12345...10...


Jordan – Wikipedia

Arab country in Western Asia

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

and largest city

Total

Water(%)

2018 estimate

2015census

Density

Total

Per capita

Total

Per capita

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dun]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is an Arab country 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 and Israel and Palestine (West Bank) to the west. The Dead Sea is located along its western borders and the country has a small coastline to 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 sign 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 sovereign state 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 and coexists with the indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed by 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 Old Testament 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, which promised Palestine to Jews. 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 day that the treaty was ratified by the Transjordan parliament, Transjordan was raised to the status of a kingdom under the name of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, with Abdullah as its first king.[92] The name was shortened to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 26 April 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 after the Jericho conference.[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 conflict 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 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 King 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 has 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 US 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 $9,406 per capita by purchasing power parity.[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 US$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 Airlines, 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 largest population being in the Zaatari refugee camp. 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.[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 the 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]

Visit link:

Jordan – Wikipedia

Air Jordan Shoes for Men & Women – Nike | Flight Club

Since 1985, the sneakers with Michael Jordans name and world-renowned Jumpman silhouette have helped define and shape sneaker culture. It began with a standard Nike high-top and evolved with daring designs with each iteration. From graphic prints to patent leather to fighter planes and Ferrari-inspired designs, Jordan sneakers routinely transcend their basketball roots by refreshing their initial offering with new looks and color schemes to remain relevant to each new generation.

View original post here:

Air Jordan Shoes for Men & Women – Nike | Flight Club

Jordan | History, Population, Flag, Map, & Facts …

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.

Continue reading here:

Jordan | History, Population, Flag, Map, & Facts …

Artificial intelligence – Wikipedia

Intelligence demonstrated by machines

In computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. Computer science defines AI research as the study of “intelligent agents”: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.[1] More in detail, Kaplan and Haenlein define AI as a systems ability to correctly interpret external data, to learn from such data, and to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation.[2] Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

The scope of AI is disputed: as machines become increasingly capable, tasks considered as requiring “intelligence” are often removed from the definition, a phenomenon known as the AI effect, leading to the quip in Tesler’s Theorem, “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.”[4] For instance, optical character recognition is frequently excluded from “artificial intelligence”, having become a routine technology.[5] Modern machine capabilities generally classified as AI include successfully understanding human speech, competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go),[7] autonomously operating cars, and intelligent routing in content delivery networks and military simulations.

Borrowing from the management literature, Kaplan and Haenlein classify artificial intelligence into three different types of AI systems: analytical, human-inspired, and humanized artificial intelligence.[8] Analytical AI has only characteristics consistent with cognitive intelligence generating cognitive representation of the world and using learning based on past experience to inform future decisions. Human-inspired AI has elements from cognitive as well as emotional intelligence, understanding, in addition to cognitive elements, also human emotions considering them in their decision making. Humanized AI shows characteristics of all types of competencies (i.e., cognitive, emotional, and social intelligence), able to be self-conscious and self-aware in interactions with others.

Artificial intelligence was founded as an academic discipline in 1956, and in the years since has experienced several waves of optimism,[9][10] followed by disappointment and the loss of funding (known as an “AI winter”),[11][12] followed by new approaches, success and renewed funding.[10][13] For most of its history, AI research has been divided into subfields that often fail to communicate with each other.[14] These sub-fields are based on technical considerations, such as particular goals (e.g. “robotics” or “machine learning”),[15] the use of particular tools (“logic” or artificial neural networks), or deep philosophical differences.[16][17][18] Subfields have also been based on social factors (particular institutions or the work of particular researchers).[14]

The traditional problems (or goals) of AI research include reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects.[15] General intelligence is among the field’s long-term goals.[19] Approaches include statistical methods, computational intelligence, and traditional symbolic AI. Many tools are used in AI, including versions of search and mathematical optimization, artificial neural networks, and methods based on statistics, probability and economics. The AI field draws upon computer science, information engineering, mathematics, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and many others.

The field was founded on the claim that human intelligence “can be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it”.[20] This raises philosophical arguments about the nature of the mind and the ethics of creating artificial beings endowed with human-like intelligence which are issues that have been explored by myth, fiction and philosophy since antiquity.[21] Some people also consider AI to be a danger to humanity if it progresses unabated.[22] Others believe that AI, unlike previous technological revolutions, will create a risk of mass unemployment.[23]

In the twenty-first century, AI techniques have experienced a resurgence following concurrent advances in computer power, large amounts of data, and theoretical understanding; and AI techniques have become an essential part of the technology industry, helping to solve many challenging problems in computer science, software engineering and operations research.[24][13]

Thought-capable artificial beings appeared as storytelling devices in antiquity,[25] and have been common in fiction, as in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Karel apek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).[26] These characters and their fates raised many of the same issues now discussed in the ethics of artificial intelligence.[21]

The study of mechanical or “formal” reasoning began with philosophers and mathematicians in antiquity. The study of mathematical logic led directly to Alan Turing’s theory of computation, which suggested that a machine, by shuffling symbols as simple as “0” and “1”, could simulate any conceivable act of mathematical deduction. This insight, that digital computers can simulate any process of formal reasoning, is known as the ChurchTuring thesis.[27] Along with concurrent discoveries in neurobiology, information theory and cybernetics, this led researchers to consider the possibility of building an electronic brain. Turing proposed that “if a human could not distinguish between responses from a machine and a human, the machine could be considered “intelligent”.[28] The first work that is now generally recognized as AI was McCullouch and Pitts’ 1943 formal design for Turing-complete “artificial neurons”.

The field of AI research was born at a workshop at Dartmouth College in 1956.[30] Attendees Allen Newell (CMU), Herbert Simon (CMU), John McCarthy (MIT), Marvin Minsky (MIT) and Arthur Samuel (IBM) became the founders and leaders of AI research.[31] They and their students produced programs that the press described as “astonishing”: computers were learning checkers strategies (c. 1954)[33] (and by 1959 were reportedly playing better than the average human),[34] solving word problems in algebra, proving logical theorems (Logic Theorist, first run c. 1956) and speaking English.[35] By the middle of the 1960s, research in the U.S. was heavily funded by the Department of Defense[36] and laboratories had been established around the world.[37] AI’s founders were optimistic about the future: Herbert Simon predicted, “machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do”. Marvin Minsky agreed, writing, “within a generation… the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved”.[9]

They failed to recognize the difficulty of some of the remaining tasks. Progress slowed and in 1974, in response to the criticism of Sir James Lighthill and ongoing pressure from the US Congress to fund more productive projects, both the U.S. and British governments cut off exploratory research in AI. The next few years would later be called an “AI winter”,[11] a period when obtaining funding for AI projects was difficult.

In the early 1980s, AI research was revived by the commercial success of expert systems,[39] a form of AI program that simulated the knowledge and analytical skills of human experts. By 1985, the market for AI had reached over a billion dollars. At the same time, Japan’s fifth generation computer project inspired the U.S and British governments to restore funding for academic research.[10] However, beginning with the collapse of the Lisp Machine market in 1987, AI once again fell into disrepute, and a second, longer-lasting hiatus began.[12]

In the late 1990s and early 21st century, AI began to be used for logistics, data mining, medical diagnosis and other areas.[24] The success was due to increasing computational power (see Moore’s law), greater emphasis on solving specific problems, new ties between AI and other fields (such as statistics, economics and mathematics), and a commitment by researchers to mathematical methods and scientific standards.[40] Deep Blue became the first computer chess-playing system to beat a reigning world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, on 11 May 1997.

In 2011, a Jeopardy! quiz show exhibition match, IBM’s question answering system, Watson, defeated the two greatest Jeopardy! champions, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, by a significant margin. Faster computers, algorithmic improvements, and access to large amounts of data enabled advances in machine learning and perception; data-hungry deep learning methods started to dominate accuracy benchmarks around 2012.[43] The Kinect, which provides a 3D bodymotion interface for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One, uses algorithms that emerged from lengthy AI research[44] as do intelligent personal assistants in smartphones.[45] In March 2016, AlphaGo won 4 out of 5 games of Go in a match with Go champion Lee Sedol, becoming the first computer Go-playing system to beat a professional Go player without handicaps.[7][46] In the 2017 Future of Go Summit, AlphaGo won a three-game match with Ke Jie,[47] who at the time continuously held the world No. 1 ranking for two years.[48][49] This marked the completion of a significant milestone in the development of Artificial Intelligence as Go is an extremely complex game, more so than Chess.

According to Bloomberg’s Jack Clark, 2015 was a landmark year for artificial intelligence, with the number of software projects that use AI within Google increased from a “sporadic usage” in 2012 to more than 2,700 projects. Clark also presents factual data indicating that error rates in image processing tasks have fallen significantly since 2011.[50] He attributes this to an increase in affordable neural networks, due to a rise in cloud computing infrastructure and to an increase in research tools and datasets.[13] Other cited examples include Microsoft’s development of a Skype system that can automatically translate from one language to another and Facebook’s system that can describe images to blind people.[50] In a 2017 survey, one in five companies reported they had “incorporated AI in some offerings or processes”.[51][52] Around 2016, China greatly accelerated its government funding; given its large supply of data and its rapidly increasing research output, some observers believe it may be on track to becoming an “AI superpower”.[53][54]

A typical AI perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.[1] An AI’s intended goal function can be simple (“1 if the AI wins a game of Go, 0 otherwise”) or complex (“Do actions mathematically similar to the actions that got you rewards in the past”). Goals can be explicitly defined, or can be induced. If the AI is programmed for “reinforcement learning”, goals can be implicitly induced by rewarding some types of behavior and punishing others.[a] Alternatively, an evolutionary system can induce goals by using a “fitness function” to mutate and preferentially replicate high-scoring AI systems; this is similar to how animals evolved to innately desire certain goals such as finding food, or how dogs can be bred via artificial selection to possess desired traits. Some AI systems, such as nearest-neighbor, instead reason by analogy; these systems are not generally given goals, except to the degree that goals are somehow implicit in their training data. Such systems can still be benchmarked if the non-goal system is framed as a system whose “goal” is to successfully accomplish its narrow classification task.[57]

AI often revolves around the use of algorithms. An algorithm is a set of unambiguous instructions that a mechanical computer can execute.[b] A complex algorithm is often built on top of other, simpler, algorithms. A simple example of an algorithm is the following recipe for optimal play at tic-tac-toe:

Many AI algorithms are capable of learning from data; they can enhance themselves by learning new heuristics (strategies, or “rules of thumb”, that have worked well in the past), or can themselves write other algorithms. Some of the “learners” described below, including Bayesian networks, decision trees, and nearest-neighbor, could theoretically, if given infinite data, time, and memory, learn to approximate any function, including whatever combination of mathematical functions would best describe the entire world. These learners could therefore, in theory, derive all possible knowledge, by considering every possible hypothesis and matching it against the data. In practice, it is almost never possible to consider every possibility, because of the phenomenon of “combinatorial explosion”, where the amount of time needed to solve a problem grows exponentially. Much of AI research involves figuring out how to identify and avoid considering broad swaths of possibilities that are unlikely to be fruitful.[59] For example, when viewing a map and looking for the shortest driving route from Denver to New York in the East, one can in most cases skip looking at any path through San Francisco or other areas far to the West; thus, an AI wielding an pathfinding algorithm like A* can avoid the combinatorial explosion that would ensue if every possible route had to be ponderously considered in turn.[61]

The earliest (and easiest to understand) approach to AI was symbolism (such as formal logic): “If an otherwise healthy adult has a fever, then they may have influenza”. A second, more general, approach is Bayesian inference: “If the current patient has a fever, adjust the probability they have influenza in such-and-such way”. The third major approach, extremely popular in routine business AI applications, are analogizers such as SVM and nearest-neighbor: “After examining the records of known past patients whose temperature, symptoms, age, and other factors mostly match the current patient, X% of those patients turned out to have influenza”. A fourth approach is harder to intuitively understand, but is inspired by how the brain’s machinery works: the artificial neural network approach uses artificial “neurons” that can learn by comparing itself to the desired output and altering the strengths of the connections between its internal neurons to “reinforce” connections that seemed to be useful. These four main approaches can overlap with each other and with evolutionary systems; for example, neural nets can learn to make inferences, to generalize, and to make analogies. Some systems implicitly or explicitly use multiple of these approaches, alongside many other AI and non-AI algorithms;[62] the best approach is often different depending on the problem.[64]

Learning algorithms work on the basis that strategies, algorithms, and inferences that worked well in the past are likely to continue working well in the future. These inferences can be obvious, such as “since the sun rose every morning for the last 10,000 days, it will probably rise tomorrow morning as well”. They can be nuanced, such as “X% of families have geographically separate species with color variants, so there is an Y% chance that undiscovered black swans exist”. Learners also work on the basis of “Occam’s razor”: The simplest theory that explains the data is the likeliest. Therefore, to be successful, a learner must be designed such that it prefers simpler theories to complex theories, except in cases where the complex theory is proven substantially better. Settling on a bad, overly complex theory gerrymandered to fit all the past training data is known as overfitting. Many systems attempt to reduce overfitting by rewarding a theory in accordance with how well it fits the data, but penalizing the theory in accordance with how complex the theory is. Besides classic overfitting, learners can also disappoint by “learning the wrong lesson”. A toy example is that an image classifier trained only on pictures of brown horses and black cats might conclude that all brown patches are likely to be horses. A real-world example is that, unlike humans, current image classifiers don’t determine the spatial relationship between components of the picture; instead, they learn abstract patterns of pixels that humans are oblivious to, but that linearly correlate with images of certain types of real objects. Faintly superimposing such a pattern on a legitimate image results in an “adversarial” image that the system misclassifies.[c][67][68][69]

Compared with humans, existing AI lacks several features of human “commonsense reasoning”; most notably, humans have powerful mechanisms for reasoning about “nave physics” such as space, time, and physical interactions. This enables even young children to easily make inferences like “If I roll this pen off a table, it will fall on the floor”. Humans also have a powerful mechanism of “folk psychology” that helps them to interpret natural-language sentences such as “The city councilmen refused the demonstrators a permit because they advocated violence”. (A generic AI has difficulty inferring whether the councilmen or the demonstrators are the ones alleged to be advocating violence.)[72][73][74] This lack of “common knowledge” means that AI often makes different mistakes than humans make, in ways that can seem incomprehensible. For example, existing self-driving cars cannot reason about the location nor the intentions of pedestrians in the exact way that humans do, and instead must use non-human modes of reasoning to avoid accidents.[75][76][77]

The overall research goal of artificial intelligence is to create technology that allows computers and machines to function in an intelligent manner. The general problem of simulating (or creating) intelligence has been broken down into sub-problems. These consist of particular traits or capabilities that researchers expect an intelligent system to display. The traits described below have received the most attention.[15]

Early researchers developed algorithms that imitated step-by-step reasoning that humans use when they solve puzzles or make logical deductions.[78] By the late 1980s and 1990s, AI research had developed methods for dealing with uncertain or incomplete information, employing concepts from probability and economics.[79]

These algorithms proved to be insufficient for solving large reasoning problems, because they experienced a “combinatorial explosion”: they became exponentially slower as the problems grew larger.[59] In fact, even humans rarely use the step-by-step deduction that early AI research was able to model. They solve most of their problems using fast, intuitive judgements.[80]

Knowledge representation[81] and knowledge engineering[82] are central to classical AI research. Some “expert systems” attempt to gather together explicit knowledge possessed by experts in some narrow domain. In addition, some projects attempt to gather the “commonsense knowledge” known to the average person into a database containing extensive knowledge about the world. Among the things a comprehensive commonsense knowledge base would contain are: objects, properties, categories and relations between objects;[83] situations, events, states and time;[84] causes and effects;[85] knowledge about knowledge (what we know about what other people know);[86] and many other, less well researched domains. A representation of “what exists” is an ontology: the set of objects, relations, concepts, and properties formally described so that software agents can interpret them. The semantics of these are captured as description logic concepts, roles, and individuals, and typically implemented as classes, properties, and individuals in the Web Ontology Language.[87] The most general ontologies are called upper ontologies, which attempt to provide a foundation for all other knowledge[88] by acting as mediators between domain ontologies that cover specific knowledge about a particular knowledge domain (field of interest or area of concern). Such formal knowledge representations can be used in content-based indexing and retrieval,[89] scene interpretation,[90] clinical decision support,[91] knowledge discovery (mining “interesting” and actionable inferences from large databases),[92] and other areas.[93]

Among the most difficult problems in knowledge representation are:

Intelligent agents must be able to set goals and achieve them.[100] They need a way to visualize the futurea representation of the state of the world and be able to make predictions about how their actions will change itand be able to make choices that maximize the utility (or “value”) of available choices.[101]

In classical planning problems, the agent can assume that it is the only system acting in the world, allowing the agent to be certain of the consequences of its actions.[102] However, if the agent is not the only actor, then it requires that the agent can reason under uncertainty. This calls for an agent that can not only assess its environment and make predictions, but also evaluate its predictions and adapt based on its assessment.[103]

Multi-agent planning uses the cooperation and competition of many agents to achieve a given goal. Emergent behavior such as this is used by evolutionary algorithms and swarm intelligence.[104]

Machine learning, a fundamental concept of AI research since the field’s inception,[105] is the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience.[106][107]

Unsupervised learning is the ability to find patterns in a stream of input, without requiring a human to label the inputs first.[108] Supervised learning includes both classification and numerical regression, which requires a human to label the input data first. Classification is used to determine what category something belongs in, after seeing a number of examples of things from several categories. Regression is the attempt to produce a function that describes the relationship between inputs and outputs and predicts how the outputs should change as the inputs change.[107] Both classifiers and regression learners can be viewed as “function approximators” trying to learn an unknown (possibly implicit) function; for example, a spam classifier can be viewed as learning a function that maps from the text of an email to one of two categories, “spam” or “not spam”. Computational learning theory can assess learners by computational complexity, by sample complexity (how much data is required), or by other notions of optimization.[109] In reinforcement learning[110] the agent is rewarded for good responses and punished for bad ones. The agent uses this sequence of rewards and punishments to form a strategy for operating in its problem space.

Natural language processing[111] (NLP) gives machines the ability to read and understand human language. A sufficiently powerful natural language processing system would enable natural-language user interfaces and the acquisition of knowledge directly from human-written sources, such as newswire texts. Some straightforward applications of natural language processing include information retrieval, text mining, question answering[112] and machine translation.[113] Many current approaches use word co-occurrence frequencies to construct syntactic representations of text. “Keyword spotting” strategies for search are popular and scalable but dumb; a search query for “dog” might only match documents with the literal word “dog” and miss a document with the word “poodle”. “Lexical affinity” strategies use the occurrence of words such as “accident” to assess the sentiment of a document. Modern statistical NLP approaches can combine all these strategies as well as others, and often achieve acceptable accuracy at the page or paragraph level, but continue to lack the semantic understanding required to classify isolated sentences well. Besides the usual difficulties with encoding semantic commonsense knowledge, existing semantic NLP sometimes scales too poorly to be viable in business applications. Beyond semantic NLP, the ultimate goal of “narrative” NLP is to embody a full understanding of commonsense reasoning.[114]

Machine perception[115] is the ability to use input from sensors (such as cameras (visible spectrum or infrared), microphones, wireless signals, and active lidar, sonar, radar, and tactile sensors) to deduce aspects of the world. Applications include speech recognition,[116] facial recognition, and object recognition.[117] Computer vision is the ability to analyze visual input. Such input is usually ambiguous; a giant, fifty-meter-tall pedestrian far away may produce exactly the same pixels as a nearby normal-sized pedestrian, requiring the AI to judge the relative likelihood and reasonableness of different interpretations, for example by using its “object model” to assess that fifty-meter pedestrians do not exist.[118]

AI is heavily used in robotics.[119] Advanced robotic arms and other industrial robots, widely used in modern factories, can learn from experience how to move efficiently despite the presence of friction and gear slippage.[120] A modern mobile robot, when given a small, static, and visible environment, can easily determine its location and map its environment; however, dynamic environments, such as (in endoscopy) the interior of a patient’s breathing body, pose a greater challenge. Motion planning is the process of breaking down a movement task into “primitives” such as individual joint movements. Such movement often involves compliant motion, a process where movement requires maintaining physical contact with an object.[122][123] Moravec’s paradox generalizes that low-level sensorimotor skills that humans take for granted are, counterintuitively, difficult to program into a robot; the paradox is named after Hans Moravec, who stated in 1988 that “it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility”.[124][125] This is attributed to the fact that, unlike checkers, physical dexterity has been a direct target of natural selection for millions of years.[126]

Moravec’s paradox can be extended to many forms of social intelligence.[128][129] Distributed multi-agent coordination of autonomous vehicles remains a difficult problem.[130] Affective computing is an interdisciplinary umbrella that comprises systems which recognize, interpret, process, or simulate human affects. Moderate successes related to affective computing include textual sentiment analysis and, more recently, multimodal affect analysis (see multimodal sentiment analysis), wherein AI classifies the affects displayed by a videotaped subject.[134]

In the long run, social skills and an understanding of human emotion and game theory would be valuable to a social agent. Being able to predict the actions of others by understanding their motives and emotional states would allow an agent to make better decisions. Some computer systems mimic human emotion and expressions to appear more sensitive to the emotional dynamics of human interaction, or to otherwise facilitate humancomputer interaction.[135] Similarly, some virtual assistants are programmed to speak conversationally or even to banter humorously; this tends to give nave users an unrealistic conception of how intelligent existing computer agents actually are.[136]

Historically, projects such as the Cyc knowledge base (1984) and the massive Japanese Fifth Generation Computer Systems initiative (19821992) attempted to cover the breadth of human cognition. These early projects failed to escape the limitations of non-quantitative symbolic logic models and, in retrospect, greatly underestimated the difficulty of cross-domain AI. Nowadays, the vast majority of current AI researchers work instead on tractable “narrow AI” applications (such as medical diagnosis or automobile navigation).[137] Many researchers predict that such “narrow AI” work in different individual domains will eventually be incorporated into a machine with artificial general intelligence (AGI), combining most of the narrow skills mentioned in this article and at some point even exceeding human ability in most or all these areas.[19][138] Many advances have general, cross-domain significance. One high-profile example is that DeepMind in the 2010s developed a “generalized artificial intelligence” that could learn many diverse Atari games on its own, and later developed a variant of the system which succeeds at sequential learning.[139][140][141] Besides transfer learning,[142] hypothetical AGI breakthroughs could include the development of reflective architectures that can engage in decision-theoretic metareasoning, and figuring out how to “slurp up” a comprehensive knowledge base from the entire unstructured Web. Some argue that some kind of (currently-undiscovered) conceptually straightforward, but mathematically difficult, “Master Algorithm” could lead to AGI. Finally, a few “emergent” approaches look to simulating human intelligence extremely closely, and believe that anthropomorphic features like an artificial brain or simulated child development may someday reach a critical point where general intelligence emerges.[144][145]

Many of the problems in this article may also require general intelligence, if machines are to solve the problems as well as people do. For example, even specific straightforward tasks, like machine translation, require that a machine read and write in both languages (NLP), follow the author’s argument (reason), know what is being talked about (knowledge), and faithfully reproduce the author’s original intent (social intelligence). A problem like machine translation is considered “AI-complete”, because all of these problems need to be solved simultaneously in order to reach human-level machine performance.

There is no established unifying theory or paradigm that guides AI research. Researchers disagree about many issues.[146] A few of the most long standing questions that have remained unanswered are these: should artificial intelligence simulate natural intelligence by studying psychology or neurobiology? Or is human biology as irrelevant to AI research as bird biology is to aeronautical engineering?[16]Can intelligent behavior be described using simple, elegant principles (such as logic or optimization)? Or does it necessarily require solving a large number of completely unrelated problems?[17]

In the 1940s and 1950s, a number of researchers explored the connection between neurobiology, information theory, and cybernetics. Some of them built machines that used electronic networks to exhibit rudimentary intelligence, such as W. Grey Walter’s turtles and the Johns Hopkins Beast. Many of these researchers gathered for meetings of the Teleological Society at Princeton University and the Ratio Club in England.[147] By 1960, this approach was largely abandoned, although elements of it would be revived in the 1980s.

When access to digital computers became possible in the middle 1950s, AI research began to explore the possibility that human intelligence could be reduced to symbol manipulation. The research was centered in three institutions: Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford and MIT, and as described below, each one developed its own style of research. John Haugeland named these symbolic approaches to AI “good old fashioned AI” or “GOFAI”.[148] During the 1960s, symbolic approaches had achieved great success at simulating high-level thinking in small demonstration programs. Approaches based on cybernetics or artificial neural networks were abandoned or pushed into the background.[149]Researchers in the 1960s and the 1970s were convinced that symbolic approaches would eventually succeed in creating a machine with artificial general intelligence and considered this the goal of their field.

Economist Herbert Simon and Allen Newell studied human problem-solving skills and attempted to formalize them, and their work laid the foundations of the field of artificial intelligence, as well as cognitive science, operations research and management science. Their research team used the results of psychological experiments to develop programs that simulated the techniques that people used to solve problems. This tradition, centered at Carnegie Mellon University would eventually culminate in the development of the Soar architecture in the middle 1980s.[150][151]

Unlike Simon and Newell, John McCarthy felt that machines did not need to simulate human thought, but should instead try to find the essence of abstract reasoning and problem-solving, regardless of whether people used the same algorithms.[16] His laboratory at Stanford (SAIL) focused on using formal logic to solve a wide variety of problems, including knowledge representation, planning and learning.[152] Logic was also the focus of the work at the University of Edinburgh and elsewhere in Europe which led to the development of the programming language Prolog and the science of logic programming.[153]

Researchers at MIT (such as Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert)[154] found that solving difficult problems in vision and natural language processing required ad-hoc solutionsthey argued that there was no simple and general principle (like logic) that would capture all the aspects of intelligent behavior. Roger Schank described their “anti-logic” approaches as “scruffy” (as opposed to the “neat” paradigms at CMU and Stanford).[17] Commonsense knowledge bases (such as Doug Lenat’s Cyc) are an example of “scruffy” AI, since they must be built by hand, one complicated concept at a time.[155]

When computers with large memories became available around 1970, researchers from all three traditions began to build knowledge into AI applications.[156] This “knowledge revolution” led to the development and deployment of expert systems (introduced by Edward Feigenbaum), the first truly successful form of AI software.[39] A key component of the system architecture for all expert systems is the knowledge base, which stores facts and rules that illustrate AI.[157] The knowledge revolution was also driven by the realization that enormous amounts of knowledge would be required by many simple AI applications.

By the 1980s, progress in symbolic AI seemed to stall and many believed that symbolic systems would never be able to imitate all the processes of human cognition, especially perception, robotics, learning and pattern recognition. A number of researchers began to look into “sub-symbolic” approaches to specific AI problems.[18] Sub-symbolic methods manage to approach intelligence without specific representations of knowledge.

This includes embodied, situated, behavior-based, and nouvelle AI. Researchers from the related field of robotics, such as Rodney Brooks, rejected symbolic AI and focused on the basic engineering problems that would allow robots to move and survive.[158] Their work revived the non-symbolic viewpoint of the early cybernetics researchers of the 1950s and reintroduced the use of control theory in AI. This coincided with the development of the embodied mind thesis in the related field of cognitive science: the idea that aspects of the body (such as movement, perception and visualization) are required for higher intelligence.

Within developmental robotics, developmental learning approaches are elaborated upon to allow robots to accumulate repertoires of novel skills through autonomous self-exploration, social interaction with human teachers, and the use of guidance mechanisms (active learning, maturation, motor synergies, etc.).[159][160]

Interest in neural networks and “connectionism” was revived by David Rumelhart and others in the middle of the 1980s.[163] Artificial neural networks are an example of soft computingthey are solutions to problems which cannot be solved with complete logical certainty, and where an approximate solution is often sufficient. Other soft computing approaches to AI include fuzzy systems, evolutionary computation and many statistical tools. The application of soft computing to AI is studied collectively by the emerging discipline of computational intelligence.[164]

Much of traditional GOFAI got bogged down on ad hoc patches to symbolic computation that worked on their own toy models but failed to generalize to real-world results. However, around the 1990s, AI researchers adopted sophisticated mathematical tools, such as hidden Markov models (HMM), information theory, and normative Bayesian decision theory to compare or to unify competing architectures. The shared mathematical language permitted a high level of collaboration with more established fields (like mathematics, economics or operations research).[d] Compared with GOFAI, new “statistical learning” techniques such as HMM and neural networks were gaining higher levels of accuracy in many practical domains such as data mining, without necessarily acquiring semantic understanding of the datasets. The increased successes with real-world data led to increasing emphasis on comparing different approaches against shared test data to see which approach performed best in a broader context than that provided by idiosyncratic toy models; AI research was becoming more scientific. Nowadays results of experiments are often rigorously measurable, and are sometimes (with difficulty) reproducible.[40][165] Different statistical learning techniques have different limitations; for example, basic HMM cannot model the infinite possible combinations of natural language. Critics note that the shift from GOFAI to statistical learning is often also a shift away from Explainable AI. In AGI research, some scholars caution against over-reliance on statistical learning, and argue that continuing research into GOFAI will still be necessary to attain general intelligence.

AI has developed a large number of tools to solve the most difficult problems in computer science. A few of the most general of these methods are discussed below.

Many problems in AI can be solved in theory by intelligently searching through many possible solutions:[174] Reasoning can be reduced to performing a search. For example, logical proof can be viewed as searching for a path that leads from premises to conclusions, where each step is the application of an inference rule.[175] Planning algorithms search through trees of goals and subgoals, attempting to find a path to a target goal, a process called means-ends analysis.[176] Robotics algorithms for moving limbs and grasping objects use local searches in configuration space.[120] Many learning algorithms use search algorithms based on optimization.

Simple exhaustive searches[177] are rarely sufficient for most real-world problems: the search space (the number of places to search) quickly grows to astronomical numbers. The result is a search that is too slow or never completes. The solution, for many problems, is to use “heuristics” or “rules of thumb” that prioritize choices in favor of those that are more likely to reach a goal and to do so in a shorter number of steps. In some search methodologies heuristics can also serve to entirely eliminate some choices that are unlikely to lead to a goal (called “pruning the search tree”). Heuristics supply the program with a “best guess” for the path on which the solution lies.[178] Heuristics limit the search for solutions into a smaller sample size.

A very different kind of search came to prominence in the 1990s, based on the mathematical theory of optimization. For many problems, it is possible to begin the search with some form of a guess and then refine the guess incrementally until no more refinements can be made. These algorithms can be visualized as blind hill climbing: we begin the search at a random point on the landscape, and then, by jumps or steps, we keep moving our guess uphill, until we reach the top. Other optimization algorithms are simulated annealing, beam search and random optimization.[179]

Evolutionary computation uses a form of optimization search. For example, they may begin with a population of organisms (the guesses) and then allow them to mutate and recombine, selecting only the fittest to survive each generation (refining the guesses). Classic evolutionary algorithms include genetic algorithms, gene expression programming, and genetic programming.[180] Alternatively, distributed search processes can coordinate via swarm intelligence algorithms. Two popular swarm algorithms used in search are particle swarm optimization (inspired by bird flocking) and ant colony optimization (inspired by ant trails).[181][182]

Logic[183] is used for knowledge representation and problem solving, but it can be applied to other problems as well. For example, the satplan algorithm uses logic for planning[184] and inductive logic programming is a method for learning.[185]

Several different forms of logic are used in AI research. Propositional logic[186] involves truth functions such as “or” and “not”. First-order logic[187] adds quantifiers and predicates, and can express facts about objects, their properties, and their relations with each other. Fuzzy set theory assigns a “degree of truth” (between 0 and 1) to vague statements such as “Alice is old” (or rich, or tall, or hungry) that are too linguistically imprecise to be completely true or false. Fuzzy logic is successfully used in control systems to allow experts to contribute vague rules such as “if you are close to the destination station and moving fast, increase the train’s brake pressure”; these vague rules can then be numerically refined within the system. Fuzzy logic fails to scale well in knowledge bases; many AI researchers question the validity of chaining fuzzy-logic inferences.[e][189][190]

Default logics, non-monotonic logics and circumscription[95] are forms of logic designed to help with default reasoning and the qualification problem. Several extensions of logic have been designed to handle specific domains of knowledge, such as: description logics;[83] situation calculus, event calculus and fluent calculus (for representing events and time);[84] causal calculus;[85] belief calculus;[191] and modal logics.[86]

Overall, qualitiative symbolic logic is brittle and scales poorly in the presence of noise or other uncertainty. Exceptions to rules are numerous, and it is difficult for logical systems to function in the presence of contradictory rules.[193]

Many problems in AI (in reasoning, planning, learning, perception, and robotics) require the agent to operate with incomplete or uncertain information. AI researchers have devised a number of powerful tools to solve these problems using methods from probability theory and economics.[194]

Bayesian networks[195] are a very general tool that can be used for a large number of problems: reasoning (using the Bayesian inference algorithm),[196] learning (using the expectation-maximization algorithm),[f][198] planning (using decision networks)[199] and perception (using dynamic Bayesian networks).[200] Probabilistic algorithms can also be used for filtering, prediction, smoothing and finding explanations for streams of data, helping perception systems to analyze processes that occur over time (e.g., hidden Markov models or Kalman filters).[200] Compared with symbolic logic, formal Bayesian inference is computationally expensive. For inference to be tractable, most observations must be conditionally independent of one another. Complicated graphs with diamonds or other “loops” (undirected cycles) can require a sophisticated method such as Markov Chain Monte Carlo, which spreads an ensemble of random walkers throughout the Bayesian network and attempts to converge to an assessment of the conditional probabilities. Bayesian networks are used on Xbox Live to rate and match players; wins and losses are “evidence” of how good a player is. AdSense uses a Bayesian network with over 300 million edges to learn which ads to serve.

A key concept from the science of economics is “utility”: a measure of how valuable something is to an intelligent agent. Precise mathematical tools have been developed that analyze how an agent can make choices and plan, using decision theory, decision analysis,[201] and information value theory.[101] These tools include models such as Markov decision processes,[202] dynamic decision networks,[200] game theory and mechanism design.[203]

The simplest AI applications can be divided into two types: classifiers (“if shiny then diamond”) and controllers (“if shiny then pick up”). Controllers do, however, also classify conditions before inferring actions, and therefore classification forms a central part of many AI systems. Classifiers are functions that use pattern matching to determine a closest match. They can be tuned according to examples, making them very attractive for use in AI. These examples are known as observations or patterns. In supervised learning, each pattern belongs to a certain predefined class. A class can be seen as a decision that has to be made. All the observations combined with their class labels are known as a data set. When a new observation is received, that observation is classified based on previous experience.[204]

A classifier can be trained in various ways; there are many statistical and machine learning approaches. The decision tree[205] is perhaps the most widely used machine learning algorithm. Other widely used classifiers are the neural network,[207]k-nearest neighbor algorithm,[g][209]kernel methods such as the support vector machine (SVM),[h][211]Gaussian mixture model,[212] and the extremely popular naive Bayes classifier.[i][214] Classifier performance depends greatly on the characteristics of the data to be classified, such as the dataset size, distribution of samples across classes, the dimensionality, and the level of noise. Model-based classifiers perform well if the assumed model is an extremely good fit for the actual data. Otherwise, if no matching model is available, and if accuracy (rather than speed or scalability) is the sole concern, conventional wisdom is that discriminative classifiers (especially SVM) tend to be more accurate than model-based classifiers such as “naive Bayes” on most practical data sets.[215]

Neural networks, or neural nets, were inspired by the architecture of neurons in the human brain. A simple “neuron” N accepts input from multiple other neurons, each of which, when activated (or “fired”), cast a weighted “vote” for or against whether neuron N should itself activate. Learning requires an algorithm to adjust these weights based on the training data; one simple algorithm (dubbed “fire together, wire together”) is to increase the weight between two connected neurons when the activation of one triggers the successful activation of another. The net forms “concepts” that are distributed among a subnetwork of shared[j] neurons that tend to fire together; a concept meaning “leg” might be coupled with a subnetwork meaning “foot” that includes the sound for “foot”. Neurons have a continuous spectrum of activation; in addition, neurons can process inputs in a nonlinear way rather than weighing straightforward votes. Modern neural nets can learn both continuous functions and, surprisingly, digital logical operations. Neural networks’ early successes included predicting the stock market and (in 1995) a mostly self-driving car.[k] In the 2010s, advances in neural networks using deep learning thrust AI into widespread public consciousness and contributed to an enormous upshift in corporate AI spending; for example, AI-related M&A in 2017 was over 25 times as large as in 2015.[218][219]

The study of non-learning artificial neural networks[207] began in the decade before the field of AI research was founded, in the work of Walter Pitts and Warren McCullouch. Frank Rosenblatt invented the perceptron, a learning network with a single layer, similar to the old concept of linear regression. Early pioneers also include Alexey Grigorevich Ivakhnenko, Teuvo Kohonen, Stephen Grossberg, Kunihiko Fukushima, Christoph von der Malsburg, David Willshaw, Shun-Ichi Amari, Bernard Widrow, John Hopfield, Eduardo R. Caianiello, and others.

The main categories of networks are acyclic or feedforward neural networks (where the signal passes in only one direction) and recurrent neural networks (which allow feedback and short-term memories of previous input events). Among the most popular feedforward networks are perceptrons, multi-layer perceptrons and radial basis networks.[220] Neural networks can be applied to the problem of intelligent control (for robotics) or learning, using such techniques as Hebbian learning (“fire together, wire together”), GMDH or competitive learning.[221]

Today, neural networks are often trained by the backpropagation algorithm, which had been around since 1970 as the reverse mode of automatic differentiation published by Seppo Linnainmaa,[222][223] and was introduced to neural networks by Paul Werbos.[224][225][226]

Hierarchical temporal memory is an approach that models some of the structural and algorithmic properties of the neocortex.[227]

To summarize, most neural networks use some form of gradient descent on a hand-created neural topology. However, some research groups, such as Uber, argue that simple neuroevolution to mutate new neural network topologies and weights may be competitive with sophisticated gradient descent approaches. One advantage of neuroevolution is that it may be less prone to get caught in “dead ends”.[228]

Deep learning is any artificial neural network that can learn a long chain of causal links. For example, a feedforward network with six hidden layers can learn a seven-link causal chain (six hidden layers + output layer) and has a “credit assignment path” (CAP) depth of seven. Many deep learning systems need to be able to learn chains ten or more causal links in length.[229] Deep learning has transformed many important subfields of artificial intelligence, including computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing and others.[230][231][229]

According to one overview,[232] the expression “Deep Learning” was introduced to the Machine Learning community by Rina Dechter in 1986[233] and gained traction afterIgor Aizenberg and colleagues introduced it to Artificial Neural Networks in 2000.[234] The first functional Deep Learning networks were published by Alexey Grigorevich Ivakhnenko and V. G. Lapa in 1965.[235][pageneeded] These networks are trained one layer at a time. Ivakhnenko’s 1971 paper[236] describes the learning of a deep feedforward multilayer perceptron with eight layers, already much deeper than many later networks. In 2006, a publication by Geoffrey Hinton and Ruslan Salakhutdinov introduced another way of pre-training many-layered feedforward neural networks (FNNs) one layer at a time, treating each layer in turn as an unsupervised restricted Boltzmann machine, then using supervised backpropagation for fine-tuning. Similar to shallow artificial neural networks, deep neural networks can model complex non-linear relationships. Over the last few years, advances in both machine learning algorithms and computer hardware have led to more efficient methods for training deep neural networks that contain many layers of non-linear hidden units and a very large output layer.[238]

Deep learning often uses convolutional neural networks (CNNs), whose origins can be traced back to the Neocognitron introduced by Kunihiko Fukushima in 1980.[239] In 1989, Yann LeCun and colleagues applied backpropagation to such an architecture. In the early 2000s, in an industrial application CNNs already processed an estimated 10% to 20% of all the checks written in the US.[240]Since 2011, fast implementations of CNNs on GPUs havewon many visual pattern recognition competitions.[229]

CNNs with 12 convolutional layers were used in conjunction with reinforcement learning by Deepmind’s “AlphaGo Lee”, the program that beat a top Go champion in 2016.[241]

Early on, deep learning was also applied to sequence learning with recurrent neural networks (RNNs)[242] which are in theory Turing complete[243] and can run arbitrary programs to process arbitrary sequences of inputs. The depth of an RNN is unlimited and depends on the length of its input sequence; thus, an RNN is an example of deep learning.[229] RNNs can be trained by gradient descent[244][245][246] but suffer from the vanishing gradient problem.[230][247] In 1992, it was shown that unsupervised pre-training of a stack of recurrent neural networks can speed up subsequent supervised learning of deep sequential problems.[248]

Numerous researchers now use variants of a deep learning recurrent NN called the long short-term memory (LSTM) network published by Hochreiter & Schmidhuber in 1997.[249] LSTM is often trained by Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC).[250] At Google, Microsoft and Baidu this approach has revolutionised speech recognition.[251][252][253] For example, in 2015, Google’s speech recognition experienced a dramatic performance jump of 49% through CTC-trained LSTM, which is now available through Google Voice to billions of smartphone users.[254] Google also used LSTM to improve machine translation,[255] Language Modeling[256] and Multilingual Language Processing.[257] LSTM combined with CNNs also improved automatic image captioning[258] and a plethora of other applications.

AI, like electricity or the steam engine, is a general purpose technology. There is no consensus on how to characterize which tasks AI tends to excel at.[259] While projects such as AlphaZero have succeeded in generating their own knowledge from scratch, many other machine learning projects require large training datasets.[260][261] Researcher Andrew Ng has suggested, as a “highly imperfect rule of thumb”, that “almost anything a typical human can do with less than one second of mental thought, we can probably now or in the near future automate using AI.”[262] Moravec’s paradox suggests that AI lags humans at many tasks that the human brain has specifically evolved to perform well.[126]

Games provide a well-publicized benchmark for assessing rates of progress. AlphaGo around 2016 brought the era of classical board-game benchmarks to a close. Games of imperfect knowledge provide new challenges to AI in the area of game theory.[263][264] E-sports such as StarCraft continue to provide additional public benchmarks.[265][266] There are many competitions and prizes, such as the Imagenet Challenge, to promote research in artificial intelligence. The most common areas of competition include general machine intelligence, conversational behavior, data-mining, robotic cars, and robot soccer as well as conventional games.[267]

The “imitation game” (an interpretation of the 1950 Turing test that assesses whether a computer can imitate a human) is nowadays considered too exploitable to be a meaningful benchmark.[268] A derivative of the Turing test is the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA). As the name implies, this helps to determine that a user is an actual person and not a computer posing as a human. In contrast to the standard Turing test, CAPTCHA is administered by a machine and targeted to a human as opposed to being administered by a human and targeted to a machine. A computer asks a user to complete a simple test then generates a grade for that test. Computers are unable to solve the problem, so correct solutions are deemed to be the result of a person taking the test. A common type of CAPTCHA is the test that requires the typing of distorted letters, numbers or symbols that appear in an image undecipherable by a computer.

Proposed “universal intelligence” tests aim to compare how well machines, humans, and even non-human animals perform on problem sets that are generic as possible. At an extreme, the test suite can contain every possible problem, weighted by Kolmogorov complexity; unfortunately, these problem sets tend to be dominated by impoverished pattern-matching exercises where a tuned AI can easily exceed human performance levels.[270][271]

AI is relevant to any intellectual task. Modern artificial intelligence techniques are pervasive and are too numerous to list here. Frequently, when a technique reaches mainstream use, it is no longer considered artificial intelligence; this phenomenon is described as the AI effect.

High-profile examples of AI include autonomous vehicles (such as drones and self-driving cars), medical diagnosis, creating art (such as poetry), proving mathematical theorems, playing games (such as Chess or Go), search engines (such as Google search), online assistants (such as Siri), image recognition in photographs, spam filtering, predicting flight delays,[274] prediction of judicial decisions[275] and targeting online advertisements.[276][277]

With social media sites overtaking TV as a source for news for young people and news organisations increasingly reliant on social media platforms for generating distribution,[278] major publishers now use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to post stories more effectively and generate higher volumes of traffic.[279]

AI is being applied to the high cost problem of dosage issueswhere findings suggested that AI could save $16 billion. In 2016, a ground breaking study in California found that a mathematical formula developed with the help of AI correctly determined the accurate dose of immunosuppressant drugs to give to organ patients.[280]

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors. According to Bloomberg Technology, Microsoft has developed AI to help doctors find the right treatments for cancer.[281] There is a great amount of research and drugs developed relating to cancer. In detail, there are more than 800 medicines and vaccines to treat cancer. This negatively affects the doctors, because there are too many options to choose from, making it more difficult to choose the right drugs for the patients. Microsoft is working on a project to develop a machine called “Hanover”. Its goal is to memorize all the papers necessary to cancer and help predict which combinations of drugs will be most effective for each patient. One project that is being worked on at the moment is fighting myeloid leukemia, a fatal cancer where the treatment has not improved in decades. Another study was reported to have found that artificial intelligence was as good as trained doctors in identifying skin cancers.[282] Another study is using artificial intelligence to try and monitor multiple high-risk patients, and this is done by asking each patient numerous questions based on data acquired from live doctor to patient interactions.[283] One study was done with transfer learning, the machine performed a diagnosis similarly to a well-trained ophthalmologist, and could generate a decision within 30 seconds on whether or not the patient should be referred for treatment, with more than 95% percent accuracy.[284]

According to CNN, a recent study by surgeons at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington successfully demonstrated surgery with an autonomous robot. The team supervised the robot while it performed soft-tissue surgery, stitching together a pig’s bowel during open surgery, and doing so better than a human surgeon, the team claimed.[285] IBM has created its own artificial intelligence computer, the IBM Watson, which has beaten human intelligence (at some levels). Watson not only won at the game show Jeopardy! against former champions,[286] but was declared a hero after successfully diagnosing a woman who was suffering from leukemia.[287]

Advancements in AI have contributed to the growth of the automotive industry through the creation and evolution of self-driving vehicles. As of 2016[update], there are over 30 companies utilizing AI into the creation of driverless cars. A few companies involved with AI include Tesla, Google, and Apple.[288]

Many components contribute to the functioning of self-driving cars. These vehicles incorporate systems such as braking, lane changing, collision prevention, navigation and mapping. Together, these systems, as well as high performance computers, are integrated into one complex vehicle.[289]

Recent developments in autonomous automobiles have made the innovation of self-driving trucks possible, though they are still in the testing phase. The UK government has passed legislation to begin testing of self-driving truck platoons in 2018.[290] Self-driving truck platoons are a fleet of self-driving trucks following the lead of one non-self-driving truck, so the truck platoons aren’t entirely autonomous yet. Meanwhile, the Daimler, a German automobile corporation, is testing the Freightliner Inspiration which is a semi-autonomous truck that will only be used on the highway.[291]

One main factor that influences the ability for a driver-less automobile to function is mapping. In general, the vehicle would be pre-programmed with a map of the area being driven. This map would include data on the approximations of street light and curb heights in order for the vehicle to be aware of its surroundings. However, Google has been working on an algorithm with the purpose of eliminating the need for pre-programmed maps and instead, creating a device that would be able to adjust to a variety of new surroundings.[292] Some self-driving cars are not equipped with steering wheels or brake pedals, so there has also been research focused on creating an algorithm that is capable of maintaining a safe environment for the passengers in the vehicle through awareness of speed and driving conditions.[293]

Another factor that is influencing the ability for a driver-less automobile is the safety of the passenger. To make a driver-less automobile, engineers must program it to handle high-risk situations. These situations could include a head-on collision with pedestrians. The car’s main goal should be to make a decision that would avoid hitting the pedestrians and saving the passengers in the car. But there is a possibility the car would need to make a decision that would put someone in danger. In other words, the car would need to decide to save the pedestrians or the passengers.[294] The programming of the car in these situations is crucial to a successful driver-less automobile.

Financial institutions have long used artificial neural network systems to detect charges or claims outside of the norm, flagging these for human investigation. The use of AI in banking can be traced back to 1987 when Security Pacific National Bank in US set-up a Fraud Prevention Task force to counter the unauthorised use of debit cards. Programs like Kasisto and Moneystream are using AI in financial services.

Banks use artificial intelligence systems today to organize operations, maintain book-keeping, invest in stocks, and manage properties. AI can react to changes overnight or when business is not taking place.[295] In August 2001, robots beat humans in a simulated financial trading competition.[296] AI has also reduced fraud and financial crimes by monitoring behavioral patterns of users for any abnormal changes or anomalies.[297]

The use of AI machines in the market in applications such as online trading and decision making has changed major economic theories.[298] For example, AI based buying and selling platforms have changed the law of supply and demand in that it is now possible to easily estimate individualized demand and supply curves and thus individualized pricing. Furthermore, AI machines reduce information asymmetry in the market and thus making markets more efficient while reducing the volume of trades. Furthermore, AI in the markets limits the consequences of behavior in the markets again making markets more efficient. Other theories where AI has had impact include in rational choice, rational expectations, game theory, Lewis turning point, portfolio optimization and counterfactual thinking.

In video games, artificial intelligence is routinely used to generate dynamic purposeful behavior in non-player characters (NPCs). In addition, well-understood AI techniques are routinely used for pathfinding. Some researchers consider NPC AI in games to be a “solved problem” for most production tasks. Games with more atypical AI include the AI director of Left 4 Dead (2008) and the neuroevolutionary training of platoons in Supreme Commander 2 (2010).[299][300]

Worldwide annual military spending on robotics rose from US$5.1 billion in 2010 to US$7.5 billion in 2015.[301][302] Military drones capable of autonomous action are widely considered a useful asset. In 2017, Vladimir Putin stated that “Whoever becomes the leader in (artificial intelligence) will become the ruler of the world”.[303][304] Many artificial intelligence researchers seek to distance themselves from military applications of AI.[305]

For financial statements audit, AI makes continuous audit possible. AI tools could analyze many sets of different information immediately. The potential benefit would be the overall audit risk will be reduced, the level of assurance will be increased and the time duration of audit will be reduced.[306]

It is possible to use AI to predict or generalize the behavior of customers from their digital footprints in order to target them with personalized promotions or build customer personas automatically.[307] A documented case reports that online gambling companies were using AI to improve customer targeting.[308]

Moreover, the application of Personality computing AI models can help reducing the cost of advertising campaigns by adding psychological targeting to more traditional sociodemographic or behavioral targeting.[309]

Go here to see the original:

Artificial intelligence – Wikipedia

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? – Definition from …

Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that aims to create intelligent machines. It has become an essential part of the technology industry.

Research associated with artificial intelligence is highly technical and specialized. The core problems of artificial intelligence include programming computers for certain traits such as:

Knowledge engineering is a core part of AI research. Machines can often act and react like humans only if they have abundant information relating to the world. Artificial intelligence must have access to objects, categories, properties and relations between all of them to implement knowledge engineering. Initiating common sense, reasoning and problem-solving power in machines is a difficult and tedious task.

Machine learning is also a core part of AI. Learning without any kind of supervision requires an ability to identify patterns in streams of inputs, whereas learning with adequate supervision involves classification and numerical regressions. Classification determines the category an object belongs to and regression deals with obtaining a set of numerical input or output examples, thereby discovering functions enabling the generation of suitable outputs from respective inputs. Mathematical analysis of machine learning algorithms and their performance is a well-defined branch of theoretical computer science often referred to as computational learning theory.

Machine perception deals with the capability to use sensory inputs to deduce the different aspects of the world, while computer vision is the power to analyze visual inputs with a few sub-problems such as facial, object and gesture recognition.

Robotics is also a major field related to AI. Robots require intelligence to handle tasks such as object manipulation and navigation, along with sub-problems of localization, motion planning and mapping.

Here is the original post:

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? – Definition from …

Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring – WSJ

Sept. 20, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET

Some Fortune 500 companies are using tools that deploy artificial intelligence to weed out job applicants. But is this practice fair? In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini investigates.

Some Fortune 500 companies are using tools that deploy artificial intelligence to weed out job applicants. But is this practice fair? In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini investigates.

Hiring is undergoing a profound revolution.

Nearly all Fortune 500 companies now use some form of automation — from robot avatars interviewing job candidates to computers weeding out potential employees by scanning keywords in resumes. And more and more companies are using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to assess possible employees.

DeepSense, based in San Francisco and India, helps hiring managers scan peoples social media accounts to surface underlying personality traits. The company says it uses a scientifically based personality test, and it can be done with or without a potential candidates knowledge.

The practice is part of a general trend of some hiring companies to move away from assessing candidates based on their resumes and skills, towards making hiring decisions based on peoples personalities.

The Robot Revolution: An inside look at how humanoid robots are evolving.

WSJS Jason Bellini explores breakthrough technologies that are reshaping our world and beginning to impact human happiness, health and productivity. Catch the latest episode by signing up here.

Cornell sociology and law professor Ifeoma Ajunwa said shes concerned about these tools potential for bias. Given the large scale of these automatic assessments, she believes potentially faulty algorithms could do more damage than one biased human manager. And she wants scientists to test if the algorithms are fair, transparent and accurate.

In the episode of Moving Upstream above, correspondent Jason Bellini visits South Jordan, Utah-based HireVue, which is delivering AI-based assessments of digital interviews to over 50 companies. HireVue says its algorithm compares candidates tone of voice, word clusters and micro facial expressionsCC with people who have previously been identified as high performers on the job.

Write to Jason Bellini at jason.bellini@wsj.com and Hilke Schellmann at hilke.schellmann@wsj.com

Read the original here:

Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring – WSJ

What is AI (artificial intelligence)? – Definition from …

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision.

AI can be categorized as either weak or strong. Weak AI, also known as narrow AI, is an AI system that is designed and trained for a particular task. Virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, are a form of weak AI. Strong AI, also known as artificial general intelligence, is an AI system with generalized human cognitive abilities. When presented with an unfamiliar task, a strong AI system is able to find a solution without human intervention.

Because hardware, software and staffing costs for AI can be expensive, many vendors are including AI components in their standard offerings, as well as access to Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS) platforms. AI as a Service allows individuals and companies to experiment with AI for various business purposes and sample multiple platforms before making a commitment. Popular AI cloud offerings include Amazon AI services, IBM Watson Assistant, Microsoft Cognitive Services and Google AI services.

While AI tools present a range of new functionality for businesses,the use of artificial intelligence raises ethical questions. This is because deep learning algorithms, which underpin many of the most advanced AI tools, are only as smart as the data they are given in training. Because a human selects what data should be used for training an AI program, the potential for human bias is inherent and must be monitored closely.

Some industry experts believe that the term artificial intelligence is too closely linked to popular culture, causing the general public to have unrealistic fears about artificial intelligence and improbable expectations about how it will change the workplace and life in general. Researchers and marketers hope the label augmented intelligence, which has a more neutral connotation, will help people understand that AI will simply improve products and services, not replace the humans that use them.

Arend Hintze, an assistant professor of integrative biology and computer science and engineering at Michigan State University, categorizes AI into four types, from the kind of AI systems that exist today to sentient systems, which do not yet exist. His categories are as follows:

AI is incorporated into a variety of different types of technology. Here are seven examples.

Artificial intelligence has made its way into a number of areas. Here are six examples.

The application of AI in the realm of self-driving cars raises security as well as ethical concerns. Cars can be hacked, and when an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident, liability is unclear. Autonomous vehicles may also be put in a position where an accident is unavoidable, forcing the programming to make an ethical decision about how to minimize damage.

Another major concern is the potential for abuse of AI tools. Hackers are starting to use sophisticated machine learning tools to gain access to sensitive systems, complicating the issue of security beyond its current state.

Deep learning-based video and audio generation tools also present bad actors with the tools necessary to create so-called deepfakes, convincingly fabricated videos of public figures saying or doing things that never took place.

Despite these potential risks, there are few regulations governing the use AI tools, and where laws do exist, the typically pertain to AI only indirectly. For example, federal Fair Lending regulations require financial institutions to explain credit decisions to potential customers, which limit the extent to which lenders can use deep learning algorithms, which by their nature are typically opaque. Europe’s GDPR puts strict limits on how enterprises can use consumer data, which impedes the training and functionality of many consumer-facing AI applications.

In 2016, the National Science and Technology Council issued a report examining the potential role governmental regulation might play in AI development, but it did not recommend specific legislation be considered. Since that time the issue has received little attention from lawmakers.

Link:

What is AI (artificial intelligence)? – Definition from …

Artificial Intelligence – Journal – Elsevier

This journal has partnered with Heliyon, an open access journal from Elsevier publishing quality peer reviewed research across all disciplines. Heliyons team of experts provides editorial excellence, fast publication, and high visibility for your paper. Authors can quickly and easily transfer their research from a Partner Journal to Heliyon without the need to edit, reformat or resubmit.>Learn more at Heliyon.com

Continue reading here:

Artificial Intelligence – Journal – Elsevier

Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence – Future of Life …

Many AI researchers roll their eyes when seeing this headline:Stephen Hawking warns that rise of robots may be disastrous for mankind. And as many havelost count of how many similar articles theyveseen.Typically, these articles are accompanied by an evil-looking robot carrying a weapon, and they suggest we should worry about robots rising up and killing us because theyve become conscious and/or evil.On a lighter note, such articles are actually rather impressive, because they succinctly summarize the scenario that AI researchers dontworry about. That scenario combines as many as three separate misconceptions: concern about consciousness, evil, androbots.

If you drive down the road, you have a subjective experience of colors, sounds, etc. But does a self-driving car have a subjective experience? Does it feel like anything at all to be a self-driving car?Although this mystery of consciousness is interesting in its own right, its irrelevant to AI risk. If you get struck by a driverless car, it makes no difference to you whether it subjectively feels conscious. In the same way, what will affect us humans is what superintelligent AIdoes, not how it subjectively feels.

The fear of machines turning evil is another red herring. The real worry isnt malevolence, but competence. A superintelligent AI is by definition very good at attaining its goals, whatever they may be, so we need to ensure that its goals are aligned with ours. Humans dont generally hate ants, but were more intelligent than they are so if we want to build a hydroelectric dam and theres an anthill there, too bad for the ants. The beneficial-AI movement wants to avoid placing humanity in the position of those ants.

The consciousness misconception is related to the myth that machines cant have goals.Machines can obviously have goals in the narrow sense of exhibiting goal-oriented behavior: the behavior of a heat-seeking missile is most economically explained as a goal to hit a target.If you feel threatened by a machine whose goals are misaligned with yours, then it is precisely its goals in this narrow sense that troubles you, not whether the machine is conscious and experiences a sense of purpose.If that heat-seeking missile were chasing you, you probably wouldnt exclaim: Im not worried, because machines cant have goals!

I sympathize with Rodney Brooks and other robotics pioneers who feel unfairly demonized by scaremongering tabloids,because some journalists seem obsessively fixated on robots and adorn many of their articles with evil-looking metal monsters with red shiny eyes. In fact, the main concern of the beneficial-AI movement isnt with robots but with intelligence itself: specifically, intelligence whose goals are misaligned with ours. To cause us trouble, such misaligned superhuman intelligence needs no robotic body, merely an internet connection this may enable outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Even if building robots were physically impossible, a super-intelligent and super-wealthy AI could easily pay or manipulate many humans to unwittingly do its bidding.

The robot misconception is related to the myth that machines cant control humans. Intelligence enables control: humans control tigers not because we are stronger, but because we are smarter. This means that if we cede our position as smartest on our planet, its possible that we might also cede control.

Continued here:

Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence – Future of Life …

A.I. Artificial Intelligence – Wikipedia

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, also known as A.I., is a 2001 American science fiction drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay by Spielberg and screen story by Ian Watson were based on the 1969 short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss. The film was produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Spielberg and Bonnie Curtis. It stars Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Brendan Gleeson and William Hurt. Set in a futuristic post-climate change society, A.I. tells the story of David (Osment), a childlike android uniquely programmed with the ability to love.

Development of A.I. originally began with producer-director Stanley Kubrick, after he acquired the rights to Aldiss’ story in the early 1970s. Kubrick hired a series of writers until the mid-1990s, including Brian Aldiss, Bob Shaw, Ian Watson, and Sara Maitland. The film languished in protracted development for years, partly because Kubrick felt computer-generated imagery was not advanced enough to create the David character, who he believed no child actor would convincingly portray. In 1995, Kubrick handed A.I. to Spielberg, but the film did not gain momentum until Kubrick’s death in 1999. Spielberg remained close to Watson’s film treatment for the screenplay.

The film divided critics, with the overall balance being positive, and grossed approximately $235 million. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards at the 74th Academy Awards, for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score (by John Williams).

In a 2016 BBC poll of 177 critics around the world, Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence was voted the eighty-third greatest film since 2000.[3] A.I. is dedicated to Stanley Kubrick.

In the late 22nd century, rising sea levels from global warming have wiped out coastal cities such as Amsterdam, Venice, and New York and drastically reduced the world’s population. A new type of robots called Mecha, advanced humanoids capable of thought and emotion, have been created.

David, a Mecha that resembles a human child and is programmed to display love for his owners, is given to Henry Swinton and his wife Monica, whose son Martin, after contracting a rare disease, has been placed in suspended animation and not expected to recover. Monica feels uneasy with David, but eventually warms to him and activates his imprinting protocol, causing him to have an enduring childlike love for her. David is befriended by Teddy, a robotic teddy bear that belonged to Martin.

Martin is cured of his disease and brought home. As he recovers, he grows jealous of David. He tricks David into entering the parents’s bedroom at night and cutting off a lock of Monica’s hair. This upsets the parents, particularly Henry, who fears David intended to injure them. At a pool party, one of Martin’s friends pokes David with a knife, activating David’s self-protection programming. David grabs Martin and they fall into the pool. Martin is saved from drowning, but Henry persuades Monica to return David to his creators for destruction. Instead, she abandons David and Teddy in the forest. She warns David to avoid all humans, and tells him to find other unregistered Mecha who can protect him.

David is captured for an anti-Mecha “Flesh Fair”, where obsolete, unlicensed Mecha are destroyed before cheering crowds. David is placed on a platform with Gigolo Joe, a male prostitute Mecha who is on the run after being framed for murder. Before the pair can be destroyed with acid, the crowd, thinking David is a real boy, begins booing and throwing things at the show’s emcee. In the chaos, David and Joe escape. Since Joe survived thanks to David, he agrees to help him find Blue Fairy, whom David remembers from The Adventures of Pinocchio, and believes can turn him into a real boy, allowing Monica to love him and take him home.

Joe and David make their way to the decadent resort town of Rouge City, where “Dr. Know”, a holographic answer engine, directs them to the top of Rockefeller Center in the flooded ruins of Manhattan. There, David meets a copy of himself and destroys it. He then meets Professor Hobby, his creator, who tells David he was built in the image of the professor’s dead son David. The engineers are thrilled by his ability to have a will without being programmed. He reveals they have been monitoring him to see how he progresses and altered Dr. Know to guide him to Manhattan, back to the lab he was created in. David finds more copies of him, as well as female versions called Darlene, that have been made there.

Disheartened, David lets himself fall from a ledge of the building. He is rescued by Joe, flying an amphibicopter he has stolen from the police who were pursuing him. David tells Joe he saw the Blue Fairy underwater, and wants to go down to meet her. Joe is captured by the authorities, who snare him with an electromagnet. Before he is pulled up, he activates the amphibicopter’s dive function for David, telling him to remember him for he declares “I am, I was.” David and Teddy dive to see the Fairy, which turns out to be a statue at the now-sunken Coney Island. The two become trapped when the Wonder Wheel falls on their vehicle. David repeatedly asks the Fairy to turn him into a real boy. Eventually the ocean freezes and David’s power source is depleted.

Two thousand years later, humans are extinct, and Manhattan is buried under glacial ice. The Mecha have evolved into an advanced silicon-based form called Specialists. They find David and Teddy, and discover they are original Mecha who knew living humans, making them special. The Specialists revive David and Teddy. David walks to the frozen Fairy statue, which collapses when he touches it. The Mecha use David’s memories to reconstruct the Swinton home. David asks the Specialists if they can make him human, but they cannot. However, he insists they recreate Monica from DNA from the lock of her hair, which Teddy has kept. The Mecha warn David that the clone can live for only a day, and that the process cannot be repeated. David spends the next day with Monica and Teddy. Before she drifts off to sleep, Monica tells David she has always loved him. Teddy climbs onto the bed and watches the two lie peacefully together.

Kubrick began development on an adaptation of “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” in the late 1970s, hiring the story’s author, Brian Aldiss, to write a film treatment. In 1985, Kubrick asked Steven Spielberg to direct the film, with Kubrick producing.[6] Warner Bros. agreed to co-finance A.I. and cover distribution duties.[7] The film labored in development hell, and Aldiss was fired by Kubrick over creative differences in 1989.[8] Bob Shaw briefly served as writer, leaving after six weeks due to Kubrick’s demanding work schedule, and Ian Watson was hired as the new writer in March 1990. Aldiss later remarked, “Not only did the bastard fire me, he hired my enemy [Watson] instead.” Kubrick handed Watson The Adventures of Pinocchio for inspiration, calling A.I. “a picaresque robot version of Pinocchio”.[7][9]

Three weeks later, Watson gave Kubrick his first story treatment, and concluded his work on A.I. in May 1991 with another treatment of 90 pages. Gigolo Joe was originally conceived as a G.I. Mecha, but Watson suggested changing him to a male prostitute. Kubrick joked, “I guess we lost the kiddie market.”[7] Meanwhile, Kubrick dropped A.I. to work on a film adaptation of Wartime Lies, feeling computer animation was not advanced enough to create the David character. However, after the release of Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, with its innovative computer-generated imagery, it was announced in November 1993 that production of A.I. would begin in 1994.[10] Dennis Muren and Ned Gorman, who worked on Jurassic Park, became visual effects supervisors,[8] but Kubrick was displeased with their previsualization, and with the expense of hiring Industrial Light & Magic.[11]

“Stanley [Kubrick] showed Steven [Spielberg] 650 drawings which he had, and the script and the story, everything. Stanley said, ‘Look, why don’t you direct it and I’ll produce it.’ Steven was almost in shock.”

Producer Jan Harlan, on Spielberg’s first meeting with Kubrick about A.I.[12]

In early 1994, the film was in pre-production with Christopher “Fangorn” Baker as concept artist, and Sara Maitland assisting on the story, which gave it “a feminist fairy-tale focus”.[7] Maitland said that Kubrick never referred to the film as A.I., but as Pinocchio.[11] Chris Cunningham became the new visual effects supervisor. Some of his unproduced work for A.I. can be seen on the DVD, The Work of Director Chris Cunningham.[13] Aside from considering computer animation, Kubrick also had Joseph Mazzello do a screen test for the lead role.[11] Cunningham helped assemble a series of “little robot-type humans” for the David character. “We tried to construct a little boy with a movable rubber face to see whether we could make it look appealing,” producer Jan Harlan reflected. “But it was a total failure, it looked awful.” Hans Moravec was brought in as a technical consultant.[11]Meanwhile, Kubrick and Harlan thought A.I. would be closer to Steven Spielberg’s sensibilities as director.[14][15] Kubrick handed the position to Spielberg in 1995, but Spielberg chose to direct other projects, and convinced Kubrick to remain as director.[12][16] The film was put on hold due to Kubrick’s commitment to Eyes Wide Shut (1999).[17] After the filmmaker’s death in March 1999, Harlan and Christiane Kubrick approached Spielberg to take over the director’s position.[18][19] By November 1999, Spielberg was writing the screenplay based on Watson’s 90-page story treatment. It was his first solo screenplay credit since Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).[20] Spielberg remained close to Watson’s treatment, but removed various sex scenes with Gigolo Joe. Pre-production was briefly halted during February 2000, because Spielberg pondered directing other projects, which were Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Minority Report and Memoirs of a Geisha.[17][21] The following month Spielberg announced that A.I. would be his next project, with Minority Report as a follow-up.[22] When he decided to fast track A.I., Spielberg brought Chris Baker back as concept artist.[16]

The original start date was July 10, 2000,[15] but filming was delayed until August.[23] Aside from a couple of weeks shooting on location in Oxbow Regional Park in Oregon, A.I. was shot entirely using sound stages at Warner Bros. Studios and the Spruce Goose Dome in Long Beach, California.[24]The Swinton house was constructed on Stage 16, while Stage 20 was used for Rouge City and other sets.[25][26] Spielberg copied Kubrick’s obsessively secretive approach to filmmaking by refusing to give the complete script to cast and crew, banning press from the set, and making actors sign confidentiality agreements. Social robotics expert Cynthia Breazeal served as technical consultant during production.[15][27] Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law applied prosthetic makeup daily in an attempt to look shinier and robotic.[4] Costume designer Bob Ringwood (Batman, Troy) studied pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip for his influence on the Rouge City extras.[28] Spielberg found post-production on A.I. difficult because he was simultaneously preparing to shoot Minority Report.[29]

The film’s soundtrack was released by Warner Sunset Records in 2001. The original score was composed and conducted by John Williams and featured singers Lara Fabian on two songs and Josh Groban on one. The film’s score also had a limited release as an official “For your consideration Academy Promo”, as well as a complete score issue by La-La Land Records in 2015.[30] The band Ministry appears in the film playing the song “What About Us?” (but the song does not appear on the official soundtrack album).

Warner Bros. used an alternate reality game titled The Beast to promote the film. Over forty websites were created by Atomic Pictures in New York City (kept online at Cloudmakers.org) including the website for Cybertronics Corp. There were to be a series of video games for the Xbox video game console that followed the storyline of The Beast, but they went undeveloped. To avoid audiences mistaking A.I. for a family film, no action figures were created, although Hasbro released a talking Teddy following the film’s release in June 2001.[15]

A.I. had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2001.[31]

A.I. Artificial Intelligence was released on VHS and DVD by Warner Home Video on March 5, 2002 in both a standard full-screen release with no bonus features, and as a 2-Disc Special Edition featuring the film in its original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format as well as an eight-part documentary detailing the film’s development, production, music and visual effects. The bonus features also included interviews with Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, two teaser trailers for the film’s original theatrical release and an extensive photo gallery featuring production sills and Stanley Kubrick’s original storyboards.[32]

The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on April 5, 2011 by Paramount Home Media Distribution for the U.S. and by Warner Home Video for international markets. This release featured the film a newly restored high-definition print and incorporated all the bonus features previously included on the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD.[33]

The film opened in 3,242 theaters in the United States on June 29, 2001, earning $29,352,630 during its opening weekend. A.I went on to gross $78.62 million in US totals as well as $157.31 million in foreign countries, coming to a worldwide total of $235.93 million.[34]

Based on 192 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of critics gave the film positive notices with a score of 6.6/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick’s chilly bleakness and Spielberg’s warm-hearted optimism. A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.”[35] By comparison, Metacritic collected an average score of 65, based on 32 reviews, which is considered favorable.[36]

Producer Jan Harlan stated that Kubrick “would have applauded” the final film, while Kubrick’s widow Christiane also enjoyed A.I.[37] Brian Aldiss admired the film as well: “I thought what an inventive, intriguing, ingenious, involving film this was. There are flaws in it and I suppose I might have a personal quibble but it’s so long since I wrote it.” Of the film’s ending, he wondered how it might have been had Kubrick directed the film: “That is one of the ‘ifs’ of film historyat least the ending indicates Spielberg adding some sugar to Kubrick’s wine. The actual ending is overly sympathetic and moreover rather overtly engineered by a plot device that does not really bear credence. But it’s a brilliant piece of film and of course it’s a phenomenon because it contains the energies and talents of two brilliant filmmakers.”[38] Richard Corliss heavily praised Spielberg’s direction, as well as the cast and visual effects.[39] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, saying that it was “wonderful and maddening.”[40] Leonard Maltin, on the other hand, gives the film two stars out of four in his Movie Guide, writing: “[The] intriguing story draws us in, thanks in part to Osment’s exceptional performance, but takes several wrong turns; ultimately, it just doesn’t work. Spielberg rewrote the adaptation Stanley Kubrick commissioned of the Brian Aldiss short story ‘Super Toys Last All Summer Long’; [the] result is a curious and uncomfortable hybrid of Kubrick and Spielberg sensibilities.” However, he calls John Williams’ music score “striking”. Jonathan Rosenbaum compared A.I. to Solaris (1972), and praised both “Kubrick for proposing that Spielberg direct the project and Spielberg for doing his utmost to respect Kubrick’s intentions while making it a profoundly personal work.”[41] Film critic Armond White, of the New York Press, praised the film noting that “each part of David’s journey through carnal and sexual universes into the final eschatological devastation becomes as profoundly philosophical and contemplative as anything by cinema’s most thoughtful, speculative artists Borzage, Ozu, Demy, Tarkovsky.”[42] Filmmaker Billy Wilder hailed A.I. as “the most underrated film of the past few years.”[43] When British filmmaker Ken Russell saw the film, he wept during the ending.[44]

Mick LaSalle gave a largely negative review. “A.I. exhibits all its creators’ bad traits and none of the good. So we end up with the structureless, meandering, slow-motion endlessness of Kubrick combined with the fuzzy, cuddly mindlessness of Spielberg.” Dubbing it Spielberg’s “first boring movie”, LaSalle also believed the robots at the end of the film were aliens, and compared Gigolo Joe to the “useless” Jar Jar Binks, yet praised Robin Williams for his portrayal of a futuristic Albert Einstein.[45][not in citation given] Peter Travers gave a mixed review, concluding “Spielberg cannot live up to Kubrick’s darker side of the future.” But he still put the film on his top ten list that year for best movies.[46] David Denby in The New Yorker criticized A.I. for not adhering closely to his concept of the Pinocchio character. Spielberg responded to some of the criticisms of the film, stating that many of the “so called sentimental” elements of A.I., including the ending, were in fact Kubrick’s and the darker elements were his own.[47] However, Sara Maitland, who worked on the project with Kubrick in the 1990s, claimed that one of the reasons Kubrick never started production on A.I. was because he had a hard time making the ending work.[48] James Berardinelli found the film “consistently involving, with moments of near-brilliance, but far from a masterpiece. In fact, as the long-awaited ‘collaboration’ of Kubrick and Spielberg, it ranks as something of a disappointment.” Of the film’s highly debated finale, he claimed, “There is no doubt that the concluding 30 minutes are all Spielberg; the outstanding question is where Kubrick’s vision left off and Spielberg’s began.”[49]

Screenwriter Ian Watson has speculated, “Worldwide, A.I. was very successful (and the 4th highest earner of the year) but it didn’t do quite so well in America, because the film, so I’m told, was too poetical and intellectual in general for American tastes. Plus, quite a few critics in America misunderstood the film, thinking for instance that the Giacometti-style beings in the final 20 minutes were aliens (whereas they were robots of the future who had evolved themselves from the robots in the earlier part of the film) and also thinking that the final 20 minutes were a sentimental addition by Spielberg, whereas those scenes were exactly what I wrote for Stanley and exactly what he wanted, filmed faithfully by Spielberg.”[50]

In 2002, Spielberg told film critic Joe Leydon that “People pretend to think they know Stanley Kubrick, and think they know me, when most of them don’t know either of us”. “And what’s really funny about that is, all the parts of A.I. that people assume were Stanley’s were mine. And all the parts of A.I. that people accuse me of sweetening and softening and sentimentalizing were all Stanley’s. The teddy bear was Stanley’s. The whole last 20 minutes of the movie was completely Stanley’s. The whole first 35, 40 minutes of the film all the stuff in the house was word for word, from Stanley’s screenplay. This was Stanley’s vision.” “Eighty percent of the critics got it all mixed up. But I could see why. Because, obviously, I’ve done a lot of movies where people have cried and have been sentimental. And I’ve been accused of sentimentalizing hard-core material. But in fact it was Stanley who did the sweetest parts of A.I., not me. I’m the guy who did the dark center of the movie, with the Flesh Fair and everything else. That’s why he wanted me to make the movie in the first place. He said, ‘This is much closer to your sensibilities than my own.'”[51]

Upon rewatching the film many years after its release, BBC film critic Mark Kermode apologized to Spielberg in an interview in January 2013 for “getting it wrong” on the film when he first viewed it in 2001. He now believes the film to be Spielberg’s “enduring masterpiece”.[52]

Visual effects supervisors Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Michael Lantieri and Scott Farrar were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, while John Williams was nominated for Best Original Music Score.[53] Steven Spielberg, Jude Law and Williams received nominations at the 59th Golden Globe Awards.[54] A.I. was successful at the Saturn Awards, winning five awards, including Best Science Fiction Film along with Best Writing for Spielberg and Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Osment.[55]

See the original post here:

A.I. Artificial Intelligence – Wikipedia

Artificial Intelligence: The Pros, Cons, and What to Really Fear

For the last several years, Russia has been steadily improving its ground combat robots. Just last year,Kalashnikov, the maker of the famous AK-47 rifle,announced it would builda range of products based on neural networks, including a fully automated combat module that promises to identify and shoot at targets.

According to Bendett,Russia delivered a white paperto the UN saying that from Moscow’s perspective,it would be inadmissible to leave UASwithout anyhuman oversight. In other words, Russia always wants a human in the loop and to be the one to push the final button to fire that weapon.

Worth noting: “A lot of these are still kind of far-out applications,” Bendett said.

The same can be said for China’s more military-focused applications of AI, largely in surveillance and UAV operations for the PLA,said Elsa Kania, Technology Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Speaking beside Bendett at the Genius Machines event in March, Kania said China’s military applications appear to beat a a fairly nascent stage in its development.

That is to say: There’snothing to fear about lethal AI applications yet unless you’re an alleged terrorist in the Middle East. For the rest of us, we have our Siris, Alexas, Cortanas and more, helping us shop, search, listen to music,and tag friends in images on social media.

Until the robot uprising comes, let us hope there will always be clips ofthe swearing Atlas Robot from Boston Dynamics available online whenever we need a laugh. It may be better to laugh before these robots start helping each other through doorwaysentirely independent of humans. (Too late.)

View original post here:

Artificial Intelligence: The Pros, Cons, and What to Really Fear

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) – IMDb

Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 68 nominations. See more awards Learn more More Like This

Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi

An android endeavors to become human as he gradually acquires emotions.

Director:Chris Columbus

Stars:Robin Williams,Embeth Davidtz,Sam Neill

Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller

As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Tom Cruise,Dakota Fanning,Tim Robbins

Action | Crime | Mystery

In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Tom Cruise,Colin Farrell,Samantha Morton

Drama | History

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Djimon Hounsou,Matthew McConaughey,Anthony Hopkins

Drama | History | War

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Jeremy Irvine,Emily Watson,David Thewlis

Drama | Sci-Fi

Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Richard Dreyfuss,Franois Truffaut,Teri Garr

Drama | History | War

A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Christian Bale,John Malkovich,Miranda Richardson

Drama | History | Thriller

Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.

Director:Steven Spielberg

Stars:Eric Bana,Daniel Craig,Marie-Jose Croze

In the not-so-far future the polar ice caps have melted and the resulting rise of the ocean waters has drowned all the coastal cities of the world. Withdrawn to the interior of the continents, the human race keeps advancing, reaching the point of creating realistic robots (called mechas) to serve them. One of the mecha-producing companies builds David, an artificial kid which is the first to have real feelings, especially a never-ending love for his “mother”, Monica. Monica is the woman who adopted him as a substitute for her real son, who remains in cryo-stasis, stricken by an incurable disease. David is living happily with Monica and her husband, but when their real son returns home after a cure is discovered, his life changes dramatically. Written byChris Makrozahopoulos

Budget:$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA: $29,352,630,1 July 2001, Wide Release

Gross USA: $78,616,689, 23 September 2001

Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $235,927,000

Runtime: 146 min

Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

Link:

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) – IMDb

Online Artificial Intelligence Courses | Microsoft …

The Microsoft Professional Program (MPP) is a collection of courses that teach skills in several core technology tracks that help you excel in the industry’s newest job roles.

These courses are created and taught by experts and feature quizzes, hands-on labs, and engaging communities. For each track you complete, you earn a certificate of completion from Microsoft proving that you mastered those skills.

Original post:

Online Artificial Intelligence Courses | Microsoft …

Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan (Arabic: Al-Urdunn [al.ur.dun]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdunnyah Al-Hshimyah), is an Arab country 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 and Israel and Palestine (West Bank) to the west. The Dead Sea is located along its western borders and the country has a small coastline to 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]

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

and largest city

Total

Water(%)

2018 estimate

2015census

Density

Total

Per capita

Total

Per capita

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 sign 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 sovereign state 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 and coexists with the indigenous Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an “oasis of stability” in a turbulent region. It has been mostly unscathed by 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]

Contents

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 Old Testament 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, which promised Palestine to Jews. 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 day that the treaty was ratified by the Transjordan parliament, Transjordan was raised to the status of a kingdom under the name of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, with Abdullah as its first king.[92] The name was shortened to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 26 April 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 after the Jericho conference.[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 conflict 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 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 King 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 has 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 US 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 $9,406 per capita by purchasing power parity.[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 US$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 Airlines, 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 largest population being in the Zaatari refugee camp. 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.[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 the 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]

Here is the original post:

Jordan – Wikipedia

Michael Jordan – Wikipedia

Early NBA years (19841987)

During his rookie season with the Bulls, Jordan averaged 28.2 ppg on 51.5% shooting,[20] and helped make a team that had won 35% of games in the previous three seasons playoff contenders. He quickly became a fan favorite even in opposing arenas,[28][29][30] Roy S. Johnson of The New York Times described him as “the phenomenal rookie of the Bulls” in November,[30] and Jordan appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the heading “A Star Is Born” in December.[31][32] The fans also voted in Jordan as an All-Star starter during his rookie season.[6] Controversy arose before the All-Star game when word surfaced that several veteran playersled by Isiah Thomaswere upset by the amount of attention Jordan was receiving.[6] This led to a so-called “freeze-out” on Jordan, where players refused to pass the ball to him throughout the game.[6] The controversy left Jordan relatively unaffected when he returned to regular season play, and he would go on to be voted Rookie of the Year.[33] The Bulls finished the season 3844[34] and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in four games in the first round of the playoffs.[33]

Jordan’s second season was cut short when he broke his foot in the third game of the year, causing him to miss 64 games.[6] Despite Jordan’s injury and a 3052 record (at the time it was fifth worst record of any team to qualify for the playoffs in NBA history),[34][35] the Bulls made the playoffs. Jordan recovered in time to participate in the playoffs and performed well upon his return. Against a 198586 Boston Celtics team that is often considered one of the greatest in NBA history,[36] Jordan set the still-unbroken record for points in a playoff game with 63 in Game 2.[37] The Celtics, however, managed to sweep the series.[33]

Jordan had completely recovered in time for the 198687 season,[38] and he had one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NBA history. He became the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to score 3,000 points in a season, averaging a league high 37.1 points on 48.2% shooting.[20][39] In addition, Jordan demonstrated his defensive prowess, as he became the first player in NBA history to record 200 steals and 100 blocked shots in a season.[40] Despite Jordan’s success, Magic Johnson won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. The Bulls reached 40 wins,[34] and advanced to the playoffs for the third consecutive year. However, they were again swept by the Celtics.[33]

Jordan again led the league in scoring during the 198788 season, averaging 35.0 ppg on 53.5% shooting[20] and won his first league MVP Award. He was also named the Defensive Player of the Year, as he had averaged 1.6 blocks and a league high 3.16 steals per game.[41] The Bulls finished 5032,[34] and made it out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in Jordan’s career, as they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games.[42] However, the Bulls then lost in five games to the more experienced Detroit Pistons,[33] who were led by Isiah Thomas and a group of physical players known as the “Bad Boys”.[43]

In the 198889 season, Jordan again led the league in scoring, averaging 32.5 ppg on 53.8% shooting from the field, along with 8 rpg and 8 apg.[20] The Bulls finished with a 4735 record,[34] and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, defeating the Cavaliers and New York Knicks along the way. The Cavaliers series included a career highlight for Jordan when he hit The Shot over Craig Ehlo at the buzzer in the fifth and final game of the series.[44] However, the Pistons again defeated the Bulls, this time in six games,[33] by utilizing their “Jordan Rules” method of guarding Jordan, which consisted of double and triple teaming him every time he touched the ball.[6]

The Bulls entered the 198990 season as a team on the rise, with their core group of Jordan and young improving players like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, and under the guidance of new coach Phil Jackson. Jordan averaged a league leading 33.6 ppg on 52.6% shooting, to go with 6.9 rpg and 6.3 apg[20] in leading the Bulls to a 5527 record.[34] They again advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after beating the Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. However, despite pushing the series to seven games, the Bulls lost to the Pistons for the third consecutive season.[33]

In the 199091 season, Jordan won his second MVP award after averaging 31.5 ppg on 53.9% shooting, 6.0 rpg, and 5.5 apg for the regular season.[20] The Bulls finished in first place in their division for the first time in 16 years and set a franchise record with 61 wins in the regular season.[34] With Scottie Pippen developing into an All-Star, the Bulls had elevated their play. The Bulls defeated the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening two rounds of the playoffs. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where their rival, the Detroit Pistons, awaited them. However, this time the Bulls beat the Pistons in a four-game sweep.[45][46]

The Bulls advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history to face the Los Angeles Lakers, who had Magic Johnson and James Worthy, two formidable opponents. The Bulls won the series four games to one, and compiled a 152 playoff record along the way.[45] Perhaps the best known moment of the series came in Game 2 when, attempting a dunk, Jordan avoided a potential Sam Perkins block by switching the ball from his right hand to his left in mid-air to lay the shot into the basket.[47] In his first Finals appearance, Jordan posted per game averages of 31.2 points on 56% shooting from the field, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks.[48] Jordan won his first NBA Finals MVP award,[49] and he cried while holding the NBA Finals trophy.[50]

Jordan and the Bulls continued their dominance in the 199192 season, establishing a 6715 record, topping their franchise record from 199091.[34] Jordan won his second consecutive MVP award with averages of 30.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game on 52% shooting.[41] After winning a physical 7-game series over the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs and finishing off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Finals in 6 games, the Bulls met Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers in the Finals. The media, hoping to recreate a MagicBird rivalry, highlighted the similarities between “Air” Jordan and Clyde “The Glide” during the pre-Finals hype.[51] In the first game, Jordan scored a Finals-record 35 points in the first half, including a record-setting six three-point field goals.[52] After the sixth three-pointer, he jogged down the court shrugging as he looked courtside. Marv Albert, who broadcast the game, later stated that it was as if Jordan was saying, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”[53] The Bulls went on to win Game 1, and defeat the Blazers in six games. Jordan was named Finals MVP for the second year in a row[49] and finished the series averaging 35.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 6.5 apg, while shooting 53% from the floor.[49]

In the 199293 season, despite a 32.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 5.5 apg campaign and a second-place finish in Defensive Player of the Year voting,[41][54] Jordan’s streak of consecutive MVP seasons ended as he lost the award to his friend Charles Barkley. Coincidentally, Jordan and the Bulls met Barkley and his Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals. The Bulls won their third NBA championship on a game-winning shot by John Paxson and a last-second block by Horace Grant, but Jordan was once again Chicago’s leader. He averaged a Finals-record 41.0 ppg during the six-game series,[55] and became the first player in NBA history to win three straight Finals MVP awards.[49] He scored more than 30 points in every game of the series, including 40 or more points in 4 consecutive games. With his third Finals triumph, Jordan capped off a seven-year run where he attained seven scoring titles and three championships, but there were signs that Jordan was tiring of his massive celebrity and all of the non-basketball hassles in his life.[56]

During the Bulls’ playoff run in 1993, controversy arose when Jordan was seen gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the night before a game against the New York Knicks.[57] In that same year, he admitted that he had to cover $57,000 in gambling losses,[58] and author Richard Esquinas wrote a book claiming he had won $1.25million from Jordan on the golf course.[58] In 2005, Jordan talked to Ed Bradley of the CBS evening show 60 Minutes about his gambling and admitted that he made some reckless decisions. Jordan stated, “Yeah, I’ve gotten myself into situations where I would not walk away and I’ve pushed the envelope. Is that compulsive? Yeah, it depends on how you look at it. If you’re willing to jeopardize your livelihood and your family, then yeah.”[59] When Bradley asked him if his gambling ever got to the level where it jeopardized his livelihood or family, Jordan replied, “No.”[59]

On October 6, 1993, Jordan announced his retirement, citing a loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the death of his father three months earlier also shaped his decision.[60] Jordan’s father was murdered on July 23, 1993, at a highway rest area in Lumberton, North Carolina, by two teenagers, Daniel Green and Larry Martin Demery, who carjacked his luxury Lexus bearing the license plate “UNC 0023”.[61][62] His body was dumped in a South Carolina swamp and was not discovered until August 3.[62] The assailants were traced from calls that they made on James Jordan’s cell phone.[63] The two criminals were caught, convicted at trial, and sentenced to life in prison. Jordan was close to his father; as a child he had imitated his father’s proclivity to stick out his tongue while absorbed in work. He later adopted it as his own signature, displaying it each time he drove to the basket.[6] In 1996, he founded a Chicago area Boys & Girls Club and dedicated it to his father.[64][65]

In his 1998 autobiography For the Love of the Game, Jordan wrote that he had been preparing for retirement as early as the summer of 1992.[66] The added exhaustion due to the Dream Team run in the 1992 Olympics solidified Jordan’s feelings about the game and his ever-growing celebrity status. Jordan’s announcement sent shock waves throughout the NBA and appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world.[67]

Jordan then further surprised the sports world by signing a Minor League Baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox on February 7, 1994.[68] He reported to spring training in Sarasota, Florida, and was assigned to the team’s minor league system on March 31, 1994.[69] Jordan has stated this decision was made to pursue the dream of his late father, who had always envisioned his son as a Major League Baseball player.[70] The White Sox were another team owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who continued to honor Jordan’s basketball contract during the years he played baseball.[71]

In 1994, Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons, a Double-A minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, batting .202 with three home runs, 51 runs batted in, 30 stolen bases, 114 strikeouts, 51 base on balls, and 11 errors.[72] He also appeared for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994 Arizona Fall League, batting .252 against the top prospects in baseball.[69] On November 1, 1994, his number 23 was retired by the Bulls in a ceremony that included the erection of a permanent sculpture known as The Spirit outside the new United Center.[73][74][75]

In the 199394 season, the Bulls achieved a 5527 record without Jordan in the lineup,[34] and lost to the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs. The 199495 Bulls were a shell of the championship team of just two years earlier. Struggling at mid-season to ensure a spot in the playoffs, Chicago was 3131 at one point in mid-March.[76] The team received help, however, when Jordan decided to return to the Bulls.[77]

In March 1995, Jordan decided to quit baseball due to the ongoing Major League Baseball strike, as he wanted to avoid becoming a potential replacement player.[78] On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release: “I’m back.”[6] The next day, Jordan took to the court with the Bulls to face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, scoring 19 points.[79] The game had the highest Nielsen rating of a regular season NBA game since 1975.[80] Although he could have opted to wear his normal number in spite of the Bulls having retired it, Jordan instead wore number 45, as he had while playing baseball.[79]

Although he had not played an NBA game in a year and a half, Jordan played well upon his return, making a game-winning jump shot against Atlanta in his fourth game back. He then scored 55 points in the next game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 1995.[33] Boosted by Jordan’s comeback, the Bulls went 134 to make the playoffs and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic. At the end of Game 1, Orlando’s Nick Anderson stripped Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic; he would later comment that Jordan “didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan”[81] and that “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to.”[82]

Jordan responded by scoring 38 points in the next game, which Chicago won. Before the game, Jordan decided that he would immediately resume wearing his former number, 23. The Bulls were fined $25,000 for failing to report the impromptu number change to the NBA.[82] Jordan was fined an additional $5,000 for opting to wear white sneakers when the rest of the Bulls wore black.[83] He averaged 31 points per game in the series, but Orlando won the series in 6 games.[22]

Jordan was freshly motivated by the playoff defeat, and he trained aggressively for the 199596 season.[84] The Bulls were strengthened by the addition of rebound specialist Dennis Rodman, and the team dominated the league, starting the season at 413.[85] The Bulls eventually finished with the then-best regular season record in NBA history, 7210; this record was later surpassed by the 201516 Golden State Warriors.[86] Jordan led the league in scoring with 30.4 ppg[87] and won the league’s regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards.[6]

In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series (Miami Heat 30, New York Knicks 41, Orlando Magic 40). They defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 42 in the NBA Finals to win their fourth championship. Jordan was named Finals MVP for a record fourth time,[49] surpassing Magic Johnson’s three Finals MVP awards. He also achieved only the second sweep of the MVP Awards in the All-Star Game, regular season and NBA Finals, Willis Reed having achieved the first, during the 196970 season.[33] Because this was Jordan’s first championship since his father’s murder, and it was won on Father’s Day, Jordan reacted very emotionally upon winning the title, including a memorable scene of him crying on the locker room floor with the game ball.[6][50]

In the 199697 season, the Bulls started out 6911, but missed out on a second consecutive 70-win season by losing their final two games to finish 6913.[88] However, this year Jordan was beaten for the NBA MVP Award by Karl Malone. The Bulls again advanced to the Finals, where they faced Malone and the Utah Jazz. The series against the Jazz featured two of the more memorable clutch moments of Jordan’s career. He won Game 1 for the Bulls with a buzzer-beating jump shot. In Game 5, with the series tied at 2, Jordan played despite being feverish and dehydrated from a stomach virus. In what is known as the “Flu Game”, Jordan scored 38 points, including the game-deciding 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining.[89] The Bulls won 9088 and went on to win the series in six games.[88] For the fifth time in as many Finals appearances, Jordan received the Finals MVP award.[49] During the 1997 NBA All-Star Game, Jordan posted the first triple double in All-Star Game history in a victorious effort; however, he did not receive the MVP award.[90]

Jordan and the Bulls compiled a 6220 record in the 199798 season.[34] Jordan led the league with 28.7 points per game,[41] securing his fifth regular-season MVP award, plus honors for All-NBA First Team, First Defensive Team and the All-Star Game MVP.[6] The Bulls won the Eastern Conference Championship for a third straight season, including surviving a seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals; it was the first time Jordan had played in a Game 7 since the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Knicks.[91][92] After winning, they moved on for a rematch with the Jazz in the Finals.[93]

The Bulls returned to the Delta Center for Game 6 on June 14, 1998, leading the series 32. Jordan executed a series of plays, considered to be one of the greatest clutch performances in NBA Finals history.[94] With the Bulls trailing 8683 with 41.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Phil Jackson called a timeout. When play resumed, Jordan received the inbound pass, drove to the basket, and hit a shot over several Jazz defenders, cutting the Utah lead to 8685.[94] The Jazz brought the ball upcourt and passed the ball to forward Karl Malone, who was set up in the low post and was being guarded by Rodman. Malone jostled with Rodman and caught the pass, but Jordan cut behind him and took the ball out of his hands for a steal.[94] Jordan then dribbled down the court and paused, eyeing his defender, Jazz guard Bryon Russell. With 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, then crossed over to his left, possibly pushing off Russell,[95][96][97] although the officials did not call a foul. With 5.2 seconds left, Jordan gave Chicago an 8786 lead with a game-winning jumper, the climactic shot of his Bulls career. Afterwards, John Stockton missed a game-winning three-pointer. Jordan and the Bulls won their sixth NBA championship and second three-peat. Once again, Jordan was voted the Finals MVP,[49] having led all scorers averaging 33.5 points per game, including 45 in the deciding Game 6.[98] Jordan’s six Finals MVPs is a record; Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Tim Duncan are tied for second place with three apiece.[49] The 1998 Finals holds the highest television rating of any Finals series in history. Game 6 also holds the highest television rating of any game in NBA history.[99][100]

With Phil Jackson’s contract expiring, the pending departures of Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman looming, and being in the latter stages of an owner-induced lockout of NBA players, Jordan retired for the second time on January 13, 1999.[101][102][103] On January 19, 2000, Jordan returned to the NBA not as a player, but as part owner and president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards.[104] Jordan’s responsibilities with the Wizards were comprehensive. He controlled all aspects of the Wizards’ basketball operations, and had the final say in all personnel matters. Opinions of Jordan as a basketball executive were mixed.[105][106] He managed to purge the team of several highly paid, unpopular players (such as forward Juwan Howard and point guard Rod Strickland),[107][108] but used the first pick in the 2001 NBA draft to select high schooler Kwame Brown, who did not live up to expectations and was traded away after four seasons.[105][109]

Despite his January 1999 claim that he was “99.9% certain” that he would never play another NBA game,[50] in the summer of 2001 Jordan expressed interest in making another comeback,[110][111] this time with his new team. Inspired by the NHL comeback of his friend Mario Lemieux the previous winter,[112] Jordan spent much of the spring and summer of 2001 in training, holding several invitation-only camps for NBA players in Chicago.[113] In addition, Jordan hired his old Chicago Bulls head coach, Doug Collins, as Washington’s coach for the upcoming season, a decision that many saw as foreshadowing another Jordan return.[110][111]

On September 25, 2001, Jordan announced his return to the NBA to play for the Washington Wizards, indicating his intention to donate his salary as a player to a relief effort for the victims of the September 11 attacks.[114][115] In an injury-plagued 200102 season, he led the team in scoring (22.9 ppg), assists (5.2 apg), and steals (1.42 spg).[6] However, torn cartilage in his right knee ended Jordan’s season after only 60 games, the fewest he had played in a regular season since playing 17 games after returning from his first retirement during the 199495 season.[20] Jordan started 53 of his 60 games for the season, averaging 24.3 points, 5.4 assists, and 6.0 rebounds, and shooting 41.9% from the field in his 53 starts. His last seven appearances were in a reserve role, in which he averaged just over 20 minutes per game.[116]

Playing in his 14th and final NBA All-Star Game in 2003, Jordan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in All-Star Game history (a record since broken by Kobe Bryant).[117] That year, Jordan was the only Washington player to play in all 82 games, starting in 67 of them. He averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.[6] He also shot 45% from the field, and 82% from the free throw line.[6] Even though he turned 40 during the season, he scored 20 or more points 42 times, 30 or more points nine times, and 40 or more points three times.[33] On February 21, 2003, Jordan became the first 40-year-old to tally 43 points in an NBA game.[118] During his stint with the Wizards, all of Jordan’s home games at the MCI Center were sold out, and the Wizards were the second most-watched team in the NBA, averaging 20,172 fans a game at home and 19,311 on the road.[119] However, neither of Jordan’s final two seasons resulted in a playoff appearance for the Wizards, and Jordan was often unsatisfied with the play of those around him.[120][121] At several points he openly criticized his teammates to the media, citing their lack of focus and intensity, notably that of the number one draft pick in the 2001 NBA draft, Kwame Brown.[120][121]

With the recognition that 200203 would be Jordan’s final season, tributes were paid to him throughout the NBA. In his final game at the United Center in Chicago, which was his old home court, Jordan received a four-minute standing ovation.[122] The Miami Heat retired the number 23 jersey on April 11, 2003, even though Jordan never played for the team.[123] At the 2003 All-Star Game, Jordan was offered a starting spot from Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson,[124] but refused both. In the end, he accepted the spot of Vince Carter, who decided to give it up under great public pressure.[125]

Jordan played in his final NBA game on April 16, 2003, in Philadelphia. After scoring only 13 points in the game, Jordan went to the bench with 4 minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter and his team trailing the Philadelphia 76ers, 7556. Just after the start of the fourth quarter, the First Union Center crowd began chanting “We want Mike!” After much encouragement from coach Doug Collins, Jordan finally rose from the bench and re-entered the game, replacing Larry Hughes with 2:35 remaining. At 1:45, Jordan was intentionally fouled by the 76ers’ Eric Snow, and stepped to the line to make both free throws. After the second foul shot, the 76ers in-bounded the ball to rookie John Salmons, who in turn was intentionally fouled by Bobby Simmons one second later, stopping time so that Jordan could return to the bench. Jordan received a three-minute standing ovation from his teammates, his opponents, the officials, and the crowd of 21,257 fans.[126]

Jordan’s talent was clear from his first NBA season; by November he was being compared to Julius Erving.[28][30] Larry Bird said that he had “Never seen anyone like him”, that Jordan was “One of a kind” and the best player he had ever seen, and comparable to Wayne Gretzky as an athlete.[163] In his first game in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, Jordan received a standing ovation of almost one minute.[30] After he scored a playoff record 63 points against the Boston Celtics on April 20, 1986, Bird described him as “God disguised as Michael Jordan”.[37]

Jordan led the NBA in scoring in 10 seasons (NBA record) and tied Wilt Chamberlain’s record of seven consecutive scoring titles.[6] He was also a fixture on the NBA All-Defensive First Team, making the roster nine times (NBA record shared with Gary Payton, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant).[164] Jordan also holds the top career regular season and playoff scoring averages of 30.1 and 33.4 points per game,[6] respectively. By 1998, the season of his Finals-winning shot against the Jazz, he was well known throughout the league as a clutch performer. In the regular season, Jordan was the Bulls’ primary threat in the final seconds of a close game and in the playoffs; he would always ask for the ball at crunch time.[165] Jordan’s total of 5,987 points in the playoffs is the second-highest in NBA history.[166] He retired with 32,292 points in regular season play,[167] placing him fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and Kobe Bryant.[167]

With five regular-season MVPs (tied for second place with Bill Russellonly Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won more, with six), six Finals MVPs (NBA record), and three All-Star Game MVPs, Jordan is the most decorated player in NBA history.[22][168] Jordan finished among the top three in regular-season MVP voting 10 times,[22] and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. He is one of only seven players in history to win an NCAA championship, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal (doing so twice with the 1984 and 1992 U.S. men’s basketball teams).[169] Since 1976, the year of the NBA’s merger with the American Basketball Association,[170] Jordan and Pippen are the only two players to win six NBA Finals playing for one team.[171] In the All-Star Game fan ballot, Jordan received the most votes nine times, more than any other player.[172]

Many of Jordan’s contemporaries have said that Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.[161] In 1999, an ESPN survey of journalists, athletes and other sports figures ranked Jordan the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century, above such luminaries as Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali.[173] Jordan placed second to Babe Ruth in the Associated Press’ December 1999 list of 20th century athletes.[174] In addition, the Associated Press voted him the greatest basketball player of the 20th century.[175] Jordan has also appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated a record 50 times.[176] In the September 1996 issue of Sport, which was the publication’s 50th-anniversary issue, Jordan was named the greatest athlete of the past 50 years.[177]

Jordan’s athletic leaping ability, highlighted in his back-to-back Slam Dunk Contest championships in 1987 and 1988, is credited by many people with having influenced a generation of young players.[178][179] Several current NBA playersincluding LeBron James and Dwyane Wadehave stated that they considered Jordan their role model while they were growing up.[180][181] In addition, commentators have dubbed a number of next-generation players “the next Michael Jordan” upon their entry to the NBA, including Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Vince Carter, and Dwyane Wade.[182][183][184] Although Jordan was a well-rounded player, his “Air Jordan” image is also often credited with inadvertently decreasing the jump shooting skills, defense, and fundamentals of young players,[178] a fact Jordan himself has lamented.

I think it was the exposure of Michael Jordan; the marketing of Michael Jordan. Everything was marketed towards the things that people wanted to see, which was scoring and dunking. That Michael Jordan still played defense and an all-around game, but it was never really publicized.[178]

During his heyday, Jordan did much to increase the status of the game, but the popularity of the NBA in the U.S. appears to have declined since his last title.[185] Television ratings in particular increased only during his time in the league,[185] and Finals ratings have not returned to the level reached during his last championship-winning season.[186]

In August 2009, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, opened a Michael Jordan exhibit that contained items from his college and NBA careers, as well as from the 1992 “Dream Team”. The exhibit also has a batting glove to signify Jordan’s short career in Minor League Baseball.[187] After Jordan received word of his acceptance into the Hall of Fame, he selected Class of 1996 member David Thompson to present him.[188] As Jordan would later explain during his induction speech in September 2009, when he was growing up in North Carolina, he was not a fan of the Tar Heels and greatly admired Thompson, who played at rival North Carolina State. In September, he was inducted into the Hall with several former Bulls teammates in attendance, including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Charles Oakley, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, and Toni Kuko.[189] Two of Jordan’s former coaches, Dean Smith and Doug Collins, were also among those present. His emotional reaction during his speechwhen he began to crywas captured by Associated Press photographer Stephan Savoia and would later go viral on social media as the Crying Jordan Internet meme.[190][191] In 2016, President Barack Obama honored Jordan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[192]

Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCI.[215] Jordan has had a long relationship with Gatorade, appearing in over 20 commercials for the company since 1991, including the “Be Like Mike” commercials in which a song was sung by children wishing to be like Jordan.[215][216]

Nike created a signature shoe for him, called the Air Jordan, in 1984.[217] One of Jordan’s more popular commercials for the shoe involved Spike Lee playing the part of Mars Blackmon. In the commercials Lee, as Blackmon, attempted to find the source of Jordan’s abilities and became convinced that “it’s gotta be the shoes”.[215] The hype and demand for the shoes even brought on a spate of “shoe-jackings” where people were robbed of their sneakers at gunpoint. Subsequently, Nike spun off the Jordan line into its own division named the “Jordan Brand”. The company features an impressive list of athletes and celebrities as endorsers.[218][219] The brand has also sponsored college sports programs such as those of North Carolina, California, Georgetown, and Marquette.[220]

Jordan also has been associated with the Looney Tunes cartoon characters. A Nike commercial shown during 1992’s Super Bowl XXVI featured Jordan and Bugs Bunny playing basketball.[221] The Super Bowl commercial inspired the 1996 live action/animated film Space Jam, which starred Jordan and Bugs in a fictional story set during the former’s first retirement from basketball.[222] They have subsequently appeared together in several commercials for MCI.[222] Jordan also made an appearance in the music video of Michael Jackson’s “Jam” (1992).[223]

Jordan’s yearly income from the endorsements is estimated to be over forty million dollars.[224][225] In addition, when Jordan’s power at the ticket gates was at its highest point, the Bulls regularly sold out both their home and road games.[226] Due to this, Jordan set records in player salary by signing annual contracts worth in excess of US $30million per season.[227] An academic study found that Jordan’s first NBA comeback resulted in an increase in the market capitalization of his client firms of more than $1billion.[228]

Most of Jordan’s endorsement deals, including his first deal with Nike, were engineered by his agent, David Falk.[229] Jordan has described Falk as “the best at what he does” and that “marketing-wise, he’s great. He’s the one who came up with the concept of ‘Air Jordan.'”[230]

Michael Jordan has authored several books focusing on his life, basketball career and world-view.

In June 2010, Jordan was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 20th-most powerful celebrity in the world with $55million earned between June 2009 and June 2010. According to the Forbes article, Jordan Brand generates $1billion in sales for Nike.[231] In June 2014, Jordan was named the first NBA player to become a billionaire, after he increased his stake in the Charlotte Hornets from 80% to 89.5%.[232][233] On January 20, 2015, Jordan was honored with the Charlotte Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year for 2014.[234] In 2017, he became a part owner of the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball.[235]

Forbes designated Jordan as the athlete with the highest career earnings in 2017.[236] From his Jordan Brand income and endorsements, Jordan’s 2015 income was an estimated $110million, the most of any retired athlete.[237] As of December2018[update], his current net worth is estimated at $1.7billion by Forbes.[238] Jordan is the third-richest African-American as of 2018, behind Robert F. Smith and Oprah Winfrey.[239]

Jordan co-owns an automotive group which bears his name. The company has a Nissan dealership in Durham, North Carolina, acquired in 1990,[240] and formerly had a LincolnMercury dealership from 1995 until its closure in June 2009.[241][242] The company also owned a Nissan franchise in Glen Burnie, Maryland.[241] The restaurant industry is another business interest of Jordan’s. His restaurants include a steakhouse in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, among others.[243]

See the article here:

Michael Jordan – Wikipedia

Jordan | History, Population, Flag, Map, & Facts | 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.

Go here to read the rest:

Jordan | History, Population, Flag, Map, & Facts | Britannica.com

Air Jordan Shoes for Men & Women – Nike | Flight Club

Since 1985, the sneakers with Michael Jordans name and world-renowned Jumpman silhouette have helped define and shape sneaker culture. It began with a standard Nike high-top and evolved with daring designs with each iteration. From graphic prints to patent leather to fighter planes and Ferrari-inspired designs, Jordan sneakers routinely transcend their basketball roots by refreshing their initial offering with new looks and color schemes to remain relevant to each new generation.

Read more here:

Air Jordan Shoes for Men & Women – Nike | Flight Club

Shop Sofas, Mattresses, Sectionals and more at Jordan’s …

Jordan’s Furniture offers the largest selection of quality name-brand furniture and mattresses in New England. Visit any of our locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Rhode Island and experience the Jordans difference. Stroll through hundreds of sofas and sectionals and choose from thousands of fabric and leather options for your sofa, chair, sectional, recliners, even ottomans! Let our sleep technicians help you select the perfect mattress from the best brands in the industry. Create the ultimate backyard retreat with our extensive selection of outdoor furniture ranging in all styles from rustic country to traditional to contemporary. Pick the perfect pool table for the family room. We offer the best prices every day on sofas, sectionals, mattresses, dining sets, bedroom sets, kids furniture, rugs and more. Each store offers a unique experience for the entire family to enjoy; grab a bite to eat, watch the latest blockbuster at one of our Sunbrella IMAX theaters in Natick or Reading, or have an adventure at one of our two ropes courses in Reading or New Haven. Visit a Jordan’s Furniture and see for yourself why its not just a store, its an experience!

Go here to read the rest:

Shop Sofas, Mattresses, Sectionals and more at Jordan’s …

Jordan travel | Middle East – 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.

Read Less

See the rest here:

Jordan travel | Middle East – Lonely Planet

Jordan International Travel Information

Criminal Penalties:You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

The Jordanian constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press with some restrictions. Insulting the King or members of the Royal Family may lead to detainment or imprisonment. Additionally, activities that the Jordanian government considers proselytizing to Muslims (including the distribution of religious material) are forbidden under the law and anyone undertaking these activities is subject to prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation. Please see the information below on Islam as the state religion of Jordan.

Jordanian courts may impose criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for alleged infractions that in the United States would be resolved in civil courts. The U.S. Embassy is aware of several cases involving business or financial disputes that resulted in lengthy pre-trial detention and imprisonment under local financial crimes laws.

Jordan has very strict drug laws; drug offenses fall under the umbrella of state security and adhere to a different set of criminal procedures than other offenses. Accused offenders can be detained for up to two weeks without charges; this delay can result in the Embassy not being notified about the detainment because an official arrest has not taken place. It is illegal to use and/or distribute drugs in Jordan.

Arrest Notification:If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Family Circumstances: The U.S. Embassy is aware of cases where U.S. citizens have been subject to domestic violence and abandonment by their spouses, including incidents of restrictions of movement through travel holds, loss of custody of children or forced marriage. Women and children should pay particular attention to any warning signs, including husbands or other family members withholding money or travel documents for such purposes after arrival in Jordan. Cases of domestic violence should be reported to the Family Protection Department, which is part of the national police. Travelers should also be aware that U.S. laws cannot protect U.S. citizens when they are outside of the United States.

Travel Holds: Under Jordanian law, any adult male may prevent his minor children from leaving Jordan by simply registering a hold on their travel with the Jordanian authorities. Husbands may place travel holds on their wives pursuant to a court order from a Jordanian court. Adult male relatives (uncles, brothers, grandfathers) may also petition Jordanian courts for a travel hold on their unmarried adult female relatives. Immigration officials may prevent minor children traveling with their mothers from departing Jordan without the fathers affirmative consent. This is possible even if the child or woman holds only U.S. nationality. Jordanian authorities consider disputes surrounding travel holds as private family matters, and the Embassy is limited in its ability to intervene. Travel holds may only be removed by the person who placed them or by a court. Please see the section below on Childrens Issues.

Male Military Requirement: U.S. citizen males who also hold Jordanian citizenship may be subject to laws that impose military service obligations on Jordanians. Jordanian men under age 40 are required to register for service in the Jordanian military. Those subject to registration may be prevented from leaving Jordan until exit permission is obtained from appropriate Jordanian authorities. This permission is often granted to U.S. citizens, but may take some time to obtain and may be limited to a single exit.

Dual Citizenship: The Government of Jordan considers U.S.-Jordanian dual nationals to be Jordanian citizens. Local authorities typically do not notify the U.S. Embassy of arrests, detentions, or accidents involving dual nationals. For this reason, dual nationals in particular should carry copies of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that evidence of their identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available for local authorities.

For additional information, see our information on Dual Nationality.

Customs: Jordanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Jordan of items such as drugs, firearms, poisons, chemicals, explosives, pornographic materials, communications equipment, and antiquities, among other items. You should contact the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordanin Washington, D.C., or one of the Jordanian consulates in the United States, if you seek specific information regarding customs requirements.

Please also refer to our Customs Informationpage for additional information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of States International Religious Freedom Report.

Islam is the state religion of Jordan. The Jordanian government generally does not interfere in religious practices. Some religious groups, however, cannot obtain legal recognition of their denominations. On official documents such as birth and wedding certificates, the Government of Jordan only allows affiliation with legally recognized faiths: Islam, certain Christian churches, and Judaism. Not listing an affiliated faith, or listing a faith outside those recognized by the government, is generally not permitted. Activities such as proselytizing or encouraging conversion to any faith other than Islam are prohibited. U.S. citizens have been detained, arrested, and deported for discussing or trying to engage Jordanians in discussions about religion, even if such discussions also involve other activities, such as humanitarian aid.

LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI status and/or conduct are not criminalized in Jordan; however, laws against adultery or breaches of modesty may be used against LGBTI travelers. Public displays of affection between individuals of the same sex are not considered culturally acceptable. Foreigners exhibiting such behavior or expressing themselves outside of traditional gender norms in terms of dress or appearance may face greater risk of official and societal harassment by and/or to betargets of violence. Gay and lesbian Jordanians frequently hide their sexuality, especially from family members. Family members who discover that a relative is LGBTI may target them for honor killing. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Jordan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is found in the United States. Outside of a few of the more upscale hotels in the capital, individuals with disabilities will find almost no accessible accommodations. Similarly there are very few accessible restaurants, shops, or historical sites. Transportation is not accessible and sidewalks and crosswalks, even in the main cities, are not accessible. Handicap-accessible toilets and bathrooms, even in major hospitals, are generally not available.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Women visiting and residing in Jordan have reported incidents of sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, and assault. The Embassy continues to receive sporadic reports regarding incidents of sexual assaults involving taxis and taxi drivers. Many of the incidents have involved verbal sexual harassment, staring, or following the victim. Some have included physical assaults. To reduce the likelihood of being victimized, women should take precautions such as avoiding travel to unfamiliar areas at night, not traveling alone, not riding in the front seat of a taxi, and consider dressing modestly when in public. We also recommend carrying a cell phone at all times. Immediately report any incidents to the Family ProtectiProtection Department, which is part of the national police and can be reached by calling 911.

Read more:

Jordan International Travel Information


12345...10...