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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Al-Mamlaka al-Urdunniyya al-Hashimiyya


FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of black, white, and green horizontal stripes with a seven-pointed white star on a red triangle at the hoist.

ANTHEM: As-Salam al-Maliki (Long Live the King).

MONETARY UNIT: The Jordanian dinar (jd) is a paper currency of 1,000 fils. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, and 250 fils and notes of ½, 1, 5, 10, and 20 dinars. jd1 = $1.40845 (or $1 = jd0.71) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some local and Syrian units are still widely used, especially in the villages.

HOLIDAYS: Arbor Day, 15 January; Independence Day, 25 May; Accession of King Hussein, 11 August; King Hussein's Birthday, 14 November. Muslim religious holidays include the 1st of Muharram (Islamic New Year), 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and Milad an-Nabi. Christmas and Easter are observed by sizable Christian minorities.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


Situated in southwest Asia, Jordan has an area of 92,300 sq km (35,637 sq mi). Jordan extends 562 km (349 mi) nesw and 349 km (217 mi) senw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Jordan is slightly smaller than the state of Indiana. It is bounded on the n by Syria, on the ne by Iraq, on the e and s by Saudi Arabia, on the sw by the Gulf of Aqaba, and on the w by Israel, with a total land boundary length of 1,635 km (1,016 mi) and a coastline of 26 km (16 mi).

Jordan's capital city, 'Ammān, is located in the northwestern part of the country.


The Jordan Valley has a maximum depression of 392 m (1,286 ft) below sea level at the Dead Sea; south of the Dead Sea the depression, called Wadi'Araba, slowly rises to reach sea level about halfway to the Gulf of Aqaba. To the east of the Jordan River, the Transjordanian plateaus have an average altitude of 910 m (3,000 ft), with hills rising to more than 1,650 m (5,400 ft) in the south. Farther eastward, the highlands slope down gently toward the desert, which constitutes 88% of the East Bank. The Jordan River enters the country from Israel to the north and flows into the Dead Sea; its main tributary is the Yarmuk, which near its juncture forms the border between Jordan and Syria. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth's surface, at 408 m (1,339 ft) below the level of the Mediterranean. The Dead Sea has a mineral content of about 30%.


The Jordan Valley has little rainfall, intense summer heat, and mild, pleasant winters. The hill country of the East Bankancient Moab, Edom, and Gileadhas a modified Mediterranean climate, with less rainfall and hot, dry summers. The desert regions are subject to great extremes of temperature and receive rainfall of less than 20 cm (8 in) annually, while the rest of the country has an average rainfall of up to 58 cm (23 in) a year. Temperatures at 'Ammān range from about 4°c (39°f) in winter to more than 32°c (90°f) in summer.


Plants and animals are those common to the eastern Mediterranean and the Syrian Desert. The vegetation ranges from semi-tropical flora in the Jordan Valley and other regions to shrubs and drought-resistant bushes in the desert. About 1% of the land is forested. The wild fauna includes the jackal, hyena, fox, wildcat, gazelle, ibex, antelope, and rabbit; the vulture, sand grouse, skylark, partridge, quail, woodcock, and goldfinch; and the viper, diced water snake, and Syrian black snake. As of 2002, there were at least 71 species of mammals, 117 species of birds, and over 2,100 species of plants throughout the country.


Jordan's principal environmental problems are insuffi cient water resources, soil erosion caused by overgrazing of goats and sheep, and deforestation. Water pollution is an important issue in Jordan. Jordan has 1 cu km of renewable water resources with 75% used for farming activity and 3% used for industrial purposes. About 91% of the total population have access to pure water. It is expected that the rate of population growth will place more demands on an already inadequate water supply. Current sources of pollution are sewage, herbicides, and pesticides.

Jordan's wildlife was reduced drastically by livestock overgrazing and uncontrolled hunting between 1930 and 1960; larger wild animals, such as the Arabian oryx, onager, and Asiatic lion, have completely disappeared. Under a law of 1973, the government has prohibited unlicensed hunting of birds or wild animals and unlicensed sport fishing, as well as the cutting of trees, shrubs, and plants. As of 2003, 3.4% of Jordan's total land area is protected.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 7 types of mammals, 14 species of birds, 1 type of reptile, 5 species of fish, and 3 species of invertebrates. Endangered species in Jordan include the South Arabian leopard, the sand cat, the cheetah, and the goitered gazelle.


The population of Jordan in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 5,795,000, which placed it at number 104 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 37% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 108 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 2.4%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The government has allocated funds to improve education about reproductive health. The projected population for the year 2025 was 8,265,000. The population density was 65 per sq km (168 per sq mi), with the highest density in the northern Jordan River Valley. A portion of the population is nomadic.

The UN estimated that 79% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.30%. The capital city, 'Ammān, had a population of 1,237,000 in that year.


In 2000 there were 1,945,000 migrants living in Jordan, accounting for approximately 40% of the total population. Of those migrants, 83%, or about 1,610,100 were refugees. In 2004 Jordan hosted 1,740,170 refugees and 12,453 asylum seekers. Also, in 2004, 243 Jordanians sought asylum in Canada and Sweden. The net migration rate estimated for 2005 was 6.42 migrants per thousand population. The government views the immigration level as too high, and the emigration level as too low.

There were 350,000 Jordanians in Kuwait before the 1990 Iraqi attack on Kuwait. Jordan sided with Iraq in the Gulf War, as a result most Jordanians were expelled from Kuwait. However, by 2001, there were 30,000 Jordanians in Kuwait, counting 9,000 as employed. In 2003, there were an estimated 400,000 Jordanian expatriates working outside the country, most in oil-rich Arab Gulf countries. Worker remittances in 2003 amounted to $2.2 billion, up 2.2% from 2002.


Ethnically, the Jordanians represent a mixed stock. Most of the population is Arab (approximately 98%), but, except for the Bedouin nomads and seminomads of the desert and steppe areas, this element is overlain by the numerous peoples that have been present in Jordan for millennia, including Greek, Egyptian, Persian, European, and Negroid strains. The Palestinian Arabs now resident in Jordan tend to be sedentary and urban. Perhaps 1% of the population is Armenian, and another 1% is Circassian. There are also small Kurd, Druze, and Chechen minorities.


Arabic is the official language of the country and is spoken even by the ethnic minorities who maintain their own languages in their everyday lives. The spoken Arabic of the country is essentially a vernacular of literary Arabic; it is common to neighboring countries as well but is quite different from the spoken language in Egypt. There also are differences between the languages of the towns and of the countryside, and between those of the East and West banks. English is widely understood by the upper and middle classes. About 1.7 million people are registered as Palestinian refugees and displaced persons; most of these are citizens.


Islam is the state religion, although all are guaranteed religious freedom. Most Jordanians (about 95%) are Sunni Muslims. Of the racial minorities, the Turkomans and Circassians are Sunni Muslims, but the Druzes are a heterodox Muslim sect. Christians constitute about 4% of the population and live mainly in 'Ammān or the Jordan Valley; most are Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic. Other officially recognized denominations include Melkite, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite, Assyrian, Anglican, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist, United Pentecostal, and Presbyterian. Groups registered as religious societies by the government include Baptists, Free Evangelicals, Nazarenes, the Christian Missionary Alliance, and Assemblies of God. There are some members of the Coptic church; these are primarily Egyptian immigrants. The Baha'is are mainly of Persian stock. Chaldean and Syriac Christians are also represented. A tiny community of Samaritans maintains the faith of its ancestors, a heterodox form of the ancient Jewish religion. There are numerous missionary groups within the country.

The constitution provides for religious freedom with the stipulation the all religious practices are within the semblance of "public order and morality." Non-Muslims are not permitted to proselytize to Muslims. Conversion from Islam to other faiths is not expressly prohibited, but converts face a great deal of legal and social discrimination. Certain Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated as national holidays. The Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and the Royal Academy for Islamic Civilization research are government-sponsored organizations that promote tolerance and understanding between Muslims and Christians.


Jordan's transportation facilities are underdeveloped, but improvements have been made in recent years. The third development plan (198690) allotted jd445 million for transportation. A good road network links the principal towns and connects with Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. In 2003 Jordan's road system totaled 7,364 km (4,580 mi), all of which were paved. In 2003, there were 315,250 passenger cars and 107,920 commercial vehicles.

The rail system, as of 2004, consisted of some 505 km (314 mi) of narrow-gauge single track, and is a section of the old Hijaz railway (Damascus to Medina) for Muslim pilgrims. It runs from the Syrian border through 'Ammān to Ma'an, where it connects with a spur line to the port of Al-'Aqabah. Reconstruction of the section from Ma'an to Medina in Saudi Arabia, which had been destroyed in World War I, was undertaken in the early 1970s as a joint venture by Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Al-'Aqabah, Jordan's only outlet to the sea, is situated at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, an arm of the Red Sea. The port was initially developed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, which cut off Arab Palestine and Transjordan from Mediterranean ports; substantial development did not begin until the 1960s. The port has been enlarged for general use, including terminals for loading potash and fertilizers. In 2005 Jordan had 20 merchant ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 78,814 GRT.

Jordan had an estimated 17 airports in 2004. As of 2005 a total of 15 were paved, and there was also one heliport. The major airport is the Queen Alia International Airport, about 30 km (19 mi) south of 'Ammān, which was opened in the early 1980s. Aqaba Airport is the other international airport. The government-owned Alia-Royal Jordanian Airline operates domestic and international flights. In 2003, about 1.313 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


As part of the Fertile Crescent connecting Africa and Asia, the area now known as Jordan has long been a major transit zone and often an object of contention among rival powers. It has a relatively well known prehistory and history. Neolithic remains from about 7000 bc have been found in Jericho, the oldest known city in the world. City-states were well developed in the Bronze Age (c.32002100 bc). In the 16th century bc, the Egyptians first conquered Palestine, and in the 13th century bc, Semitic-speaking peoples established kingdoms on both banks of the Jordan. In the 10th century bc, the western part of the area of Jordan (on both banks of the Jordan River) formed part of the domain of the Hebrew kings David and Solomon, while subsequently the West Bank became part of the Kingdom of Judah. A succession of outside conquerors held sway in the area until, in the 4th century bc, Palestine and Syria were conquered by Alexander the Great, beginning about 1,000 years of intermittent European rule. After the death of Alexander, the whole area was disputed among the Seleucids of Syria, the Ptolemies of Egypt, and native dynasties, such as the Hasmoneans (Maccabees); in the 1st century bc, it came under the domination of Rome. In Hellenistic and Roman times, a flourishing civilization developed on the East Bank; meanwhile, in southern Jordan, the Nabataean kingdom, a native Arab state in alliance with Rome, developed a distinctive culture, blending Arab and Greco-Roman elements, and built its capital at Petra, a city whose structures hewn from red sandstone cliffs survive today. With the annexation of Nabataea by Trajan in the 2nd century ad, Palestine and areas east of the Jordan came under direct Roman rule. Christianity spread rapidly in Jordan and for 300 years was the dominant religion.

The Byzantine phase of Jordan's history, from the establishment of Constantinople as the capital of the empire to the Arab conquest, was one of gradual decline. When the Muslim invaders appeared, little resistance was offered, and in 636, Arab rule was firmly established. Soon thereafter, the area became thoroughly Arabized and Islamized, remaining so to this day despite a century-long domination by the Crusaders (12th century). Under the Ottoman Turks (15171917), the lands east of the Jordan were part of the Damascus vilayet (an administrative division of the empire), while the West Bank formed part of the sanjak (a further subdivision) of Jerusalem within the vilayet of Beirut.

During World War I, Sharif Hussein ibn-'Ali (Husayn bin 'Ali), the Hashemite (or Hashimite) ruler of Mecca and the Hijaz, aided and incited by the United Kingdom (which somewhat hazily promised him an independent Arab state), touched off an Arab revolt against the Turks. After the defeat of the Turks, Palestine and Transjordan were placed under British mandate; in 1921, Hussein's son 'Abdallah was installed by the British as emir of Transjordan. In 1923, the independence of Transjordan was proclaimed under British supervision, which was partially relaxed by a 1928 treaty, and in 1939, a local cabinet government (Council of Ministers) was formed. In 1946, Transjordan attained full independence, and on 25 May, 'Abdallah was proclaimed king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. After the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, King 'Abdallah annexed a butterfly shaped area of Palestine bordering the Jordan (thereafter called the West Bank), which was controlled by his army and which he contended was included in the area that had been promised to Sharif Hussein. On 24 April 1950, after general elections had been held in the East and West banks, an act of union joined Jordanian-occupied Palestine and the Kingdom of Transjordan to form the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Th is action was condemned by some Arab states as evidence of inordinate Hashemite ambitions. Meanwhile, Jordan, since the 1948 war, had absorbed about 500,000 of some 1,000,000 Palestinian Arab refugees, mostly sheltered in UN-administered camps, and another 500,000 nonrefugee Palestinians. Despite what was now a Palestinian majority, power remained with the Jordanian elite loyal to the throne. On 20 July 1951, 'Abdallah was assassinated in Jerusalem by a Palestinian Arab, and his eldest son, Talal, was proclaimed king. Because of mental illness, however, King Talal was declared unfit to rule, and succession passed to his son Hussein I (Husayn ibn-Talal), who, after a brief period of regency until he reached 18 years of age, was formally enthroned on 2 May 1953.

Between the accession of King Hussein and the war with Israel in 1967, Jordan was beset not only with problems of economic development, internal security, and Arab-Israeli tensions but also with diffi culties stemming from its relations with the Western powers and the Arab world. Following the overthrow of Egypt's King Faruk in July 1952, the Arab countries were strongly influenced by "Arab socialism" and aspirations to Arab unity (both for its own sake and as a precondition for defeating Israel). Early in Hussein's reign, extreme nationalists stepped up their attempts to weaken the regime and its ties with the United Kingdom. Notwithstanding the opposition of most Arabs, including many Jordanians, Jordan maintained a close association with the United Kingdom in an effort to preserve the kingdom as a separate, sovereign entity. However, the invasion of Egypt by Israel in October 1956, and the subsequent Anglo-French intervention at Suez, made it politically impossible to maintain cordial relations with the United Kingdom. Negotiations were begun to end the treaty with Britain, and thus the large military subsidies for which it provided; the end of the treaty also meant the end of British bases and of British troops in Jordan. The Jordanian army remained loyal, and the king's position was bolstered when the United States and Saudi Arabia indicated their intention to preserve Jordan against any attempt by Syria to occupy the country. After the formation of the United Arab Republic by Egypt and Syria and the assassination of his cousin, King Faisal II (Faysal) of Iraq, in a July 1958 coup, Hussein turned again to the West for support, and British troops were flown to Jordan from Cyprus.

When the crisis was over, a period of relative calm ensued. Hussein, while retaining Jordan's Western ties, gradually steadied his relations with other Arab states (except Syria), established relations with the USSR, and initiated several important economic development measures. But even in years of comparative peace, relations with Israel remained the focus of Jordanian and Arab attention. Terrorist raids launched from within Jordan drew strong Israeli reprisals, and the activities of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) often impinged on Jordanian sovereignty, leading Hussein in July 1966, and again in early 1967, to suspend support for the PLO, thus drawing Arab enmity upon himself. On 5 June 1967, an outbreak of hostilities occurred between Israel and the combined forces of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. These hostilities lasted only six days, during which Israel occupied the Golan Heights in Syria, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and the Jordanian West Bank, including all of Jerusalem. Jordan suffered heavy casualties, and a large-scale exodus of Palestinians (over 300,000) across the Jordan River to the East Bank swelled Jordan's refugee population (700,000 in 1966), adding to the war's severe economic disruption.

After Hussein's acceptance of a cease-fire with Israel in August 1970, he tried to suppress various Palestinian guerrilla organizations whose operations had brought retaliation upon Jordan. The imposition of military rule in September led to a 10-day civil war between the army and the Palestinian forces (supported briefly by Syria which was blocked by Israel), ended by the mediation of other Arab governments. Subsequently, however, Hussein launched an offensive against Palestinian guerrillas in Jordan, driving them out in July 1971. In the following September, Premier Wasfi al-Tal was assassinated by guerrilla commandos, and coup attempts, in which Libya was said to have been involved, were thwarted in November 1972 and February 1973.

Jordan did not open a third front against Israel in the October 1973 war but sent an armored brigade of about 2,500 men to assist Syria. After the war, relations between Jordan and Syria improved. Hussein reluctantly endorsed the resolution passed by Arab nations on 28 October 1974 in Rabat, Morocco, recognizing the PLO as "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people on any liberated Palestinian territory," including, implicitly, the Israeli-held West Bank. After the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty of 1979, Jordan joined other Arab states in trying to isolate Egypt diplomatically, and Hussein refused to join further Egyptian-Israeli talks on the future of the West Bank.

After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the resulting expulsion of Palestinian guerrillas, Jordan began to coordinate peace initiatives with the PLO. These efforts culminated in a February 1985 accord between Jordan and the PLO, in which both parties agreed to work together toward "a peaceful and just settlement to the Palestinian question." In February 1986, however, Hussein announced that Jordan was unable to continue to coordinate politically with the PLO, which scrapped the agreement in April 1987. The following year the King renounced Jordan's claim to the West Bank and subsequently patched up relations with the PLO, Syria, and Egypt. In 1990, owing largely to popular support for Saddam Hussein, Jordan was critical of coalition efforts to use force to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Relations with the United States and the Gulf states were impaired; Jordan lost its subsidies from the latter while having to support hundreds of thousands of refugees from the war and the aftermath. Jordan's willingness to participate in peace talks with Israel in late 1991 helped repair relations with Western countries. In June 1994, Jordan and Israel began meetings to work out practical steps on water, borders, and energy which would lead to normal relations. And, later that year, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty, ending the state of war that had existed between the two neighbors for decades. Relations with the major players in the Gulf War also improved in the years after the war. In 1996, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait were well on the way toward establishing normal relations.

Internally in the 1980s, Hussein followed policies of gradual political liberalization which were given new impetus by serious rioting over high prices in 1989. In that year, for the first time since 1956, Jordan held relatively free parliamentary elections in which Islamists gained more than one-third of the 80 seats. Martial law was ended in 1991 and new parliamentary elections were held in 1993. The King's supporters won 54 seats with the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies taking 18 places, the largest bloc of any party. However, the 1997 elections were boycotted by a number of opposition groups, who complained of unfair election laws, and the new upper house of parliament appointed by King Hussein did not include any members of Islamist groups.

In 1998 Hussein underwent treatment for cancer in the United States and delegated some of his powers to his brother, crown prince Hassan, who was next in the line of succession to the throne. The following winter, however, Hussein named his son Abdallah heir apparent. On 8 February 1999 King Hussein died, ending a 46-year reign; his funeral was attended by dignitaries from countries throughout the world. King Abdallah II pledged his support for the Middle East peace process, a more open government, and economic reforms requested by the IMF. However, there was widespread uncertainty about how the untested 37-year-old heir would meet the challenges thrust upon him.

His first year in power reassured many observers, both at home and abroad. Domestically, he pushed through a series of trade bills that helped pave the way of the country's admission to the WTO, which came in April 2000, and declared his intention of implementing wide-ranging administrative and educational reforms. On the international front, Abdallah played a role in the resumption of talks between Israel and Syria and also took a firm stance against the presence of Islamic extremists in his own country, driving the radical Hamas organization out of Jordan.

Abdallah dissolved parliament in June 2001, elections were postponed twice, and were held in June 2003. Independent candidates loyal to the king won two-thirds of the seats. In October 2003, a new cabinet was appointed following the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. Faisal al-Fayez was appointed prime minister. The king also appointed three female ministers. In April 2005, a new cabinet was sworn in, led by Prime Minister Adnan Badran, after the previous government resigned amid reports of the king's unhappiness over the pace of reforms.

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Jordan enacted a series of temporary laws imposing sharp restrictions on the right to public assembly and protest. A law broadened the definition of "terrorism," and allowed for the freezing of suspects' bank accounts. The number of offenses carrying the death penalty was increased, and journalists who publish articles which the government deems harmful to national unity or to be incitement to protests were subject to three years' imprisonment.

In October 2002, senior US diplomat Laurence Foley was assassinated outside his home in 'Ammān. In April 2004, eight Islamic militants were sentenced to death for their role in the assassination.

In March 2005, Jordan returned its ambassador to Israel after a four-year absence. Jordan had recalled its envoy after the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000.


Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution of 8 January 1952. The king has wide powers over all branches of government. The constitution vests legislative power in the bicameral national assembly, composed of a 55-member senate and a 110-member lower house of representatives (chamber of deputies). Senators are appointed by the king for renewable four-year terms; the chamber of deputies is elected by secret ballot for a four-year term, but the king may dissolve the chamber and order new elections. Six seats in the chamber of deputies are reserved for women. There is universal suffrage at age 18, women having received the right to vote in April 1973; general elections were held in 1989, 1993, 1997, and 2003. In February 1999, King Abdallah II succeeded to the throne following the death of his father, King Hussein.

The national assembly is convened and may be prorogued by the king, who also has veto power over legislation. The executive power of the king is administered by a cabinet, or council of ministers. The king appoints the prime minister, who then selects the other ministers, subject to royal approval. The ministers need not be members of the chamber of deputies. In the prolonged emergency created by the wars with Israel and by internal disorders, especially after 1968, King Hussein exercised nearly absolute power. The national assembly, adjourned by the king in 1974, met briefly in 1976 to amend the constitution; parliamentary elections were postponed indefinitely because of the West Bank situation, and the Assembly was then dissolved. In 1978, King Hussein established a national consultative council of 60 appointed members. The national assembly was reconvened in 1984, as King Hussein sought to strengthen his hand in future maneuvering on the Palestinian problem. Political parties were legalized in 1992. The freely elected parliaments of 1989 and 1993 played an increasingly active and independent role in governance, with open debate and criticism of government personalities and policies. However, new press restrictions were imposed by 1997, and a majority of opposition groups boycotted the elections that year. King Abdallah dissolved parliament in June 2001 and postponed elections until summer 2002; they were once again postponed and finally held in June 2003.


Political parties were abolished on 25 April 1957, following an alleged attempted coup by pan-Arab militants. In the elections of 1962, 1963, and 1967, candidates qualified in a screening procedure by the Interior Ministry ran for office, in effect, as independents. The Jordanian National Union, formed in September 1971 as the official political organization of Jordan and renamed the Arab National Union in March 1972, became inactive by the mid-1970s. In 1990, the election law was amended to ban bloc voting or by party lists, substituting instead a "one person, one vote" system. In 1992, political parties were again permitted and 22 were authorized to take part in elections. The principal opposition group has been the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the parliamentary elections of 8 November 1993, 22 political parties fielded candidates, representing a wide range of political views. Seats were widely dispersed among a range of largely centrist parties supportive of King Hussein's IMF-modeled reforms and his pro-Western stance. The largest bloc of seats, however, was won by the Islamic Action Front, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1997, nine pro-government parties, hoping to gain leverage against the large Islamist bloc in upcoming elections, banded together to form the National Constitutional Party. However, the grouping won only a total of three seats, and the Islamic opposition boycotted the elections altogether. Only six parties fielded candidates. Independent pro-government candidates representing local tribal interests won 62 out of the 80 contested seats; 10 seats were won by nationalist and leftist candidates; and 8 by independent Islamists.

In the 2003 elections for the chamber of deputies, independents won 89.6% of the vote, or 92 seats; the Islamic Action Front won 10.4% of the vote or 18 seats. One of the six seats reserved for women was awarded to an IAF candidate. The turnout was 57%.


Eastern Jordan is divided into 12 governoratesAjlun, Al' Aqabah, 'Ammān, Irbid, Balga, Jarash, Al Karak, Ma'ān, Ma'dabā, Az Zarqā', Al Mafraq, and Aţ Tafilaheach under a governor appointed by the king on the recommendation of the interior minister. The towns and larger villages are administered by municipal councils. A new municipal elections law provides for the election of half the council members, while the other half are government appointees. Mayors and council presidents are appointed by the council of ministers. Smaller villages are headed by a headman (mukhtar ), who in most cases is elected informally.


There are six jurisdictions in the judiciary: four levels of civil and criminal jurisdiction, religious jurisdiction, and tribal courts. The civil code of 1977 regulates civil legal procedures. The Supreme Court, acting as a court of cassation, deals with appeals from lower courts. In some instances, as in actions against the government, it sits as a high court of justice. The courts of appeal hear appeals from all lower courts. Courts of first instance hear major civil and criminal cases. Magistrates' courts deal with cases not coming within the jurisdiction of courts of first instance. Religious courts have jurisdiction in matters concerning personal status (marriage, divorce, wills and testaments, orphans, etc.), where the laws of the different religious sects vary. The Shariah courts deal with the Muslim community, following the procedure laid down by the Ottoman Law of 1913. The Council of Religious Communities has jurisdiction over analogous cases among non-Muslims. Tribal courts, which have jurisdiction in most matters concerning tribe members, are losing their importance as more people take their cases to the government courts instead.

In 1991, the state security court, which hears security cases in panels of at least three judges, replaced the martial law court. Under 1993 amendments to the state security court law, all security court decisions may be appealed to the court of cassation on issues of law and weight of evidence. Prior to 1993, the court of cassation reviewed only cases involving death or imprisonment for over 10 years, and review was limited to errors of law.

Although the judiciary is independent, it is subject to political pressure and interference by the executive branch. The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home. Police must obtain a judicial warrant before conducting searches.

Jordan drew up a comprehensive plan to modernize its judicial system. The 11-point 200206 judicial reform plan sought to enhance the efficiency of the court system and to strengthen judicial independence, among other initiatives.


In 2005, the Jordanian armed forces had 100,500 active personnel with 35,000 reservists. The Army numbered 85,000 personnel and was equipped with 1,120 main battle tanks, 19 light tanks, more than 226 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 1,350 armored personnel carriers, and 1,233 artillery pieces. The Air Force had 15,000 active personnel, including 3,400 air defense personnel. Equipment included 100 combat capable aircraft, including 85 fighters and another 15 used for training. The Air Force also had over 40 attack helicopters. The Jordanian Navy had an estimated 500 active members. The service's major naval units consisted of 20 patrol/coastal vessels. Paramilitary forces consisted of the Public Security Directorate with an estimated 10,000 members. The Jordanian defense budget in 2005 totaled $956 million. Jordan had peacekeepers stationed in 11 regions or countries around the world.


Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955 and belongs to ESCWA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, IFC, IMF, and the World Bank. Jordan became a member of the WTO in 2000. It is one of the founding members of the Arab League and also participates in the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Council of Arab Economic Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and G-77. It is a partner in the OSCE.

Jordan has greatly benefited from the work of UNICEF and of UNRWA, which helps the Palestinian refugees. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 and exchanged ambassadors the following year. The country has supported UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Liberia (est. 2003), Sierra Leone (est. 1999), East Timor (est. 2002), Georgia (est. 1993), and Haiti (est. 2004), among others. Jordan is a member of the Nonaligned Movement.

In environmental cooperation, Jordan is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Jordan's economy has been profoundly affected by the Arab-Israeli conflict. The incorporation of the West Bank after the war of 1948 and the first exodus of Palestinians from the territory that became Israel tripled the population, causing grave economic and social problems. The loss of the West Bank in 1967 resulted not only in a second exodus of Palestinians but also in the loss of most of Jordan's richest agricultural land and a decline in the growing tourist industry. The 197071 civil war and the October 1973 war also brought setbacks to development plans. The steadying influence has been foreign funds. An estimated 80% of annual national income in the early 1980s came from direct grants from and exports to oil-rich Arab countries and from remittances by Jordanians working there. Also important to the economy has been Western economic aid, notably from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The economy expanded rapidly during 197580, growing in real terms by an average of 9% a year, but the growth rate slowed to 5% in 1985, primarily from reductions in aid from other Arab states because of their declining oil receipts. The onset of the recession in Jordan in the mid-1980s followed by the economic collapse of 198889 and the Gulf conflict in 1990 left the country with an unemployment rate of approximately 3035%, high inflation, and about 2530% of the population living below the poverty line.

When in 1989 Jordan was unable to service its external debt due to 100 repayment commitments, the Jordanian government concluded an agreement with the IMF to pursue a series of economic reforms across a five year period (that is, by 1993) in exchange for bridge finance: the budget deficit was to be reduced from 24% of GDP to 10% of GDP; the current account balance was to improve from a deficit equivalent to 6% of GDP to a balanced position; export earnings were to grow from $1.1 billion in 1989 to $1.7 in 1993; and the rate of inflation was to drop from 14% in 1989 to 7% in 1993. The Gulf War interrupted this program, as the Jordanian government came out on the side of Iraq, and presumably in favor of a completely different way of solving its economic vulnerability; that is, through association with an enlarged and empowered Arab state. The international economic embargo against Iraq during the Gulf War meant that Jordan lost a lucrative export and re-export market. The loss of Iraq's oil supplies resulted in Jordan having to pay the market price for oil imports from Syria and Yemen. The balance of annual aid transfers, some $200 billion, promised by the Arab oil states in 1990, failed to take into consideration the influx of some 230,000 Jordanian nationals from Kuwait that resulted from the Iraqi invasion. They imposed a strain on government services and added to the pool of unemployment.

In 1994 Jordan entered into another three-year structural adjustment program financed by IMF's Extended Fund Facility (EFF). On 26 October 1994 Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel that contained protocols for economic reform and regional integration. The fiscal year 1994/95 saw real GDP growth of about 6% and inflation of only about 33.5%. In order to build on these gains, and to incorporate the opportunities offered by the peace accord, a new three-year program was negotiated under the EFF, which ran officially from 6 February 1996 to 8 February 1999. In this case, the program fell well short of its targets, as real GDP growth slowed to an annual average of 1%, and budget deficits as a percent of GDP increased to 10% instead of decreasing as envisioned.

In April 1999 another three-year structural adjustment program was embarked upon, this time with finance from both the EFF and the Compensatory and Contingency Financing Facility (CCFF) of the IMF. The program called for privatization, tax reform, trade liberalization, and increased foreign investment. Advances were made in all these areas. The government divested itself of shares in over 50 corporations, among the most important being the sale of a 10.5% share in the Jordan Telecommunications (JT) in an initial public offering (IPO) on the 'Ammān Stock Exchange (ASE) in October 1999, and a further sale of 40% to a France Telecom/Arab Bank Consortium in January 2001. All or portions of the subsidiaries of the national airline, the Royal Jordanian, were privatized, including the sale of 80% of Aircraft Catering Center to the Alpha British Company. By November 2002, the ASE had attained a capitalization of over $7 billion. Tax reforms included the lowering of top rates on personal and business income taxes, the elimination or reduction of a number of subsidies and exemptions, phased introduction of a value-added tax (VAT) regime, and, in connection with trade liberalization reforms, the reduction of many customs and tariffs.

In 2000, Jordan acceded to the WTO, a condition of which was the elimination of most laws limiting foreign investment. On 28 September 2001 the US Congress passed a separate Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Jordan. In the period 1999 to 2002, the biggest single stimulus to the Jordanian economy came from the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs), a type of industrial estate authorized in a 1998 agreement among Jordan, Israel, and the United States, whereby manufactured exports from a QIZ could enter the US market duty free provided it contained at least 35% local content. QIZs particularly have nurtured a fast growing textile export industry. The targets set by the IMF-monitored program for 19992002including annual growth of 34%, inflation held to 23%, a budget deficit reduced to 4% of GDP by 2001, and a strengthening of the country's foreign reserve positionwere all substantially met despite the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada in late 2000 and the global economic slowdown from 2001 forward. Real GDP growth rose steadily from 3.1% to 4% to a projected 5.2% from 1999 to 2002.

Inflation, as measured by consumer prices, was negligible, falling from 3.1% in 1998 to 0.6%, 0.7%, and 1.8% for the period 19992001. An increase in inflation in 2002 to 3.5% is attributable mainly to administered price increases, particularly for electricity and petroleum products, as subsidies were removed. The government's annual deficit as a percent of GDP was at 3.7% in 2001, better than the program's 4% target, but in this case progress was not uninterrupted: the deficit rose to 4.7% of GDP in 2000 and was projected at 4.1% for 2002. There was, however, uninterrupted progress in terms of net public debt as a percent of GDP, which fell from 105.1% of GDP in 1999 to a projected 88.2% in 2002. Part of this improvement stemmed from some debt forgiveness by the United States and the European Union. As of the end of 2002, five Paris Club reschedulings of Jordan's sovereign debtfrom February 1992, June 1994, May 1997, May 1999, and July 2002, respectivelywere being paid down. On its foreign reserve position, according to the IMF, Jordan's net usable international reserves in the period 1999 to 2002 were on average sufficient to cover a little over seven months of imports, up from only a four-month coverage in 1998. In May 2002, Jordan's international reserves were close to $3 billion.

In November 2001, the government introduced its Plan for Social and Economic Transformation (PSET), a program of health and education spending and transfer payments to the poor amounting to 4% of GDP and to be financed in such a way from grants and revenues so as not to add to the country's debt. PSET particularly aims at dealing with Jordan's chronic unemployment problem, which due in part to Malthusian population growth dynamics, worsened slightlyfrom 12.7% in 1998 to 14.7% in 2001during the latest period of economic growth. Population growth is such that the 8.6% growth in nominal GDP between 1999 and 2001 produced only a 2.4% increase in per capita income. In July 2002 the IMF announced a two-year standby agreement with Jordan for sdr85.28 million (about $113 million) to support both the PSET and the continuing program of economic reforms. The Jordanian economy has managed to continue to improve in 2002, with the second Palestinian intifada unfolding next door.

The economy expanded by 6.2% in 2004, up from 3.6% in 2003; in 2005, the GDP growth rate was estimated at 6.5%. The inflation rate was fairly stable, and at 3.4% in 2004 it did not pose a major problem to the economy. The unemployment rate was tagged at 15%, although unoffi cial numbers show it to be as high as 30%. The war in Iraq, started in 2003, has significantly influenced the economy of Jordanthe former was an important trade partner and the main provider of oil.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Jordan's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $27.7 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $4,800. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.5%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 3.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 3.5% of GDP, industry 29.9%, and services 66.7%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $2.201 billion or about $415 per capita and accounted for approximately 22.1% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $1,234 million or about $233 per capita and accounted for approximately 12.6% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Jordan totaled $7.65 billion or about $1,441 per capita based on a GDP of $9.9 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 5.1%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 32% of household consumption was spent on food, 17% on fuel, 5% on health care, and 8% on education. It was estimated that in 2001 about 30% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


The Jordanian labor force numbered an estimated 1.46 million people in 2005, with an additional 300,000 workers employed abroad. As of 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), the service industry accounted for an estimated 82.5% of the nation's workforce, with industry at 12.5%, and agriculture at 5%. The official unemployment rate was reported at 15% in 2004. However, it is estimated that the unofficial rate may be as high as 30%.

Workers have the right to form unions and must register to be legal. The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions, formed in 1954, was comprised of 17 trade unions in 2002. Approximately 30% of the labor force is unionized. Unions are allowed to collectively bargain but they are not allowed to strike or demonstrate without a permit. Labor disputes are mediated by the Ministry of Labor. The government does not adequately protect employees from antiunion discrimination.

The national minimum wage was $114 per month in 2002 for all sectors except agriculture and domestic labor. This amount does not provide the average family with a living wage. The minimum working age is 16 and this is effectively enforced by the Ministry of Labor except for children working in family businesses or on family farms. The standard workweek is 48 hours, with up to 54 hours per week for hotel, restaurant, and cinema employees.


Agriculture still plays a role in the economy, although 40% of the usable land consists of the West Bank, lost to Jordan since 1967. As of 2003, only 4.5% of all land in Jordan was utilized for crop sown feed production. Rain-fed lands make up 75% of the arable land, while the remaining 25% is partially or entirely irrigated and lies mostly in the Jordan Valley and highlands. While the system of small owner-operated farms, peculiar to Jordan among the Arab countries and originating in the Land Settlement Law of 1933, limits the number of large landowners and shared tenancy, the minuscule holdings have inhibited development. Agriculture accounted for 2% of GDP in 2003.

Production of principal field crops in 2004 included wheat, 50,000 tons; barley, 30,000 tons; and tobacco, 2,000 tons. Prominent vegetables and fruits produced in 2004 included tomatoes, 415,000 tons; eggplant, 52,000 tons; cucumbers, 100,000 tons; and cabbages, 28,000 tons. Over 16 million fruit trees that year produced 147,000 tons of citrus, 160,700 tons of olives, 51,000 tons of bananas, and 28,000 tons of grapes. The output of fruits and vegetables has been encouraging, in part because of increased use of fertilizers, herbicides, and plastic greenhouses by the nation's farmers in the Jordan Valley.

Irrigation schemes and soil and water conservation programs have received emphasis in Jordan's economic development. The 77-km (48-mi) East Ghor Canal, substantially completed in 1966 and reconstructed in the early 1970s after heavy war damage, siphons water from the Yarmuk River and provides irrigation for about 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres). Water conservation in other areas has been undertaken with the rehabilitation of old water systems and the digging of wells. As of 2003, an estimated 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres) were irrigated.

The cooperative movement has made progress in the agricultural sector; the Central Cooperative Union, established in 1959, provides seasonal loans and advice to local cooperatives. The Agricultural Credit Corporation, founded in 1960, provides low-cost loans to finance agricultural investments.


Raising livestock for both meat and dairy products is an important part of Jordanian agriculture. Animal husbandry is usually on a small scale and is often of the nomadic or seminomadic type indigenous to the area. The large nomadic tribes take their camels into the desert every winter, returning nearer to the cultivated area in summer. The camels provide transportation, food (milk and meat), shelter, and clothing (hair); the sale of surplus camels is a source of cash. Sheep and goat nomads make similar use of their animals. Imported milk and meat are sold at subsidized prices.

Animal products account for about one-third of agricultural output. Sheep and goats account for 90% of the livestock and are raised for both meat and milk. The Awasi is the major breed of sheep used, and the goat is the Baladi. In 2005, the number of sheep was estimated at 1,671,000, goats at 444,000, and cattle at 69,000 head. Jordan had an estimated 25 million chickens in 2005; poultry meat production was 121,000 tons that year. Meat production from cattle and sheep reached 8,700 tons in 2005. Production of fresh milk from cattle, sheep, and goats was 252,700 tons in 2005. Jordan produces about 30% of its needs in red meat and 50% of milk.


Fishing is unimportant as a source of food. The rivers are relatively poor in fish; there are no fish in the Dead Sea, and the short Gulf of Aqaba shoreline has only recently been developed for fishing. The total fish catch was only 1,131 tons in 2003.


Jordan formerly supported fairly widespread forests of oak and Aleppo pine in the uplands of southern Jordan, both west and east of the Jordan River, but forestland now covers less than 1% of the total area. Scrub forests and maquis growths are the most common; the olive, characteristic of the Mediterranean basin, is widely cultivated. The important forests are around Ajlun in the north and near Ma'an. By 1976, some 3,800 hectares (9,400 acres) had been newly planted as part of a government afforestation program. From 1976 to 1991, an additional 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) also was reforested. Roundwood production was 257,000 tons in 2004. Imports of forestry products totaled $167 million in 2004.


Jordan in 2004 was the world's fifth-largest producer of phosphate, and ranked sixth in the world in the output of potash. Jordanian exports in 2004 totaled $3.26 billion, of which minerals and associated products accounted for 21%. Among Jordan's exports in 2004, potash accounted for $231 million, followed by: fertilizers (made from phosphate rock and potash), $175 million; phosphate rock at $166 million; phosphoric acid at $90.5 million; and cement at $30 million. Jordan also produced common clay, feldspar, natural gas and petroleum (for domestic consumption), gravel, gypsum, kaolin, lime, limestone, marble, crushed rock, salt, silica sand, steel, dimension stone, sulfuric acid, and zeolite tuff. In 2004, Jordan mined no metals, although it had deposits of copper, gold, iron, sulfur, titanium, and, in the Dead Sea, bromine and manganese.

Phosphate mine output (gross weight) in 2004 was 6.223 million metric tons. Phosphate reserves totaled 1 billion tons.

Production of potash crude saltsfrom Dead Sea potassiumwas a record 1.929 million metric tons in 2004, down from 1.961 million metric tons in 2003. The World Bank has estimated that of the dissolved solids contained in the Dead Sea, 33 billion tons were sodium chloride and magnesium chloride and about 2 billion tons were potassium chloride.

Copper deposits between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba remained undeveloped. Other potential for progress lay in the availability of bromine, dolomite, glass sands, iron, lead, oil shale, tin, travertine, and tripoli.


Jordan, with miniscule deposits of petroleum, and natural gas, must rely upon imports to meet its petroleum and natural gas needs.

Jordan had proven oil reserves of only 445,000 barrels as of 1 January 2002. Production in 2004 averaged 40 barrels per day, while consumption in that same year averaged 103,000 barrels per day. As a result, oil imports in that year came to an estimated 100,000 barrels per day. Refinery output in 2002 averaged 80,780 barrels per day.

Jordan has proven natural gas reserves of 3.256 billion cu m as of 1 January 2002. Production and consumption in 2002 each came to 10.95 billion cu ft. All output was marketed.

Almost all of Jordan's electrical power generating capacity is based on the use of fossil fuels. In that year, generating capacity totaled 1.661 million kW, with conventional thermal capacity accounting for 1.650 million kW. Hydropower accounted for 0.010 million kW of capacity, and geothermal/other capacity accounted for 0.001 million kW. Electric power production in 2002 totaled 7.642 billion kWh, with conventional thermal sources producing 7.587 billion kWh. Hydropower sources produced 0.052 billion kWh and geothermal/other produced 0.003 billion kWh.


With government encouragement, industry plays an increasingly important part in Jordan's economy. In 1990, the manufacturing sector contributed 15% to GDP at factor cost. Manufacturing output fell by 2.9% in 1991 due to the adverse impact of the Gulf War. In 1992, the sector grew by 6.2%. In 2001, industry as a whole accounted for 26% of GDP, while manufacturing contributed 17%. The sector grew at an annual rate averaging 6.7% between 1988 and 1998. Most industrial income comes from four industries: cement, oil refining, phosphates, and potash. Cement production has been rising since the 1980s.

In 1998, the government sold 33% of the Jordan Cement Factories Company (JCFC) to La Farge of France as part of its program of privatization begun in 1996. The 60-year old Jordan Phosphates Mine Company (JPMC) has a monopoly on phosphate mining in Jordan. In 2002 the government negotiated the sale of a 40% stake in JPMC to the Potash Company of Saskatchewan. The Arab Potash Company, a pan-Arab company, was granted a 100-year monopoly for potash mining in Jordan when it was founded in 1956. As of 2003, the government holds 52% and is seeking to sell 26%.

Jordan's one oil refinery is in Az-Zarqa', which has a capacity of 90,4000 barrels per day. Oil is supplied to it from Iraq by a fleet of 1,500 trucks traveling across 600 miles of desert highway. Iraq sells oil to Jordan on terms of one-half free and one-half with a 40% discount of the price above $20/barrel. Since 1998 Jordan and Iraq have been agreed in principle to replace the oil trucks with a pipeline, estimated to cost $350 million. In 2002, Jordan was formally receiving bids for the first stage of the projects. The government holds 52% in a 100-year monopoly. The trade between Jordan and Iraq suffered once the US offensive against Iraq started in 2003.

In 2005, industry accounted for 29.9% of the GDP, and it employed 12.5% of the workforce; agriculture had only a 3.5% share in the economy, and it employed 5% of the workforce; services came in first, with a 66.7% share in the economy, and a 82.5% share in the labor force. The industrial production growth rate was 7.5%, higher than the GDP growth rate in the same year.


Expenditures for research and development (R&D) for the period 1996-2002 (the latest period for which data was available) totaled 6.33% of GDP. High technology exports in 2002, totaled $48 million, or 3% of manufactured exports. A dozen institutes offer scientific training. The Islamic Academy of Sciences, founded in 1986, is an international organization that promotes science, technology, and development in the Islamic and developing worlds. The Jordan Research Council, founded in 1964, coordinates scientific research in the country. The Royal Scientific Society, founded in 1970, is an independent industrial research and development center. All three institutions are in 'Ammān. In 1996 Jordan had 13 universities and colleges offering courses in basic and applied science. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 26% of college and university enrollments. In 1998, Jordan had 1,977 researchers actively engaged in R&D per million people.


Lack of proper storage facilities, inadequate transportation service, and a lack of quality controls and product grading have been chronic handicaps to Jordanian trade. However, these deficiencies have been alleviated, directly and indirectly, under progressive development plans. Traditional Arab forms of trade remain in evidence, particularly in villages, and farm products generally pass through a long chain of middlemen before reaching the consumer. In 'Ammān, however, Westernized modes of distribution have developed and there are supermarkets and department stores as well as small shops. Some local investors are beginning to take an interest in the potential for foreign franchises.

Business hours are from 8 am to 1 pm and from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, six days a week. Shops close either on Friday for Muslims or on Sunday for Christians. Banks stay open from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 3:30 to 5:30 pm, Saturday through Th ursday.


Jordan has traditionally run a trade deficit with imports at least doubling exports. During the 1990s, fertilizers accounted for about a quarter of Jordan's commodity exports and amounted to almost a quarter of the world's total exports of crude fertilizers (23%). However, in 2000, Jordan's fertilizer exports plummeted, accounting for a mere 7.6% of exports. No particular commodity now dominates Jordan's export market, but key exports include

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 3,081.6 5,653.2 -2,571.6
United States 663.0 361.0 302.0
Iraq 542.5 374.6 167.9
Free zones 279.4 279.4
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 201.4 75.0 126.4
India 199.0 85.0 114.0
Saudi Arabia 161.7 647.9 -486.2
United Arab Emirates 117.3 144.0 -26.7
Israel 108.0 133.9 -25.9
Syria 97.1 153.2 -56.1
Algeria 57.5 57.5
() data not available or not significant.

apparel (8.9%), medical and pharmaceutical products (8.6%), and paper products (4.7%). Other important exports are industrial machinery (4.8%) and vegetables (6.4%).

In 2004, exports reached $4.2 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $8.7 billion (FOB). The bulk of exports went to the United States (28.9%), Iraq (17.6%), India (7.1%), and Saudi Arabia (5.6%). Imports included manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, crude oil and petroleum products, food and live animals, and mainly came from Saudi Arabia (19.8%), China (8.4%), Germany (6.8%), and the United States (6.8%).


Jordan's chronically adverse trade balance has long been offset by payments from foreign governments and agencies, especially from Jordan's oil-rich Arab allies, and by remittances from Jordanians working abroad, chiefly in Saudi Arabia. During the Gulf War, expatriate remittances and aid from Arab countries dropped sharply, causing the improvement of the trade deficit to halt. Th is trend continued into the mid-1990s despite an increasing surplus in the services sector. Although Jordan enjoyed a balance of payments surplus in 2000 of around 11% of GDP, the country suffers from a chronic trade deficit, largely due to its reliance on foreign oil. Annual imports usually amount to more than double the exports.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Jordan's exports was $2.5 billion while imports totaled $4.4 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.9 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Jordan had exports of goods totaling $2.3 billion and imports totaling $4.3 billion. The services credit totaled $1.48 billion and debit $1.73 billion.

Exports of goods and services reached $4.7 billion in 2004, up from $4.4 billion in 2003. Imports increased from $6.9 billion in 2003 to $7.2 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently

Current Account 962.9
     Balance on goods -1,996.3
         Imports -5,077.9
         Exports 3,081.6
     Balance on services -270.0
     Balance on income 122.5
     Current transfers 3,106.7
Capital Account 93.5
Financial Account -247.4
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Jordan 376.2
     Portfolio investment assets -118.9
     Portfolio investment liabilities -349.1
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets 283.1
     Other investment liabilities -438.6
Net Errors and Omissions 539.2
Reserves and Related Items -1,348.2
() data not available or not significant.

negative in both years, slightly improving from -$2.515 billion in 2003, to -$2.482 billion in 2004. The current account balance was positive, decreasing from $429 million in 2003 to $182 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (including gold) decreased to $3.9 billion, covering more than six month of imports.


The Central Bank of Jordan, founded in 1964 with a capital of jd2 million and reorganized in 1971, is in charge of note issue, foreign exchange control, and supervision of commercial banks, in cooperation with the Economic Security Council. In 1995, the Central Bank established the dinar as a fully convertible currency for noncapital remittances. In November of that year the bank announced a fixed dollar-dinar rate for current payments. Because of Jordan's IMF-led structural adjustments and trade and investment liberalizations, it became the first Arab country to receive credit ratings from both Standard and Poor and Moody's.

The banking system includes, besides the Central Bank, thirteen commercial banks (five of which are branches of foreign banks), five investment banks, two Islamic banks, one Industrial Development Bank, and several other institutions. Commercial banks have a tradition of being both small, with a low capital base, and highly conservative. The Arab Bank, by far the largest "high street" bank, and the Housing Bank are the largest banks in Jordan. Jordanian banks have acted rapidly to fill the banking void in the Occupied Territories, since the agreement between the PLO and Israel transferred administrative authority to the Palestinians. State banks include the Arab Bank, The Bank of Jordan, Cairo 'Ammān Bank, Jordan-Kuwait Bank, and the Jordan National Bank. Commercial banks included those of Jordan, other Arab countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Foreign commercial banks in Jordan include the British Bank of the Middle East, Citibank (US), the Arab Land Bank, and the Arab Banking Corporation (Jordan). The late 1970s and 1980s saw an expansion of niche institutions, such as four investment banks, six specialized credit institutions (three of which are under public ownership), four nonbanking financial institutions, and one Islamic bank. Unfortunately, many of these have been either too small to have had a strong impact on the provision of credit, or have replicated the approach of the commercial banks. Since 1992, moneychangers have been able to operate legally, having been closed down in February 1989, but their area of operation has been heavily circumscribed.

Loans are extended by the Jordan Industrial Bank, Agricultural Credit Corp., Jordan Co-operative Organization, and other credit institutions.

The 'Ammān Financial Market (AFM) has been in existence since the late 1970s. Like most of the equity markets in the Middle East, the AFM is small and lacking in the dynamism that has seen markets in Latin America and Asia take off over the past ten years. A total of 115 companies were listed in 1997, making the AFM second in the Arab world only to Egypt, which quoted some 700 stocks. The capitalization of the AFM stood at around $5 billion, putting it level with Bahrain, but ahead of Oman and Tunisia. In 1996, the government instituted a law allowing foreigners to invest in the AFM. In 1999, the 'Ammān Stock Exchange (ASE) was established as a privately managed institution. There were 149 listed public-shareholding companies at that time, with a market capitalization of approximately $6 billion. As of 2004, a total of 192 companies were listed on the ASE, which had a market capitalization of $18.383 billion that year. In 2004, the ASE General Index rose 62.4% from the previous year to 4,245.6.


The Al Ahlia Insurance Co. and the Jordan Insurance Co. offer commercial insurance. Several US and British insurance companies have branches or agents in Jordan. A new insurance law in 1998 brought about stricter regulation of the industry. In 1999, there were 26 national insurance companies operating in Jordan and one foreign insurance company. In 2003, the value of all direct premiums written totaled $220 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $192 million. In that same year, Middle East was Jordan's top nonlife insurer with gross written nonlife premiums of $15.2 million. The country's top life insurer that same year was American Life Insurance (Alico), with gross written life premiums of $18.4 million.


Jordan has had to rely on foreign assistance for support of its budget, which has increased rapidly since the 1967 war. During the late 1980s, Jordan incurred large fiscal deficits, which led to a heavy burden of external debt. Efforts at cutting public expenditures reduced the budget deficit from 21% of GDP in 1989 to 18% in 1991. The Persian Gulf War, however, forced Jordan to delay the IMF deficit reduction program begun in 1989.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Jordan's central government took in revenues of approximately $3.6 billion and had expenditures of $4.6 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 77.7% of GDP. Total external debt was $8.459 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were jd2,364.2 million and expenditures were

Revenue and Grants 2,364.2 100.0%
     Tax revenue 1,316.9 55.7%
     Social contributions 19 0.8%
     Grants 683.9 28.9%
     Other revenue 344.4 14.6%
Expenditures 2,387.6 100.0%
     General public services 730.6 30.6%
     Defense 517.6 21.7%
     Public order and safety 211.6 8.9%
     Economic affairs 77 3.2%
     Environmental protection 87.2 3.7%
     Housing and community amenities 58.9 2.5%
     Health 246.3 10.3%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 45.8 1.9%
     Education 355.4 14.9%
     Social protection 57.2 2.4%
() data not available or not significant.

jd2,387.6 million. The value of revenues were us$16,763 million and expenditures us$16,310 million, based on a official exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = jd.14104 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 30.6%; defense, 21.7%; public order and safety, 8.9%; economic affairs, 3.2%; environmental protection, 3.7%; housing and community amenities, 2.5%; health, 10.3%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.9%; education, 14.9%; and social protection, 2.4%.


A new income tax law went into effect in 2002 that reduced the top income tax rate to 25% from 30%. The new law also equalized the level of tax exempt income for men and women, at jd1,000 for both sexes. Income tax rates range from 525%, with the average tax payer paying a marginal rate of 5%.

As of 2005, Jordan's corporate tax structure was divided into three tax rates, each targeted to the type of business operated. Hospitals, hotels, industrial, mining, construction, and transportation companies are subject to a 15% rate. Banks and financial institutions are subject to a 35% rate, while foreign exchange dealers, insurance, telecommunications, trade, and other companies are subject to a 25% rate. Capital gains on shares and depreciable assets are subject to a tax rate of 35%. For financial companies and banks, 75% of capital gains stemming from the sale of shares are subject to the tax, while other companies are exempt. In January 2001 Jordan entered the second phase of its transformation to a value-added tax (VAT) regime, a reform begun in 1996. The VAT rate is 13%, and in 2001 about 25 new commodities were added to its coverage, including some food products, tobacco, coffee, soft drinks, new cars, heavy-duty vehicles, and paper products. Businesses with sales less than jd250,000 a year are exempt from registering for the VAT. There are no capital gains or net worth taxes on individuals and social security taxes are paid jointly by employers and employees.


Customs and excise duties used to provide a large portion of all tax revenues, but following accession to the World Trade Organization, they are no longer so high. All imports and exports are subject to licenses. Import duties are levied by CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value, with a 030% rate. There is also a 13% value-added tax (VAT) that is applied to both imported and domestically produced goods. Jordan grants preferential treatment to imports from Arab League countries, under bilateral trade agreements that exempt certain items from duty and under multilateral trade and transit agreements with Arab League countries. Jordan also signed a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States in October 2000.


In the past there was little foreign investment in Jordan apart from the oil pipelines, but in the early 1970s, the government began offering liberal tax inducements, including a six-year corporate tax holiday for firms established in 'Ammān and a tax holiday of up to 10 years for those outside the capital. 100% foreign ownership of local enterprises is permitted in some cases. In 1980, the government formed the Jordanian Industrial Estates Corp. near 'Ammān to attract new industries to planned industrial complexes; investors were granted two-year income tax exemptions. Jordan also has established four free-trade zones, at Al-'Aqabah, Az-Zarqa', the Queen Alia International Airport, and along the Syrian frontier, near the Jordan-Syria rail link.

In 1995, Jordan hosted an international conference on investment in the kingdom as part of its recent opening to international investment. It also announced intentions to begin selling off government shares in major enterprises, including telecommunications and the Royal Jordanian Airlines. In 1997, the country had $1.2 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

In 1999, with the succession of King Abdullah II to the throne, significant steps have been taken towards encouraging further foreign investments in the country. Official FDI numbers are not available, but UNCTAD estimates show that total FDI inflows rose to $787 million in 2003. In 2004, the Jordan Investment Board approved investment projects for around $134 million, while the total FDI stock was estimated at around $11 billion.


Before the upheavals caused by the war of 1967, the government had begun to design its first comprehensive development plans. The Jordan Development Board, established in 1952, adopted a five-year program for 196165 and a seven-year program for 196470, which was interrupted by war. In 1971, a newly created National Planning Council, with wide responsibility for national planning, prepared the 197375 plan for the East Bank, with a planned total outlay of jd179 million. The main objectives were to reduce the trade deficit, increase the GNP, expand employment, and reduce dependence on foreign aid. At least 60% of the planned projects were completed, and a new five-year plan was instituted on 1 January 1976.

The 197680 plan entailed outlays of jd844 million (at 1975 constant prices) and achieved an annual GDP growth rate of 9.6%, below the goal of 11.9%. Notable development projects included port expansion at Al 'Aqabah and construction of Queen Alia International Airport. The 198185 development plan allocated funds totaling jd3,300 million and projected an economic growth rate of 10.4% annually (17% for industry and mining, 7% for agriculture). The plan envisaged completion of large potash and fertilizer installations, as well as the first stage of construction of the 150 m (492 ft) Maqarin Dam project on the Yarmuk River, which would store water for irrigation. This project also was to extend the East Ghor Canal 14 km (9 mi) from Karama to the Dead Sea. The Maqarin Dam project was shelved indefinitely, however.

The 198690 development plan allocated jd3,115.5 million, to be shared between the public sector (52%) and the private and mixed sector (48%). The goals of the plan were the following: realization of a 5.1% annual growth rate in the GDP; creation of 97,000 new employment opportunities; a decrease in imports and an increase in exports to achieve a more favorable balance of trade; expansion of investment opportunities to attract more Arab and foreign capital; development of technological expertise and qualified personnel; attainment of a balanced distribution of economic gains nationally through regional development; and expansion and upgrading of health, education, housing, and other social services.

Between 1953 and 1986, Jordan received development assistance from the IBRD and other international agencies, other Arab countries, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. The United States provided nearly $1.7 billion in nonmilitary assistance and more than $1.4 billion in military aid. Aid from Arab oil-producing countries totaled $322 million in 1984. The April 1989 riots in Jordan led to a new surge of aid transfers. Arab grants to Jordan in 1989 fell between $360 million and $430 million. Political dissatisfaction in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia at Jordan's policy during the Gulf crisis resulted, however, in the Gulf states denying further direct grant assistance.

In 1988, Jordan began working with the IMF on restructuring its economy. These plans were thrown into considerable disarray by political events in the Gulf (most notably Jordan's ill-conceived support of Iraq in the face of global opposition to that country's 1990 invasion of Kuwait), but new agreements were concluded in 1991, as Jordan began to institute democratic reforms. Foremost in the IMF plan are reductions in government spending, taming of inflation, increasing foreign exchange, and decreasing government ownership of economic enterprises. In the economic plan of 199698, Jordan was expected to decrease its ownership of enterprises from 1994's level of 64% to 55% by 1998.

The economy expanded by 6.5% in 2005, and was expected to continue to grow in subsequent years at an average rate of about 5%. Private consumption, helped by remittances from abroad, will be the main growth engines. Other sectors that will push the economy upward are construction and real estate, power generation, and telecommunications.


The social insurance system provides old-age, disability, and survivor benefits, as well as workers' compensation. Public employees and workers over the age of 16 working in private companies with five or more employees are covered. Workers contribute 5.5% of their wages, employers pay 9% of payroll, and the government covers any deficit. The retirement age is 60 for men and 55 for women if coverage requirements are met. A funeral grant of 150 dinars is also provided.

Women's rights are often dictated by Islam. Under Shariah law, men may obtain a divorce more easily than women, a female heir's inheritance is half that of a male, and in court, a woman's testimony has only half the value of a man's. Married women are required by law to obtain their husband's permission to apply for a passport. Women are discouraged from pursuing careers. The Criminal Code provides for lenient sentences for men accused of murdering female relatives they believed to be "immodest" in order to "cleanse the honor" of their families, and a number of these "honor killings" were reported in 2004. Violence against women and spousal abuse is common. The rights of children are generally well respected in Jordan, and the government makes an effort to enforce child labor laws.

Bedouins are entitled to full citizenship, but nonetheless experience professional and social discrimination. Freedom of speech and of the press are restricted by the government. Human rights violations by the government included police brutality, arbitrary arrest and detention, and there were also allegations of torture.


In 2004, Jordan had 205 physicians, 96 pharmacists, 55 dentists, and 275 nurses per 100,000 people. Medical services are concentrated in the main towns, but in recent decades the government has attempted to bring at least a minimum of modern medical care to rural areas. Village clinics are staffed by trained nurses, with regular visits by government physicians. As modern medicine has spread to the more remote areas, traditional methods have been dying out. The Ministry of Health, created in 1950, in cooperation with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the UNRWA, has greatly reduced the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis. In 1996, there were only 11 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. Trachoma, hepatitis, typhoid fever, intestinal parasites, acute skin inflammations, and other endemic conditions remain common, however. In 2000, 96% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 99% had adequate sanitation. Health care expenditure was estimated at 8% of GDP.

In 2005, average life expectancy was 78.24 years. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 24.6 and 2.6 per 1,000 people. About 50% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception as of 2000. The infant mortality rate was 17.35 per 1,000 live births in 2005. Under age five mortality has been reduced dramatically from 149 in 1960 to 30 in 2000 for every 1,000 live births. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 93%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 87%; polio, 94%; and measles, 69%. As of 1999, rates for DPT and measles, respectively, were 97% and 94%. Only four cases of polio were reported in 1994; none were seen in 1996. As of 2000, an estimated 8% of all children under five were malnourished.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 600 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 500 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


A general housing shortage in the mid-1960s was aggravated by the influx of West Bank refugees after the 1967 war, and Jordan still lacked adequate housing in the early 1980s. During 198186, some 42,300 new residential building permits were issued. According to 1994 national statistics, there were 831,799 housing units nationwide, including 467,715 apartments, 335,423 dar (traditional, detached structures of one or more rooms), 2,877 barracks, and 6,907 tents. About 80% of all dwelling units were owner occupied. Most residential units were made of cement bricks or concrete blocks. About 3% of all dwellings were described as mud brick and rubble constructions. The preliminary results of the 2004 census indicated a 44.7% increase in housing units from 1994; for a total of about 1,204,000 housing units nationwide. The average number of members per household was estimated at about 5.3.


Education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. Ten years are devoted to primary education, followed by two years at the secondary stage. Vocational studies are offered as an option for secondary students. The United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operates schools in refugee camps. The academic year runs from September to June. The primary languages of instruction are Arabic and English.

In 2001, about 31% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 92% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 80% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 98% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 20:1 in 2003.

Jordan has five universities: the University of Jordan (founded in 1962), at 'Ammān; Yarmuk University at Irbid; Mut'ah University, in Karak governorate in southern Jordan; the University of Jordan for Science and Technology; and the Zaqa University established in 1993. In addition there are 53 community colleges; two of these are UNRWA schools on the East Bank for Palestinian students. In 2003, about 35% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 89.9%, with 95.1% for men and 84.7% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5% of GDP, or 20.6% of total government expenditures.


The library at the University of Jordan has 670,000 volumes. In 1977, the department of Libraries, Documentation, and Archives was founded to establish the national library, which had 70,000 volumes in 2002. The University of Jordan for Women, founded in 1991, holds 17,000 volumes. The Library of the Jordan University of Science and Technology holds 100,000 books and 30,000 back issues of periodicals, subscribing to 518 titles. The Philadelphia University Library ('Ammān) holds about 78,642 volumes and 370 subscriptions to periodicals while Amman University Library has 77,500 books (in Arabic and in English) and over 340 titles of periodicals.

More than half of Jordan's museums are archaeological and historical. 'Ammān has four major museums: the Jordan Archaeological Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Popular Life Museum, and the Mosaic Gallery. The Department of Antiquities Museum is located in Salt. The Museum of Jordanian Heritage, one of the finest archeological museums in the country, is in Irbid, as is the Natural History Museum.


Public communications and broadcasting facilities are government controlled. Telephone and telegraph facilities were introduced soon after World War II. In 2003, there were an estimated 114 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 1,100 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 242 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

All radio and television broadcasts are controlled by the government. Radio Jordan transmits AM and FM broadcasts in English, and the television stations broadcast programs in English, Arabic, French, and Hebrew on two channels. A few private radio stations have been permitted to operate as entertainment programming. As of 1999, there were six AM and five FM radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 372 radios and 177 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 44.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 81 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 21 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

Jordan's four major daily newspapers (with 2002 estimated daily circulations) are Al-Dustour (Constitution, 100,000), Al-Rai (Opinion, 90,000), Sawt Ash-Shaab (Voice of the People, 30,000), and Jordan Times (15,000). All except the English-language Jordan Times are in Arabic; all are published in 'Ammān and are owned and operated by the private sector. Al-Rai is a government-controlled paper, founded after the 197071 civil war; Al-Dustour is 25% government owned. There are also weeklies and less frequent publications published in Arabic in 'Ammān. One weekly, The Star, is published in English. The press code, enacted in 1955, requires all newspapers to be licensed and prohibits the publishing of certain information, mainly relating to Jordan's national security, unless taken directly from material released by the government.

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press; however, in practice there are some significant restrictions on these rights. Private citizens can be prosecuted for slandering the Royal Family, and the Press and Publication Law of 1993 restricts the media coverage of 10 subjects, including the military, the royal family, and economic policy.


Religious organizations still are of major importance, and membership in the hamula, the kinship group or lineage comprising several related families, also is of great significance as a framework for social organization. Literary and theatrical clubs have become popular, especially since World War II, but political organizations died out after the 1957 ban on political parties. Jordan serves as the home base for a number of multinational cultural and educational organizations, including the Islamic Academy of Sciences and the Arab Music Academy.

There are chambers of commerce in 'Ammān and other large towns. The Jordan Trade Association supports business owners with domestic and international holdings. Other labor and business organizations include the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association of Fruits and Vegetables and the Association of Banks in Jordan. There are several professional associations, particular those dedicated to research and education in medical and scientific fields.

National youth organizations include the Jordanian Association for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, YMCA/YWCA, Junior Chamber, National Union of Jordanian Students, and the Orthodox Youth Education Society. There are a variety of sports associations and clubs, representing such pastimes as tennis, track and field, and badminton. The Alliance for Arab Women and the Jordanian National Committee for Women are based in 'Ammān.

The Noor Al-Hussein Foundation, founded in 1985, is a major national social welfare organization. The Red Crescent Society, Habitat for Humanity, and Caritas have national chapters.


The East Bank is an area of immense historical interest, with some 800 archaeological sites, including 224 in the Jordan Valley. Jordan's notable tourist attractions include the Greco-Roman remains at Jerash (ancient Garasi), which was one of the major cities of the Decapolis (the capital, 'Ammān, was another, under the name of Philadelphia) and is one of the best-preserved cities of its time in the Middle East. Petra (Batra), the ancient capital of Nabataea in southern Jordan, carved out of the red rock by the Nabataeans, is probably the East Bank's most famous historical site. Natural attractions include the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, whichat 392 m (1290 ft) below sea levelis the lowest spot on Earth. Biblical attractions include Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist; and Mount Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land.

The beaches on the Gulf of Aqaba offer holiday relaxation for Jordanians, as well as tourists. Sports facilities include swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, and bowling alleys. Eastern Jordan has modern hotel facilities in 'Ammān and Al-Aqabah, and there are government-built rest houses at some of the remote points of interest. A valid passport and visa are required. Visitors may obtain a visa, for a fee, at most international points of entry.

About 1.6 million tourists arrived in Jordan in 2003. Of these visitors, 64% came from the Middle East. There were 19,698 hotel rooms with 37,859 beds and an occupancy rate of 33%. The average length of stay in 2003 was two nights. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $1 billion that year.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in 'Ammān and the Dead Sea/Jordan Valley at $204. Other areas were estimated at $135 per day.


The founder of Jordan's Hashemite dynastythe term stems from the Hashemite (or Hashimite) branch of the tribe of the Prophet Muhammadwas Hussein ibn-'Ali (Husayn bin 'Ali, 18561931), sharif of Mecca and king of the Hijaz.

As a separate Arab country, Jordan has had a relatively short history, during which only two men have become internationally known. The first of these was the founder of the kingdom, 'Abdallah ibn-Husayn (18821951). Although he was born in Hijaz and was a son of the sharif of Mecca, he made 'Ammān his headquarters. He was recognized as emir in 1921 and king in 1946. The second was his grandson, King Hussein I (Husayn ibn-Talal, 193599), who ruled from 1953 until his death. In June 1978, 16 months after the death by helicopter crash of Queen Alia (194877), Hussein married his fourth wife, the Queen Noor al-Hussein (Elizabeth Halaby, b.US, 1951). King Abdullah II (b.1962) has reigned since the death of his father in 1999.


Jordan has no territories or colonies.


Al Madfai, Madiha Rashid. Jordan, the United States, and the Middle East Peace Process, 19741991. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Brand, Laurie A. Jordan's Inter-Arab Relations: The Political Economy of Alliance Making. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Dew, Philip and Jonathan Wallace (eds.) Doing Business with Jordan. Sterling, Va.: Kogan Page, 2004.

Knowles, Warwick M. Jordan Since 1989: A Study in Political Economy. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2005.

Lust-Okar, Ellen. Structuring Conflict in the Arab World: Incumbents, Opponents, and Institutions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Milton-Edwards, Beverley, and Peter Hinchcliffe. Jordan: A Hashemite Legacy. London: Routledge, 2001.

Moore, Pete W. Doing Business in the Middle East: Politics and Economic Crisis in Jordan und Kuwait. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Rollin, Sue. Jordan. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Ryan, Curtis R. Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002.

Satloff, Robert B. From Abdullah to Hussein: Jordan in Transition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Seddon, David (ed.). A Political and Economic Dictionary of the Middle East. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Region: Middle East
Population: 4,998,564
Language(s): Arabic, English
Literacy Rate: 86.6%
Number of Primary Schools: 2,623
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 6.8%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 1,121,866
  Secondary: 155,008
  Higher: 112,959
Teachers: Primary: 45,367
  Secondary: 9,300
  Higher: 5,275
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 25:1
  Secondary: 17:1

History & Background

Jordan is situated in the Middle East. It is bordered by Syria in the north, Iraq in the east, Saudi Arabia in the south, and Israel and the West Bank in the west. Its territory extends over 86 square kilometers. It became fully independent in 1946 and was founded as a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The estimated population of the country in 1999 was 4.7 million. The population is primarily homogenous; the Arabic language and the Islamic religion predominate throughout. The climate of the country varies from arid or semiarid regions in the east and south to regions in the north and west where there is adequate rainfall and a cooler climate.

Historically, Jordan is part of the Arab world and nations. As was the case with other nations in the region, Jordan was under Ottoman rule until 1918. In 1921, it was known as the Emirate of Transjordan. It remained an independent constitutional state under British rule until 1946, when it achieved complete independence and became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Following the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, part of Palestine (the West Bank) became an integral part of the kingdom. Since the war of 1967, however, Israel has occupied the West Bank.

When the Ottomans ended their occupation, they left behind a traditional system of education, which was composed of three-year primary schools and four elementary schools offering six years of study. At that time, there were no intermediate or secondary schools. There were private Islamic schools (Kuttab ) and Christian missionary schools. After the emirate was created, an expansion program began, culminating in 1922 with 44 government schools employing 71 teachers and serving 3,316 students, of which 318 were female. By 1923, a secondary school was established in Salt; this was followed the same year by a program of curriculum unification and the establishment of the country's first Education Council, which was formed to choose teachers and supervisors. In 1926 this council was replaced by another council called the Consultative Council of Education.

In 1946-47, there were 77 government schools enrolling some 10,729 students who were taught by 214 teachers. At the time, the school budget amounted to 6.3 percent of the total budget of the government. The first Ministry of Education during the emirate period was established 24 September 1940. Under its leadership, an educational system was set up with an elementary school cycle (seven years), a secondary school cycle (four years), and a technical school cycle (two years). Government-supervised national examinations were required at the end of both the elementary and secondary school cycles.

In June 1952, the first School Ordinance was issued regulating the examination system, the role of school principals, and the methods to be used for recruiting and promoting school children.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

When Transjordan became an independent entity in 1946 a new constitution was written. Article 21 stated that "communities should have the right to establish and maintain their schools for the teaching of their own members, provided they conform to the general requirements prescribed by law." When the constitution was revised in 1952, Article 20 proclaimed that primary education was to be compulsory and free in the public schools and open to all nationals. According to the Ministry of Education, the general objectives of education are: building up citizens' belief in God and their affiliation to their country and nation, endowing them with human virtues and perfection, and fully developing their personalities in their various aspectsphysical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social.

These objectives are based on a philosophy of education that stems from the Jordanian Constitution, Arab-Islamic civilization, principles of the Great Arab Revolt, and the Jordanian national experience.

The aims of education and the procedures for attaining them, according to the Ministry of Education, are:

  • To abolish illiteracy and extend schooling by opening as many primary schools as will guarantee a free universal primary education.
  • To orient all schools towards practical ends, both by revising present curricula and by strengthening and multiplying vocational establishments.
  • To establish a limited number of secondary institutions in addition to the schools already in existence.
  • To improve the professional training of teachers in rural and urban schools; in particular, training institutions are required for rural teachers to insure that they remain in the villages and help in improving the community life.

The general law of education (No. 20), issued in 1955, required that all schools be placed under the Ministry of Education and that certain subjects become required in private schoolsArabic, history, geography, and civics. The language of instruction for these subjects was to be Arabic, and each course was to follow the respective syllabus issued by the MOE.

The most significant legislation on education was the Law of Education No. 16, enacted in 1964. This law dealt with the overall philosophy of education in Jordan, specifying the objectives of the compulsory cycle as well as those of secondary schools and educational institutions. Article 4 of the law presented the basic philosophy of education as follows:

  • To develop responsible citizens who believe in the basic principles of the constitution; the rights and the responsibilities of citizens; honesty and dedication to work; responsible behavior; and fruitful cooperation with others based on democratic relationships.
  • To develop an understanding of the natural, social, and cultural environment starting with the home and ending with the world as a whole. This objective should aim at understanding the environment, its problems, and its urgent needs, and developing, in the individual, a sense of responsibility to do his share in the betterment of the environment.
  • To develop pupils physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally, taking individual differences into consideration.
  • To raise the health standardsin both the individual and the groupthrough proper health information and the development of appropriate habits.
  • To raise the economic standards of the individual and the society and to increase the national income.
  • To develop such skills as effective communication, critical and creative thinking, logical reasoning, orderly thinking, the ability to use scientific methods of investigation, and the proper engagement of relationships with others.

Article 6 of the Law classified schools by establishment, financing, and control. Public, or government, schools were under the Ministry of Education or other ministries such as Health, Defense, or Social Welfare. Private schools might be either national or "foreign." National schools were those established and run by individual citizens or agencies. Foreign schools were those established and administered by non-Jordanians, either individuals or agencies. Schools of this type could be secular or religious.

One of the most important outcomes of the First National Conference for Education Development in 1987 was the issuance of the Provisional Education Act No. 27 in 1988. The most important aspects of this act were:

  • Classifying and identifying the philosophical bases and principles of education.
  • Developing the general objectives of education and educational cycles.
  • Expanding free compulsory education from 9 to 10 years.

The most significant law in recent years related to kindergarten, basic, and secondary education was Act No. 3 in 1994. This act regulates education and states educational philosophy, objectives, and policy, as well as the functions of the Ministry of Education. According to this act, the missions and responsibilities of the Ministry of Education include:

  • Establishing and administering public schools at all levels and supervising private schools.
  • Providing health and counseling services.
  • Encouraging educational research.
  • Enhancing educational relations inside the kingdom and with other Arab and Islamic countries.
  • Establishing adult education centers.
  • Furthering cultural and scientific development through libraries and museums, radio and television, lectures, clubs, societies, and appropriate magazines.

Regarding higher education, the most significant laws were:

  • The Higher Education Act No. 28, 1985, which stated the objectives of higher education and how they are achieved, instituted the Higher Education Council, and listed other factors that regulate the affairs of higher education institutions.
  • The Jordan Universities Law, No. 29, 1987, which listed the objectives of the university and established university councils, deans, and colleges.
  • The Private Universities Law, No. 19, 1989, which specified the responsibilities of the Higher Education Council toward the work of private universities.

Other means used in developing and implementing educational change have been the various educational development plans. The general goals of these plans are to improve the educational outcomes, cope with scientific and educational changes, respond to needs of the labor market, and interact with the international cultural developments.

The first stage in the current educational plan was from 1988 to 1995. The goals in this stage were:

  • Extend compulsory education to 10 years instead of 9 and reorganize secondary education into a comprehensive two-year program.
  • Lower the illiteracy rate to 8 percent by the year 2000.
  • Develop and expand vocational education and training.
  • Develop curriculum and textbooks.

The second stage was from 1996 to 2000. The goals in this stage were:

  • Improve the quality of educational leaders.
  • Supply schools with educational resources.
  • Develop vocational education and training to support the needs of the labor markets.
  • Improve facilities for teaching and learning through expanding and constructing new schools, reducing rented school buildings, and furnishing schools to accommodate more students.
  • Develop examinations to balance the content and goals of the new curricula.

Educational SystemOverview

The present structure of the Jordanian educational system comprises formal and nonformal systems. The nonformal system includes preschool education, which is run by the private sector and enrolls children as young as age three. Literacy campaigns, home schooling, and vocational training administrated by the ministries of Labor, Industry, and Defense are also part of the nonformal education system.

The formal education system is composed of the following stages:

  • A compulsory stage for children ages 6 to 15 (grades 1-10), consisting of primary school (grades 1-6) and preparatory school (grades 7-10).
  • A comprehensive secondary education (academic and vocational) and applied secondary education (training centers and apprenticeship).
  • Higher education, either a two-year intermediate level course offered by community colleges or four years of university level courses, either in public or private institutions. The student's achievement on the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination is the sole criterion for admission into higher education institutes.

Children move up the educational ladder under a system of modified automatic promotion. Under this system, students in grades 4 through 10 may repeat a grade twice. After that they are automatically promoted. In the preparatory stage, grade repetition is allowed only once. At the secondary level, students are allowed to repeat once in a government school provided they are younger than 17; otherwise they must transfer to a private school.

Before 1975, all students were required to pass a public preparatory education examination to be admitted into secondary school. With the elimination of this exam, students are admitted into the secondary stage simply by passing their ninth grade end of the year examinations and on the basis of their class standing. The exam was reintroduced in 1985, but then cancelled in 1989.

Community colleges and universities vary in required attendance from two years in community colleges to six or more in universities based on the type of institution and specialization. For instance, the faculty or school of medicine requires six years. To be admitted into postsecondary institutions, students must pass the General Secondary School Certificate Examination or GSSCE (al Tawjehy ). Students in the vocational education program sit for the Vocational General Secondary Certificate Examination.

The majority of students are enrolled in schools directly controlled by the MOE. Some schools fall under the jurisdiction of the cultural bureau of the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Health oversees students studying for medical careers; it established the first nursing school in 1953-54.

Instruction is in Arabic, but English is introduced in public schools in the fifth grade and is widely used. A new policy was recently approved to start teaching English in the first grade beginning in the academic year 2001-02. The school year runs for 210 days from September to June. There are two semesters in the school year. Students attend schools five days a week, Sunday through Thursday. To pass from one grade to the next, students need to maintain adequate grade averages. The final grade of each student in each course is converted into a percentage. The minimum passing level in any subject is 50 percent. The universities or other postsecondary institutions also employ this grading system for individual courses. However, a student needs to have a 60 percent average in all courses combined to graduate.

All public schools and most private ones use the same textbooks. Under Law 16 of 1964, the School Curricula and Textbooks Division of the MOE is responsible for producing and printing the textbooks. They are distributed free of charge during the compulsory stage, but there is a nominal fee at the secondary stage.

Jordanian public schools are single sex schools. Some private schools allow for mixed classrooms. Jordanian classrooms, much like those in other capital-poor countries, are bare. Rows of chairs for students are positioned against a table from which the teacher talks while the students listen. This lack of facilities compounds education problems. As of 1979-80, for example, with the dramatic increase in enrollments, the MOE was forced to introduce a two shift school program in about 41 percent of the compulsory and secondary schools and to rent some buildings. In 1997, however, only 16 percent of students were attending two shift schools and 11 percent went to rented buildings.

Educational television was introduced on a limited scale in Jordan beginning in 1968. It provided programs for secondary schools, primarily in such fields as mathematics, the sciences, and English. In 1997, the MOE produced 30 programs for grades 1-5 and 36 programs for grades 5-7.

As a whole, education in Jordan is considered an investment in the future. Skilled citizens are necessary. Before the Gulf War, most graduates could find good jobs in the oil-rich countries, and the money they sent home helped the Jordanian economy to grow. It is not uncommon for a family living at subsistence level to be able to send a child to a university (Abu-Zeinh).

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary Education: Preprimary education, organized for children beginning at age three years and eight months, aims to provide an adequate educational environment to help children acquire sound health habits, develop positive social relationships, foster positive attitudes towards school, and be prepared for a smooth transition from home to school.

Children's attendance at preschool classes is not compulsory. Enrollment in this cycle is 26 percent. Methods and activities in this cycle aim to promote the development of the child's personality. The Ministry of Education supervises all preschool institutions.

In the academic year 1997-98, the average pupil to teacher ratio at the preschool level was 20.7 to 1, and the average number of children per class was 23.6.

Virtually all preschool education is private, but under the supervision and control of the MOE. The aim of this type of education as stated in Article 8 of the Education Law of 1955 is "to guide children toward the correct habits and actions, to develop their abilities, to accustom them to discipline and to prepare them for entering the elementary school." Enrollment in preprimary schools has increased substantially. For example, during 1990, there were 44,856 children enrolled at 546 preschools; by 1998 the enrollment reached 69,425 at 932 schools. The number of teachers grew from 1,933 to 3,346. More than 99 percent of the teachers are female.

Primary Education: Basic education comprises 10 years of compulsory schooling, starting at the age of five years and eight months. Pupils are offered a basic and well-balanced education in the social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual aspects of their growth to create the basis for successful learning at higher forms of education and for continuous learning in life.

The aims of the compulsory education cycle as stated in Law 16 of 1964 include the development of the individual with respect to healthy attitudes, habits, and religious values and the cultivation of fundamental skills: "use of proper language, the arithmetic skills that are necessary for the daily life, observation and attentive listening, objectives and constructive criticism, and scientific ways of thinking." In addition, students should know about the environment and the Arab world, learn a foreign language, develop an appreciation of the fine arts, and learn to use leisure time effectively.

Basic education aims at preparing the learners to be able to (Ministry of Education 1998):

  • Be consciously acquainted with the history, principles, rules, and values of Islam and exemplify them in their character and behavior.
  • Master the basic skills of Arabic language to be able to use it easily.
  • Know the basic facts and events of history, especially that of Islamic and Arab nations and Jordan in particular.
  • Follow social behavior rules and take into account commendable social traditions, habits, and values.
  • Love, be proud of, and shoulder the responsibilities towards their homeland.
  • Be aware of the basic facts related to the natural environment, as well as Jordanian, Arabic, and international geography.
  • Love their family and society and shoulder the responsibilities towards them.
  • Master the basic skills of at least one foreign language.
  • Deal with numerical systems, basic mathematical processes, and geometrical figures and use them in everyday life.
  • Absorb basic scientific facts and generalizations and their experimental bases and use them to explain natural phenomena.
  • Think scientifically, using the process of observation, data collection, organization, analysis, deduction, and decision making.
  • Comprehend scientific bases of the forms of technology and use them properly.
  • Be keen on the safety, cleanliness, beauty, and wealth of their environment.
  • Be aware of the importance of their physical fitness and health and to practice suitable sport and health activities.
  • Have aesthetic taste in the various arts and express their own artistic interests.
  • Be able to perform handicraft skills matching their abilities and interests, make an effort to develop them, and have respect for manual work owing to its basic function in social life.
  • Exemplify diligence, persistence, and self-dependence in achievement.
  • Express their talents, special abilities, and creative aspects.
  • Accept and respect others, consider their feelings, and appreciate their merits and achievements.
  • Appreciate the value of time and make good use of their free time.
  • Strive for self-instruction and the development of their competencies.

The curriculum adopted in Jordanian basic education attempts to implement the above goals by focusing on Arabic, English, mathematics, and, to a lesser degree, general science. Islamic religion is also offered, along with music and anthems, arts education, physical education, vocational education, computer training, social and national education, and geography.

Enrollment rates in this cycle increased from 926,445 students in 1990-91 to 1,121,860 students in 1997-98. During the same time, the number of schools increased from 2,457 to 2,623. The gross enrollment ratio in this cycle is 95 percent, the average number of pupils per class is 30.4, and the average length of the teaching period is 45 minutes. In the academic year 1997-98, the average student to teacher ratio at the basic education level was 26 to 1.

Evaluating students is the responsibility of the teachers. Each semester there are three exams; each one counts for 15 percent of the student's grade. Participation counts for another 15 percent and the final exam, 40 percent. The school gives students certificates at the end of each academic year through the eleventh class (first year of secondary education), whereby the results of the first and second terms with the final average are all indicated. In addition, classifying students into the various types of secondary education is carried out according to their grades in grades 8 through 10.

Secondary Education

Secondary education consists of two years of study for students ages 16 to 18 who have completed the basic education cycle. As the students were provided with a broad-based, general education during the 10 years of basic education, secondary education is designed to prepare them for higher education or the labor market.

Students are admitted to secondary education according to their abilities and interests. They are provided with specialized cultural, scientific, and vocational experiences, which meet the existing and anticipated needs of society. Accordingly, secondary education is divided by category: comprehensive secondary education, which provides a general common cultural base to all students, in addition to specialized academic or vocational education, and applied secondary education, which provides vocational training and apprenticeship. According to the Ministry of Education (1998), secondary education in this context is intended to enhance the major cardinals of basic education and to prepare students to be able to:

  • Use the Arabic language to increase their ability to communicate, develop their scientific and literary culture, consider the fundamentals of correct language structure, and relish its arts.
  • Adapt to environmental changes in their country and their effects on the natural world, society, and culture; to exploit and maintain resources well; and to improve their potentials.
  • Derive their culture from their nation's heritage and to be aware of the necessity of conscious openness to world civilization and to contribute to it.
  • Interact with the cultural environment of their society and to try to develop it.
  • Be aware of the importance of family and its role in social life.
  • Consolidate their self-confidence with respect for the dignity and freedom of others.
  • Exemplify the principles, rules, and values of Islamic ideology in their behavior and understand the values and convictions in other heavenly religions.
  • Seek the progress, prestige, and pride of their country and be keen to participate in solving its problems and achieving security and stability.
  • Know the issues of their nation, be proud of belonging to it, and seek its unity and progress.
  • Work in a team, know the bases and forms of democracy and practice them in dealing with others, and believe in social justice principles.
  • Be aware of international issues and of the importance of international understanding and peace built on justice and right.
  • Perform their duties and adhere to their rights.
  • Master at least one foreign language.
  • Understand mathematical and logical concepts and relationships and use them in solving problems.
  • Look for data resources carefully and be able to collect, store, process, and benefit from them.
  • Understand new scientific facts and their applications, be able to verify them experimentally, and know their role in human progress.
  • Protect the environment, keep it clean, and develop its potentials and wealth.
  • Understand health information and rules pertaining to balanced physical and psychological growth and to practice them.
  • Relish artistic work and express their interests in this field through producing positive artistic works within their abilities.
  • Seek professional qualification, economic independence, and self-sufficiency.
  • Use their free time for practicing useful hobbies and recreational activities.
  • Reflect Arab, Islamic, and humanistic values in their behavior.
  • Use common sense in dialogue, tolerance in dealing, and courtesy in listening.
  • Develop themselves through self-learning and lifelong education.

In the academic year 1996-97, the average student to teacher ratio was 17 to 1 in the academic secondary education and 13.8 to 1 in vocational secondary education. Successful students at the end of the secondary cycle obtain the General Secondary Certificate, which includes the results of the General Secondary Examinations for the first and second terms, as well as their overall average.

Between 1995 and 1998, two-thirds of male students enrolled in academic secondary education and four-fifths of female students enrolled, perhaps because females had fewer options in vocational training than males.

Starting with the academic year 1996-97, one exam for the General Secondary Education Certificate at the end of the second term of the academic year was introduced. In addition, a project related to the development of the General Secondary Education Examinations, implemented in cooperation with the Scottish General Examinations Board, aims to measure several such skills as acquiring knowledge, solving problems, and finding facts in all subjects. Concerning foreign languages, the MOE plans to include skills related to reading, listening, and conversing, as well as writing. Supervisors and teachers will be trained for the new examinations, and the Ministry will issue specifications.

The comprehensive secondary school aims to prepare youth to enter institutions of higher education. The general secondary school provides two optionsthe literary and the scientific. Specialization or "streaming" takes place beginning in the eleventh grade and depends on prior academic achievement. High achievers in science and math usually follow the scientific stream. Twelve subjects are offered in the scientific stream and 14 in the literary. The subjects are classified general requirements, basic or essential subjects for the fieldboth compulsory and optionaland electives.

Vocational education is offered in six types of schools: commercial, industrial, agricultural, nursing, hotel services, and home economics. Each of these fields offers different subjects in the eleventh and twelfth grades. For example, the agricultural field course offers chemistry, biology, general agricultural sciences, and irrigation. During the school year 1997-98, there were 30,372 students in 322 such institutions. These students represented 43.2 percent of male students and 22.4 percent of female students enrolled in the secondary education.

Industrial secondary schools teach skills necessary for employment. The course work focuses on mathematics, physics, vocational safety, and specialized industrial sciences, in addition to courses in general education and knowledge.

Higher Education

The Jordanian higher education system offers options not always available in developing countries. These include a differentiated system of higher education institutions (universities and community colleges) and patterns of ownership (public and private) (World Bank 1996).

Higher education in Jordan started in 1951 with a one year postsecondary teacher training class. The first university program began in 1962 with the establishment of the University of Jordan.

Article 3 of the University Law of 1964 summarizes the formal functions of the universities as follows: to afford university study opportunities; to encourage scientific progress and serve the society; to provide the country with specialties in different fields; to pay special attention to the Arab-Islamic civilization and spread its heritage; to participate positively in international thought; and to strengthen cultural and scientific ties with other Arab and foreign universities and scientific organizations.

Higher education in Jordan is comprised of two levels. Two-year intermediate level programs at public or private community colleges offer about a hundred specializations distributed through 11 programs: academic, administrative, agricultural, applied arts, computer, educational, hotel management, meteorological, paramedical, social work, and engineering. Public and private universities offer a variety of four-year degree programs.

Pre-university reform in Jordan has yielded nearly universal access at the basic level and an enrollment rate close to 70 percent at the secondary level. Combined with the rapid population growth, this has created a strong demand for higher education. Twenty-three percent of 20 to 24 year olds (110,000) were enrolled in higher education in 1999; two-thirds of these attended public institutions. Enrollment in private universities has expanded from 1,300 in 1992 to more than 35,000 students in 2001.

Governance: The Ministry of Higher Education was established in 1985 with a mandate that included controlling the process of random pursuit of specializations by students and, rather, coordinating specializations with the development needs of the country. The 1998 Higher Education Law abolished the Ministry of Higher Education entirely.

Public universities are governed by the Law of Higher Education. Accordingly, each university should have a university council, deans council, faculty council, and departmental council. The current administrative organization in public universities is as follows:

  • Higher Education Council (HEC): Legislation governing higher education in Jordan was passed 6 April 1980. This marked the formation of a council that plans and coordinates higher education in Jordan and lays down its general policies. The HEC serves uniformly as a Board of Trustees for the Jordanian universities. This Council is chaired by the Minister of Higher Education and is charged with laying the foundations and defining the objectives of higher education and estimating needed manpower in the various fields of knowledge, including sending students for study outside Jordan.
  • University Council: University regulations state that each university should have a university council, chaired by the president. Its members are: all vice presidents; all deans; a member from each faculty elected by the faculty to serve for one year subject to renewal; the directors of two administrative units at the university, appointed by the president for one year; three members of different backgrounds from the local community, recommended by the president and appointed by the Higher Education Council for one year; one student, selected by the president, for one year; and one member from the university alumni, selected by the president, for one year. The university council is responsible for developing general policy for the university; evaluating university activities and examining the president's annual reports; strengthening the relationship between the university and the public and private sectors; looking into university regulations and plans; and preparing the budget for approval by the Higher Education Council.
  • Deans Council: The deans council is chaired by the university president. Its members include all vice presidents and deans and is responsible for appointing and promoting faculty members; approving faculty sabbaticals and other leaves of absence; and approving the curricula of the various faculties.
  • Faculty Council: The faculty council is chaired by the dean of the faculty. Its members are all vice deans; heads of all departments of the faculty; a representative from each department, elected by its faculty members for one year; and two experienced members of relevant experience to the functions of faculty, appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the dean, for one year and subject to renewal.
  • Departmental Council: Every academic staff member is a member of one of the departmental councils, which form the basic unit in the academic structure of the university. In the department, decisions are made with the participation of all members.

All university presidents must be of Jordanian nationality; they are nominated by the CEH and appointed by royal decree to a four year term, which is renewable once. Vice presidents and deans are nominated by presidents and appointed by the CEH. Vice presidents have three year terms, which are renewable once, and deans have two year terms, which are renewable once. Vice deans and department heads are nominated by deans and appointed by presidents to renewable one year terms.

There are two types of universitiespublic and private. The 10 public universities are, according to government policy, distributed throughout the country: Yarmouk University, Jordan University of Science and Technology, and Al-Elbeit University in the north; the University of Jordan, Hashemite University, Amman University College, Al-Dawa and Religion Principals College, and Al-Balqa University in the central region; and Mutah University and Al-Hussein University in the south. Al-Hussein is the newest university, established in 1999. Enrollments during the 1996-97 academic year ranged from 21,639 students at the University of Jordan to 654 at Al-Dawa College.

The 12 private universities are all in the northern and central regions where the population is dense. They are Amman Private University, Philadelphia University, Al-Isra University, Applied Sciences University, Jordanian Girls University (changed recently to Petra university), Al-Zeitunah University, Jerash Private University, Al Zarqa Private University, Irbid Private University, Educational Sciences College, Princess Sumayya University College, and Jordanian Academy for Music. Enrollments during the 1996-97 academic year ranged from 4,021 at Amman Private University to 49 at the Jordanian Academy for Music.

One of the recent changes in higher education is that Al-Balqa Applied University now supervises about 45 community colleges. There are four types of community colleges:

  • Twenty governmental community colleges that are under the umbrella of Al-Balqa University in all aspectsacademic, administrative, and financial.
  • Eighteen private community colleges that are owned and run by the private sector under the technical supervision of Al-Balqa University.
  • Five Jordanian Armed Forces Colleges that are run by the Jordanian Armed Forces and technically supervised by Al-Balqa University.
  • Community colleges that are under the umbrella of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinians Refugees (UNRWA) in all aspectsacademic, administrative, and financial.

During the 1996-97 academic year, nearly 24,000 students were enrolled in community colleges of all types. In addition, during the 1995-96 academic year, 29,581 Jordanian students studied in higher education institutions abroad.

Admission for Undergraduate Studies: Students are admitted to all departments and faculties in public universities on the basis of their grades in the Tawjihi (The General Secondary School Certificate Examination or CSSC) or its equivalent. Admission is highly competitive, but students from the less privileged areas in the kingdom are accepted on the basis of a quota system, which allows the most competitive of them to be admitted relatively easily. A number of seats are allocated to the sons and daughters of those working in the armed forces, the Ministry of Education, and the national universities.

Application for enrollment in the university for the first semester is advertised during the first third of August every year. Names of students eligible for admission are published in local newspapers. Applications are sent by mail to the United Coordination Office for Admission to State Universities at the University of Jordan.

Applications for admission to university are accepted from students who have obtained the General Secondary Education Certificate (or its equivalent), provided that their average scored is not less than 85 for medicine and dentistry faculties, 80 for engineering and pharmacy faculties, or 65 for all the other faculties.

Applications for enrollment in the Department of Fine Arts specializations are advertised in local newspapers during the first half of August. These applications are to be made directly to the University Department of Admission and Registration. Names of students eligible for admission are published in local newspapers after they have passed the capacities test prescribed for that purpose.

Applications for enrollment made by Jordanian students who have obtained General Secondary Education Certificates outside of Jordan are to be directly made to the University Department of Admission and Registration within the period prescribed for submitting applications for enrollment to the United Coordination Office for Admission to Jordanian State Universities. Students shall be admitted in the light of the allocated seats and in accordance with the sequence of grades in the Jordanian General Certificate of Secondary Education or GCSC (or its equivalent).

Non-Jordanian students will be accepted through the Council of Higher Education.

The following documents are required from students to be considered for acceptance:

  1. Original copy in Arabic of the Jordanian GSEC grade sheet certified by the Ministry of Education or, for students who have obtained a non-Jordanian GSEC, a photocopy certified by the Ministry.
  2. Original birth certificate with the National Number inscribed thereon or a certified photocopy thereof.
  3. A photocopy of the valid Family Card (for Jordanian students only).
  4. Nationality confirmation certificate for non-Jordanian students.
  5. Military Service book for male Jordanian Students.
  6. Four personal photographs (4 centimeters x 6 centimeters).
  7. Equivalence of the GSEC from the Jordanian Ministry of Education for students who have obtained a non-Jordanian GSEC.

The public universities follow the credit-hour system. Credit hours required for a bachelor's degree are as follows: Faculty of Arts, 126; Faculty of Business Administration, 126; Faculty of Science, 126; Faculty of Shari'a (Islamic Studies), 126; Faculty of Agriculture, 138; Faculty of Educational Sciences, 126; Faculty of Law, 126; Faculty of Physical Education, 126; and Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, 126.

The academic year consists of two main semesters. First semester classes start in the first week of October and end in January. Second semester classes start during the first half of February and end during the first half of June. In the optional summer session, classes start during the first half of July and end during the last third of August. Regular attendance is compulsory for all students at public universities.

Admission into Graduate Studies: Enrollment opportunities in the Graduate Studies Program are advertised in local newspapers during the last third of June. Applications are directly submitted to the University Deanship of Academic Research and Graduate Studies. Names of students eligible for admission are published in the local newspapers. Applications for the Diploma in Education are also directly submitted to the Department of Admission and Registration as advertised in local newspapers during the last third of June. Names of candidates eligible for enrollment are published in local newspapers. Non-Jordanian students are accepted through the Jordanian Council of Higher Education.

The following documents are required as part of an application for graduate studies:

  1. Grade sheet of the bachelor's degree or, for doctoral candidates, the master's degree, duly certified.
  2. The original university transcript or a duly certified photocopy thereof.
  3. Original birth certificate or a duly certified photocopy thereof with the National Number inscribed thereon.
  4. Duly certified photocopy of the Family Book (the first page and the student's legal guardian's page) with the National Number inscribed thereon.
  5. Military Service Book or Exemption Certificate for Jordanian students required to serve in the military.
  6. One personal photograph (4 centimeters x 6 centimeters)
  7. For students with academic degrees from non-Jordanian universities: grade sheets of the bachelor's degree or, for doctoral students, the master's degree, certified by the Jordanian Council of Higher Education.
  8. For students with academic degrees awarded by non-Jordanian universities, equivalence of university degrees, awarded by the Jordanian Council of Higher Education.

There are four sets of requirements a student must satisfy to complete a graduate degree: university, faculty, departmental, and free electives. In the Faculty of Arts, a total of 132 credit hours are needed. Credits are based on semester hours. Faculty requirements consist of 21 credit hours, some compulsory and some electives. Departmental requirements consist of compulsory courses and electives within the department. In a single specialization, students are required to take 60 credit hours of compulsory courses and 27 in departmental electives. For a major specialization, students are required to take 39 credits in compulsory subjects and 21 in electives within the department. To have a minor specialization, a student is normally expected to complete 27 credit hours in the field. An additional six hours may be taken in any department of the university. To be in good standing, graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative average of 70 percent. If not, they are placed on academic probation. Students normally have to take final examinations for each course in which they are enrolled. Final grades are entered into the records as a percentage. The minimum passing grade for an individual course is 50 percent.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Administration: Jordan, like most Arab countries, has a centralized system of education. Thus, the MOE constitutes the final authority on all important matters, such as what is to be taught by whom and under what conditions. Accordingly, decisions on the distribution of resources, syllabi, textbooks, teacher appointments, and national examinations are made by the MOE or its affiliated agencies.

Administratively, there are four units that plan and implement the educational process. These units are:

  • The Center: It is responsible for designing the educational policy and plans, as well as implementing and following up. The units in the Center include the secretary general, the general directors, specialized directors, and the office of the minister.
  • The General Directorates of Education in the governorates: These directorates are headed by general-directors who supervise and implement the educational policy and plans at the governorate level. There are 12 general directorates.
  • District Directorates of Education: There are 26 district directorates of education in the governorates, each with a director and assistants for technical and administrative affairs. Each district has a local education committee or, where such committees are not available, a municipal council, which assists the district office in carrying out such activities as building and expanding schools, appointing staff, allocating funds, and training. The district or regional directorates mainly carry out the policies of the MOE and the Central Education Committee attached to it.
  • The school is considered the central unit of the educational process. It is administered by the principal and assisted by adequate staff to provide the necessary services.

Institutions other than the MOE participate in delivering educational services. These include the Ministry of Social Development and the Directorate of Education and Culture of the Armed Forces, which administer 19 schools. UNRWA is responsible for administering 198 schools for Palestinian refugees in which 143,893 students were enrolled in the academic year 1997-98.

Financing Education: Public education is financed mainly through the general budget of the government. For the 1997 fiscal year, education contributed 4.2 percent of the gross national product, and educational spending represented 12.5 percent of the total general budget of the government. This was up from 8.5 percent in 1990. Education in Jordan, however, is not financed by the government alone. UNRWA finances and administers basic education for Palestinian refugees.

Public universities are financed by government support from the general budget, customs and taxes imposed by the government, student fees, grants, and university benefit projects. Student fees in private universities are three to four times the fees of public universities.

Public universities evaluate their own performance through their boards of trustees, while private universities are evaluated for accreditation by specialized committees that pay repeated visits to the universities and report to the Ministry.

Private universities are owned by companies that are established under the Corporate Law and are either public shareholding companies or private shareholders. All these institutions are for profit entities.

While some financial support is available from the government for students attending university, the majority are supported by their families. Those students on government scholarships pursue a secondary school teaching career. Arabic, English, mathematics, and science are the prime areas of concentration for most of these students who are expected upon graduation to serve the country's schools.

Tuition and fees are the same in all of the public universities, while they vary in private universities. The main sources of financing for private universities are student fees; shareholders, either individuals or institutions interested in education; and donations from individuals or institutions in Jordan or abroad.

Educational Research: Educational research, still in its infancy in Jordan, is carried out by different agencies. Research is a function of the Research Section of the MOE's General Directorate of Educational Research and Studies. The tasks of this directorate are:

  • Identifying the problems related to teaching-learning process.
  • Selecting researchers to conduct studies, monitor their implementations, and prepare their budgets.
  • Conducting research related to the improving the teaching-learning process.

The research budget at the MOE for the 1998 academic year was estimated at 26,000 Jordanian dinars and distributed as follows: research conducting; stationery and publications; and rewards of researchers, coordinators, and evaluators of educational research.

Other organizations concerned with educational research in Jordan are the National Center for Human Resource Development, the universities, and the Educational Research and Development Center of UNRWA.

The research fund in the budgets of universities is either very small (about 1 percent), too small to be useful, and in many cases not used at all. Limited project funding is available from such local sources as the cooperative research programs administered by the Higher Council of Science and Technology.

Nonformal Education

Various nonformal educational programs are offered by the education system in Jordan, such as literacy programs, evening classes, and home study, which provide education for adults to continue self-learning and to sit for school and general examinations. In addition, short, nonformal vocational training courses and programs in cultural centers are offered for adults.

Special attention is paid to literacy and adult education programs, in particular. A plan for this purpose was set down aiming at reducing the rate of illiteracy from 11 percent in 1997 to 8 percent by the year 2000; reinforcing literacy programs by introducing agricultural, health, and cultural skills to meet the needs of the labor market; improving compulsory education conditions to reduce failure and dropouts in the basic cycle; developing the quality of nonformal education programs; diversifying teaching methods and content; and developing trainers' and supervisors' capabilities in illiteracy eradication and adult education programs.

During the 1997-98 school year, 635 literacy centers were established in various areas of the kingdom, 53 for males and 582 for females, with a total of 11,226 learners. The evening centers enrolled 3,447 students; the home studies program, 567; and the summer centers, 5,010.

Cultural centers provide nonformal education and training through vocational and academic courses at the end of which the student obtains a certificate certified by the MOE. By 1997-98, there were 349 distributed in various directorates. The programs are diversified, and the course durations range from one month to one year. These programs provided 43 specialized training courses with about 27,720 students in 1996-97.

The national program of adult vocational education programs was initiated through the support of the United Nations and the International Labor Organization. Under the plan, known as the National Vocational Training Scheme, the trade training centers provide apprenticeship programs for youth and unemployed adults and skill upgrading for those already employed.

To upgrade the skills of employed workers, so-called "labor upgrading centers" have been created. These centers, which give courses in the evening, utilizing the facilities of the secondary industrial schools, normally offer specializations available in the school that houses them. On the average, 150 hours of practice training and relevant technical theory are required over a 6 month period. The employer is responsible for paying the nominal course fee, which is about 70 Jordanian dinars. Most of these programs are under the Vocational and Technical Committee (VTC) and available in Amman, Irbid, and Zarqa. The Telecommunications Corporation has also established centers to train workers in this field of employment.

In 2000, the Economic Consultative Council of Vocational and Technical Committee finished the draft law for a vocational and technical training council. The goal is to formulate comprehensive policies to secure the best development of manpower. The drafted law would also unite the efforts of the many sectors that are concerned with vocational and technical training, such as the Ministry of Education, Al-Balqa University, the Armed Forces, and the private sector.

There is also a General Management Institute in Amman that began operation in 1968, seeking to upgrade the administrative personnel in both governmental agencies and private firms. The training, normally given over a period of 2 to 12 weeks, focuses on such fields as high and middle level management, supervision, personnel and office management, secretarial work, and accountancy. In 1975, some 375 individuals were enrolled in the Institute. The government has also supported the establishment of Workers Education Institutes concentrating on the role of trade unions in society. Trade union leaders are urged to attend these institutes and enroll in such courses as economic development, labor wages policy, and production.

Teaching Profession

Generally, primary and intermediate school teachers are trained in the community colleges and secondary school teachers in universities.

With the dramatic increase in enrollment, there has been an increased demand for teachers. In 1953 there were fewer than 5,000 teachers, while at the beginning of the 1980s there were almost 30,000. After the Gulf War in 1990, many of the Jordanians who had been working in Kuwait and other Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain, were dismissed from their jobs and returned to Jordan. In a couple of years the need for teachers was dramatically increased, and it is estimated that the number of teachers in 1992-93 was approximately 55,000.

In order to improve the teaching profession through upgrading teachers' qualifications, Act 3 of 1994 stipulated that every teacher, in any stage from kindergarten to the secondary cycle, must have a university degree. Their supervisors must hold a postgraduate degree.

In 1997, a total of 69.50 percent of teachers had a community college degree, 26 percent had a bachelor's degree, and 3.6 percent had more than a bachelor's degree. The MOE encourages teachers who already have their bachelor's degree to enroll in graduate studies. In 1997, the MOE funded 759 teachers to get their bachelor's degree, 423 to get their diploma, and 75 to get their master's degree. The General Directorate of Training in the MOE is responsible for planning these programs in cooperation with educational experts and international and regional organizations.

Teachers are selected for the job through competitive selection and on the basis of need, specialization, year of graduation, GPA, living place, and experience. Although there are general criteria for employment, a quota is given to some categories, such as orphans of fathers who served in the Jordanian army, poor families, and handicapped teachers who hold an academic qualification. Generally speaking, promotion takes place after passing five years in a grade, class, or category. It is possible to be promoted earlier with a higher academic degree or a distinctive performance.

Teachers' workload (average number of weekly periods allocated to classroom teaching) depends upon where in the educational cycle they teach. Generally, for example, teachers at vocational schools teach more periods than teachers at secondary schools.

Salaries are determined according to Civil Service Regulation No. 1 of 1988 and the Unified Allowance Regulation No. 23 of 1988. Salaries are classified according to academic qualifications, category, grade, and nature of work.


Jordan is a country rich in human capital but poor in natural resources. The government therefore decided to begin a broad-based reform program. The first step was to establish the institutional and physical infrastructure needed to support Jordan's educational goals.

To move reform forward, the government took several steps: a new education law was prepared in 1994; the school system was restructured, abolishing middle schools and reducing the secondary school cycle from three to two years; the curriculum was modernized; and higher minimum qualifications were established for teachers.

More attention should be given to education at the preprimary level. The gross enrollment at this level is 26 percent. Because 99 percent of preprimary schools are run by private organizations and charge fees, not all parents can afford to send their kids to preschool. Thus, not all kids will be ready to learn when they start their first grade in public education. The government should initiate some preprimary schools, especially in rural areas.

At the basic education level (grades 1-10), the government has achieved nearly universal access: gross enrollment is 95 percent. Jordan was active in adopting the framework of the Education for All Conference held in Thailand in 1990 and again in Amman in 1996. This indicates the awareness of the government to educate all.

Secondary education in Jordan consists of two typescomprehensive (academic and vocational) and applied general education. The comprehensive secondary school provides two optionsthe academic and the vocational. Vocational education is offered in six types of schoolscommercial, industrial, agricultural, nursing, hotel services, and home economics.

The higher education system in Jordan is comprised of two-year community colleges and four- to five-year university education. The offerings dramatically expanded in the 1990s when the government allowed private firms to invest in education by building their own universities. Twelve private universities were established, and three others were under construction in 2001.

The first public university was established in 1962. Three other universities were established by the end of 1989, followed by four more in the 1990s. The major reason for expanding higher education in 1990s was to cater to the hundreds of thousands of people who returned to the country after the Gulf War. The government was faced with the great demand to expand public universities, and several business leaders felt the need to invest in private universities.

In February 2000, the Jordanian government got a $34.7 million loan from the World Bank for a higher education development project. Its objective is to initiate improvements in the quality, relevance, and efficiency of Jordan's higher education. This is a very important change that needs to take place soon. Even though all public universities are governed by the same authoritythe Council of Higher Educationthese universities do not coordinate effectively in terms of the specializations to be taught. All of them offer similar fields and have the same colleges. The problem is that each university serves a certain region of the country, and they are not seen as a single unit serving the whole country.

While there is a high unemployment rate in the country, there is a need for skilled labor, but the universities do not focus on this type of training. The exception to this is the Jordan University of Science and Technology, which decided to open new fields of study that are not taught in other universities.

The two major changes planned for the academic year 2001-02 will be to begin computer training in the third grade and to teach English in first grade. The Jordanian government is aware of the importance of English as the language needed to compete globally and the importance of computer technology as an essential prerequisite for success in the information age.

In 2000, the Ministry of Education signed a $33 million contract to purchase approximately 20,000 computers. Twenty-two computers and a server to connect the school with a local network will be installed in 900 of the kingdom's public schools. The Ministry's ambitious program to introduce computers and computer-based learning in all government schools will be implemented over three years.

Incorporating the English teaching policy will be a challenge. The government will need to hire new teachers in the face of a budget deficit and hiring freeze in the public sector.

Teaching computer technology might be an even more unrealistic decision. The Ministry of Education unfortunately does not have trained people to teach computers. The other problem is financing such a project. This requires hiring new teachers and buying new computers, neither of which is possible unless the government gets loans from international lenders.


Badran, A., ed. Education in the Middle East. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

Mazawi, A. "The Contested Terrains of Education in the Arab States: An Appraisal of Major Research Trends, 2000." Comparative Education Review 43(3) 332-250.

Ministry of Education. The Annual Book. Jordan: The First National Conference for Educational Development, 1988.

Obeidat, S., and A. Rashda. Education in Jordan from 1921 to 1993. Amman: Ministry of Education, 1993.

World Bank Operation Evaluation Department. Partnership for Education in Jordan, 2000. Jordan Higher Education Development Study. World Bank, 1996.

World Education Report. The Right to Education: Towards Education for All Throughout Life. UNESCO, 2000.

Osama M. Obeidat

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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Major Cities:

Other Cities:
Irbid, Jerash, Maān, Zarqa


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated February 1995. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


From as long ago as the Bronze Age, JORDAN has been a crossroads of the world. It is a mosaic of cultures, the spiritual capital of three great religionsChristianity, Islam, and Judaismand today, a miracle of modern urbanization, with over half of the country's population clustered around the cities of Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid.

Jordan evokes images of the Bedouin, of Lawrence of Arabia, of spectacular deserts, and of warriors on camels. It has been home to a multitude of peoples and remains the repository of their relics. Canaanite cities, Roman and Byzantine palaces, Muslim shrines, and Crusader castles are all to be found in this land of contrasts. Here, the mountains rise in places to 5,700 feet and, at the Dead Sea, the earth falls nearly 1,300 feet below sea level. The mystery of the nomadic desert life and the splendor of ancient cities meet in Jordan. The nation is blessed with few natural resources, yet has compensated for this need with an increasingly educated population which has gone forth to fill professional and managerial needs throughout the Middle East.



Amman, the capital of Jordan with a population of 1.3 million, is spread out over many steep hills. With an elevation ranging from about 2,450 to 2,950 feet above sea level, the city has a growing population of over one million. Here, in biblical times, was Rabbath Ammon, capital of the Ammonites, who were the descendants of Lot. The pharaoh, Ptolemy II, Philadelphus of Egypt (285-247B.C.), ruled the city; he rebuilt it and renamed it Philadelphia.

Beginning in 63 B.C., the city fell under Roman rule. Before that time, it had flourished as a member of the league of free cities known as the Decapolis. Briefly revived in the eighth century under the Ummayyad Arabs, the entire country deteriorated in the ninth century when the Arab capital moved from Damascus to Baghdad. During the Middle Ages, Amman was no more than a tiny village. It became the capital of Transjordan in 1921 and, today, is a major city, with new construction everywhere and constantly increasing traffic and noise.

Most city activity centers around the government. Amman is Jordan's principal trading center, the main clearing point for commercial goods, and the hub of manufacturing activity. The city grew rapidly after the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967; following each war, large numbers of Palestinian Arab refugees and displaced persons from the West Bank became residents.

Amman's climate is moderate. Summer temperatures on the residential jebels (hills) range from 80°F to 95°F, but rarely exceed 100°F; the atmosphere is dry and even the summer evenings are usually cool. Many days are windy, and dust clouds occasionally blow in from the dry hillsides and nearby desert. Little rain falls from mid-April to mid-November. In winter, temperatures seldom go below 32°F, but the cold is penetrating, the wind frequently strong, and houses are difficult to heat. Rain falls often in January and February. Snow falls occasionally and even a moderately light snow can temporarily disrupt traffic and communications.


Several schools in Amman are suitable for English-speaking students, including two nursery schools and a day-care center.

The American Community School was established in 1957 to provide a U.S. curriculum for American children in the city. It is primarily supported by tuition payments, but also receives assistance from the U.S. Department of State. Although most of the students are American, there are also children of other nationalities. The school year runs from late August until early June, and regular classes are augmented by instruction in music, sports, dancing, and other extracurricular activities. A choice of French, Spanish, or Arabic is offered, starting in fifth grade.

American Community School has an excellent curriculum, with high standards of instruction and achievement. Information is available from the U.S. Embassy in Amman.

The Amman Baccalaureate School was established in 1981 and offers a U.K., Jordanian, and International Baccalaureate type of curriculum, although there are some Americans enrolled in the school, and on staff.

Private schools in Amman offer English instruction in certain subjects in grades 10 and 11 only. Their school year extends from September through May. The College de La Salle, a Catholic school for boys, offers European history, physics, English literature and grammar, and mathematics. The Bishop School for Boys, which has been in operation since 1936, has courses in English grammar, literature, and history, plus physics, chemistry, and biology.

At the Ahliyya School for Girls, instruction is available in chemistry, physics, English literature and grammar, European history, art, and biology.

Several nursery schools (with day care) are available to Americans. Enrollment is international, and instruction is by English-speaking teachers. Openings are limited and waiting lists are long.

The University of Jordan is an accredited institution offering English-language instruction in the following fields: English literature, science, medicine, and a new course in classical Arabic taught especially for nonnative speakers of that language. The university also offers courses outside the degree-granting program; several foreign students are enrolled in these courses.

Archaeology is one of Jordan's most interesting activities. The presence in Amman of the American Center for Oriental Research gives focus to archaeological pursuits, and a group called the

Friends of Archaeology sponsors field trips and lectures.

A number of courses are taught at the YWCA in Amman, including music and Arabic. Dance is taught at the American Community School as an extracurricular activity.


Jordan has a good network of main and secondary roads and a sufficient number of gasoline stations. For long car trips, tourists should fill gas tanks and take along plenty of boiled drinking water or bottled mineral water. Travel to areas not on or near the main highways is difficult, but not impossible; main roads have been improved considerably in the past few years. Good places to visit include:

  • Ajlun, with the forest and medieval ruins of the fort of Qal'at al-Rabad, a military fortress built in the 12th century as a defense against Crusader armies.
  • Aqaba, Jordan's only seaport, which has good swimming, scuba diving, and water-skiing. Hotel accommodations are available.
  • Kerak (Al-Karak), a Moabite town having one of the finest Crusader castles in the Middle East. The town, called Le Crac des Moabites (by the Crusaders), was taken by Saladin late in the 12th century and by the Turks two centuries later. The restorations have made it an accessible and popular tourist spot. Kerak has about 10,000 residents today, including a number of Christian families whose origins lie in Crusader times.
  • Madaba, where a sixth-century mosaic map of Palestine can be found in the Greek Orthodox Church. Other Mosaics are also open for viewing.
  • Mount Nebo, from where, overlooking the Dead Sea, Moses is said to have viewed the Promised Land. Mosaic finds here are excellent.
  • Petra, a unique city carved by the Nabateans (of the ancient land of Arabia) out of sheer red sandstone cliffs. Visitors ride on horseback through the Siq, the Silent City's mysterious approach, for about 45 minutes. Roman ruins are also located here.
  • Qasr el-Amra, where a castle at Azraq (Qasr el-Azraq) near this site was used by Umayyad caliphs, and has early frescoes recently restored.
  • Damascus, a colorful city with a rich history, a three-to four-hour drive from Amman, including stops at the Jordanian-Syrian border. It has a wonderful, inexpensive bazaar and an excellent museum. In late summer of each year, an international fair is held. Hotels are adequate, but rooms are in short supply during this period.

There are many opportunities for active sports in Jordan. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing facilities are available at the port city Aqaba, and there is freshwater fishing at Wadi Ziglab and Azraq. No hunting is allowed at the present time.

Three sports clubsAl Hussein Youth City (or Sports City), the Orthodox Club, and the Royal Automobile Clubare open to foreign membership. Single male membership, however, is not permitted in these organizations.

Several hotels have swimming pools and health clubs. The Royal Racing Clubs sponsors horse and (occasionally) camel races in spring and summer.


A semiprofessional theatrical group present productions in English and Arabic. Workshops for children and adults are conducted throughout the year. Amman also has an amateur theater group which performs regularly. Concerts are usually presented by one of the foreign cultural associations such as the Royal Cultural Center, the British Council, the American Center, the Goethe Institute, or the Haya Arts Center. They also offer classes for adults and children in dancing, aerobics, art, language, and handicrafts. Many of these centers operate lending libraries. Local cinemas feature films in English (Hollywood productions) and Arabic. There are four modern movie theaters.

The Jerash Festival of Cultural and Arts takes place for two weeks each summer in the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman city north of Amman. The festival offers international, regional, and local performances of drama, music, and dance as well as art displays, handicraft exhibitions, and children's activities. The festival is open to the public from afternoon until midnight.

The restaurants most frequented by foreigners serve either continental, Chinese, or Middle Eastern food. There are also American-style fast-food places. Music for dancing, discos, and even floor shows, are available at the Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Regency Palace, Amra, and San Rock hotels, as well as at a few nightclubs. The various sports clubs maintain restaurants for members and their guests.

The U.S. community participates in Rotary and Lions Clubs, both of which have active chapters in Amman. There also is a broad program of scouting for boys and girls.


IRBID is a bustling industrial and agricultural hub in the extreme north, 53 miles northwest of Amman. This governorate capital of 260,000 residents lies near the Yarmūk River, which supplies irrigation for the fertile local fields and feeds numerous springs. Yarmūk University, founded here in 1976, is a multi-faceted, bilingual institution. English and Arabic are used in schools that range from arts and sciences to veterinary medicine. Irbid was the home for Bronze Age settlers, and is thought to have been a part of a Hellenistic league around the first century A.D.

JERASH is located north of Amman, less than an hours drive through the hills of ancient Gilead. The old provincial city has preserved some of the finest sites of its ancient Greco-Roman heritage. It is believed that the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD, the city was part of Emperor Pompey's Decapolis, a ten-city commercial league of the Middle East. Today, the city of about 144,000 is the second largest tourist site in the country.

One of the most famous sights is the Triumphal Arch. The Arch once marked the grand entrance to the city. Now, however, the city entrance is through the South Gate, which leads directly to the Oval Plaza beneath the Temple of Zeus. Behind the Temple is the famous Hippo-drome, or South Theatre, built in the 2nd century, that seats about 3000 people. This theatre hosts the annual Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts that usually takes place in July. At the festival, visitors will enjoy a variety of cultural entertainment that includes music, plays, and dances. From the theater, a 660 meter long, column-lined street leads to the magnificent Temple of Artemis.

Walking tours take visitors through a variety of markets, temples, fountains, baths, gateways and other structures with beautifully preserved art and architecture. Tour programs are generally offered in one of four languages: French, English, German and Arabic.

Just north of Jerash, through pine forests and olive groves, you can visit the medieval town of Ajlun, which offers stunning examples of Arab and Islamic architecture. Qala'at Ar-Rabad, or Ajlun Castle, was built here in the 12th century by the nephew of Saladin, Usama Ibn Munqich. It served as a military fort and buffer to protect the region from invading Crusader forces.

There are not many places to stay in Jerash. Many visit the city on a day trip from Amman or Ajlun, which also has a few good hotels.

MAĀN is the capital of Maān Governorate, situated 60 miles south of the Dead Sea. The city of 31,000 serves as a departure point for excursions to the ancient ruins of Petra, 19 miles to the northwest. Maān lies on a major highway and is the southern terminus of a narrow-gauge railroad. Territorial status of the region was disputed from after World War I until 1965, when Saudi Arabia accepted placement of the Maān area within Jordan. Bedouin tribes inhabit this diffusely settled mountainous area.

ZARQA (also spelled Az-Zarkā') is an industrial city of 491,000, located 12 miles northeast of Amman. This was once the home of the handsome, proud Circassian people, and the former headquarters of the Arab League. Zarqa should not be confused with Zarqa Ma'in, a mineral springs center southeast of Amman.


Geography and Climate

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is located in the heart of the Middle East and the Arab World. It is bounded on the north by Syria, on the east by Saudi Arabia and Iraq, on the south by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aqaba, and on the west by Israel. It covers an area of approximately 35,000 square miles. Its size approximates that of the State of Indiana.

Most of Jordan's borders do not follow well-defined or natural features of the terrain. Rather, they were established by various international agreements, and, with the exception of the border with Israel, there are no major disputes. The precise delineation of the Jordanian-Israeli border is a key aspect of ongoing bilateral negotiations. In the 1967 war, the West Bank of the Jordan River, which Jordan had annexed in 1949, came under Israeli occupation. In 1988, King Hussein relinquished Jordan's claim to administrative control of the West Bank.

The country's terrain varies. On the eastern desert plateau, average elevation is 3,000 feet; in the west, mountains rise to 5,700 feet; and at the Dead Sea, terrain drops to the Earth's lowest land point of some 1,300 feet below sea level. Although historically an earthquake-prone region, no severe shocks have been recorded for several centuries.

Jordan's countryside offers a diversity of climate and scenery. Within easy driving distance of the capital city of Amman, one can visit Irbid's temperate highlands, Ajlun's majestic hills, the fertile Jordan Valley, the southern sandstone mountains, and the arid desert of the eastern plateau.

Inadequate rainfall is a chronic problem. Rainfall usually occurs only from November to April; the rest of the year has bright sunshine daily and low humidity. In the spring, a desert wind brings higher temperatures; daytime summer temperatures can be hot, but nights are usually pleasant, cool, and dry. Autumn is long and pleasant; winter often brings light snow to the mountains and to Amman; and spring carpets the country's grazing lands with beautiful wildflowers.


Jordan has been home to many successive civilizations. Each group introduced new elements into the country's religion, language, and architectureinfluences that are still seen today. Except for the Crusader period, Jordan has remained under Arab rule from the 7th century to the beginning of the 16th century by which time the Turkish Ottoman Empire had expanded to include many Arab Middle Eastern countries.

Predominately Arab and Moslem, the population of Jordan today is 5.2 million. The 1948 influx of Palestinian Arab refugees, the 1967 postwar waves of displaced persons from across the Jordan River, and the 1991 "returnees" from the Gulf States have resulted in a population nearly evenly divided between "East Bankers" and Palestinians. Several of the first wave of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons were given Jordanian citizenship, and, today, hold prominent government, commercial, and professional positions. The well over 200,000 refugees who still live in camps run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) are not as assimilated into the Jordanian economy. In the aftermath of the Gulf War, an estimated 250,000 or more Palestinians and Jordanians returned to the country, increasing the country's population by 8 percent.

The population represents a mixture of traditions. To be a Bedouin, or to come from Bedouin stock, is a matter of pride for many Jordanians. They are known as people of strong character, with a deep sense of family and tribal pride. Harsh desert conditions have spawned a well-developed code of hospitality that is still expressed toward one another and toward foreigners.

In the wake of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus, a non-Arab Sunni Moslem minority, the Circassians, settled in Jordan. Despite their relatively small numbers, they have long been important in government, business, and similar pursuits. Today, Circassian families are prominent in land owning, commerce, the military, and industry.

Numbering roughly 6 percent, Christians form the largest non-Moslem category of Jordan's population. The principal points of concentration of the East Bank's indigenous Christians are the towns of al-Karak, Madaba, al-Salt, and Ajlun. Most of Jordan's Christian population are Eastern Orthodox, with large numbers of Roman Catholics as well. The kingdom's several Protestant communities have resulted generally from American and European missionary activities.

There are also small communities of non-Christian minority groups, which include the Druze, the Samaritans, and the Bahais.

Jordan's population continues to grow steadily at a rate of more than 3 percent. The population is also becoming more and more urbanized, with more than 50 percent of the people living in the three main cities of Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid.

In general, Jordanians are courteous, friendly, and dignified in their relations with Westerners. Many speak excellent English and are well educated, often having studied in the U.S. or at American institutions, such as the American University of Beirut. Although sometimes critical of U.S. Middle East policy, Jordanians, on a personal level, like Americans and treat them in a friendly and respectful manner.

Public Institutions

According to the 1952 Constitution, Jordan is a hereditary monarchy, in which the King forms and dismisses governments, may dissolve Parliament, and is the ultimate arbiter of domestic and foreign policy. The current King is Abdulla bin al-Huseein II.

The King sets the broad parameters of foreign and domestic policy, while the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers manage daily affairs. In recent years, the Parliament, consisting of an appointed 40-member Senate and a popularly elected 80-member Lower House has been seeking to assert greater influence over policy. The ending of martial law in 1992 contributed to the creation of a climate in which Jordanians feel relatively free to express their political views.

Government organization is centralized, with authority and resources almost entirely in the hands of the national government. National government ministries regulate, supervise, and provide public services. Local autonomy and self-government are not highly developed, although many municipalities and villages have elected councils.

Municipalities are organized into 12 Governorates, headed by a "Muhafiz" or Governor appointed by the King and Cabinet. In some cases, the Governorates are divided into subdistricts, overseen by appointed district officers who have the power to supervise and regulate affairs and who report to the National Ministry for Municipal, Rural, and Environmental Affairs.

The General Intelligence and Public Security Directorates have broad responsibility for internal security and wide powers to monitor segments of the population that may pose a threat to the security of the regime.

Since April 1989, when riots in the southern city of Ma'an led the government to speed up plans to hold parliamentary elections, Jordan has taken important steps toward political reform and greater respect for human rights. Jordan held free and open elections for the Lower House in 1989 and 1993. Government-ordered changes to the election law, following Parliament's dissolution in August 1993, angered fundamentalist Islamists and extreme leftists, who blamed the change for their losses at the polls in November.

Jordan is a member of the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the U.N.

Arts, Science, and Education

In 1921 when the Emirate of Transjordan was created, educational facilities consisted of 25 religious schools that provided a narrow, tradition-oriented education. Today, the Ministry of Education estimates that nearly one person out of three in the kingdom is a student in one of the thousands of schools offering varied curriculums.

Because so many Jordanians place great value on educational opportunities for their children as a means of self-improvement and a way to develop a responsible citizenry, much of the Arab World looks to Jordan as a source of educated skilled workers and a provider of educational services.

Public education is free and compulsory through grade 10. Secondary education through grade 12 is provided by both academic and vocational high schools for those primary school graduates with the highest scholastic achievement. Students follow a standardized curriculum that heavily emphasizes rote memorization. All students must take the "Tawjihi" examination at the end of their 12th year in school. The score on this exam is the major determinant of each student's educational future in Jordan.

At the post-secondary level, Jordan has students enrolled in many community colleges. Students who attend community colleges are those whose Tawjihi scores are not high enough to permit them to enter one of five universities.

The country's first university, the University of Jordan, has a beautiful campus in the suburbs of Amman, with an expanding curriculum, including agriculture, arts, science, medicine, dentistry, law, physical education, education, administrative sciences, nursing, and "sharia" (Islamic Law).

Jordan's second largest university, Yarmouk, is located in the northern city of Irbid. Yarmouk's curriculum focuses on liberal arts.

The Jordan University of Science and Technology, a relatively new institution, has programs in medicine, engineering, and technology.

Mu'tah University was founded in 1981 as a military college, and a civilian wing was added in 1986. In the past 5 years, it has grown into the third largest university in the country. It is located in the southern city of Kerak and draws most of its pupils from the region south of Amman. The largest department is English Language and Literature.

A fifth public university, al-Elbait, opened in September 1994. Located in the northern city of Mafraq, al-Elbait University presents a general curriculum in an atmosphere of "progressive Islamic values."

In comparison with other developing countries, Jordan has a high proportion of university graduates. Since only a small number of those students who are seeking higher education can be accommodated in one of Jordan's four public universities or in other state-operated institutions of higher education, many study abroad, especially in the U.S.

A new phenomenon began in 1990, with the creation of Amman National University, a private university system. These institutions will absorb many of the students who are now qualified for higher education but unable to gain public university seats or afford education in the West.

Unfortunately, students today are finding that their employment opportunities have worsened. The previously abundant job market in the Gulf has virtually disappeared, and the domestic economy cannot absorb all the graduates that are currently being produced. Many foreign workers from the Gulf have returned to Jordan, exacerbating an already bad economic situation.

Jordan has a fledgling but growing commitment to the arts, which are considered an important part of social development. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage heads a varied program of art exhibitions and other activities, while private efforts are continually expanding. The Queen Noor Foundation actively promotes the arts, as well as other social concerns. With the assistance of the U.S. Information Service (USIS), the Queen Noor Foundation has established the National Music Conservatory of Jordan, which now provides instruction for students of piano and wind and string instruments. Another Queen Noor Foundation project, the Jerash Festival of Arts and Culture, has become an internationally recognized event that draws numerous performing groups to Jordan during July each year. The Jordan National Gallery boasts the finest collection of contemporary Arab art in the world. The Royal Cultural Center offers exhibits, stage presentations, and special-film programs and concerts by artists from the U.S. and other countries.

Commerce and Industry

Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. Water is scarce; only about 10 percent of the land is arable. Rock phosphate, potash, and fertilizer are traditional exports and major sources of hard currency. Despite substantial development of the private sector since the mid-1970s, Jordan depends heavily on the outside world for energy, manufactured and consumer goods, and food.

Fueled by high levels of remittances by Jordanians working in the Gulf and financial aid from Arab States during the oil boom, Jordan's economy grew by an average of 10 percent a year between 1974 and 1982, with large increases in real investment and per capita income. This inflow of income allowed Jordan to develop its infrastructure, industries, and agriculture, and to expand government services. When the flow of money began to disappear in the mid-1980s, Jordan continued its expansion programs and, by 1988, had accumulated a foreign debt of more than $8.3 billion. As foreign exchange dwindled, the overvalued Jordanian dinar fell under pressure and was devalued in October 1988, realizing a 45 percent depreciation. When the government took steps to cut subsidies and increase revenues through commodity price increases, rioting broke out in the economically depressed south.

In part due to the riots, Jordan concluded a standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1989, which included austerity measures and economic reforms. Other debt-rescheduling agreements were concluded or were being negotiated when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Gulf Crisis cost Jordan several billion dollars from the loss of remittances, the suspension of aid from Arab countries, costs associated with the influx of refugees from Iraq and Kuwait, reduced shipping revenues from Aqaba Port, the decline of tourism, and the closing of export markets in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, more than 250,000 Palestinians and Jordanians returned to Jordan from the Gulf, increasing the country's population by about 8 percent and straining government services and infrastructure. Jordan received some $1.32 billion in emergency financial assistance from Western countries, primarily Germany and Japan. These funds, however, were not enough to rebuild the economy, only to offset the crisis.

The influx of returnees from the Gulf brought benefits to Jordan as well. The savings they transferred into the kingdom helped fuel a 2-year real estate and building boom that lasted until mid-1993. Aggregate consumption demand increased, and store shelves were once again filled with consumer goods. Per capita income rose in 1992 for the first time since the devaluation of the dinar. Economic growth slowed, however, in late 1993. Many economic problems remain from the 1980s, including high unemployment. The large balance-of-trade deficit declined somewhat in 1994.

The post-Gulf War environment brought great changes to Jordan's economy. Industries, such as pharmaceuticals and garments grew rapidly and exploited new export markets. Amman showed signs of developing into a regional service center for health care and education as new hospitals and schools were established. The returnees from the Gulf brought skills that were in short supply in Jordan in fields such as computer software development and marketing.

The government has taken steps to ease its high debt burden and reform its economy. It successfully completed a 2-year standby arrangement with the IMF in 1994 and entered into a 3-year extended fund facility, which requires the government to implement an agenda of sectorial reform. The government has signed two debt-rescheduling agreements, covering most of Jordan's bilateral creditors that will restructure most of the kingdom's foreign debt. Foreign aid will still be required, in the near future, for Jordan to meet its obligations and implement development projects.

In 2000, Jordan became a member of the World Trade Organization, and it 2001 it became the fourth nation to establish a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. Both are likely to positivity influence the economy, which has been growing slightly over 1% each year.

Jordan has entered into a period of unprecedented economic challenge and opportunity. The structural reform program is putting more pressure on the private sector to serve as the engine for economic growth. With its well-developed infrastructure and highly trained workforce, Jordan's economy would benefit from a reduction of Middle East tensions. Until there is calm, however, the country will not likely reach its economic potential.



Taxis (painted yellow) are available, but can be difficult to obtain in some residential areas, especially during off-hours, Fridays, and holidays. Most are now metered, and costs for trips within Amman are reasonable. Local buses and "service" or group taxis (painted white) are also available. However, because both of these operate on fixed routes and tend to be quite crowded, most Embassy employees use the individual metered taxis for travel within Amman. Generally, the taxis are in good condition, and the drivers speak sufficient English to understand simple directions. However, there have been some reports (lately) that, due to the large influx of people following the Gulf War, there are many drivers with no knowledge of the English language. Employees would be well served to learn simple Arabic phrases, such as: "Stop," "Turn left or right," etc. It is customary for men to ride in the front and women and small children in the rear.

For travel outside the city limits of Amman and to places outside of Jordan, such as Damascus (popular for shopping), many Embassy employees hire a "service." This can be done through most of the major hotels in the city.

Due to traffic hazards and road conditions, the Mission advises against making out-of-town trips after dark or in inclement weather.


Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) is the national carrier. With a fleet of modern planes, it maintains scheduled flights to New York, Montreal, New Delhi, Cairo, the Gulf, Athens, Rome, Paris, London, Bangkok, Singapore, and other major cities. Other Arab airlines, as well as British Airways, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, and Aeroflot operate to and from Amman. No American airline flies to Jordan now, but connections with TWA, American Airlines, United, or Delta can be made via London, Cairo, Frankfurt, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, and other cities.


Telephone and Telegraph

Dependability of connection and service is good. Long-distance service (direct dial) via satellite linkup to the U.S. and to most European cities is excellent. Calls made from the U.S. to Jordan cost less than calls made from Jordan to the U.S.

FAX machines are common in Jordan.

Radio and TV

Radio Jordan broadcasts in English on AM and FM mediumwave, as well as shortwave for about 17 hours a day. Popular, classical, and Western music are featured, as well as talk shows and newscasts. FM reception of classical music programs from Jerusalem is possible for much of the day. Voice of America (VOA) and BBC broadcasts in English are available on medium-wave during part of the day; at other times, shortwave reception is best.

Jordan has a government-owned TV station. Limited English-language programming is available throughout the day. European-system TV sets (PAL) are required.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

An English-language newspaper, the Jordan Times, is published in Amman daily (except Fridays). The International Herald Tribune, USA Today, and the main British dailies are for sale locally 1 or 2 days late. Time and Newsweek, as well as British and other European magazines, are on sale locally at high prices.

Paperbacks are available locally at more than double U.S. prices. The selection of hardcover books is limited. The USIS American Center has a library where books can be borrowed, at no charge, with a membership card. The British Council maintains a library as does the American Women of Amman, both open to the public for a modest fee.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Physicians are available for medical and surgical care, including obstetrics and pediatrics. Generally, they are either British or American trained. The al-Khalidi Hospital, a private modern hospital located near Amman's Third Circle, has an emergency room staffed 24 hours daily. It handles most emergencies and after-hours medical problems, illnesses, or accidents. There is a modern, medical laboratory near al-Khalidi Hospital.

The King Hussein Medical Center, also located in Amman, is another good facility. Under its auspices is the Queen Alia Heart Institute, which can be used for cardiac cases; the Farah Rehabilitation Center has a modern burn unit.

Dental care is good, and most orthodontic treatments are available. As with all local medical care in Jordan, the costs are lower than in the U.S.

Community Health

Endemic communicable diseases, including infectious hepatitis, typhoid, meningitis, TB, and schistosomiasis are found among the local population. They can be controlled by observing normal practical precautions, such as filtering and boiling drinking water, careful washing and soaking of fruits and vegetables, watching what you eat in restaurants, not swimming in fresh water, and regular immunizations, such as gamma globulin, typhoid, and meningitis. However, even these efforts will not eliminate completely the occasional case of intestinal disorders, such as amoebic dysentery and giardia lamblia.

Few outbreaks of cholera have occurred in Jordan in recent years. The country has also seen occasional outbreaks of polio and meningococcal meningitis. When such outbreaks occur, the Ministry of Health moves fast to contain the outbreaks and to keep the public informed. Malaria is not a problem in Jordan.

Dry, dusty weather, however, complicates lung, sinus, and other respiratory problems and may make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. Many people suffer from allergies, especially in the spring.

Medical supplies are good, generally of Jordanian, American, British, French, German, or Swiss origin. Except for U.S. brands, medicines are often less expensive than in the U.S. If specific medicines are required, bring enough supplies until they can be secured locally. Contact lens wearers should bring eye-drops and cleaning solutions, because these can be difficult and expensive to obtain here.

Preventive Measures

Strict sanitation in the home regarding food and water is the best defense against disease. Filter and boil drinking water for 10 minutes. Local, good-quality pasteurized milk is normally available (the Jordan and Danish Dairies are recommended). Do not eat uncooked vegetables or salads without taking proper cleaning precautions and avoid locally made pastries and desserts sold by street vendors.

Children and adults should be immunized against tetanus, typhoid fever, polio, meningitis, and hepatitis B before arriving in Jordan. In addition, children should be immunized against whooping cough and diphtheria. Gamma globulin shots are recommended for protection against hepatitis for all adults and children over 12. Cholera boosters are optional. Adults should have oral polio boosters updated. Rabies can be a problem, so Mission personnel should be vaccinated against the disease before arriving at post and avoid contact with stray animals after arrival in country. (Also, vaccinate your pet.)


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 15 Arbor Day

May 25Jordanian Independence Day

June 9 King Abdullah's Accession to the Throne

June 10 Great Arab Revolt & Army Day

Nov. 14King Hussein's Birthday


Id al-Fitr*

Id al-Adha*

Mawlid al Nabi*

*Variable, based on the Islamic calendar


TWA and other U.S. carriers provide flights to several European and Middle Eastern cities for connections to Amman. Many international carriers fly into Jordan.

Passports and visas are necessary for entry. Short-term visas (one to two weeks) are available at no charge on arrival in Amman. Persons whose passports contain Israeli visas or entry stamps are admitted only under special circumstances, and with great difficulty.

No vaccinations are required by Jordan. It should be noted, though, that there is some malaria risk in rural areas of the Jordan River Valley and the Kerak lowlands.

At present, pets are not quarantined in Jordan. To enter the country, all dogs and cats must have current health certificates and have been vaccinated against rabies not less than 30 days, nor more than 12 months, before entry. It is recommended that pets be isolated from Muslim guests.

Roman Catholic, Anglican, and nondenominational Protestant services are available in Amman in English, as are Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and Protestant services in Arabic. The nondenominational Amman International Church has a full-time pastor. There are two American Jesuit priests attached to the Pontifical Mission for Palestine who celebrate masses in English at the College of St. John Baptist de La Salle.

Firearm importation is difficult to arrange. Current information can be sought at the time of visa application.

The time in Jordan is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus two.

Local currency is the Jordanian dinar (JD), divided into 1,000 fils.

Jordan employs the standard metric system of weights and measures.


Many Muslims object to having their pictures taken. Discretion should be used in photographing women, or scenes that could be interpreted as showing poverty. Military installations (bridges included) cannot be photographed.

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan is located on Jebel Amman, in Amman; telephone: 962 (6) 644-371; FAX: 962 (6) 659-720.


The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Finlay, Hugh. Jordan and Syria: A Travel Survival Kit. Oakland, CA: Lonely Plant, 1987.

Fodor's Jordan and the Holy Land. New York: McKay, latest edition.

Garfinkle, Adam. Israel and Jordan in the Shadow of War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Hadidi, Adnan, ed. Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan. New York: Routledge, 1988.

Lunt, James. Hussein of Jordan: From Survivor to Statesman. New York: Morrow, 1989.

Wilson, Rodney, ed. Politics and the Economy in Jordan. New York: Routledge, 1991.

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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Al-Mamlaka al-Urdunniyya al-Hashimiyya



Jordan, a Middle Eastern kingdom, is sandwiched between Saudi Arabia in the south and east, Syria and Iraq in the north, and Israel (including the West Bank of the Jordan River) in the west. The country has an area of 89,213 square kilometers (34,445 square miles) and a coastline of only 26 kilometers (16 miles) along the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. Jordan shares its longest border with Saudi Arabia, some 728 kilometers (452 miles). Amman, Jordan's capital, is located in the northwest of the country. Jordan occupies an area slightly smaller than Indiana.


In July 2000 the population of Jordan was estimated to be 4,998,564, increasing on average by 3.1 percent a year. The country has a very young population, of which 41 percent are under the age of 20. Only 3 percent of Jordanians are over the age of 65. In 2000 the birth rate stood at 26.24 births per 1,000 while the death rate stood at 2.63 per 1,000. With a projected annual population growth rate of 3 percent, the population is expected to reach approximately 7.5 million by the year 2015.

The Jordanian population is almost entirely Arab except for pockets of people from Armenia, Chechnya, and a very small community of Circassians (the oldest indigenous people of North Caucasus). Although there are no accurate figures to date, it is estimated that up to 75 percent of the Jordanian population is Palestinian. The Palestinian people have been flooding into Jordan since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, when they were either forced to leave their homes or subjected to such economic, cultural, and political hardship that they felt compelled to leave. There are existing tensions between the Jordanians who inhabited the country before 1948 and the refugees and immigrants who have since settled. The former group are known as the "East Bankers" and the latter group known as "West Bankers." Despite these tensions, the 2 communities are deeply inter-linked socially and economically. Many Palestinians living in Jordan refer to themselves as Jordanians, and it is hard to generalize about the loyalty and identity of the Palestinian population. In addition, there are 1 million foreign workers in the kingdom mainly from Egypt, Syria, and Iraq who perform menial, physical, and in some cases managerial jobs.


Jordan is a small Arab country with inadequate supplies of water and other natural resources such as oil and coal. Until the 1950s the economy was underwritten mostly by Britain, and in 1967 foreign aid still represented 60 percent of government revenues. The most important event for the Jordanian economy since the end of the World War II was the quadrupling of world oil prices in October 1973.Although Jordan possessed virtually no oil itself, it became inextricably linked to the other economies in the region. Between 1973 and 1981 the Arab budget (the sum of all Arab governments' budgets) rose more than 16-fold, from US$71.8 million to US$1.179 billion, and during the same period Jordanian exports rose almost 13-fold from US$57.6 million to US$734.9 million. In addition, Jordan sent hoards of doctors, scientists, engineers, construction workers, and teachers to the Persian Gulf who sent home remittances of more than $US1 billion between 1973 and 1981. Even after deducting the dinars flowing out of the country from the 125,000 foreigners working in unskilled jobs, the net remittances rose from US$15 million in 1970 to US$900 million in 1981. During this oil boom, Jordan's annual real GDP growth averaged 10 percent.

This rapid economic growth combined with the increase in oil prices also caused prices and import bills to rise. Then when world oil prices crashed in the early 1980s, reductions in both Arab aid and worker remittances slowed real economic growth to an average of roughly 2 percent per year. Importsmainly oil, capital goods , consumer durables, and foodoutstripped exports with the difference mostly covered by aid and borrowing. The Jordanian government was immediately forced to downsize the public sector , stop construction projects, and cut subsidies .

In mid-1989 the Jordanian government embarked upon debt rescheduling negotiations and agreed to accept an International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment program , a lending program designed to correct an economies problems. Such programs usually involve de-valuing the currency, reducing government spending, lowering the budget deficit , and implementing broad structural reforms. The Gulf War crisis, begun in August 1990, however, aggravated Jordan's already serious economic problems, forcing the government to shelve the IMF program, stop most debt payments, and suspend rescheduling negotiations. Aid from Gulf Arab states, worker remittances, and trade all contracted while refugees flooded into the country, producing serious balance of payments prob- lems. (Jordan had to increase its imports, which pushed the trade imbalance further into deficit.) This action stunted GDP growth and strained government resources. The economy rebounded in 1992, largely due to the influx of capital repatriated by workers returning from the Gulf, but the recovery was uneven throughout 1994 and 1995. The government is currently implementing the reform program adopted in 1992 and continues to secure rescheduling and write-offs of its heavy foreign debt , which amounted to US$8.4 billion in 2000. A new IMF package was approved in April 1999 that entitles Jordan to funds worth US$174 million over 3 years. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed to an economic assistance program for Jordan in 1999 that amounted to $150 million. However, debt, poverty, and unemployment (which stood officially at 15.5 percent in 1999) remain Jordan's biggest on-going problems.


Transjordan was created in 1921 by the British, who brought over Hashemite Prince Adbullah from Saudi Arabia to be head of state. The Hashemite clan claims to descend from the Muslim prophet Mohammed and have enjoyed very close ties to the West since the creation of the country. Transjordan achieved independence from Britain in 1946 and was renamed The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated in 1952. The king and his cabinet ministers hold the executive authority, and the king signs and executes all laws, however, his veto power may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the National Assembly. He appoints and may dismiss all judges by royal decree, approves amendments to the constitution, can declare war, and holds the title of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Cabinet decisions, court judgments, and the national currency are also all issued in his name. The cabinet is led by a prime minister who is appointed by the king. Legislative power rests in the bicameral (2-chamber) Majlis al-Umma (National Assembly). The 80-member Majlis al-Nuwaab (Assembly of Deputies or House of Representatives) is subject to dissolution by the king and of the 80 seats, 71 must go to Muslims and 9 to Christians. The 40 members of the Senate are appointed by the monarch for 4-year terms.

From 1953 until 1999 all this authority resided in Jordan's beloved King Hussein, who was one of the most famous and internationally respected Middle Eastern heads of state. King Hussein was instrumental in designing the framework for the "Peace Process" (the aim of which was to settle the historical conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli government). His indefatigable commitment to a just and lasting peace accorded him the honor of being a guest speaker at the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (prime minister of Israel [1974-77, 1992-95]). A strong proponent of democratization, King Hussein brought an end to martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties in 1992. He survived many assassination attempts, relying on the loyalty of his military. After King Hussein died of cancer, his son Abdullah II was crowned king on 9 June 1999. King Abdullah, along with Bashar Assad of Syria, belongs to a new generation of Arab leaders who have been educated in the West and whose priorities lie in the realm of economic liberalization , political accountability, societal justice, greater equality, and international status. Jordan's new politically accountable setting combined with its economic liberalization and its fast-growing population have led to the appearance of several political parties including the Communist Party and the Muslim Brotherhood. (The latter is a Sunni Islamic movement founded in Egypt in 1928 and active throughout the Arab world, although banned in most countries. It aims at the establishment of a Muslim state governed by Islamic law.) Several Arab nationalist parties are also active.


Prior to 1950, Jordan had a very undeveloped infrastructure and the remarkable improvements that have

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Jordan 58 287 52 0.1 12 8.6 8.7 1.17 120
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Egypt 40 324 122 N/A 1 0.5 9.1 0.28 200
Israel 290 520 318 184.0 359 24.9 217.2 187.41 800
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

been made over the last 50 years have largely been shaped by the ever-changing politics and geography of the Middle East. Before 1948, Jordan's trade was almost entirely dependent on the port of Haifa, which was in Palestine at the time. However, Haifa was captured by the Israelis in 1948, and Jordan was forced to develop its own port at Aqaba. The peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel in 1994 made Jordan a main route linking the Middle East to the Mediterranean and, therefore, a major trading hub. There are 2 major roads in Jordan, the north-south Desert Highway from Amman to Al Aqabah and the east-west highway from Al Mafraq to the Iraqi border. Jordan is a very small country that can be driven across in 5 hours, but in spite of its size, the country has a 6,200 kilometer (3,852 mile) road network. In addition, Jordan has a very small rail system that is used only for transporting raw materials to the southern port of Aqaba. There are 3 main airports, Queen Alia International Airport, 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Amman; the old international airport at Marka; and King Abdullah Airport in Amman, used primarily by the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

The telecommunications sector was partially privatized in 1995 and currently Jordan enjoys a thoroughly modern communications system. Many people use cellular phones and pagers, and Internet access is widespread. In 1999, roughly 60,000 Jordanians owned mobile phones. In 2000 this number increased to 100,000. Forecasters have predicted that by the end of 2002 there will be 800,000 users. There were 403,000 main telephone lines in use in 1997.

Over 98 percent of the Jordanian population has access to electricity, and the demand for it has been growing at a rate of 10 percent in recent years. In 1999 total electrical energy production was 6.9 million kilowatt hours (kWh), and over 90 percent of this energy is supplied by the state-owned National Electric Power Company. Industry is the largest consumer at 34 percent of total production, and domestic consumption is the second largest consumer at 31 percent. Jordan has entered into a multilateral agreement with Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon whereby electricity supplies will be taken from neighboring countries when domestic demand rises above domestic supply.


The small size of Jordan is mirrored in the relatively small size of its economic sectors. Given that there are few natural resources in the country, the Jordanian economy is heavily dependent on imports from other countries, notably from the European Union. The largest economic sector is manufacturing and the smallest is agriculture. Unfortunately the agricultural sector is vulnerable to changes in climatic conditions, and droughts that plagued the country since 1998 seriously undermined the sector's productivity.


In 2000, Jordanian farms accounted for just 500,000 of the country's 8.9 million hectares of land. The agricultural sector employed 7.4 percent of the Jordanian labor force in 1998 and contributed 3 percent to the GDP. Jordan experienced 2 serious consecutive droughts in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, which highlighted the agricultural sector's troublesome dependence on rainfall. Three- quarters of the country's cultivable land is rain-fed territory to the north producing wheat, barley, lentils, and chickpeas. The remaining quarter of agricultural land in the Jordan Valley and the highlands is irrigated and produces eggplants, bananas, potatoes, cucumbers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and onions. In 1999 tomatoes were the main crop with production reaching 293,000 tons, followed by 142,000 tons of melons. Agricultural products are mostly exported to the Gulf countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. Some farmers, however, have tried to sell their produce to European markets. They have been largely unsuccessful because of their poor packaging, inadequate quality control, and the high transportation costs involved.


There is very little land for grazing because 90 percent of the country is classified as desert, but Jordan is usually able to supply its people with 30 percent of domestic demand for red meat and milk, with the remaining 70 percent needing to be imported. However, regular outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (a destructive disease that infects cattle and sheep) associated with very dry climatic conditions have pushed the production of red meat and milk 40 percent below the normal levels. In 1999 only 21,000 tons of red meat was produced, along with 171 tons of milk. In addition to this problem, the structural adjustment program adopted by the government has cut subsidies on water and fodder, which has forced 30 percent of breeders to close.

The drought was so severe in 1998-99 that the cereal harvest met only 1.2 percent of domestic needs instead of the usual 10 percent. The reduction in cereal supply was coupled with soaring demand for wheat, which reached 650,000 tons in 1999-2000 when the country was producing only between 40,000-50,000 tons a year. The agricultural sector's problems have caused the food gap (the difference between the amount of food a country produces and the amount of food it has to import) to widen and the import bill to appreciate. In 1995 Jordan imported US$61 million worth of fruits and nuts, and in 1999 this figure amounted to US$82 million, an increase of US$19 million. This trend has shaken the Ministry of Agriculture into reviving talks with the Sudanese government over the use of their spare land and water. Jordan currently has use of 24,200 hectares of land to the north of Khartoum given by the Sudanese government in thanks for the medical aid provided by Jordan in the 1980s.


Jordan's industry can be divided into 2 sub-sectors: mining/quarrying and manufacturing. In 1998 the industrial sector employed approximately 14 percent of the country's labor force and contributed 25 percent to Jordan's GDP. This sector is the much-needed provider of foreign exchange because it accounts for 68 percent of domestic exports.


Phosphates and potash are Jordan's main natural resources, and both of these minerals are used in the production of fertilizers. In 2000 Jordan was the second largest supplier of phosphates in the world after Morocco, producing 7 million tons and announcing proven reserves of 1.5 billion tons. The bulk of the phosphate industry is located in the south of the country near the Saudi Arabian border and is dominated by the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, which is mostly owned by the government. Mining is certainly one of the strongest emerging markets in Jordan, and the government has made significant investments in the sector. The sector's output has been growing steadily with profits increasing from US$27 million in 1997 to US$35 million in 1998. The Jordan Phosphate Mines Company has been very successful in attracting international capital especially through contracts with Indian and Japanese firms.

Jordan has impressive proven shale oil reserves that have been estimated to amount to the equivalent of 29.5 billion barrels of oil. This oil has not been exploited yet because shale oil is difficult and costly to extract. However, in 1999 a Canadian firm, Suncor, entered into talks with the Jordanian government and hopes to produce 17,000 barrels per day (b/d), 67,000 b/d after 2004, and 210,000 b/d after the year 2008. This project would be a great boost for the Jordanian economy because it would make Jordan self-sufficient in energy production. Currently, Jordan imports 100,000 b/d of oil from Iraq.


Jordan has never had a large heavy industry base because it does not have the purchasing power to import the necessary and costly machinery. Second, the regional instability makes it an unattractive place for potential investors. The principal heavy industries, such as cement and fertilizer production, have developed only through heavy government intervention. Most private investment is concentrated in light industry such as consumer goods , textiles, food processing, and construction materials. In order to spur growth in the industrial sector, the Jordanian government has set up a series of free trade zones . Light industry has largely been driven by the growth of Jordan's pharmaceutical industry, which has been very rapid since 1998. In 2000, Jordan was exporting pharmaceutical products to over 30 countries. In 1995, US$125 million worth of pharmaceutical products were exported, and in 1999 this figure had increased to US$143 million.


The construction industry has been growing steadily since the oil boom in the 1970s, helped by the economy through the remittances flowing into the country from Jordanian workers in the Gulf. The fast-growing Jordanian population has led to growing urban communities, and the capital Amman has almost doubled in size over the last 30 years. Major construction contracts are usually held by foreign companies because they hold the large amounts of required capital. However, these companies have been sensitive to the needs of Jordan and have often used Jordanian architects and engineers in major projects. Local companies have nevertheless been instrumental in building more schools, roads, and waterways.


Jordan tends to attract more tourists on average than other Arab countries because of its central geographic position in the region. Jerusalem is merely 1 hour away from the capital Amman, as are Jericho, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. Syria is a 2-hour drive to the north, as is Lebanon, and Egypt is only a ferry ride from the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan itself has much to offer the adventurous traveler, including the magnificent "rose-red" city of Petra where the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was filmed, the Roman city of Jerash, and the Dead Sea, where one can float on top of the water because of its heavy salt content. Jordan is also home to the Jordan river, beautiful deserts, and the Gulf of Aqaba, which boasts some of the best diving in the world.

The Jordanian tourism sector has certainly not been developed to its full potential because of the continuous problems with regional security. When the peace treaty was signed between Jordan and Israel in 1994, tourism grew as more and more Israelis visited the country. However, the sector did not achieve the growth targets that were hoped for. Following the Gulf War in 1991, there was a slowdown in the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, but recently the deepening of ties between all the countries in the region has led to an increase in the number of Arab visitors to Jordan. In 1999 over 50 percent of tourists were Arab. The number of tourists from Europe and the United States fluctuates in response to the regional political situation. In 1995 roughly 84,000 U.S. tourists visited Jordan, and in 1999 this number increased to 100,000. Since the beginning of 2001 many tourists have canceled their holidays to the country due to the violence that erupted in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000 between the Palestinians and the Israeli authorities.

Despite the daily uncertainties faced by the tourism sector, the government has continued to encourage hotel development in all parts of the country. Since 1995 many 5-star hotels have been built including the Holiday Inn, the Grand Hyatt, the Four Seasons, and the exclusive Movenpick Hotel on the Dead Sea coast, which boasts a luxurious health resort.


Jordan has a modern and well-functioning financial services sector. The banking sector is regulated entirely by the Central Bank and includes 21 banks of which 5 are foreign, 5 are Islamic, and 9 are commercial. The Central Bank of Jordan has encouraged smaller banks to merge by offering incentives and raising minimum capital requirements to 20 million dinars (US$28.2 million). This is being done in part to offset the overwhelming national presence of the Arab Bank, which holds 60 percent of the country's financial assets. The Jordanian government has also historically encouraged the setting up of microcredit institutions and, unlike many other Arab countries, Jordan is well-served by 5 highly accessible organizations that provide substantial funds to people in the agricultural, industrial, and housing sectors. In 1996 the first mortgage company was set up allowing Jordanians to reorganize the loans they had taken from the Housing Bank and reschedule their payments in a manageable way.

Jordan has long been dependent on outside capital to sustain its development programs. In the 1980s, the kingdom sought to develop its internal financial base by establishing a stock exchange, the Amman Financial Market (AFM). The establishment of the stock market was an important step in enabling the country to use its financial resources in a more efficient way by allowing both Jordanians and foreigners to invest in the private sector , thus helping the economy to grow.


Given that Jordan does not posses a wealth of natural resources like the oil-rich countries in the Gulf and does not have a very wide industrial base, it has been plagued with trade deficits since its creation. The situation has worsened as the food gap in the country widens, and more and more food has to be imported. The past 4 governments have attempted to address this issue by promoting exports and tightening imports. The dinar was de-valued in 1991, which made Jordanian products cheaper on the international markets and foreign imports more expensive. The Gulf War also helped to boost exports as regional demand exploded in the aftermath of the war,

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Jordan
Exports Imports
1975 .153 .732
1980 .574 2.402
1985 .789 2.733
1990 1.064 2.600
1995 1.769 3.698
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

notably in the pharmaceutical industry. Jordan's principal export markets are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the former an important market for pharmaceuticals and consumer goods and the latter an important market for out-of-season vegetables and fruit. Jordan's phosphates, potash, and fertilizers are bought by the Indians, the Chinese, and the Indonesians. As the Asian economies recover from their devastating 1997 financial crisis, demand is growing rapidly again. In spite of this positive growth, however, average annual imports cost twice as much as the revenues from exports. In 2000 Jordan exported US$2 billion worth of goods, but imported US$4 billion worth of goods, producing a trade deficit of US$2 billion.

In 1999, about 21.6 percent of Jordanian imports originated from Iraq (mostly oil), 9.9 percent from the United States, 9.7 percent from Germany, and 4.7 from the United Kingdom. The country imports most of its consumer goods from South Korea, Turkey, and China, and Saudi Arabia provides it with the bulk of its processed food.


An important free trade agreement was signed between Jordan and the European Union, which took effect in January 1999. It aims to eliminate tariffs on nearly 500 industrial goods over 5 years and to spur local industrial activity. Essentially, Jordan's products will be eased onto the European market as duties and taxes on European products are removed. Another significant part of the agreement will lift the ban on majority foreign ownership of Jordanian firms. Jordan also became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 1999 and is currently in talks with the European Union regarding a free-trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Jordan has been actively involved in promoting inter-regional free-trade zones, signing an agreement with Saudi Arabia that provides for a free-trade zone before 2005, and it is involved in similar talks with the Egyptians. In October 2000 Jordan also signed a free trade agreement with the United States, and as a result exports to the United States have risen rapidly. In 1999, Jordan provided US$13.1 million worth of exports to the United States, and in 2000 this figure had jumped to US$27 million.


The aim of the Central Bank is to maintain a stable dinar so as to enable the economy to function competitively abroad. The Jordanian Central Bank controls foreign exchange transactions as well as the exchange rate . The dinar was devalued in 1991 against the French franc, the U.S. dollar, the British pound, and the German mark in order boost exports. In an effort to maintain exchange rate stability in 1995, the dinar was pegged to a fixed ex-

Exchange rates: Jordan
Jordanian dinars (JD) per US$1
2001 0.7090
2000 0.7090
1999 0.7090
1998 0.7090
1997 0.7090
1996 0.7090
Note: Rate has been set since 1996; since May 1989, the Jordanian dinar has been pegged to a group of currencies.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

change rate to the dollar. In mid-2001, US$1 is equal to 0.7090 JD, which means that 1 JD is equal to US$1.41.


Amman is a capital in which the foreigner neither marvels at the numbers of homeless on the sidewalks nor remarks on the number of flashy Mercedes Benzes on the roads. Jordan is simply not a rich country like Saudi Arabia, and those families that do possess fortunes tend to be discreet about it. Of course, there are exclusive neighborhoods in Amman but, on the whole, wealth is not flashed around. Poverty, on the other hand, does exist in Jordan, especially in cities.

Approximately 15 percent of the Jordanian population of 4,998,564 live below the poverty line and up to two-thirds of these poor people are concentrated in urban areas. According to the World Bank, 17 percent of Jordanian children are malnourished, the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is high at 31, and 11 percent of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. In addressing these issues, the Jordanian government in 1997 set up a poverty reduction initiative called the Social Productivity Program. Not only did this ambitious scheme aim to reduce poverty and educate the poor but it also targets members of underprivileged groups who are typically more vulnerable to poverty such

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Jordan 993 1,715 1,824 1,436 1,491
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Israel 10,620 11,412 12,093 13,566 15,978
Egypt 516 731 890 971 1,146
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Jordan
Lowest 10% 3.3
Lowest 20% 7.6
Second 20% 11.4
Third 20% 15.5
Fourth 20% 21.1
Highest 20% 44.4
Highest 10% 29.8
Survey year: 1997
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

as female-headed households, widows, divorced women, and mothers of disabled children. The fund has received money from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program and has been very successful in reducing the percentage of those below the poverty line from 30 percent in 1998 to 15 percent in 2001.


Jordan has a mushrooming labor force. In 1997 the labor force stood at 1.2 million, a substantial increase from the 1991 figure of 525,000. The official unemployment rate stood at 15.5 percent in 1999. Half of the unemployed are under the age of 25, and many of these young people are unskilled. The country has a national literacy rate of 86.6 percent, and about 95 percent of the workforce under the age of 35 is literate. Many young graduates sadly find themselves without jobs, and those who do find employment are often very badly paid. It is likely that the real rate of unemployment is significantly higher than the official rate, and some estimates put it as high as 20 or 25 percent. According to the EIU Country Profile 2000, the largest percentage of the labor force, at 18 percent, work in crafts, only 14 percent of the labor force are professionals, and 14 percent of the labor force are plant and machine operators. In 1997, 158,097 people were employed by the public sector and their average monthly wage was US$310. There is also a substantial underground economy whose production is estimated at 3 percent of the GDP.

The Jordanian workforce is protected under labor laws enforced by Ministry of Labor inspectors. There is no minimum wage in Jordan, however, the government often assigns a minimum wage to certain trades based on recommendations made by unions. The maximum work week is 48 hours except in hotels, bars, and restaurants where employees can work up to 54 hours. Employment of foreign workers in Jordan is not permitted unless the employer is in need of the expertise and qualifications of a foreign employee. Arab technicians and experts are given priority over their foreign counterparts.


1920. The League of Nations places Palestine and Transjordan under a British mandate following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I.

1946. Britain's mandate over Transjordan comes to an end, and Emir Abdullah is declared king.

1948. The state of Israel is created under the British mandate in Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians flee Arab-Israeli fighting to the West Bank and Jordan.

1950. Jordan annexes the West Bank of the Jordan River.

1951. King Abdullah is assassinated by a Palestinian gunman in Jerusalem.

1952. Hussein is proclaimed king after his father, Talal, is declared mentally unfit to rule.

1957. British troops complete their withdrawal from Jordan.

1963. Political parties are banned.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Jordan 32 6 17 5 8 8 23
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Egypt 44 9 7 3 17 3 17
Israel 23 6 11 2 6 8 44
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

1967. Israel takes control of Jerusalem and the West Bank during the Six-Day War, and there is a large in-flux of refugees into Jordan.

1970. Major clashes break out between government forces and Palestinian guerrillas resulting in thousands of casualties in a civil war remembered as Black September.

1976. The Amman Financial Market opens for business. Non-Jordanian Arabs are permitted to buy shares in Jordanian firms without limit.

1989. First general election since 1967 is contested only by independent candidates because of the ban on political parties in 1963.

1991. The Gulf War begins. Jordan comes under severe economic and diplomatic strain as a result of the Gulf crisis following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

1992. Political parties are legalized.

1993. The World Bank agrees to restructure Jordan's debt.

1994. Jordan signs a peace treaty with Israel ending the 46-year official state of war.

1996. Food price riots occur after subsidies are removed under the economic plan supervised by the International Monetary Fund.

1997. Jordan signs an association agreement with the European Union that aims to establish a free trade zone over the next 12 years. Iraq agrees to supply Jordan with 4.8 million tons of crude oil at a considerable discount from market price.

1998. King Hussein is treated for lymphatic cancer in the United States.

1999. King Hussein returns home and is put on a life support machine. He is pronounced dead on 7 February. More than 50 heads of state attend his funeral. Hussein's son, Crown Prince Abdullah ibn al-Hussein, is sworn in as king.

1999. Jordan joins the World Trade Organization.

2000. The government bans public protests following clashes between demonstrators and police during anti-Israeli protests.


The change in leadership following the death of King Hussein concerned the international community because many countries were unsure as to whether the young king would be capable of successfully taking a fragile economy into the 21st century. However, King Abdullah has shown the international community that he is committed to continuing the economic liberalization of Jordan. If macroeconomic policy continues to be well managed, the Jordanian people will enjoy increased foreign investment, increased privatization, and steady growth over the next few years. Forecasters put the future annual GDP growth as high as 4 or 5 percent.

Following the adoption of the IMF structural adjustment program, the government also hopes to expand the tourism industry, increase exports, and reduce interest rates in order to boost the economy. Nevertheless, the extent to which the Jordanian economy can grow is somewhat dependent on the events that will take place in neighboring Israel and the Occupied Territories during the course of 2001. If the violence continues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and indeed if a war were to break out between the Palestinians and Israelis, Jordan's tourism industry would come to a halt. In addition, potential investors would be very unwilling to risk putting their money into a region that might possibly be on the brink of war.


Jordan has no territories or colonies.


Day, Arthur R. East Bank/West Bank: Jordan and the Prospects for Peace. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1986.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Jordan. LondonEconomist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Washington, D.C. <>. Accessed October 2001.

"Keys to the Kingdom: Economy." The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. <>. Accessed February 2001.

King Abdullah II Official Website. <>. Accessed October 2001.

International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 1999.

Salibi, Kamal. The Modern History of Jordan. London: IBTauris, 1993.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Jordan. <>. Accessed October 2001.

Wilson, Rodney, editor. Politics and the Economy in Jordan. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Salamander Davoudi




Jordanian Dinar (JD). One dinar equals 1000 fils. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, and 250 fils. There are notes of 1, 5, 10, and 20 dinars.


Phosphates, fertilizers, potash, agricultural products, manufactures.


Crude oil, machinery, transport equipment, food, live animals, manufactured goods.


US$17.3 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$2 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$4 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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A small Arab kingdom east of the Mediterranean Sea.

Jordan is bordered on the north by Syria, on the east by Iraq, on the south by Saudi Arabia, and on the west by Israel and the West Bank. The Gulf of Aqaba, an extension of the Red Sea, abuts its southernmost tip. To the west, it shares the Dead Sea (an inland salt lake) with Israel and the West Bank. Jordan is a crossroads in the region: The hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) route from Turkey and Syria passed through Jordan to the Hijaz and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. A major trunk road runs from Iraq to Jordan's only port, Aqaba. Oil pipelines, now nonfunctioning, were built from Iraq and Saudi Arabia across Jordan to Mediterranean ports. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel (1948), Jordan (called Transjordan from 19201946) was the transit route from Palestinian ports to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. With a population that is about 50 percent Jordanian Arabs and 50 percent Palestinian (most refugees from the first ArabIsrael War of 1948), and a location between Israel and the powerful Arab states, Jordan is frequently buffeted by Middle Eastern and international political currents.

Geography and Climate

Jordan's landmass, almost 90,649 square kilometers (38,000 square miles), is marked by three distinct geological systems: the Jordan rift valley, the Transjordan plateau, and the Arabian/Syrian desert. At 397 meters (1,302 feet) below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, the Jordan valley contains the Dead Sea, the lowest surface point on the planet (the lowest actual point being beneath the ocean). Since the 1960s, the Jordanians have developed a sophisticated irrigation system in the valley, because it receives little rain. Given the topography and low rainfall, most of Jordan is a classic desert, with only 3 percent arable (partly under irrigation) and 1 percent forested. The Jordan valley is, however, warm in winter, so off-season fruits and vegetables can be produced for temperate markets. To the east of the rift valley, the Transjordan plateau runs like a wedge from the Syrian border to Maʿan in the south of the country. The plateau is composed of broad rolling plains, cut by precipitous valleys or wadis (stream-beds that have water only during the rainy season). Rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry are practiced here. To the east and south of the plateau, lies the Arabian/Syrian desert, a wasteland only sparsely populated by Bedouin.

Jordan possesses few natural resources; its only significant mineral deposits consist of phosphates, which are mined, and potash, which is extracted from evaporation of Dead Sea water. Jordan has very few petroleum deposits and no coal. Its important rivers are the Yarmuk River (shared with Syria and Israel), the Jordan River, (shared with Israel and the West Bank), and the Zarqa. Except for the small oasis of Azraq in the northeastern desert, Jordan has no natural freshwater lakes. An artificial lake was established behind the King Talal dam on the Zarqa River.

Jordan has a pleasant warm climate with little humidity, but also little precipitation. In the winter in the capital of Amman, the average high temperature is 11 degrees C (52 degrees F) and the average low is 4.4 degrees C (40 degrees F); in the summer they are 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) and 18 degrees C (64 degrees F). In the northern part of the Transjordan plateau, precipitation averages
64 centimeters (25 inches), but in the southern part it falls to an erratic 25 to 35 centimeters (10 to 14 inches)barely enough to raise a wheat crop. The desert and the Jordan valley receive 0 to 25 centimeters (010 inches) of rain. Typical of the eastern Mediterranean, the precipitation falls only during the late autumn, winter, and early springthe rainy season.

The People, Language, and Religion

Jordan's population of 5,460,265 (mid-2003 estimate), lives largely in the fertile highlands of the Transjordan plateau. Smaller numbers live in the Jordan valley, where they practice agriculture or mining, and in the desert, where they herd sheep, goats, and camels or enlist in the military. About 50 percent of the population are Jordanians who originate from the land east of the Jordan river. Most of the balance have their origins in Palestine. Many arrived as refugees in Jordan following the establishment of the State of Israel and the ArabIsrael Wars of 1948 and 1967. Other Palestinians moved to Jordan beginning in the 1950s. As a result of the Gulf Crisis and war, about 300,000 Palestinians with Jordanian citizenship moved from Kuwait back to Jordan, where they increased the population by 9 percent. While relations between the refugees and other Jordanians are relatively amicable today, Palestinian guerrilla organizations did conduct an unsuccessful civil war against the Jordanian

regime in 1970 ("Black September"). Both groups are of Arab stock and think of themselves as part of the larger Arab nation.

In terms of minorities, about 5 percent of the population are Arab Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox. They have positive relations with the Muslim majority and hold responsible and high-level positions in business, industry, commerce, banking, and government. Ethnic minority groups are even smaller; among these are Armenian Christians, Chechen Muslims, and Circassian Muslims. Some Circassians are royal palace guards.

The official language of Jordan is Arabic. Throughout the Arab world, although the written language is virtually the same, spoken dialects have developed. The Arabic spoken in Jordan conforms to the general eastern Mediterranean dialect; however, one finds some variations in the spoken language between the rural and urban regions, the older and younger generations, and the Jordanians and Palestinians. The influence of modern communications and education is causing many of these differences to be tempered or to disappear. Among the ethnic minority groups, Arabic is spoken in public but their mother tongue is often spoken at home.

Islam is Jordan's official religion. Ninety-five percent of the population are of that faith and almost all are Sunni Muslims. The government supports the established religion through its ministry of Awqaf (Waqf) and Islamic affairs. (Religious pluralism is also officially countenanced; the state recognizes and respects the rights of religious minorities.) Islam deeply affects the lives and behavior of many Jordanians. Praying five times a day, attendance at mosque on Fridays, tithing, fasting during Ramadan, and the Hajj to Mecca are aspired to and practiced by many. The wave of popular Islamic fundamentalism that has affected the Middle East since the 1970s has had its influence in Jordan. Some practice their religion more diligently and demonstrably. Islamic classes and discussions, including informal and formal organizational activities, are popular; some women follow the religious dress code characterized by modest long coats and head scarves.

Jordan is a highly urbanized country. Seven out of every ten Jordanians live in towns of 5,000 or more; the balance resides in villages and encampments. With the return of the Palestinian Jordanians from Kuwait in 1990 and 1991, many of whom settled in Amman, 1,864,500 people lived in that city by 1999. In the 1970s, there was a great contrast between urban and rural living standards. Urbanites enjoyed basic services, such as drinking water and electricity in their homes, with schools and clinics in close proximity to their residences. By the late 1980s, those differences had substantially, but not entirely, disappeared. In urban areas, 99 percent have electricity in their residences; in the rural areas, the figure is 81 percent. For drinking water, the figures are 92 percent and 78 percent respectively. In terms of living space, while there are certainly some crowded quarters in the urban regions, they do not approach the crowded conditions often associated with developing countries. About 10 percent of the people reside in Palestinian refugee camps, where living conditions are congested. In rural areas, around 25 percent live in stone and mud houses; a diminishing number (less than 5 percent) follow the traditional life of the Arab Bedouin, living in tents and tending camels, sheep, and goats.

Jordan is substantially overpopulated, given its limited natural resources, because of the influx of Palestinian refugees and the very high birth rate. This overpopulation is a major reason for the degree of urbanization in the country. Low rainfall and a growing population put pressure on the very limited water supply. Some significant cuts in irrigation have already occurred and more are expected. In addition, as of the early twenty-first century, some 52 percent of the population is below 20 years of agea heavy burden on the economy and service sector, especially in education.


Jordan's economy is highly skewed by its growing population and its dependence on the economies and politics of the Middle East. From the period of its gradual independence from Great Britain in the late 1940s and early 1950s, development has been the watchword of Jordan's economy. Beginning from a modest base, it grew by 11 percent per year from 1954 to 1967. During this period, Jordan received considerable economic and financial assistance first from Britain and later from the United States. After a period of decline caused by wars, civil strife, and international and regional constraints, it recommenced steady growth in 1974. This was stimulated by substantial aid and remittances from the oil-rich states of the region, plus a period of relative stability in Jordan and the region. By the mid-1980s, along with the Middle East economy generally, growth slowed to the point of stagnation. In 1988, the Jordanian currency, the dinar, was considered to be overvalued by international financial circles and devalued by 40 percent. This economic decline was exacerbated by the Gulf Crisis and war (19901991). Among other things, Jordan lost most of the remittances from the returned Jordanians who had been working in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf states as well as the direct financial aid from those countries.

In terms of both labor force and share of gross national product (GNP), Jordan's economy is dominated by the service sector (over 60 percent in both categories), followed by mining and manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. The service sector overshadows the economy because of the country's relatively large population, high birth rate, number of government employees in both the civilian and military sectors, and the government's successful efforts at extending essential services throughout the country. The mining and manufacturing sector is composed of five large companiesphosphate mining, potash extraction, fertilizer and cement facilities, and an oil refinery (that refines imported oil)as well as many small factories and artisans. Agriculture, which is usually important in developing countries, claims less than 10 percent of both GNP and the labor force in Jordan.

In the 1990s, Jordan started moving in another economic direction: free trade. After the 1994 peace treaty with Israel, the United States and Jordan established "Qualified Industrial Zones" (QIZs) in the country. Under this system, manufacturers in the twelve QIZs use a combination of Israeli, Jordanian, and West BankGaza materials to manufacture goods that are then exported to the United States duty free. Jordan's exports to the United States grew from $20 million in 1999 to $200 million in 2002. However, only 20 percent of these manufacturers are Jordanian firms, and only one-half of the 20,000 work force in the QIZs are Jordanians. Then in 2000, Jordan signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, according to which the two nations pledged to phase out their respective import tariffs over ten years. Jordan's commitment to U.S.led free trade was symbolized by Jordan's hosting of the World Economic Forum meeting in June 2003. There has been another side of these close economic ties: The United States has provided $3 billion in financial and military aid since 1993, including $700 million as payment for Jordan's role in the 2003 Iraq war. Still, unemployment was about 20 percent in 2003.


Throughout most of recorded history, Jordan (formerly Transjordan) was not a distinct geographical or political entity. Rather it was usually just a provincial area of a larger state or empire. The exceptions might be the biblical Moabite kingdom centered in what is now Karak, the Nabatean trading state ruled from its unique capital carved out of the rose-colored stone cliffs of Petra, and the Crusader state led by Renard de Châtillon, who built a large citadel in Karak. Otherwise, the area was ruled successively by the Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Israelites, Greeks, Seleucids, Ptolemies, Romans, Byzantines, and the Muslim dynasties (Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Ayyubids, and Mamluks). In 1517 the Ottoman Empire established control in the region that would endure until the last days of World War I.

After World War I, Transjordan came under the British-sponsored rule of King Faisal I ibn Hussein and the short-lived United Syrian Kingdom. In July 1920, France drove Faisal out of Syria and took control of most of the Arab kingdom, while Britain continued to claim Transjordan, as prescribed in the secret French-British Sykes-Picot Agreement. In the meantime, Faisal's brother, Amir Abdullah I ibn Hussein, arrived in Maʿan with an entourage of followers in the fall of 1920. In 1921, British colonial secretary Winston Churchill accepted Abdullah as the ruler of Transjordan under the League of Nations Mandate System for Britain (while Faisal was made ruler of Iraq). Amir Abdullah, with the crucial cooperation and financial help of Britain, established the basic institutions of the statea government, parliament (Council of Notables, later replaced by the Legislative Council in 1928), a constitution (the Organic Law in 1928), and a security force (the Arab Legion). After World War II, in 1946, an Anglo-Jordanian treaty was signed, to be revised in 1948after which the emi-rate of Transjordan became the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan and Abdullah was crowned king.

In May 1948, Jordan, along with several other Arab states, entered Palestine and joined the ArabIsrael War of 1948 six months after fighting first broke out between Jewish forces and local Palestinians. In 1949, at the end of the war, Jordan was in military possession of that portion of central Palestine that came to be called the West Bank. Following considerable political maneuvering and parliamentary elections on the East Bank (of the Jordan riverthe old Transjordan) and the West Bank, the two entities were coupled via a parliamentary vote as a unitary kingdom. On 20 July 1951, angered by Jordan's secret negotiations with Israel, a Palestinian assassinated King Abdullah in Jerusalem's alHaram al-Sharif, whose shrines are the third holiest Islamic sites in the world. He was succeeded by his son Talal ibn Abdullah. By constitutional means, Talal was removed from the throne in 1952 due to mental illness. He was succeeded that year by his son, Hussein ibn Talal, who was then a minor. King Hussein did not officially take up his duties until he reached the age of eighteen in 1953.

Jordan's history during King Hussein's long reign (19521999) may be divided into three major periods. The first two decades were marked by internally and externally generated crises and threats to Hashimite rule and the very existence of the country: Radical Arab nationalism stimulated street riots, challenges to the regime from Jordan's Prime Minister Sulayman al-Nabulsi in 1956 and 1957, destabilization by larger and stronger Arab states, and the devastating loss of the West Bank to Israel in the ArabIsrael War of June 1967. In addition, the Palestinian guerrilla organizations confronted Jordan in the bloody Black September civil war in 1970. Nonetheless, while relying on his loyal military to survive, King Hussein and his circle helped put in place the bases for social and economic development.

The second phase, starting after the ArabIsrael War of October 1973, is distinguished by quieter political conditions within Jordan, rapid development fueled by funds (direct grants, loans, individual remittances) derived from the oil boom in neighboring states, and improved relations with most of Jordan's Arab neighbors in a relatively less radical regional atmosphere. Despite Jordan's problems with the Palestinians and its frequently strained relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the country became an accepted player and the king came to be a respected leader in most Arab capitals. Indeed, Jordan hosted two Arab summits1980 and 1987in Amman.

The third phase was dominated by the end of the Cold War and the alteration of regional relationships. In a sense, as a precursor to these changes, King Hussein decided to disengage Jordan politically and administratively from the West Bank in July 1988, in response to the pressures from the Palestinian Intifada (uprising), which began in late 1987. More important was the withdrawal of the Soviet Union as an active player in the region (19891990), the United States's ensuing dominance in areas of its perceived interests, and the resulting polarization of the Arab world. The 19901991 Gulf Crisis and war left Jordan (then diplomatically allied with Saddam Hussein's Iraq) and a few other poor Arab states politically, economically, and regionally isolated.

On the domestic level, though, Jordan began a gradual democratization process; its parliament had been recalled in 1984 after a hiatus that began in 1970, and in 1989, elections (generally considered to be the freest in the Arab Middle East) were held. Subsequently, under a mandate from King Hussein, leaders from all political streams wrote a national charter defining the general principles for political life in the country. They include democracy, pluralism, and the recognition of the legitimacy of the Hashimite throne. A special general
congress, of 2,000 representatives, ratified the document on 9 June 1991. Democratization initially led to significant parliamentary gains by opposition Islamic candidates and parties, although non-ideological, pro-regime politicians dominated the parliament by the early 2000s.

Jordan fully embraced the United Statessponsored Middle East peace process and, along with other Arab states and the Palestinians, participated in direct negotiations with Israel beginning at the October 1991 Madrid Conference. In the wake of the September 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the PLO, Jordan signed its own peace treaty with Israel in October 1994, the second Arab state to do so. In November 1995, King Hussein traveled to Jerusalem for the first time since 1967 to attend the funeral of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Hussein's own death in January 1999 from cancer devastated Jordanians, many of whom had never known any leader but him, and who had come to associate him with the very existence of Jordan. Two weeks prior to his death, Hussein had shocked the nation by ousting his brother, Hassan, from the post of crown prince that he had held since 1965, and replacing him with his eldest son, Abdullah II ibn Hussein. The young king quickly assumed the throne upon his father's death, and faced monumentally large shoes to fill. Since then, he has pulled Jordan even closer to the United States and its vision of the Middle East. In addition to developing bilateral free trade agreements, Jordan also allowed the United States to station troops in the country before and during the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003. With the Jordanian economy still in trouble, the IsraeliPalestinian peace process stalled, and a new regional balance of power given the direct intervention of the United States in Iraq, King Abdullah faced some serious challenges by late 2003.

see also abdullah i ibn hussein; abdullah ii ibn hussein; amman; aqaba; arabisrael war (1948); arabisrael war (1967); arabisrael war (1973); black september; hussein ibn talal; intifada (19871991); jordinian civil war (19701971); refugees: palestinian.


Brand, Laurie A. Jordan's Inter-Arab Relations: The Political Economy of Alliance Making. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Fischbach, Michael R. State, Society, and Land in Jordan. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2000.

Gubser, Peter. Jordan: Crossroads of Middle Eastern Events. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1983.

Massad, Joseph A. Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Piro, Timothy J. The Political Economy of Market Reform in Jordan. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.

Salibi, Kamal. The Modern History of Jordan. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Shlaim, Avi. Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

Vatikiotis, P. J. Politics and the Military in Jordan: A Study of the Arab Legion, 19271957. London: Cass, 1967.

Wilson, Mary C. King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. Cambridge, U.K. and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

peter gubser
updated by michael r. fischbach

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Jordan (country, Asia)

Jordan, officially Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, kingdom (2005 est. pop. 5,760,000), 35,637 sq mi (92,300 sq km), SW Asia. It borders on Israel and the West Bank in the west, on Syria in the north, on Iraq in the northeast, and on Saudi Arabia in the east and south. Amman is the country's capital and largest city. In addition to the capital, important cities include Zarqa, Petra, Irbid, Aqaba, and Salt.

Land and People

Jordan falls into two main geographical regions. Eastern Jordan, which encompasses about 92% of the country's land area, is made up of a section (average elevation: 2,500 ft/760 m) of the Arabian Plateau that in the northeast includes part of the Syrian Desert. In the western part of the plateau are the Jordanian Highlands, which include Jabal Ramm (5,755 ft/1,754 m), Jordan's loftiest point. Extreme W Jordan is made up of a segment of the Great Rift Valley (which continues southward into Africa) and includes the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the Arabah (a dry riverbed).

The inhabitants of Jordan are mostly Arabs, largely of either Palestinian or Bedouin descent. There are small minorities of Armenians and Circassians. Arabic, the official language, is spoken by virtually everyone. Many in the higher socioeconomic groups also speak English. Over 90% of the people are Sunni Muslims; about 5% are Christians, most of whom are Greek Orthodox. There are also small Shiite Muslim and Druze communities.


In the early 2000s, Jordan had an official unemployment rate of about 15%, although the unofficial rate was almost twice that. Poverty and a large foreign debt remain major problems. Less than 5% of the country's land is arable, and farm output is further limited by the small size of most farms, inefficient methods of tilling the soil, and inadequate irrigation. The principal crops are citrus and other fruits and berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, grains, lentils, and olives. Many Jordanians support themselves by raising sheep, goats, and poultry.

Manufactures are largely limited to basic items such as clothing, construction materials, and consumer goods; some pharmaceuticals and inorganic chemicals are also produced. Nearly 50% of the country's industry is based in Amman. Numerous artisans make items of leather, wood, and metal. Phosphate rock, fertilizers, and potash are produced in significant quantities. Oil was discovered in 1982, and a small oil industry that includes petroleum refining has been developed. Tourism also contributes to the economy. During the 1970s and 80s aid from other Arab countries and remittances from Jordanian workers living abroad were important factors in the country's economy. A slowdown in both sources of income in the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as an influx of refugees, particularly Palestinians and Iraqis, has slowed economic progress.

The annual cost of Jordan's imports usually far exceeds its earnings from exports. The principal imports are crude oil, textile fabrics, machinery, transportation equipment, and manufactured goods; the main exports are clothing, pharmaceuticals, potash, phosphates, fertilizers, and agricultural products. Jordan's leading trade partners are the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.


Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. Under the 1952 constitution as amended, the most powerful political and military figure in the country is the king, who is head of state. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the monarch. The bicameral parliament consists of the 75-seat Chamber of Notables, or Senate, whose members are appointed by the king, and the 150-seat House of Deputies, whose members are popularly elected, with six seats reserved for women. Electoral constituencies, however, are gerrymandered in favor of the government. All legislators serve four-year terms. Administratively, Jordan is divided into 12 governorates.


The history section of this article is primarily concerned with the region E of the Jordan River; for the history of the area to the west, see Palestine.

Early History to Independence

The region of present-day Jordan roughly corresponds to the biblical lands of Ammon, Bashan, Edom, and Moab. The area was conquered by the Seleucids in the 4th cent. BC and was part of the Nabatean empire, whose capital was Petra, from the 1st cent. BC to the mid-1st cent. AD, when it was captured by the Romans under Pompey. In the period between the 6th and 7th cent. it was the scene of considerable fighting between the Byzantine Empire and Persia. In the early 7th cent. the region was invaded by the Muslim Arabs, and after the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, it became part of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1516 the Ottoman Turks gained control of what is now Jordan, and it remained part of the Ottoman Empire until the 20th cent.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the region came under (1919) the government of Faisal I, centered at Damascus. When Faisal was ejected by French troops in July, 1920, Transjordan (as Jordan was then known) was made (1920) part of the British League of Nations mandate of Palestine. In 1921, Abdullah I (Abdullah ibn Husayn), a member of the Hashemite dynasty and the brother of Faisal, was made emir of Transjordan, which was administered separately from Palestine and was specifically exempted from being part of a Jewish national home. A Jordanian army, called the Arab Legion, was created by the British, largely through the work of Sir John Bagot Glubb.

In a treaty signed with Great Britain in 1928, Transjordan became a constitutional state ruled by a king, to be hereditary in the family of Abdullah I, who was placed on the throne by the British. The country supported the Allies in World War II, and, by a treaty with Great Britain signed in 1946, it became (May 25) independent as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.

Crisis and Conflict

By an agreement signed in 1948, Britain guaranteed Transjordan an annual military subsidy. Abdullah opposed Zionist aims, and when Palestine was partitioned and the state of Israel was established in 1948, Transjordan, like other members of the Arab League, sent forces to fight Israel (see Arab-Israeli Wars). The troops of the Arab Legion gained control of most of that part of W central Palestine that the United Nations had designated as Arab territory. In Apr., 1949, the country's name was changed to Jordan, thus reflecting its acquisition of land W of the Jordan River. In Dec., 1949, Jordan concluded an armistice with Israel, and early in 1950 it formally annexed the West Bank, a move that was deeply resented by other Arab states, which favored the establishment of an independent state of Palestine. The annexation of the West Bank increased Jordan's population by about 450,000 persons, many of them homeless refugees from Israel.

In 1951, Abdullah was assassinated in Jerusalem by a Palestinian and was succeeded the following year by his grandson Hussein I. After a series of anti-Western riots in Jordan, Hussein early in 1956 dismissed Glubb as commander of the Arab Legion, and following the Suez crisis later in the year he ended Jordan's treaty relationship with Great Britain. A leftist coup attempt in 1957 led to the suspension of Jordan's parliament for four years. In Feb., 1958, Jordan and Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a countermove to the newly formed United Arab Republic (UAR), but Hussein dissolved it in August, following the coup in Iraq that toppled the monarchy.

At the same time, the UAR called for the overthrow of the governments in Jordan and Lebanon. At the request of the Jordanian government, Britain sent troops to Jordan; tensions were soon reduced and by Nov., 1958, the troops had been withdrawn. For the next few years Jordan remained on poor terms with Iraq and the UAR. In 1961, Hussein was among the first to recognize Syria after it withdrew from the UAR. Following the establishment in 1963 of a revolutionary Jordanian government-in-exile in Damascus, a state of emergency was declared in Jordan. The crisis ended only after the United States and Great Britain announced their support of Hussein and the U.S. 6th Fleet was placed on alert.

In the mid-1960s, Jordanian politics were calm, Jordan's economy expanded as international trade increased, and Jordan was on good terms with Egypt. Following Egypt's declaration in 1967 of a blockade of Israeli shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba, Hussein signed a mutual defense pact with Egypt. Despite Israeli attempts to urge Jordan to abstain from battle, the two nations became embroiled in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. As a result of the war, Israel captured and occupied the West Bank—the previously Jordanian territory located W of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Subsequently, Jordan was under martial law until the early 1990s.

Jordan and the Palestinians

A large number of Palestinian refugees fled to Jordan during and after the war, and soon there was growing hostility between the Jordanian government and the Palestinian guerrilla organizations operating in Jordan. The guerrillas sought to establish an independent Palestinian state, a goal that conflicted with Hussein's intention of reestablishing Jordan's control over the West Bank. There was major fighting between the guerrillas and the Jordanian army in Nov., 1968; in Sept., 1970, the country was engulfed in a bloody 10-day civil war, which ended when other Arab countries (especially Egypt) arranged a cease-fire. The Palestinians suffered heavy casualties, and many of them fled to Lebanon and Syria, which shifted the locus of the Palestinian refugee problem. In July, 1971, the army carried out a successful offensive that destroyed the remaining guerrilla bases in Jordan. In Nov., 1971, Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tal was assassinated in Cairo by members of the "Black September" Palestinian guerrilla organization, which took its name from the month of the civil war in Jordan.

In 1972, Hussein proposed the creation of a United Arab Kingdom that would include the West Bank with the rest of Jordan. Predicated on Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank, the proposal was rejected by the other Arab states as well as Israel. Hussein survived an assassination attempt by a Palestinian in Dec., 1972. Jordan played a minor role in the Arab-Israeli War of Oct., 1973, sending a small number of troops to fight on the Syrian front. In 1974, Hussein complied with the Arab League's ruling that the PLO (see Palestine Liberation Organization) was to be the single legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

Recent History

Jordan moved closer to Syria in the late 1970s and, along with other Arab countries, opposed the Camp David accords and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty (1979). Jordan sided with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, despite Syrian threats, and sent large amounts of war materials to Iraq. In 1988, Hussein formally relinquished claim to the West Bank in acknowledgment of Palestinian sovereignty. He approved the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, and Arabs residing in that area lost their Jordanian citizenship. Parliamentary elections were held in 1989 for the first time in 22 years.

Plagued by serious economic problems since the mid-1980s, Jordan received increased economic aid from the United States in 1990. However, the outbreak (1991) of the Persian Gulf War led to a repeal of U.S. aid to Jordan due to Hussein's support of Iraq (Jordan's major source of oil). Jordan also suffered a loss of aid from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the war. The country endured further economic hardship when approximately 700,000 Jordanian workers and refugees returned to Jordan as a result of the fighting in the Persian Gulf, causing housing and employment shortages. Not until 2001 did an accord again permit Jordanians to work in Kuwait.

Peace talks between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation began in Aug., 1991. In 1994 a peace agreement between Jordan and Israel ended the official state of war between the two nations, and Hussein went on to encourage peace negotiations between other Arab states and Israel. In 1993 political parties were again permitted to field candidates, resulting in Jordan's first multiparty elections in 37 years. The country's economy continued to decline, however, and the government became less tolerant of dissent. Laws restricting freedom of the press were instituted in 1997, and that same year Islamic parties boycotted the legislative elections, claiming they were unfair.

Hussein died in 1999 and was succeeded by his son, Abdullah II, who pledged to work toward a more open government and to ease restrictions on public expression. Although there was some progress in terms of economic development, the country continued to be dependent on tourism, which was hurt by its location between Israel and Iraq. Political liberalization was slow in coming. In 2001 parliament's term expired without new elections being called; they were postponed out of fear that popular sympathy for the Palestinians in their renewed conflict with Israel would lead to a victory for the Islamic parties.

The June, 2003, parliamentary elections resulted in a majority for the king's supporters; Islamists won 18 seats. In Apr., 2006, Jordan accused Hamas of planning attacks against targets in Jordan, saying that it had detained militants and seized weapons that had come in from Syria. The Nov., 2007, parliamentary elections resulted in sharp losses for the Islamists, who accused the government of fraud. The parliament was largely seen as ineffective, and two years later the king dissolved parliament and ordered preparations for a new election. The main Islamic opposition group boycotted the Nov., 2010, elections, which gave the king's supporters a parliamentary majority.

The proreform demonstrations that affected many Arab nations in early 2011 also occurred in Jordan, though they were generally smaller and more moderate than in other countries. The king made promises of reform, and in February appointed a new government that included some opposition figures, but antigovernment protests continued in subsequent weeks. In June the king announced plans for significant political and economic changes, but did not specify a timetable. He subsequently (October) appointed yet another new government to undertake political reforms, but criticism of its proposed election law reforms led to a new government in May, 2012.

In Oct., 2012, the king dissolved parliament. Early elections, held in Jan., 2013, were boycotted by Islamists and other opposition groups because of their objections to the reforms, which they criticized for favoring rural and tribal constituencies. In 2012 Jordan saw a dramatic increase in the number of Syrians who fled there to escape the civil war in their country; in early 2013 more than 300,000 Syrian refugees were in Jordan.


See P. J. Vatikiotis, Politics and the Military in Jordan (1967); N. H. Aruri, Jordan: A Study in Political Development, 1921–1965 (1972); E. Kanovsky, The Economic Development of Jordan (1976); A. H. Cordesman, Jordanian Arms and the Middle East Balance (1983); C. Bailey, Jordan's Palestinian Challenge, 1948–1983, A Political History (1985); R. F. Nyrop, ed., Jordan (3d ed. 1987); J. Lunt, Hussein of Jordan (1989).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Region (Map name): Middle East
Population: 5,153,378
Language(s): Arabic, English
Literacy rate: 86.0%
Area: 92,300 sq km
GDP: 8,340 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 20
Number of Television Sets: 500,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 97.0
Number of Cable Subscribers: 980
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 0.2
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 109,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 21.2
Number of Radio Stations: 12
Number of Radio Receivers: 1,660,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 322.1
Number of Individuals with Computers: 150,000
Computers per 1,000: 29.1
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 127,317
Internet Access per 1,000: 24.7

The desert kingdom of the Hashemite dynasty/family, Jordan lies east of Israel and south of Syria. A product of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Jordan has been a victim of the creation of Israel. One of the main trade routes once flowed through Haifa, which is currently an Israeli port, forcing Jordan to look elsewhere, primarily to Lebanon's destabilized harbors. Otherwise Jordan must use more difficult trade route strategies. In 1946, Jordan's population at independence was approximately 400,000. That figure included nomads, peasants, villagers and a modest number of urban dwellers (De Blij 310). However, the configuration of Israel and partition of Palestine have impacted the country greatly, pumping up the numbers of refugees, incorporating peoples who lived along geographic lines of demarcation and finding themselves faced with the idea of beginning a national independent life as a poor country. Jordan in 2002 was still a poor country with little to sustain an impoverished population. Regional war and political and religious conflicts have left Jordan with persistent problems facing a hard-pressed monarchy that is unpopular with a large portion of the citizens. Many people in Jordan do not even consider themselves citizens of the country and support for the government is minimal at best.

Geographic location plunges Jordan into a larger than expected role in regional Middle Eastern politics and economics. During his 46-year reign, King Hussein of Jordan created an image of peacemaker in the region. The press in Jordan and internationally looked favorably on Hussein, especially since he had a beautiful American-born queen as his last wife. Americans were fascinated by the positive image generated by the semi-free press in Jordan and in Europe, often showing images of the queen. What was not so readily observed was the poverty of the country and the various groups whose dissent threatened to bring Jordan into conflict with Israelthe war in 1967 had been so disastrous for the country that another could not be entered into lightly. War had to be avoided, but geographic location left Jordan vulnerable on all sides to political unrest and regional difficulties of the Middle East. American, British and some French aid kept Jordan afloat, and kept the semi-free press supportive of America and its allies. The death of King Hussein in 1999 abruptly ended the positive image of leadership and "peaceful" efforts in a politically unstable region, leaving his son, King Abdullah II, the difficult task of having to stabilize a country and a monarchy vulnerable to the dangers of the region and the poverty and dissatisfaction of its own inhabitants. King Abdullah II traveled in 2002 to England and to the USA in an effort to prevent an attack on Iraq and in order to seek the creation of a Palestinian State. Combined with the lack of oil, poor soil and agricultural production (though they still produce melons, tomatoes, sheep, and goats), regional dangers and a controversial queenAbdullah's wife Rania is a Palestinian and proud of it, to the point of walking in peaceful marches in support of a Palestinian State, and the youngest reigning consort in the worldJordan's press could be expected to be more critical were the King's government not capable of interference in the press and media.

There are mixed signals on the "freedom of the press" ideals in Jordan. King Abdullah II says that he advocates a transparency in the press, indicating that there is nothing to hide and that Jordan has nothing to fear. However, there is only one press association in Jordan and all journalists are expected to belong to the Jordan Press Association. Jordan recently punished a journalist who was critical of government corruption in an article published on a US website. Reporters Without Borders has protested the imprisonment of Toujan Faisal, 53, who was accused of slandering state institutions in Arab Times, published out of Houston, Texas. Faisal was the first Jordanian female legislator. She was recently released on "humanitarian grounds" by the King, due to her failing health. Human rights activists and watch groups target Jordan's King Abdullah for using tribal chiefs and tribal based law codes and secret police to catch "offenders" who use the press to expose violations.

One very controversial topic in the country of Jordan concerns the killing of women by male family members who deem that the woman has somehow brought shame to the family name. The laws in Jordan favor the males and women have been secretly smuggled into the USA to "safe houses" from and to which they must constantly move around in order to escape assassins hired by their families to kill them. In Jordan stoning or burning alive are most common methods used to kill women. While the American Queen Noor reigned in Jordan, Barbara Walters interviewed her and asked why she as a woman and queen could not do something to stop the growing number of female killings. Queen Noor indicated that it was not her place to discuss the matter or take action. After the death of her husband Hussein, though, she returned to America and now works to stop female killingfrom her office in Washington, DC, where she is protected against retaliation. Considering the geographic location of Jordan and the political atmosphere of the region and the basic Arab culture that permeates the area, it is highly unlikely that there will be a change in the laws any time soon, but the press is reluctant to highlight the issue as it is only semi-free.

The King and his government use the Internet extensively to combat "bad press" and promote a positive image on the Hashemite dynasty. New websites about King Abdullah and his family promote a positive image of the king while providing access to information about the family dynasty, the country and the government. Of course, these are "controlled" sites so that "accuracy" can be maintained. Most of the "official sites" have been available since 1999, when the Internet began to take hold and expand in Jordan. Majesty magazine from London has done some extensive profiles of the King and his family, but these are carefully screened monarchy-supportive pieces, indicating the promise of a strong potential of the young king and his wife for the future. Most state controlled websites exhibit the image of the strength of Jordan militarily, governmentally, economically and potentially in all areas. The Queen is represented as the image of the good wife and mother, supportive of her royal husband and sons, producing and protecting a good family life for her husband to return to after a day in the work of the monarchy. Some of the same images and text can be found on the various websites.

King Abdullah would like to be known for his democratic ideals but sites like Middle East Report, Arab Times, and the Human Rights Watch are less than enthusiastic about the "democratic" image of the Jordanian king and his government. A press report suggesting that the events following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States allowed Arab countries to put a hold on "democratic experiments" in their nations questions any hope for Jordanian democracy and a truly free press in the near future.

King Abdullah II wishes to further expand some positive developments for the press in Jordan, primarily a relaxation of the Press and Publications Law (PPL). The Jordanian King sits geographically vulnerable in the Arab world, needing to fully cooperate with strong allies in the west to protect his own Hashemite Kingdom from the turmoil of the region surrounding him and retaliations possible from "neighbors" less favorable to western powers. In 1999 certain PPL provisions, which had permitted censorship of newspapers and imprisonments imposed arbitrarily for "seditious" articles and other writings determined to be unacceptable, were annulled. However, the changes left intact other provisions that restrict press freedoms; therefore the press in Jordan is today less than a free press. It is semi-free at best and suffering from the strain of the effects imposed by the government to satisfy a pro-western foreign policy it needs to keep in place to protect the country from problems in surrounding regions plagued with political turmoil. However, security services control the media and the press, therefore arrests are reduced as what is published has been reviewed, and the lower arrest rate for journalists looks better internationally.

According to the Middle East and North Africa Country Report, The Jordanian Penal Code still contains a number of statutes that can impose lengthy prison terms and harsh fines for offenses such as inciting sedition, defamation and publishing false news. Article 195, which prohibits lese-majeste (insult to the dignity of the king), remains intact on the legal code and carries a sentence of up to three years in prison; it is invoked to trap and prosecute journalists who are critical of the government. While it was more harshly used during the reign of King Hussein, his son King Abdullah has used the code sparingly but still maintains the right to invoke it. He has tried to be, at least publicly, less harsh on the issue than his father was, and his speech regarding being transparent to the world as they have nothing to fear would necessarily dictate that he maintain this ideal.

Some of Jordan's main newspapers are Ad Dus-tour an Arabic-language daily; Jordan Times an English-language political daily; and The Star an English-language weekly. These are also available online as well.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook 2001. Directorate of Intelligence, 2002. Available from

Committee to Protect Journalists. Middle East and North Africa Country Report: Jordan. 2001. Available from

De Blij, H.J., and Peter O. Muller. Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts. Tenth edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2002.

"Don't Blink: Jordan's Democratic Opening and Closing," 1998. Available from

Human Rights Watch Press Release, 1999. Available from

Sussman, Leonard. Freedom House Press Freedom Survey, 1999. Available from

Pamela M. Gross

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Official name: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Area: 92,300 square kilometers (57,355 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Jabal Ramm (1,734 meters/5,689 feet)

Lowest point on land: Dead Sea (408 meters/1,339 feet below sea level)

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT; has Daylight Savings Time

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Longest distances: 562 kilometers (349 miles) from northeast to southwest; 349 kilometers (217 miles) from northwest to southeast

Land boundaries: 1,619 kilometers (1,006 miles) total boundary length; Iraq 181 kilometers (112 miles); Israel 238 kilometers (148 miles); Saudi Arabia 728 kilometers (452 miles); Syria 375 kilometers (233 miles); West Bank 97 kilometers (60 miles)

Coastline: 26 kilometers (16 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Jordan is a Middle Eastern country located to the northwest of the Arabian h2ninsula. It is landlocked except for its southernmost edge, where some 26 kilometers (16 miles) of shoreline along the Gulf of Aqaba provide access to the Red Sea. The West Bank, territory west of the Jordan River that Jordan had annexed after the 194849 war with Israel, has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war between these countries. Jordan surrendered its claim to the region in 1988.


Jordan has no territories or dependencies.


Jordan has a Mediterranean climate, with cool winters and hot, dry summers. Average temperatures in Amman are 4°C to 12°C (39°F to 54°F) in January and 18°C to 32°C (64°F to 90°F) in August. The khamsin, a hot, dry desert wind from the Arabian peninsula, can last for several days. In the region surrounding the Dead Sea, summer highs of around 38°C (100°F) are common, and the highest temperature ever recorded here was 51°C (124°F). Average annual rainfall ranges from less than 10 centimeters (4 inches) in the south to around 58 centimeters (20 inches) in the northwest. Most rain falls between November and April.

Season Months Average temperature: °Celsius (°Fahrenheit)
Summer May to September 18°C to 32°C (64°F to 90°F)
Winter November to February 4°C to 12°C (39°F to 54°F)


The eastern four-fifths of Jordan is part of the Syrian Desert, which also extends over parts of Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Jordan's western border is formed by a structural depression occupied by the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, and, farther to the south, the Wadi al Araba. The depression is separated from the desert along its entire length by an upland known as the Eastern Heights, or Mountain Heights, Plateau.

The Jordan River Valley forms the northern portion of the Great Rift Valley, an enormous northsouth geological rift that continues southward along the Red Sea and southward into eastern Africa as far as Mozambique.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

The southwestern edge of the country has a short border on the Gulf of Aqaba.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Gulf of Aqaba is an inlet of the Red Sea. The Gulf separates the Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas.

Coastal Features

The coastline at Aqaba has sandy beaches and a scenic mountain backdrop that makes it popular with tourists.


Jordan shares the Dead Sea with Israel and with the occupied West Bank territory. The world's lowest body of water (and the lowest point on Earth at 408 meters/1,339 feet below sea level), this saltwater lake (or inland sea) has a high concentration of minerals that makes it seven or eight times as salty as the ocean. The large Azraq Oasis in the northern part of the country is the most important source of water in the Jordanian desert.


Jordan has three main rivers: the Jordan River and its two major tributaries, the Yarmuk and Zarqa Rivers, both of which join it in the northern part of the country. The Jordan rises near the conjunction of the Israeli, Syrian, and Lebanese borders. The Yarmuk, its principal tributary, forms parts of the Jordanian, Syrian, and Israeli borders before flowing into the Jordan. The Zarqa River rises and empties entirely within the East Bank.


Elevations in Jordan's desert range from 600 to 900 meters (about 2,000 to 3,000 feet). A forbidding landscape called the Black Desert, or Basalt Desert, makes up the northern and northeastern parts of the Jordanian desert, extending into Syria and Iraq. The desert of central and southern Jordan includes the Wadi Sarhan to the east and the Al Jafr Basin in the southeast. To the east, the land descends to the scattered hills, low mountains, and broad wadis of the Al Mudawwara Desert.


The plateau of the Eastern Heights includes hilly terrain.


The high sandstone and granite formations of the Wadi Rum, in the southwestern part of Jordan, rise to over 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) and include the country's highest point, Jabal Ramm.


The deep canyons of the Wadi Rum help make the landscape of this region one of the most dramatic in Jordan.


Separating the country's western rift from the desert is a chain of high limestone plateaus with average elevations of between 900 and 1,200 meters (3,000 and 4,000 feet) and summits reaching over 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) in the south.


In October 2001, the Tannur Dam, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) south of Amman on the Wadi Hasi, began providing irrigation for farmland in the area.


The present-day city of Amman was called Philadelphia during the reign of Ptolemy II (282246 b.c.)



Caulfield, Annie. Kingdom of the Film Stars: Journey into Jordan. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 1997.

Rollin, Sue, and Jane Streetly. Jordan. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

Sicker, Martin. Between Hashemites and Zionists: The Struggle for Palestine, 1908-1980. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1989.

Web Sites

Centre for Islamic Countries. (accessed April 24, 2003).

Jordan Tourism Board. (accessed April 24, 2003).

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89,210sq km (34,444sq mi)



capital (population):

Amman (1,864,450)


Constitutional monarchy

ethnic groups:

Arab 99%, of which Palestinians make up roughly half


Arabic (official)


Islam 93%, Christianity 5%


Jordan dinar = 1000 fils

Kingdom in sw Asia. Jordan can be divided into three geographical areas: the Transjordan plateau in the e constitutes 90% of total land area and is the most populous region. It includes the capital, Amman. Central Jordan forms part of the Great Rift Valley, and contains the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. West Jordan (now the West Bank) is part of historic Palestine, and includes the region of Samaria; this area is now occupied by Israel. Jordan has a coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba. The ancient city of Petra lies close to Jordan's highest peak, Jabal Ram, at 1754m (5755ft).

Climate and Vegetation

The Transjordan plateau is a transition zone between a Mediterranean climate to the w and a desert climate to the e. Most of Jordan is desert or semi-desert. Parts of the w plateau have scrub vegetation. There are areas of dry grassland.

History and Politics

The Seleucids conquered the region in the 4th century bc. In the 1st century bc, the Nabatean Empire developed a capital at Petra. The Romans, led by Pompey, captured the region in the 1st century ad. In ad 636, Arab armies conquered the territory and introduced Islam. After the First Crusade, the region became part of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099).

In 1517, it joined the Ottoman Empire. After the defeat of the Ottomans in World War I, the area e of the River Jordan formed part of the British League of Nations mandated territory of Palestine. In 1921, the e region was administered separately as Transjordan. In 1928, it became a constitutional monarchy ruled by the Hashemite dynasty. In 1946, Transjordan achieved independence.

In 1948 the creation of the state of Israel led to the first of the Arab-Israeli Wars (1948–49). Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled to Jordan. Under the peace terms, Transjordan annexed the remaining Arab parts of Palestine (West Bank and East Jerusalem). This incensed the Palestinians and King Abdullah was assassinated in 1951. Hussein I acceded in 1953. In 1958, Jordan formed the short-lived Arab Federation with Iraq. The Six-Day War (1967) ended with the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank: more than one million Palestinian refugees now lived in e Jordan.

Jordan became embroiled in a bloody civil war with Palestinian independence movements (1970). By 1971 Jordan had ejected all guerrillas operating from its soil. In 1974, King Hussein recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. In 1988, Jordan gave up its claim to the West Bank and approved the creation of an independent Palestine. Jordan sided with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War.

Opposition parties were legalized in 1991, and the first multiparty elections held in 1993. In October 1994, King Hussain signed a peace treaty with Israel, ending the state of war that had existed since 1948. The border between Elat and Aqaba opened. Opposition parties, including the Islamic Action Front (IAF), boycotted elections in 1997. In 1999, Hussein died and his son, Abdullah, succeeded as King. Abdullah faced problems of maintaining political and economic stability, and implementing political reforms.


Jordan is a developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$3500). It is the world's seventh largest producer of phosphates and potash. Slightly more than 50% of the land is farm or pasture land. Major crops include barley, citrus fruits, grapes, olives, and wheat. It depends on aid. Jordan has an oil refinery and produces natural gas. Tourism is developing rapidly and reforms are helping to expand the economy.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name



Identification. The Emirate of Transjordan was the name given to this small state when it was recognized in 1921, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration. It was not until 1946 that Transjordan became a completely sovereign state. In 1950, Transjordan merged with part of Palestine to form the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Amman is the capital and the largest city.

Location and Geography. Jordan has an area of about 35,475 square miles (91,900 square kilometers). It lies in the center of the Middle East, sharing its northern border with Syria, eastern border with Iraq, it's southern and eastern borders with Saudi Arabia, and western border with the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and Israel. Its only seaport is the port of Aqaba. Jordan has barren deserts, fertile valleys, and colorful rock and sand mountains. It contains the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, and the Great Rift Valley, which was created twenty million years ago when tectonic plates shifted, stretching from Lake Tiberius south through Jordan and into eastern Africa.

Demography. In 1946, the population was about 400,000; in 1997, it reached 4.6 million, a figure twice that of 1981. After the 1967 war with Israel and Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, there were sudden and massive influxes of Palestinian Arab refugees, who now make up more than two-thirds of the population. In 1996, 1,359,000 Palestinian refugees living in Jordan were registered with United Nations; 250,000 Palestinians continue to live in ten refugee camps. Nomadic people, predominantly Bedouin, account for more than 10 percent of the total population. The population is young, with a birthrate that is double the world average; 43 percent of the people are under age fifteen. By the year 2012, the population is expected to double.

Linguistic Affiliation. Arabic is the official language. English is taught to all students and is widely spoken.

Symbolism. The flag has black, white, and green horizontal stripes with a red triangle on the hoist side bearing a white seven-pointed star. The flag of the Palestinian people is identical but does not have the white star.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The Nabateans built the capital of their ancient Arab kingdom, Petra, in what is now Jordan between 400 b.c.e. and 160 c.e. From Mount Nebo in western Jordan, many people believe that Moses saw the Promised Land. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed after four hundred years of rule, Britain divided up the Fertile Crescent, and modern Jordan was born.

National Identity. Jordan is the only Arab country where Palestinians can become citizens. The differentiation between Jordanians, Bedouins, and Palestinians is clear in this society. Jordanians are defined as residents who have lived east of the Jordan River since before 1948. Palestinians are defined as residents whose birthright extends back to areas west of the Jordan River. People of Bedouin descent are considered to be of the purest Arab stock.

Ethnic Relations. In deserts with little vegetation and water, Bedouin families have lived in the traditional way for thousands of years. They roam freely and pay little attention to borders. Bedouins form the core of the army, occupying key positions, even though their political influence is diminishing. Palestinians are typically referred to as educated, hard-working people, and their influence in Jordan has resulted in a greater emphasis on education and the development of a richer, global economy. Jordanians who no longer espouse the Bedu nomad lifestyle are gradually accepting the standards of the modern Arab world.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Most people live in one- or two-room apartments or houses. Affluent urban families live in larger apartments or individual homes. Buildings and homes are made of concrete, and some are made of mud and stone, with a design that allows more floors to be added, to create apartments for married sons. Privacy is very important, and many homes and other buildings open into private courtyards with concrete walls. Nomadic farmers live in tents made from the hides and fur of their animals. Amman's appearance reflects a Western influence, with modern hotels and commercial buildings. Streets are identified and numbered in an inefficient manner, and maps are hard to read and often useless.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. An ancient legend tells of an Arabian shepherd who six thousand years ago put his supply of milk in a pouch made from a sheep's stomach before making a journey across the desert. The rennet in the lining of the pouch, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to form curds, and cheese was discovered. Bedouin farmers keep herds of goats and sheep whose milk is used to produce cheese and yogurt. A popular cheese is called halloumi (similar to feta), made from goat or sheep milk and often served in a sandwich of pita-style bread or cubed in salads. Rice, legumes, olives, yogurt, flat breads, vegetables (cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, okra, tomatoes, and cucumbers), lamb or chicken, and fruits (apricots, apples, bananas, melons, and oranges) form the basis for most meals. Main dishes of rice with spices are eaten almost daily. The main meal typically is served during the middle of the afternoon. A covering is placed on the floor, with a large tray of rice and meat placed in the center surrounded by small dishes of yogurt and salad. Torn pieces of bread are folded in half and used to scoop the food. The left hand is never used to feed oneself.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. When people visit family and friends, tea, Turkish-style or Arabic-style coffee, or fruit juice is served. Often this meal includes sweets, especially on holidays. The national main dish is Mansaf, which consists of lamb cooked in dried yogurt and served with seasoned rice on flat bread. Mansaf is always served on holidays and special family occasions such as visits to relatives or friends, engagements, and weddings.

Basic Economy. The economy is based on free enterprise. The service sector, consisting of government, tourism, transportation, communication, and financial services contributes the most to the economy, employing 70 percent of the workforce. Amman has developed into a regional business center.

Land Tenure and Property. Land ownership is the goal of many, but few can afford the cost. Except for the very wealthy, most people live in rented housing.

Commercial Activities. Because most of the country is desert, less than 4 percent of the land is cultivated. Natural resources are scarce, and no oil has been found. The country's archaeological sites draw more than two million visitors a year.

Major Industries. Potash, phosphate, and gypsum mining and the manufacturer of cement, fertilizers, and refined petroleum products are the largest industries.

Trade. Jordan is among the world's top three potash exporters. Since the Gulf War, the number of immigrants has increased greatly, leading to a severe trade deficit and a labor market that has not produced enough jobs.

Division of Labor. Jordan's economy is heavily impacted by its location in the Middle East, the arid landscape, its relationship with its neighbors, and its dependence on foreign aid. Its largest sectors are finance, which employs 22 percent of its labor force; transportation, which employs 16 percent; and the industrial sector, which employs 17 percent. Tourism offers the greatest prospect for development.

Social Stratification

Jordan's political and social systems are a mix of new and old, traditional and non-traditional, Bedouin and Palestinian.

Classes and Castes. All social and political systems of Jordan are centered around extended patriarchal family units based on ancestry and wealth. Family units are often led by sheikhs whose rule depends on the size of their families, their wealth, and the will of their personalities. After the death of a sheikh, the eldest son ascends to the position of head of the family.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The emerging modern Arab culture values a college education, Mercedes cars, and a home in an urban area as symbols of success. However, in traditional Arab culture, camel breeders are still considered to be highest on the social scale. Traditional clans consider anyone outside their clan to be inferior, so the tradition of only marrying a person from within their families continues.

Political Life

Government. Since 1951, Jordan has been a constitutional hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. It is politically stable, with freedom of religion, the press, and private property guaranteed. There is an ongoing program of democratization. In 1989 parliamentary elections were instituted, and since that time, martial law has been lifted and political parties have been legalized. Elections were held in 1993 and 1997.

Leadership and Political Officials. In 1999, King Hussein, the longest-serving head of state in the world, died. Hussein's oldest son, Prince Abdullah, succeeded him. King Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein has indicated that he intends to follow his father's policies. He wields wide power over the government and appoints the prime minister.

Jordan's present legislative branch consists of an eighty-member elected Lower House and a forty-member Upper House. After a bill is approved by the Lower House and Senate, it is given to the King, who either grants consent by Royal Decree or returns the bill unapproved. Jordan's Constitution guarantees an independent judicial branch, dividing the courts into three categories: civil, religious, and special courts. The Jordanian civil legal system has its foundations in the Code Napoléon, a French legal code.

Social Problems and Control. Many of the country's laws are based on the Koran and the Hadith, a collection of Mohammed's sayings. These laws are enforced in religious courts called Sharia courts, which have jurisdiction over personal matters. Chastity is demanded of all single women. If a woman's chastity is compromised, a male relative may feel obligated to murder her to save the family's honor. When these cases go to court, often the charges are dropped or the murderer receives a short sentence.

Jordan has a low crime rate by international standards, with few petty crimes such as robbery reported.

Military Activity. Jordan maintains an army, an air force, and a small navy. The total strength of the armed forces in 1998 was 104,000 active members and 35,000 reserves. There is a paramilitary force that includes twenty thousand civil militia members and ten thousand public security officers. Jordan is a leader of peace efforts in the Middle East and is at peace with its neighbors.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

There is not a comprehensive welfare scheme, but the government administers medical and health services.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Nongovernmental organizations are involved with the environment, women, children, and economic issues. The royal family is supportive of many charitable foundations. Thirty miles north of Amman, Jerash hosts an annual summer Festival of Culture and Arts administered by the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation. The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development has social development centers throughout the country that help women and children.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Most women have their lives controlled by their closest male relatives. Despite the limitations placed on them, they have made advances in education in a country where the practice of educating women only began three or four decades ago. Balancing customs and traditions at home with obedience to their husbands and the demands of a career remains a difficult challenge. When women work, they receive extensive benefits and sometimes equal pay. The 1997 census placed the proportion of women in the workforce at 14 percent, up from 8 percent in 1979. The unofficial unemployment rate for women is 65 percent.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Sons are prized, and this status continues throughout adulthood. Most Muslim women cover their heads with scarves. A small minority cover their heads and faces with a veil. Segregation of the sexes occurs all public situations, and there is limited interaction between men and women. It is common for women to eat apart from men in restaurants. Unless they are married or related, men and women do not sit together on public transportation.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Getting married and having children are top priorities. Most marriages are arranged by the father of the bride. Often cousins marry each other, and the couple may barely know each other until the engagement is announced. The wedding has two celebrations: an engagement party and a wedding party. After the engagement party, the process of dating and getting to know each other begins. After the engaged woman and man have signed the papers at the engagement party, they are legally married. If they choose not to proceed, even though they have not lived together, they must divorce. Brides must be virgins on the wedding night. After marriage, every aspect of a woman's life is dictated by her husband. She cannot obtain a passport or travel outside the country without his written approval. At any time, a husband may take another wife. Polygamy with up to four wives is legal. Divorce is legal. When there is a divorce, custody of the children automatically goes to the father, and for this reason, women choose to remain in a marriage even when there are other wives. Divorced women are viewed as outcasts.

Domestic Unit. The typical family is extended, with family size decreasing since 1979 to about six members per family. The scarcity of natural resources, especially the chronic shortage of water, makes population control vital. To slow the rapid growth rate, birth spacing programs have increased awareness of the benefits of family planning, and many wives now use contraceptives.

Inheritance. Inheritance is guided by Islamic law. A woman receives half the amount that a man receives.

Kin Groups. Kinship relationships are patriarchal. Extended family ties govern social relationships and tribal organization.


Infant Care. Women are primary caregivers for infants and small children. After the first son is born, the father and mother take the name of the son. If the son's name is Mohammed, the father becomes Abu Mohammed, meaning "father of Mohammed," and the mother becomes Om Mohammed, or "mother of Mohammed."

Child Rearing and Education. Children love to belly-dance with people watching and clapping their hands and women making a vocal expression by moving their tongues rapidly back and forth between their lips. Primary education is free and compulsory, starting at the age of six years until a child is sixteen years old. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees provides schooling for Palestinian refugees. Outside the classroom, children participate in few activities away from the family.

Higher Education. All students are required to take an extensive examination called Tawjehieh before graduating from secondary school and as a prerequisite for entering universities and colleges. The top male and female students attend state universities and numerous private colleges. The literacy rate is over 86 percent.


Greetings and farewells are lengthy and sincere. Even answering a telephone involves saying "how are you?" in several different ways. Visitors and/or friends frequently are invited into homes for dinner, where they are showered with kindness and food. Women dress modestly and often are offended by exposed flesh. Most Muslims do not drink alcohol. Shoes are always removed before entering a mosque, and this custom extends to homes as well. Shib-shibs (flip-flop sandals) are always put on before entering a bathroom, the feet and are never put on a coffee table, footstool, or desk. It is forbidden and disrespectful to expose the bottoms of the feet. Same-sex friends hold hands, hug, and kiss in public, but there is limited touching between men and women. A man does not shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand first.


Religious Beliefs. The state religion is Muslim, as indicated in the constitution. Ninety percent of the population adheres to the Sunni branch. About 6 percent of the people are Christian.

Religious Practitioners. Imams, leaders of prayer in a Muslim mosque, hold an important role in this Muslim country. In most smaller and rural communities they are the political leaders as well.

Rituals and Holy Places. Jordan has a rich religious history. For Jews and Christians, it is part of the Holy Land, sacred for its connection to the Jewish patriarchs Abraham and Moses, as well as Christian biblical figures such as John the Baptist. Jordan is equally important in the history of Islam, as many tombs of Prophet Mohammed's companions are located in Jordan. Jordan is where the non-Arab world first contacted Islam more than fifteen hundred years ago.

One of the five essential Pillars practiced by Muslims is the recitation of prayers five times a day. Calls to prayers are announced publicly by mosques and can be heard throughout the nation. The devout unroll a small prayer rug and face Mecca to pray. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time of fasting from sunrise until sunset. Most public restaurants do not open for business until just before sunset. Throughout Ramadan and the celebration commemorating its end, of families mark the occasion with large feasts and special sweets. Another Pillar of Islam is the Hajj, the holy pilgrimage made at least once during a lifetime to Mecca. Many pilgrims travel through Jordan on the way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Medicine and Health Care

Excellent medical care is available, especially in Amman. For the typical family, finding the money to pay for medical insurance and preventive care is difficult. Life expectancy is sixty-seven years for mens and seventy years for women. Most children are fully immunized.

Secular Celebrations

Jordanians follow the Islamic calendar. National holidays include Arbor Day (15 January), Arab League Day (22 March), and Independence Day (25 May). Religious holidays include Id al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), Id al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice), the Islamic New Year, the birthday of Mohammed, and Leilat al-Meiraj (the Ascension of Mohammed).

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. In 2000, King Abdullah ordered that government workers be given Fridays and Saturdays off, hoping they would find time to develop new interests and travel to sites such as Petra. The government promotes cultural festivals, encourages the revival of handicrafts, and takes steps to preserve the country's archaeological and historical heritage.

Literature. The country's most famous poet is Mustafa Wahbi al-Tal, who is among the major Arab poets of the twentieth century. Al-Tal was a political and social activist who devoted twenty years of his life to regaining the rights of gypsies and became a member of the gypsy community.

Graphic Arts. Folk art survives in tapestries, leather crafts, pottery, and ceramics. Wool and goat hair rugs with colorful tribal designs are manufactured.

Performance Arts. Popular culture takes the form of songs, ballads, and storytelling. Villagers have special songs for births, weddings, funerals, planting, plowing, and harvesting.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Since the 1960s, a number of higher learning institutions have opened in Jordan, foremost among them the University of Jordan (1962) in Amman, Yarmouk University (1976) in Irbid, and Jordanian University Science and Technology (1996) in Irbnil. These centers are recognized for their Islam, Arabic language, and Middle East peace and conflict studies.


Chebaro, Lina, Halawani, Bassam, and Nada Mosbah. Arabic Cooking Step by Step, 1997.

Dallas, Roland. King Hussein: A Life on the Edge, 1998.

De Blij, H. J., and Peter O. Muller. Geography: Regions and Concepts, 6th ed., 1991.

Discovery Channel. Jordan Insight Guide, 1999.

Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock. In Search of Islamic Feminism: One Woman's Global Journey, 1998.

Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem, 1995.

Goodwin, Jan. Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World, 1994.

Hussein, King of Jordan. Uneasy Lies the Head: The Autobiography of His Majesty King Hussein I of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 1962.

. My War With Israel, 1969.

Sedlaczek, Brigitte. Petra: Art and Legend, 1997.

Shumsky, Adaia and Abraham. A Bridge across the Jordan: The Friendship between a Jewish Carpenter and the King of Jordan, 1997.

Viorst, Milton. Sandcastles: The Arabs in Search of the Modern World, 1994.

Web Sites

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (official government site).

The Jordan Star. http://star.arabia/com

Palestinian National Authority.

Darlene Schmidt

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Jordan, previously known as Trans-Jordan, was part of the Turkish empire in 1914 but after the First World War became a British mandate under the League of Nations. In 1946 the independence of Jordan was declared and a kingdom established under the Amir Abdullah. After Abdullah's assassination in 1951, his son Talal was briefly king, before giving way in 1953 to his son Hussein. In 1967 Israel occupied the territory west of the Jordan and annexed east Jerusalem, sending a million Palestine refugees into Jordan. In 1988 the Jordanians conceded their west bank rights to the Palestine Liberation Organization. During the Gulf War of 1990 Jordan maintained a precarious neutrality.

J. A. Cannon

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The people of Jordan are called Jordanians. Most of the population trace their heritage to more than one of the many people that lived in Jordan throughout history, including Greeks, Egyptianss, Persians, Europeans, and Africans. The Bedu, or Bedouin, nomads inhabit the desert.

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JordanAbaddon, gladden, gladdon, Ibadan, madden, sadden •abandon, Brandon, Rwandan, Ugandan •Baden, Baden-Baden, Coloradan, garden, harden, lardon, Nevadan, pardon •Wiesbaden • bear garden •tea garden •Armageddon, deaden, leaden, redden •Eldon, Sheldon •Brendan, tendon •Dresden •Aden, Aidan, Haydn, laden, maiden •handmaiden •cedarn, cotyledon, dicotyledon, Eden, monocotyledon, Sweden •wealden •bestridden, forbidden, hidden, midden, outridden, ridden, stridden, unbidden •Wimbledon •linden, Lindon, Swindon •Wisden • Mohammedan • Myrmidon •harridan • hagridden • Sheridan •bedridden • Macedon • Huntingdon •Dryden, guidon, Leiden, Poseidon, Sidon, widen •Culloden, hodden, modern, sodden, trodden •Cobden • downtrodden •Auden, broaden, cordon, Gordon, Hordern, Jordan, warden •churchwarden • louden • bounden •loden, Snowdon •beholden, embolden, golden, olden •hoyden • Bermudan • wooden •Mukden • gulden • sudden •Blunden, London •Riordan • bourdon • bombardon •celadon • Clarendon •burden, guerdon

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