Population: 16,508,271 (est.)
- The Jordanian dinar is the official currency of Jordan.
- The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a majority Muslim country, with 90% of the population following Sunni Islam while a small minority of around 2% follow Shia Islam and Sufism. Jordan also has a indigenous Christian minority, making up around 8% of the population.
- The Ain Ghazal site, situated near Amman, is said to have been first inhabited over 9,000 years ago.
- Petra, the capital of the Nabataean Arabs, is a city that was carved into rock two thousand years ago and remained unknown to Europeans until the 19th century.
- The national dish of Jordan is Mansaf, a large tray of rice with chunks of stewed lamb and jameed, a yogurt sauce.
- The Dead Sea, in the northwest of Jordan, forms the lowest point on earth.
Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab kingdom in Asia, on the East Bank of the River Jordan, consisting roughly of the historic region of Transjordan. Jordan borders Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel to the west, sharing control of the Dead Sea with the latter two. Jordan’s only port is at its south-western tip, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Over half of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert. However, the western part of Jordan is part of the Fertile Crescent, with arable land and forests. The capital city is Amman. Unlike Arab states to the south and east, Jordan has no oil of its own. Its resources are limited to phosphates and agricultural produce. The economy depends largely on services, tourism and foreign aid, for which the USA is the main provider. Jordan prides itself on its health service, one of the best in the region. Jordan is a key ally of the USA and, together with Egypt, one of only two Arab nations to have made peace with Israel.
The desert kingdom emerged out of the post-World War I division of the Middle East by Britain and France. In 1922 the Hashemite Emirate was recognized by the League of Nations as a state under the British Mandate for Palestine, known as The Emirate of Transjordan. The population at that time was largely made up of tribes which had taken part in the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Today, those original inhabitants – known as East Bank Jordanians – are outnumbered by the descendants of Palestinian refugees. The first ruler of Jordan, the Hashemite Abdullah I was born in Mecca and played a leading role in the Great Arab Revolt. In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. After capturing the West Bank area of Cisjordan during the 1948–49 war with Israel, Abdullah I took the title King of Jordan and Palestine, and he officially changed the country’s name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in April 1949.
The death in February 1999 of King Hussein, who ruled for 46 years, left Jordan still struggling for economic and social survival, as well as regional peace. His son, Abdullah II faces the task of maintaining stability while accommodating calls for reform. A blueprint for long-term political, economic and social change – known as the National Agenda – has yet to be implemented, and the Arab Spring popular revolts across the region have found some resonance in steadily-increasing street protests.
Modern Jordan is classified as a country of “medium human development” by the 2011 Human Development Report, and an emerging market with the third freest economy in West Asia and North Africa (32nd freest worldwide). Jordan has an “upper middle income” economy. Jordan has more Free Trade Agreements than any other country in the region. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States went into effect in December 2001 and phased out duties on nearly all goods and services between the two countries. Jordan has also enjoyed “advanced status” with the European Union since December 2010, and it is also a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Jordan was invited to Join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Jordan was the first Arab and West Asian state to join the International Criminal Court.