health journalist Scott Lilienfeld in 2002, “unvalidated or scientifically unsupported mental health practices can lead individuals to forgo effective treatments” and refers to this as “opportunity cost”. Individuals who spend large amounts of time and money on ineffective treatments may be left with precious little of either, and may forfeit the opportunity to obtain treatments that could be more helpful. In short, even innocuous treatments can indirectly produce negative outcomes.[205] Between 2001 and 2003, four children died in Australia because their parents chose ineffective naturopathic, homeopathic, or other alternative medicines and diets rather than conventional therapies.[206]

There have always been “many therapies offered outside of conventional cancer treatment centers and based on theories not found in biomedicine. These alternative cancer cures have often been described as ‘unproven,’ suggesting that appropriate clinical trials have not been conducted and that the therapeutic value of the treatment is unknown.” However, “many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective….The label ‘unproven’ is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been ‘disproven’.”[157]

Edzard Ernst has stated:

…any alternative cancer cure is bogus by definition. There will never be an alternative cancer cure. Why? Because if something looked halfway promising, then mainstream oncology would scrutinize it, and if there is anything to it, it would become mainstream almost automatically and very quickly. All curative “alternative cancer cures” are based on false claims, are bogus, and, I would say, even criminal.[207]

“CAM”, meaning “complementary and alternative medicine”, is not as well researched as conventional medicine, which undergoes intense research before release to the public.[208] Funding for research is also sparse making it difficult to do further research for effectiveness of CAM.[209] Most funding for CAM is funded by government agencies.[208] Proposed research for CAM are rejected by most private funding agencies because the results of research are not reliable.[208] The research for CAM has to meet certain standards from research ethics committees, which most CAM researchers find almost impossible to meet.[208] Even with the little research done on it, CAM has not been proven to be effective.[210]

Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine, wrote that government funded studies of integrating alternative medicine techniques into the mainstream are “used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[159] Marcia Angell considered that critics felt that healthcare practices should be classified based solely on scientific evidence, and if a treatment had been rigorously tested and found safe and effective, science-based medicine will adopt it regardless of whether it was considered “alternative” to begin with.[3] It is possible for a method to change categories (proven vs. unproven), based on increased knowledge of its effectiveness or lack thereof. A prominent supporter of this position is George D. Lundberg, former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).[47]

Writing in 1999 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Barrie R. Cassileth mentioned a 1997 letter to the US Senate Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety, which had deplored the lack of critical thinking and scientific rigor in OAM-supported research, had been signed by four Nobel Laureates and other prominent scientists. (This was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).)[211]

In March 2009 a staff writer for the Washington Post reported that the impending national discussion about broadening access to health care, improving medical practice and saving money was giving a group of scientists an opening to propose shutting down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They quoted one of these scientists, Steven Salzberg, a genome researcher and computational biologist at the University of Maryland, as saying “One of our concerns is that NIH is funding pseudoscience.” They noted that the vast majority of studies were based on fundamental misunderstandings of physiology and disease, and had shown little or no effect.[159]

Writers such as Carl Sagan, a noted astrophysicist, advocate of scientific skepticism and the author of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996), have lambasted the lack of empirical evidence to support the existence of the putative energy fields on which these therapies are predicated.

Sampson has also pointed out that CAM tolerated contradiction without thorough reason and experiment.[212] Barrett has pointed out that there is a policy at the NIH of never saying something doesn’t work only that a different version or dose might give different results.[158] Barrett also expressed concern that, just because some “alternatives” have merit, there is the impression that the rest deserve equal consideration and respect even though most are worthless, since they are all classified under the one heading of alternative medicine.[213]

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82-year-old polio survivor Mona Randolph uses one of only three “iron lungs” known to still be in use in the U.S. The iron lung, which was invented in 1920s, was often used on polio patients who were unable to breathe after the virus paralyzed muscle groups in the chest. Six nights a week, Randolph sleeps up to her neck in a noisy, airtight, 75-year-old iron tube.

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Category:Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Alternative medicine encompasses methods used in both complementary medicine and alternative medicine, known collectively as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These methods are used in place of (“alternative to”), or in addition to (“complementary to”), conventional medical treatments. The terms are primarily used in the western world, and include several traditional medicine techniques practiced throughout the world.

If you add something to this category it should also be added to list of forms of alternative medicine.

This category has the following 10 subcategories, out of 10 total.

The following 106 pages are in this category, out of 106 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic)Motto:”God, Country, King”[1]” “al-Lh, al-Waan, al-MalkCapitaland largest cityAmman3157N 3556E / 31.950N 35.933E / 31.950; 35.933OfficiallanguagesArabicEthnicgroups Religion DemonymJordanianGovernmentUnitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchyAbdullah IIOmar RazzazLegislatureParliamentSenateHouse of RepresentativesIndependencefrom the United Kingdom11 April 192125 May 194611 January 1952Area

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Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dunn]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and the country has a small shoreline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.[8] The capital, Amman, is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre.[9]

What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[10] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342km2 (34,495sqmi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed from the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[11] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[3] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL.[12] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[13]

Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” with an “upper middle income” economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[14] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[15] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[16]

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country’s northwestern border.[17] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically[when?] called Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan”, used to denote the lands east of the river. The Hebrew Bible refers to the area as “the other side of the Jordan”.[18] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[19] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[20]The modern country was established in 1921 as the Emirate of Transjordan, a British protectorate, before becoming the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in 1946 and finally adopting its current name, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in 1949.

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[21] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[22] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[22] The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan’s northeastern desert.[23] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,0004,500 BC).[24] ‘Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today’s eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[25] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found.[26] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (45003600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[27] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desertwhose purpose remains uncertainhave baffled archaeologists.[28]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (36001200 BC).[29] Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[30] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[31] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land.[31] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River.[32] During the Iron Age (1200332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab.[33] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[33] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.[33]

These Transjordanian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with the neighbouring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan Riverthough the former was known to have at times controlled small parts east of the river.[34] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[35] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history.[36] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire controlled the Levant.[37] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[37] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later.[37] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, and they remained to be so under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[37] However, by the time of Roman rule around 63 BC, Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into Roman culture.[33]

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria. The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (8571) BC. The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbors. Petra, Nabataea’s barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[42] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[42]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[43] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King’s Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[43] The Romans gave the Greek cities of TransjordanPhiladelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Qays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[44] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[45]

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split, and the Eastern Roman Empirelater known as the Byzantine Empirecontinued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[46] 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] Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world’s first purpose built Christian church.[48] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[49] Meanwhile, Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, until it became an abandoned place.[42] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines’ rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[50]

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu’tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[51] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[51] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[52] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661750).[52] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[52] The Abbasid Caliphate’s campaign to take over the Umayyad’s began in Transjordan.[53] A powerful 747 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate’s capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[53] During Abbasid rule (750969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[52] Concurrently, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan’s central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (9691070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (11151187).

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[56] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (11871260). Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[58] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (12601516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[60]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[62] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[63] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[62] More Arab bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (18031812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[68] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834.[68] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harbouring a peasants’ revolt leader.[68] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[68]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages, while it provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[70] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[70] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities, led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[70] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbulhelped the population economically as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[70] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt; driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities, and growing Arab nationalism.[70] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite dynasty of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[70] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World WarI, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[75] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which Transjordan was part of.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun.[76] Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 SykesPicot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, including the 1915 McMahonHussein Correspondence, 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.[79]:55 Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma’an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Kingdom his brother had lost. Transjordan then was in disarray; widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. Abdullah then moved to Amman and established the Emirate of Transjordan on 11 April 1921.

The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan. Abdullah gained the trust of Tansjordan’s tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. Abdullah’s successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognised 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.[86][87] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[88]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”.[89] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[90] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[89] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by Emir Abdullah with the help of British forces.[89] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (19221924), seriously threatening the Emir’s position.[89] 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.[89]

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries’ parliaments.[91] On 25 May 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, as the ruling Emir was re-designated as King by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London.[92] The name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.[10] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[10]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan invaded Palestine together with other Arab states.[93] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories.[94][95] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[94] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[96] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumours he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[97]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[98] Talal established the country’s modern constitution in 1952.[98] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[97] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[99] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[99] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[100] In 1958, Jordan and neighbouring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser’s Egypt and Syria.[101] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein’s cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[101]

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.[102] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[102] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, 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.[102] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[103] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[103] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan’s rule of law.[103] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September.[103]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[103] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[103] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.[103] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[103]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[103] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[103] In 1997, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader.[103] Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[103]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein.[104] Abdullah embarked on aggressive economic liberalisation when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[105] Abdullah II 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.[105] He also set up five other special economic zones.[105] However, during the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[106]

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.[107] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[107] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan’s internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[107] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[108] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country’s peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[109]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[110] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[110] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[110] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[111] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[111]

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[112] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495sqmi) large, and 400 kilometres (250mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[17] The kingdom lies between 29 and 34 N, and 34 and 40 E. The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[17] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[113] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[113] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[112]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley.[112] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[112] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked.[7] 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.[7] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features.[112] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854m (6,083ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea 420m (1,378ft), the lowest land point on earth.[112]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[114] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan’s natural resources.[115] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[115]

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is.[17] The country’s average elevation is 812m (2,664ft) (SL).[17] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[116] 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.[117]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32C (90F) and sometimes exceeding 40C (104F) between July and August.[117] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13C (55F).[116] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[116]

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[118] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[119] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world’s least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[120]

Plant species include, Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[121] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[122] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[123][124][125] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram’s starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[126]

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[127] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[128] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[127]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[127] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[127]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[129] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[130] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[131]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[132] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[132] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[132] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[133] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[134] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[135] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[136]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[9] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 nawahi, which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[137]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed 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.[138] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor’s austerity measures forced widespread protests.[139] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country have hampered such moves.[140] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[141] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[142]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as “partly free” in the Freedom in the World 2018 report.[143] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[144] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[145] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[146] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th 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”.[147] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. The two most-watched local TV stations are Ro’ya TV and Jordan TV.[148] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[149]

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[150] Control for each administrative unit is in a “chief town” (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[150]

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 (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and its maintenance of 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.[151]

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, Jordan’s direct neighbour.[152] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[153] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the IsraelJordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former’s role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[154]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[155][156] It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[157] 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.[158]

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the “Arab Legion”. Jordan’s capture of the West Bank during the 1948 ArabIsraeli 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.[90] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[90] 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 in the Middle East.[90] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[159] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[160]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[161] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[162] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[163]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[164] 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.[165]

Jordan’s law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country’s Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[166] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[166] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[167] Jordan’s law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[11][168]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper-middle income” country.[169] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010[update]),[169] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the yearknown as transient poverty.[170] The economy, which boasts a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016[update]),[4] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[17] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990scurrently $5,092 per capita.[171] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country’s populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[17]

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.[16] 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.[172]

The official currency 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.[173] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the JordanUnited States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets.[174] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits.[175]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan’s GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism.[17] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011.[176] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity.[177] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price.[178] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country.[175][176]

Jordan’s total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP.[106] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.[106] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government’s annual revenue.[179] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan.[180] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.[181] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.[182]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries.[14] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding.[183] 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.[184]

Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 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 Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq.[185]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011[update], the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878km (1,788mi) of main roads; 2,592km (1,611mi) of rural roads and 1,733km (1,077mi) 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 little civilian activity; it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources.[186]

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.[187] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded ‘the best airport by region: Middle East’ for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme.[188]

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 neighbouring 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.[189]

The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy, being a large source of employment, hard currency and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries.[15] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence.[190] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring, which scared off tourists from the entire region. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016.[191] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017.[191]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.[192] 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.[191] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtasa traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus.[193] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal.[194] 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.[8]

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.[195] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets.[196] Valleys like Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts.[197]

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. Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall.[198] 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.[199] 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 proved as being 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.[200] The Jordan Trail, a 650km (400mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan’s attractions was established in 2015.[201] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector.[201]

Jordan is the world’s second poorest country in terms of water resources per capita, and scarce water resources were aggravated by the influx of Syrian refugees.[202] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan’s need for fresh water.[203] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world’s oldest dam.[204] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red SeaDead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.[205]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich 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 generate a small amount of Jordan’s electricity needs.[206] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector.[207] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma’an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2018, it was reported that more than 500 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 7% of Jordan’s electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 93% was generated from gas.[208] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%.[209] A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the Middle East’s “solar powerhouse”.[210]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country.[211] Official figures estimate the kingdom’s oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties; and the relatively higher costs.[212] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020.[213] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints.[214] Currently, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country’s first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025.[215] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world.[216]

Jordan’s well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2%; construction, 4.6%; and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan’s labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP.[217] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA.[218] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma.[219]

Jordan’s military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries.[220]

Science and technology is the country’s fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet.[222] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies.[222]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha.[223] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country’s planned commercial nuclear reactors.[223]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN.[224] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries.[224] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world.[224]

The 2015 census showed Jordan’s population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47%; Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants.[3] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979).[3] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most liberal in the Arab world.[226] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but came to be over 4 million in 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The rest 2% is attributed to other ethnic groups such as Circassians, and Armenians and other minorities.[17] About 84.1% of the population live in urban towns and cities.[17]

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016; most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship.[227] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps.[227] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to 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.[228]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis came to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003,[229] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan.[230] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War.[231] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria.[3] The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure.[13]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians; most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq.[232] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.[233] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian Genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman.[234] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq.[235] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014.[236] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries.[13] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 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.[3]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom.[237] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom.[238][239][240] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions.[196]

Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population; in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis.[241] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims,[242] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees.[243] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination.[244]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[245] Christians today make up about 4% of the population,[246] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown.[12] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the west and higher birth rates for Muslims.[247] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church. The study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan.[246] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [248] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved 9 seats out of the 130 in the parliament.[249] The highest political position reached by a Christian is deputy prime minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher.[250] Christians are also influential in media.[251] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Bah’s and Mandaeans. 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 Bah’s live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley.[252] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution.[253]

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools.[254] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without 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.[254] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities.[255] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector.[254] German is an increasingly popular language; it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005.[256]

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography.[257] The art scene has been developing in the past few years[258] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries.[259] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[260]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele.[261] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.[262] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman.[262]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music.[263] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers.[263] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity.[264] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.[265]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan.[196] The national football team has improved in recent years, though it has yet to qualify for the World Cup.[262] In 2013, Jordan spurned the chance to play at the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay during inter-confederation play-offs. This was the highest that Jordan had advanced in the World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.[266] The women’s football team is also gaining reputation,[267] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world.[268] Jordan hosted the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first women’s sports tournament in the Middle East.[269]

Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognised by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams.[270] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth.[271] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman.[272] Jordan’s national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.[273]

As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan.[274] 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.[275] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rak 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.[196]

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 pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one’s hands, but the tradition is not always used.[275] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but 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 flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.[276]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017.[17] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer.[278] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five.[279] In 1950, Water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population, while in 2015 reached 98% of Jordanians.[280]

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Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan | history – geography | Britannica.com

Alternative Titles:Al-Mamlakah al-Urdunyah al-Hshimyah, Al-Urdun, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Jordan, Arab country of Southwest Asia, in the rocky desert of the northern Arabian Peninsula.

Jordan is a young state that occupies an ancient land, one that bears the traces of many civilizations. Separated from ancient Palestine by the Jordan River, the region played a prominent role in biblical history. The ancient biblical kingdoms of Moab, Gilead, and Edom lie within its borders, as does the famed red stone city of Petra, the capital of the Nabatean kingdom and of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. British traveler Gertrude Bell said of Petra, It is like a fairy tale city, all pink and wonderful. Part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918 and later a mandate of the United Kingdom, Jordan has been an independent kingdom since 1946. It is among the most politically liberal countries of the Arab world, and, although it shares in the troubles affecting the region, its rulers have expressed a commitment to maintaining peace and stability.

The capital and largest city in the country is Ammannamed for the Ammonites, who made the city their capital in the 13th century bce. Amman was later a great city of Middle Eastern antiquity, Philadelphia, of the Roman Decapolis, and now serves as one of the regions principal commercial and transportation centres as well as one of the Arab worlds major cultural capitals.

Slightly smaller in area than the country of Portugal, Jordan is bounded to the north by Syria, to the east by Iraq, to the southeast and south by Saudi Arabia, and to the west by Israel and the West Bank. The West Bank area (so named because it lies just west of the Jordan River) was under Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967, but in 1988 Jordan renounced its claims to the area. Jordan has 16 miles (26 km) of coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the southwest, where Al-Aqabah, its only port, is located.

Jordan has three major physiographic regions (from east to west): the desert, the uplands east of the Jordan River, and the Jordan Valley (the northwest portion of the great East African Rift System).

The desert region is mostly within the Syrian Desertan extension of the Arabian Desertand occupies the eastern and southern parts of the country, comprising more than four-fifths of its territory. The deserts northern part is composed of volcanic lava and basalt, and its southern part of outcrops of sandstone and granite. The landscape is much eroded, primarily by wind. The uplands east of the Jordan River, an escarpment overlooking the rift valley, have an average elevation of 2,0003,000 feet (600900 metres) and rise to about 5,755 feet (1,754 metres) at Mount Ramm, Jordans highest point, in the south. Outcrops of sandstone, chalk, limestone, and flint extend to the extreme south, where igneous rocks predominate.

The Jordan Valley drops to about 1,410 feet (430 metres) below sea level at the Dead Sea, the lowest natural point on Earths surface.

The Jordan River, approximately 186 miles (300 km) in length, meanders south, draining the waters of Lake Tiberias (better known as the Sea of Galilee), the Yarmk River, and the valley streams of both plateaus into the Dead Sea, which occupies the central area of the valley. The soil of its lower reaches is highly saline, and the shores of the Dead Sea consist of salt marshes that do not support vegetation. To its south, Wadi al-Arabah (also called Wadi al-Jayb), a completely desolate region, is thought to contain mineral resources.

In the northern uplands several valleys containing perennial streams run west; around Al-Karak they flow west, east, and north; south of Al-Karak intermittent valley streams run east toward Al-Jafr Depression.

The countrys best soils are found in the Jordan Valley and in the area southeast of the Dead Sea. The topsoil in both regions consists of alluviumdeposited by the Jordan River and washed from the uplands, respectivelywith the soil in the valley generally being deposited in fans spread over various grades of marl.

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