Jordan (ˈdʒɔrdən; Arabic: الأردن al-Urdun), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية al-Mamlakah al-Urdunīyah al-Hāshimīyah), is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River, and extending into the historic region of Palestine. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, and Palestine, the Dead Sea to the west.
The kingdom emerged from the post-World War I division of West Asia by Britain and France. In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. After capturing the West Bank during the1948 Arab–Israeli War, Abdullah I took the title King of Jordan and Palestine. The name of the state was changed to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 1 December 1948.
Although Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. 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 enjoyed “advanced status” with the European Union since December 2010, and it is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. It is also a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
History of Jordan and Timeline of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
The Roman Oval Piazza in the ancient city of Jerash
In antiquity, the present day Jordan became a home for several Semitic Canaanite-speaking ancient kingdoms, including the kingdom of Edom, the kingdom of Moab, the kingdom of Amman. Throughout different eras of history, the region and its nations were subject to the control of powerful foreign empires; including the Akkadian Empire (2335-2193 BC), Ancient Egypt (15th to 13th centuries BC), Hittite Empire(14th and 13th centuries BC), the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC), Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC), the Neo-Babylonian Empire (604-539 BC) and the Achaemenid Empire(539-332 BC) and. The Mesha Stele recorded the glory of the Kings of Moab and the victories over the Israelites and other nations. The Ammon and Moab kingdoms are mentioned in ancient maps, Near Eastern documents, ancient Greco-Roman artifacts, and Christian and Jewish religious scriptures.
Classical Trans Jordan
Jordan and its neighbors with a rare dusting of snow in several regions.
Due to its strategic location in the middle of the ancient world, Transjordan came to be controlled by the ancient empires ofPersians and later the Macedonian Greeks, who became the dominant force in the region, following the conquests of Alexander the Great. It later fell under the changing influence of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire from the North and the Parthians from the East.
The Aramaic speaking Nabatean kingdom was one of the most prominent states in the region through the middle classic period, since the decline of the Seleucid control of the region in 168 BC. The Nabateans were most probably people of mixed Aramean, Canaanite and Arabian ancestry, who fell under the early influence of the Hellenistic and Parthian cultures, creating a unique civilized society, which roamed the roads of the deserts. They controlled the regional and international trade routes of the ancient world by dominating a large area southwest of the Fertile Crescent, which included the whole of modern Jordan in addition to the southern part of Syria in the north and the northern part of Arabian Peninsula in the south. The Nabataeans developed theNabatean Alphabet, a descendant of the Aramaic alphabet, which was eventually to lead to the formation of the Arabic Script in the 4th century AD. Their language was originallyAramaic (a West Semitic language), but became infused with South Semitic Arabic with the migration of Arab tribes into Nabatea in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. It acted as an intermediary between Aramaean and Classical Arabic, the latter of which evolved into Modern Arabic.
The Nabateans were largely conquered by the Hasmonean rulers of Judea and many of themforced to convert to Judaism in the late 2nd century BC. However, the Nabataeans managed to maintain a sort of semi-independent kingdom, which covered most parts of modern Jordan and beyond, before it was taken by the Herodians and finally annexed by the still expandingRoman Empire in 106 AD. However, apart from Petra, the Romans maintained the prosperity of most of the ancient cities in Transjordan which enjoyed a sort of city-state autonomy under the umbrella of the alliance of the Decapolis. Nabataean civilization left many magnificentarchaeological sites at Petra, which is considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World as well as recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Following the establishment of Roman Empire at Syria, the country was incorporated into theclient Judaean Kingdom of Herod, and later the Judaea Province. With the suppression ofJewish Revolts, the eastern bank of Transjordan was incorporated into the Syria Palaestinaprovince, while the eastern deserts fell under Parthian and later Persian Sassanid control. During the Greco-Roman period, a number of semi-independent city-states also developed in the region of Transjordan under the umbrella of the Decapolis including: Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (Amman), Raphana (Abila), Dion (Capitolias), Gadara (Umm Qais), and Pella(Irbid).
With the decline of the Eastern Roman Empire, Transjordan came to be controlled by the Christian Ghassanid Arab kingdom, which allied with Byzantium. The Byzantine site of Umm ar-Rasas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Middle Ages to World War I
Due to its proximity to Damascus, Transjordan became in the 7th century a heartland for the Arabic Islamic Empire and therefore secured several centuries of stability and prosperity, which allowed the coining of its current Arabic Islamic identity. Different Caliphates’ stages, including the Rashidun Empire, Umayyad Empire and Abbasid Empire controlled the region. Several resources pointed that the Abbasid movement, was started in region of Transjordan before it took over the Umayyad empire. After the decline of the Abbasid, It was ruled by several conflicting powers including the Mongols, the Crusaders, the Ayyubids and the Mamluks until it became part of the Ottoman Empirein 1516.
The Umayyad caliphs constructed rural estates such as Qasr Mshatta, Qasr al Hallabat, Qasr Kharana, Qasr Tuba, and Qasr Amra. Castles constructed in the later Middle Ages including Ajloun, Al Karak, and Qasr Azraq were used in the Ayyubid, Crusader, and Mamluk eras.
In the 11th century, Transjordan witnessed a phase of instability, as it became a battlefield for the Crusades which ended with defeat by the Ayyubids. Jordan suffered also from the Mongol attacks which were blocked by Mamluks. In 1516, Transjordan became part of the Ottoman Empire and remained so until 1918, when the Hashemite Army of the Great Arab Revolt took over, and secured the present day Jordan with the help and support of Transjordanian local tribes.
Arab Revolt Tribal Cavalry – Tribes of Jordan and Arabia, c. 1918.
Adyghe (Circassian) horsemanshipin Transjordan, April 1921.
During World War I, the Transjordanian tribes fought, along with other tribes of the Hijaz, the Tihamah, and Levant regions, as part of the Arab Army of the Great Arab Revolt. The revolt was launched by the Hashemites and led by Sherif Hussein of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire. It was supported by the Allies of World War I. The chronicle of the revolt was written by T. E. Lawrence who, as a young British Army officer, played a liaison role during the revolt. He published the chronicle in London, 1922 under the title “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, which was the basis for the iconic movie “Lawrence of Arabia”.
The Great Arab Revolt was successful in gaining independence for most of the territories of Hijaz and the Levant, including the region of east of Jordan. However, it failed to gain international recognition of the region as an independent state, due mainly to the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917. This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as betrayal of the previous agreements with the British, including the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence in 1915, in which the British stated their willingness to recognize the independence of the Arab state in Hijaz and the Levant. However, a compromise was eventually reached and the Emirate of Transjordan was created under the reign of the Hashemites.
British Transjordan mandate
Emirate of Transjordan
In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the British Mandate for Palestine and the Transjordan memorandum, and excluded the territories east of the Jordan River from the provisions of the mandate dealing with Jewish settlement. The Permanent Court of International Justice and an International Court of Arbitration established by the Council of the League of Nations handed down rulings in 1925 which determined that Palestine and Transjordan were newly created successor states of the Ottoman Empire whose sovereignty was in abeyance until such time as they would be recognised as independent of the Mandatory. Transjordan remained under British supervision until 1946.
Arar (1897–1949), poet of Jordan
The Hashemite leadership met multiple difficulties upon assuming power in the region. The most serious threats to Emir Abdullah’s position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory. The emir was unable to repel those raids without support, so the British maintained a military base, with a small RAF detachment, at Marka, close to Amman. The British force was also used to help the emir (and, subsequently, Sultan Adwan) suppress local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923.
On 25 May 1946, the United Nations approved the end of the British Mandate and recognized Transjordan as an independent sovereign kingdom. The Parliament of Transjordan proclaimed King Abdullah as the first King.
The name was changed from Transjordan to Jordan in 1948. According to the prime minister Tewfik Abul Huda at the time, the name of the kingdom had been changed in 1946. On June 1, 1949, he issued a public notice:
It is to be remembered that the decision of the Houses of Parliament which was taken on May 25, 1946, and which declared the independence of this country said that the name of this Kingdom is the “Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan.” The Jordan Constitution, published at the beginning of February, 1947, approved this decision. However, it is noticed that the name of “Transjordan” is still applied to this Kingdom, and certain people and official institutions still use the old name in Arabic and foreign languages, which makes me obliged to point out to all who are concerned that the correct and official name which should be officially used in all cases is : Al-Mamlakeh Al-Urdunieh Al-Hashemieh and in English “The Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan.”
Following the war with Israel in 1948 Jordan occupied the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories, an act that was regarded as illegal and void by the Arab League. The move formed part of Jordan’s “Greater Syria Plan” expansionist policy, and in response, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria joined Egypt in demanding Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League. A motion to expel Jordan from the League was prevented by the dissenting votes of Yemen and Iraq. On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.
On 20 July 1951, as he was leaving the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Abdullah I was assassinated by Mustafa Ashu, a Palestinian al-Jihad al-Muqaddas militant. The reason for his murder was, allegedly, the power rivalry of the al-Husseinis over control of Palestine, which Abdullah I had declared a part of the Hashemite Kingdom. ThoughAmin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was not directly charged in the plot, Musa al-Husseini was among the six executed by Jordanian authorities following the assassination.
On 27 July 1953, King Hussein of Jordan announced that East Jerusalem was “the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom” and would form an “integral and inseparable part” of Jordan. In 1957, Jordan terminated the Anglo-Jordanian treaty, one year after the king sacked the British personnel serving in the Jordanian Army. This act of Arabizationensured the complete sovereignty of Jordan as a fully independent nation.
Field marshal Habis Al-Majali and former prime minister Wasfi Al-Tal.
In June 1967, having signed a military pact with Egypt the previous month, Jordan joined Egypt, Syria and Iraq in the Six-Day War againstIsrael. It ended in an Israeli victory and the capture of the West Bank. The period following the war saw an upsurge in the activity and numbers of Palestinian paramilitary elements (fedayeen) within the state of Jordan. These distinct, armed militias were becoming a “state within a state”, threatening Jordan’s rule of law. King Hussein’s armed forces targeted the fedayeen and open fighting erupted in June 1970. The battle in which Palestinian fighters from various Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) groups were expelled from Jordan is commonly known as Black September.
The heaviest fighting occurred in northern Jordan and Amman, during which a Syrian tank force invaded northern Jordan to back thefedayeen fighters but subsequently retreated. King Hussein urgently asked the United States and Great Britain to intervene against Syria. Consequently, Israel performed mock air strikes on the Syrian column at the Americans’ request. Soon after, Syrian President Nureddin al-Atassi ordered a hasty retreat from Jordanian soil. By 22 September, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo arranged a cease-fire beginning the following day. However, sporadic violence continued until Jordanian forces, led by Habis Al-Majali, managed to expel thefedayeen in July 1971 with the help of Iraqi forces. The PLO’s Yasser Arafat soon followed.
In 1973, allied Arab League forces attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line. Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory. At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan was now in a more secure position to agree, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”, thereby relinquishing Jordan’s role as representative of the West Bank to it.
The Amman Agreement of 11 February 1985, declared that the PLO and Jordan would pursue a proposed confederation between the state of Jordan and a Palestinian state.In 1988, King Hussein dissolved the Jordanian parliament and renounced Jordanian claims to the West Bank. The PLO assumed responsibility as the Provisional Government of Palestine and an independent state was declared.
A handshake between Hussein I of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin, accompanied by Bill Clinton, after signing the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, 26 October 1994.
In 1991, Jordan agreed to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel at the Madrid Conference, sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on 25 July 1994. As a result, an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty was concluded on 26 October 1994. King Hussein was later honored when his picture appeared on an Israeli postage stamp in recognition of the good relations he established with his neighbor. Since the signing of the peace treaty, the United States not only contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in an annual foreign aid stipend to Jordan, but also has allowed it to establish a free trade zone in which to manufacture goods that will enter the US without paying the usual import taxes as long as a percentage of the material used in them is purchased in Israel.
The last major strain in Jordan’s relations with Israel occurred in September 1997 when Israeli agents allegedly entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader. Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Visiting Washington, D.C., with Queen Rania, 6 March 2007.
Upon the death of his father Hussein, Abdullah became king on 7 February 1999. Hussein had recently named him Crown Prince on 24 January, replacing Hussein’s brother Hassan who had served many years in the position. Abdullah is the namesake of King Abdullah I, his great-grandfather and founder of modern-day Jordan.
Jordan’s economy has improved greatly since Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999. He has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation for Aqaba’s free-trade zone and Jordan’s flourishinginformation and communication technology (ICT) sector. He also set up five other special economic zones: Irbid, Ajloun, Mafraq, Ma’an and the Dead Sea. As a result of these reforms, Jordan’s economic growth has doubled to 6% annually under King Abdullah’s rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s. Foreign direct investment from the West as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf has continued to increase. He also negotiated a free-trade agreement with the United States, which was the third free trade agreement for the U.S. and the first with an Arab country.
During the suspension of Parliament between 2001 and 2003, the scope of King Abdullah II’s power was demonstrated with the passing of 110 temporary laws. Two of these laws dealt with elections and were criticized as having the effect of reducing the power of Parliament. In 2005, King Abdullah expressed his intentions of making Jordan a democratic country. Thus far, however, democratic development has been limited, with the monarchy maintaining most power and its allies dominating parliament. Elections were held in November 2010.
In February 2011, responding to domestic and regional unrest, King Abdullah replaced his prime minister and formed a National Dialogue Commission with a reform mandate. The King told the new prime minister to “take quick, concrete and practical steps to launch a genuine political reform process”, “to strengthen democracy,” and provide Jordanians with the “dignified life they deserve.” The King called for an “immediate revision” of laws governing politics and public freedoms. Initial reports say that this effort has started slowly and that several “fundamental rights” are not being addressed.
Geography of Jordan
The mountains of Jerash Governorate
The Gulf of Aqaba is named after the historic port of Aqaba
Jordan lies on the continent of Asia between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 35° and 40° E (a small area lies west of 35°). It consists of an arid plateau in the east, irrigated by oasis and seasonal water streams, with highland area in the west of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry.
The Jordan Rift Valley of the Jordan River separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The highest point in the country isJabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854 m (6,083 ft) above sea level, its top is also covered with snow, while the lowest is the Dead Sea −420 m (−1,378 ft). Jordan is part of a region considered to be “the cradle of civilization”, the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent.
Major cities include the capital Amman and Salt in the west, Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa, in the northwest and Madaba, Karak and Aqaba in the southwest. Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis town of Azraq and Ruwaished.
Climate of Jordan
The climate in Jordan is semi-dry in summer with average temperature in the mid 30 °C (86 °F) and is relatively cool in winter averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). The western part of the country receives greater precipitation during the winter season from November to March and snowfall in Amman (756 m (2,480 ft) ~ 1,280 m (4,199 ft) above sea-level) and Western Heights of 500 m (1,640 ft). Excluding the rift valley, the rest of the country is entirely above 300 m (984 ft) (SL). The weather is humid from November to March and semi dry for the rest of the year. With hot, dry summers and cool winters during which practically all of the precipitation occurs, the country has aMediterranean-style climate. In general, the farther inland from the Mediterranean a given part of the country lies, the greater are the seasonal contrasts in temperature and the less rainfall.
Politics and government
Politics of Jordan and Government of Jordan
Although Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. He serves as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief and appoints the executive branch consisting of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet of Jordan, and regional governors. The current monarch is Abdullah II.
The Parliament of Jordan consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives (Majlis an-Nuwāb) and the Senate (Majlis al-‘Aayan). The 150 members of the House are democratically elected from 12 constituencies, but 75 members of the Senate are all directly appointed by the King. Women’s quota in the house of representatives is 15 seats. 108 seats are chosen from constituencies while the remaining 27 seats are chosen through proportional representation on nationwide party lists.
King Abdullah II succeeded his father Hussein following the latter’s death in February 1999. Abdullah moved quickly to reaffirm Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. During the first year in power, he refocused the government’s agenda on economic reform.
Jordan has multi-party politics. Political parties contest fewer than a fifth of the seats; the remainder are assigned to independent politicians. A new law enacted in July 2012 placed political parties under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior and forbade the establishment of parties based on religion.
The last parliamentary elections were held on 23 January 2013. Because of a history of rigged elections, government critics have dismissed them as merely cosmetic. The Muslim Brotherhood and the protest network known as Hirak boycotted the vote.
A police officer in Amman
The Jordanian legal system is derived from Sharia and an Ottoman- Egyptian form of the Napoleonic Code. It has also been influenced by tribal traditions.
The highest court is the Court of Cassation, followed by the Courts of Appeal. The lower courts are divided into civil courts and sharia courts. Civil courts have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases, while the sharia courts have jurisdiction over personal status for Muslims, including marriage, divorce, and inheritance; parallel tribunals handle such matters for non-Muslims. Shari’a courts also have jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the Islamic waqfs. In cases involving parties of different religions, regular courts have jurisdiction.
The Constitution of Jordan was adopted on January 11, 1952 and has been amended many times. Article 97 of Jordan’s constitution guarantees the independence of the judicial branch, clearly stating that judges are ‘subject to no authority but that of the law.’ While the king must approve the appointment and dismissal of judges, in practice these are supervised by the Higher Judicial Council. Article 99 of the Constitution divides the courts into three categories: civil, religious and special. The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters in accordance with the law, and they have jurisdiction over all persons in all matters, civil and criminal, including cases brought against the government. The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, High Administrative Courts and the Supreme Court.
The Family Law in force is the Personal Status Law of 1976. Sharia Courts have jurisdiction over personal status matters relating to Muslims.
Jordan’s law enforcement ranked 24th in the world, 4th in the Middle East, in terms of police services’ reliability in the Global Competitiveness Report. Jordan also ranked 13th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East in terms of prevention of organized crime, making it one of the safest countries in the world.
Foreign relations of Jordan
Jordan has followed a pro-Western foreign policy and maintained close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. These relations were damaged by Jordan’s neutrality and maintaining relations with Iraq during the first Gulf War. Following the Gulf War, Jordan largely restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the Southwest Asia peace process and enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq. Relations between Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries improved substantially after King Hussein’s death in 1999.
Jordan is a key ally of the USA and UK and, together with Egypt, is one of only two Arab nations to have signed peace treaties with Israel.
In Israel in 2009, several Likud lawmakers proposed a bill that called for a Palestinian state on both sides of the Jordan River, presuming that Jordan should be the alternative homeland for the Palestinians. Later, following similar remarks by the Israeli Speaker of the Knesset, twenty Jordanian lawmakers proposed a bill in the Jordanian Parliament in which the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan would be frozen. The Israeli Foreign Ministry disavowed the original proposal.
Jordan is included in the European Union’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.
Jordanian Armed Forces
Jordanian troops in a military parade in Amman
The Jordanian military enjoys strong support and aid from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. This is due to its critical position between Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia with very close proximity to Lebanon and Egypt. The development of the Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the forces to react rapidly to threats to state security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.
There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. These soldiers provide everything from military defense, training of native police, medical help, and charity. Jordan ranks third internationally in taking part in UN peacekeeping missions. Jordan has one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.
Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the world such as Iraq, the West Bank, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Congo, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Pakistan. The Kingdom’s field hospitals extended aid to more than one million people in Iraq, some one million in the West Bank and 55,000 in Lebanon. According to the military, there are Jordanian peacekeeping forces in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Jordanian Armed Forces field hospital inAfghanistan has since 2002 provided assistance to some 750,000 persons and has significantly reduced the suffering of people residing in areas where the hospital operates.In some missions, the number of Jordanian troops was the second largest, the sources said. Jordan also provides extensive training of security forces in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and the GCC.
Governorates of Jordan
Jordan is divided into 12 provinces known as governorates, which, in turn, are subdivided into 54 departments or districts called nawahi.
|Governorates of Jordan.|
Human rights in Jordan
The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of fifteen Arab countries.
Civil liberties and political rights scored 5 and 6 respectively in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2011 report, where 1 is most free and 7 is least free. This earned Jordan “Not Free” status. Jordan ranked ahead of 6, behind 4, and the same as 8 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Jordan ranked 6th among the 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, and 50th out of 178 countries worldwide in the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International. Jordan’s 2010 CPI score was 4.7 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean). Jordan ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in February 2005 and has been a regional leader in spearheading efforts to promote the UNCAC and its implementation.
Tourism in Jordan
Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
Tourism accounted for 10%–12% of the country’s Gross National Product in 2006. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The result was $3.4 billion in tourism revenues, $4.4 billion if medical tourists are included. Jordan offers everything from world-class historical and cultural sites like Petra and Jerash to modern entertainment in urban areas most notably Amman. Moreover, seaside recreation is present in Aqaba and Dead Sea through numerous international resorts. Eco-tourists have numerous nature reserves to choose from as like Dana Nature Reserve. Religious tourists visit Mt. Nebo, the Baptist Site, and the mosaic city of Madaba.
Jordan has nightclubs, discothèques and bars in Amman, Irbid, Aqaba, and many 4 and 5-star hotels. Furthermore, beach clubs are also offered at the Dead Sea and Aqaba. Jordan played host to the Petra Prana Festival in 2007 which celebrated Petra’s win as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World with world-renowned DJs like Tiesto and Sarah Main. The annual Distant Heat festival in Wadi Rum and Aqaba ranked as one of the world’s top 10 raves.
Excavated remains of Bethabara, Jordan, where John the Baptist is believed to have conducted his ministry.
Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Azraq Wetland Reserve, Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and Mujib Nature Reserve.
Jordan has been a medical tourism destination in the Middle East since the 1970s. A study conducted by Jordan’s Private Hospitals Association (PHA) found that 250,000 patients from 102 countries received treatment in the kingdom in 2010, compared to 190,000 in 2007, bringing over $1 billion in revenue. It is the region’s top medical tourism destination as rated by the World Bank and fifth in the world overall.
It is estimated that Jordan received 50,000 Libyan patients and 80,000 Syrian refugees, who also sought treatment in Jordanian hospitals, in the first six months of 2012.
Jordan’s main focus of attention in its marketing effort are the ex-Soviet states, Europe, and America. Most common medical procedures on Arab and foreign patients included organ transplants, open heart surgeries, infertility treatment, laser vision corrections, bone operations and cancer treatment.
Transport in Jordan
A Royal Jordanian Airbus A310-300
As it is a transit country for goods and services to the Palestinian territories and Iraq, Jordan maintains a well-developed transportation infrastructure. Jordan ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Index of Economic Competitiveness.
In 2006, the Port of Aqaba was ranked as having the “Best Container Terminal” in the Middle East by Lloyd’s List.
Jordan has three commercial airports, all receiving and dispatching international flights. Two are in Amman and the third is in Aqaba. The largest airport in the country, serving as the hub of the flag carrier Royal Jordanian, is Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. The airport is currently under significant expansion in a bid to make it the hub for the Levant. Amman Civil Airport was the country’s main airport before it was replaced by Queen Alia Airport but it still serves several regional routes. King Hussein International Airport serves Aqaba with connections to Amman and several regional and international cities.
Immigrants and refugees
Jordan in its surroundings
In 2007, there were 700,000–1,000,000 Iraqis in Jordan. Since the Iraq War, many Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) from Iraq have settled permanently or temporarily in Jordan. They could number as many as 500,000. There were also 15,000 Lebanese who emigrated to Jordan following the 2006 War with Israel. To escape the violence, over 500,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan since 2012.
The vast majority of Jordanians are Arabs, accounting for 95-97% of the population.Assyrian Christians account for up to 150,000 persons, or 0.8% of the population. Most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq. Kurds, number some 30,000 people, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Armenians number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman. A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq. Jews, once prevalent in Jordan, now number only 300 or so people in Tzofar.
There are around 1.2 million illegal and some 500,000 legal migrant workers in the Kingdom. Furthermore, there are thousands of foreign women working in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom, mostly from Eastern Europe and North Africa.
Jordan is home to a relatively large American and European expatriate population concentrated mainly in the capital as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions that base their regional operations in Amman.
According to UNRWA, Jordan was home to 1,951,603 Palestinian refugees in 2008, most of them Jordanian citizens. 338,000 of them were living in UNRWA refugee camps. Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to resettle West Bank residents in Jordan. West Bank Palestinians with family in Jordan or Jordanian citizenship were issued yellow cards guaranteeing them all the rights of Jordanian citizenship. Palestinians living in Jordan with family in the West Bank were also issued yellow cards. All other Palestinians wishing such Jordanian papers were issued green cards to facilitate travel into Jordan.
As of 2014, the Refugee Assistance Centre in Amman is distributing letters of encouragement to Syrian refugee children, from children at the Dadaab refugee camp.”
Religion in Jordan
Abu Darweesh Mosque
|Religion in Jordan (CIA World Factbook)|
Islam is the official religion and approximately 92% of the population is Muslim. Sunnis form the majority with non-denominational Muslimsbeing the second largest group of Muslims at 29%. There are a small number of Ahmadi Muslim.
Jordan has laws promoting religious freedom, but falls short of protecting all minority groups. Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries face societal and legal discrimination.
According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, 46.2% of Jordanians regularly attend religious services in 2006.
Jordan has an indigenous Christian minority. Christians made up 30% of the Jordanian population in 1950. Traditionally, Christians occupy two Cabinet posts. The highest political position a Christian has reached is Deputy Prime Minister under Marwan Muasher. A Jordanian Christian though has never been Prime Minister or commanded the armed forces although there are Jordanian Christians who serve in high commands of the military and special forces. Christians are also very influential in media. In addition, Christians have 9 reserved seats in the country’s 150-seat Parliament. Christian Arabs, helped by their Western-oriented education and often superior knowledge of foreign languages, dominate business. A study in 1987 by a Western embassy concluded that almost half of Jordan’s leading business families are Christian and most Palestinian Christian.
Other religious minorities groups in Jordan include adherents to the Druze and Bahá’í Faith. The Druze are mainly located in the eastern oasis town of Azraq, some villages on the Syrian border and the city of Zarqa, while the village Adassiyeh bordering theJordan Valley is home to Jordan’s Bahá’í community.