|Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.
- 1 Wikiambassadors
- 2 Jordan
- 3 History
- 4 Geography
- 5 Climate
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Politics
- 8 Kings of Jordan and political events
- 9 Religion
- 10 Parliament of Jordan
- 11 Term ==
- 12 Political parties
- 13 Economy
- 14 Tourism
- 15 Natural Reserves
- 16 Influence of the Southwest Asian conflict
- 17 Opportunity Cost of Conflict
- 18 Drain on the GDP
- 19 Foreign relations
- 20 Culture
- 21 Language
- 22 Education
- 23 School education
- 24 Foreign secondary education programs
- 25 Higher education
1) Nedal Shatat
Jordan (Arabic: الأردنّ al-'Urdunn), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab country in Southwest Asia spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the Gulf of Aqaba. It shares borders with Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, the West Bank and Israel to the west, and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. It shares control of the Dead Sea with Israel, and the coastline of the Gulf of Aqaba with the State of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Much of Jordan is covered by desert, particularly the Arabian Desert; however the north-western area, with the Jordan River, is regarded as part of the Fertile Crescent. The capital city of Amman is in the north-west.
During its history, Jordan has seen numerous civilizations, including such ancient eastern civilizations as the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian, and Persian empires. Jordan was for a time part of Pharaonic Egypt, and spawned the native Nabatean civilization who left rich archaeological remains at Petra. Cultures from the west also left their mark, such as the Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Turkish empires. Since the seventh century the area has been under Muslim and Arab cultures, with the exception of a brief period under British rule.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with representative government. The reigning monarch is the head of state, the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The king exercises his executive authority through the prime ministers and the Council of Ministers, or cabinet. The cabinet, meanwhile, is responsible before the elected House of Deputies which, along with the House of Notables (Senate), constitutes the legislative branch of the government. The judicial branch is an independent branch of the government.
The earlier roots of Jordan as an independent state can be traced back to The Kingdom of Petra, which was founded by The Nabataeans (Arabic: الأنباط, Al-Anbāt) an ancient Arabic Semitic people who invented the North Arabic Script that evolved into the Modern Arabic script. The region of present-day Jordan was conquered successively by the Seleucids (4th cent. BC), Romans (mid-1st cent. AD), and Muslim Arabs (7th. cent.). The Nabataeans Kingdom during its glory controlled the world trade lines by dominating a large area extended from the whole of modern Jordan to the south of Syria and the north of the Arabian Peninsula. As a result, Petra enjoyed prosperity, wealth and independence hundreds of years until it was occupied by the emerging Roman empire. Beside the Nabataeans, Jordan witnessed many other smaller ancient kingdoms including the Kingdom of Edom, the Kingdom of Ammon and the Kingdom of Moab, all of which are mentioned in the Bible as well as in many other old scriptures. During the Greco-Roman influence a number of semi-independent city-states also appeared in Jordan under the umbrella of the Decapolis including: Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (Amman), Raphana (Abila), Dion (Capitolias), Gadara (Umm Qays), and Pella (Irbid). Later, Jordan became part of the Arabic Islamic Empire across its different Caliphates stages including Rashidun Empire, Umayyad Empire and Abbasid Empire. After the decline of the Abbasid, Jordan was ruled by several conflicting powers including the Mongols, the Crusades, the Ayyubid and the Mamluk until it became part of the Ottoman Empire.
 Modern Jordan Wit the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the League of Nations and the occupying powers chose to redraw the borders of the Middle East. The ensuing decisions, most notably the Sykes–Picot Agreement gave birth to the French Mandate of Syria and British Mandate of Palestine. More than 76% of the British Mandate of Palestine was east of the Jordan river and was known as "Transjordan".
The country was called "Transjordan", under British supervision until after World War II. In 1946, the British requested that the United Nations approve an end to British Mandate rule in Transjordan. Following this approval, the Transjordanian Parliament proclaimed King Abdullah as the first ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. Abdullah I continued to rule until a Palestinian Arab assassinated him in 1951 as he was departing from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Jordan captured the area of Cisjordan now called the West Bank (also referred to by Israelis as Judea and Samaria), which it continued to controlled in accordance with the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Abdullah thereupon took the title King of Jordan, and he officially changed the country's name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in April 1949. The following year he annexed the West Bank, but only two countries recognized this annexation: Britain and Pakistan.
In 1965, there was an exchange of land between Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Jordan gave up a relatively large area of inland desert in return for a small piece of sea-shore near Aqaba.
Jordan signed a military pact with Egypt in May 1967, and together in June 1967 waged the Six Day War against Israel along with Syria, Egypt and Iraq, launching attacks against west Jerusalem. During the war, Jordan lost the West Bank and east Jerusalem to Israel. In 1988, Jordan renounced all claims to the territory now occupied by Israel, but retained an administrative role pending a final settlement, and its 1994 treaty with Israel allowed for a continuing Jordanian role in Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem.
The period following the 1967 war saw an upsurge in the activity and numbers of Arab 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. The Syrian army invaded Jordan, and attacked the Jordanian army in Amman and other urban areas in Jordan. In the ensuing heavy fighting, a Syrian tank force invaded northern Jordan to back the fedayeen fighters, but subsequently retreated. King Hussein urgently asked "the United States and Great Britain to intervene in the war in Jordan, asking the United States, in fact, to attack Syria, and some transcripts of diplomatic communiques show that Hussein requested Israeli intervention against Syria." Consequently, Israel performed mock air strikes on the Syrian column at the Americans' request. Possibly concerned at the prospect of an armed conflict with Israel, Syria's president at the time, Nureddin Atassi, ordered a hasty retreat from Jordanian soil. By 22 September, Arab foreign ministers meeting at Cairo had arranged a cease-fire beginning the following day. Sporadic violence continued, however, until Jordanian forces, led by Habis Al-Majali, with the help of Iraqi forces, won a decisive victory over the fedayeen on July 1971, expelling them, and ultimately the PLO's Yasser Arafat, from Jordan.
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 [Arab] Palestinian people", thereby relinquishing to that organization its role as representative of the West Bank.
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. Jordan did not directly participate in the Gulf War of 1990–91, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, but did support Saddam Hussein. As a result of that support, the United States and Arab countries cut off monetary aid to Jordan, and 700,000 Jordanians who had been working in Arab countries were forced to return to Jordan. In 1991, Jordan agreed, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Arab Palestinian fedayeen representatives, to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel at the Madrid Conference, sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on 25 July 1994 (see Washington Declaration). 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 with Israel, 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. Following the outbreak of Palestinian Authority-led fighting against Israel in September 2000, the Jordanian government offered its good offices to both parties. Jordan has since sought to remain at peace with all of its neighbors. Particularly good relations have been maintained between the Jordanian royal family and Israel, with Jordan's government quickly dispersing rallies or jailing demonstrators protesting against Israel and applying strict censorship to keep anti-Israel views out of the Jordanian news media. The last major strain in Jordan's relations with Israel occurred in September, 1997, when two Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. Under threat of cutting off diplomatic relations, King Hussein forced Israel to provide an antidote to the poison and to release dozens of Jordanians and Palestinians from its prisons, including the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin. While Meshal is alive today, several years after Yassin's release, Israel assassinated him in a bombing raid that destroyed an apartment building in the Palestinian Territories.
On 9 November 2005 Jordan experienced three simultaneous terrorist bombings at hotels in Amman. At least 57 people died and 115 were wounded. "Al-Qaeda in Iraq", a group led by terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a native Jordanian, claimed responsibility.
Jordan is a Southwest Asian country, bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south and Israel to the west. All these border lines add up to 1,619 km (1,006 mi). The Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea also touch the country, and thus Jordan has a coastline of 26 km (16 mi).
Jordan consists of arid forest 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 Great Rift Valley of the Jordan River separates Jordan, the west bank and Israel. The highest point in the country is Jabal Umm al Dami, it is 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 in the northwest, Irbid and Az Zarqa, both in the north. Karak and Aqaba in the south.
The climate in Jordan is semidry in summer with average temperature in the mid-30°C (mid-90°F) and relatively cold in winter averaging around the −1.3 °C (30 °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 major characteristic of the climate is the contrast between a very rainy season from November to March and semi dry weather for the rest of the year. With hot, dry, uniform summers and cool, freezing variable winters during which practically all of the precipitation occurs, the country has a Mediterranean-style climate. In general, the farther inland from the Mediterranean Sea a given part of the country lies, the greater are the seasonal contrasts in temperature and the less rainfall. Atmospheric pressures during the summer months are relatively uniform, whereas the winter months bring a succession of marked low pressure areas and accompanying cold fronts. These cyclonic disturbances generally move eastward from over the Mediterranean Sea several times a month and result in sporadic precipitation.
Most of the East Bank receives less than 620 millimeters of rain a year and may be classified as a semi dry region. Where the ground rises to form the highlands east of the Jordan Valley, precipitation increases to around 300 millimeters in the south and 500 or more millimeters in the north. The Jordan Valley, lying in the lee of high ground on the West Bank, forms a narrow climatic zone that annually receives up to 900 millimeters of rain in the northern reaches; rain dwindles to less than 120 millimeters at the head of the Dead Sea.
The country's long summer reaches a peak during August. January is usually the coolest month. The fairly wide ranges of temperature during a twenty-four-hour period are greatest during the summer months and have a tendency to increase with higher elevation and distance from the Mediterranean seacoast. Daytime temperatures during the summer months frequently exceed 29 °C and average about 32 °C. In contrast, the winter months — September to March — bring moderately cool and sometimes very cold weather, averaging about 3.2 °C. Except in the rift depression, frost is fairly common during the winter, it may take the form of snow at the higher elevations of the north western highlands. Usually it snows a couple of times in winter in western Amman.
For a month or so before and after the summer dry season, hot, dry air from the desert, drawn by low pressure, produces strong winds from the south or southeast that sometimes reach gale force. Known in the Middle East by various names, including the khamsin, this dry, sirocco-style wind is usually accompanied by great dust clouds. Its onset is heralded by a hazy sky, a falling barometer, and a drop in relative humidity to about 10 percent. Within a few hours there may be a 10 °C to 15 °C rise in temperature. These windstorms ordinarily last a day or so, cause much discomfort, and destroy crops by desiccating them.
The shammal, another wind of some significance, comes from the north or northwest, generally at intervals between June and September. Remarkably steady during daytime hours but becoming a breeze at night, the shammal may blow for as long as nine days out of ten and then repeat the process. It originates as a dry continental mass of polar air that is warmed as it passes over the Eurasian landmass. The dryness allows intense heating of the Earth's surface by the sun, resulting in high daytime temperatures that moderate after sunset. Administrative Divisions Main articles: Governorates of Jordan and Nahias of Jordan Administratively, Jordan is divided into 12 provinces called governorates, each headed by a governor appointed by the king. They are the sole authorities for all government departments and development projects in their respective areas. The Governorates are:
Province Population (2008 est.) Capital city Population (Metropolitan, 2008 est) Ajlun Governorate 118,496 Ajlun 8,161 Amman Governorate 1,939,405 Amman 1,135,733 Aqaba Governorate 107,115 Aqaba 95,408 Balqa Governorate 349,580 As-Salt 87,778 Irbid Governorate 950,700 Irbid 650,000 Jerash Governorate 156,680 Jerash 39,540 Karak Governorate 214,225 Karak 22,580 Ma'an Governorate 103,920 Ma'an 30,050 Madaba Governorate 135,890 Madaba 83,180 Mafraq Governorate 245,670 Mafraq 56,340 Tafilah Governorate 81,000 Tafilah Zarqa Governorate 838,250 Zarqa 447,880
The Governorates are subdivided into approximately fifty-two nahias.
Graph showing the population of Jordan from 1960 to 2005.Main article: Demographics of Jordan The Jordan National Census for the year 2004, which was released on October 1 of the same year, gave the following results:
1. As of October 1 2004, Jordan had a population of 5,100,981. The census estimated that there are another 190,000 who were not counted (for being out of the country at the time the census was taken, or did not turn in their forms).
2. The census showed that the national growth rate was 2.5% (at maximum) compared to 3.3% of the 1994 census.
3. The census of 2004 also shows that males made up 51.5% of Jordan's population (2,628,717). Females: 2,472,264 (48.5%).
4. Jordanian citizens made up 93% of the population (4,750,463), while non Jordanians made up 7% (349,933). However, it is estimated that most of those who did not turn in their forms were immigrants from neighboring countries, or non Arabic-speaking foreigners.
5. There were 946,000 families in Jordan in 2004, with an average of 5.3 persons/family (compared to 6 persons/family for the census of 1994). The next census is scheduled to take place in 2014.
During the years 2004-2007, Jordan saw a rapid increase in its population due to the heavy migration of Iraqi refugees, an independent census carried in 2007, estimated that there are 700,000 Iraqis residing in Jordan. Most estimates put the population of Jordan slightly over 6,000,000 as of the year 2007.
95-98% of Jordan's population are Arabs (60-80% of the population is Syro-Palestinian), the remaining non-Arabs of the population are mainly Circassians, Chechens, Armenians (13th largest Armenian diaspora in the world),Kurds and Gypsies, but have integrated into the Jordanian and Arab cultures in the country.
The number of Lebanese permanently settling in Jordan since the 2006 Lebanon War has not been established, and is estimated to be very little. According to Labour Ministry figures, the number of guest workers in the country now stands just over 300,000, most are Egyptians who makeup 227,000 of the foreign labor, and the remaining 36,150 workers are mostly from Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka and India. Since the Iraq War many Christians (Assyrians and Chaldeans) from Iraq have settled permanently or temporarily in Jordan.
Jordanian Christians permanently residing in Jordan form approximately 6% of the population and are allocated respective seats in parliament (The Department of Statistics released no information about the religion distribution from the census of 2004). Most Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox church (called "Ruum Urthudux" in Arabic). The rest are Roman Catholics (called "Lateen"), Eastern Catholics who are Melkites (called "Ruum Katoleek" to distinguish them from "Western Catholics"), and various Protestant communities including Baptists. Christians in Jordan are of many nationalities, as evinced, for example, by the Catholic mass being celebrated in Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Tagalog and Sinhala, as well as in Iraqi dialects of Arabic. However, Jordanian Christians are indigenous Arabs that share the Greater culture of Jordan and the Broader East Mediterranean Levantine Arab Identity.
Other Jordanians belonging to religious minorities include adherents to the Druze and Bahá'í Faith. The Druze are mainly located in the Eastern Oasis Town of Azraq and the city of Zarka, while the Village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley is home to Jordan's Bahá'í community.
The official language is Arabic, but English is used widely in commerce and government and among educated people. Arabic and English are obligatory learning at public and private schools. French is taught at some public and private schools but is not obligatory. However, a vibrant Francophone community has emerged in modern Jordan. Radio Jordan offers radio services in Arabic, English and French.
A portion of the people are registered as Palestinian refugees and displaced persons reside in Jordan, most as citizens. Since 2003 many Iraqis fleeing the Iraq War have settled in Jordan; latest estimates indicate between 700,000 and 1.7 million Iraqis living in Jordan; mainly in Amman, the capital.
King Abdullah II, Jordanian Head of State.Main article: Politics of Jordan
 Constitution Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated on 8 January 1952. Executive authority is vested in the king and his council of ministers. The king signs and executes all laws. 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 decree, approves amendments to the constitution, declares war, and commands the armed forces. Cabinet decisions, court judgments, and the national currency are issued in his name. The council of ministers, led by a prime minister, is appointed by the king, who may dismiss other cabinet members at the prime minister's request. The cabinet is responsible to the Chamber of Deputies on matters of general policy and can be forced to resign by a two-thirds vote of "no confidence" by that body.
The constitution provides for three categories of courts: civil, religious, and special. Administratively, Jordan is divided into twelve governorates, each headed by a governor appointed by the king. They are the sole authorities for all government departments and development projects in their respective areas.
 Legal system and legislation Jordan's legal system is based on Islamic law and French codes. Judicial review of legislative acts occurs in a special High Tribunal. It has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.
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.
The Jordanian legal system draws upon civil traditions as well as Islamic law and custom. 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 religious courts include Sharia (Islamic law) courts and the tribunals of other religious communities. Religious courts deal only with matters involving personal law such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. Sharia courts also have jurisdiction over matters regarding Islamic waqfs (a religious endowment such as an area of land). In cases involving parties of different religions regular courts have jurisdiction.
Specialized courts involve various bodies. One such body is the Supreme Council which will interpret the Constitution if requested by either the National Assembly or the prime minister, according to Dew et al.: "...such courts are usually created in areas that the legislator deems should be governed by specialized courts with more experience and knowledge in specific matters than other regular courts." Other examples of special courts include the Court of Income Tax and the Highest Court of Felonies.
Prior to 2002 Jordan’s legal system only allowed men to file for divorce, however, during this year the first Jordanian woman successfully filed for divorce; this was made possible from a proposal by a royal human rights commission which had been established by King Abdullah who had vowed to improve the status of women in Jordan.
Despite being traditionally dominated by men the number of women involved as lawyers in the Jordan legal system has been increasing. As of mid-2006 Jordan had 1,284 female lawyers, out of a total number of 6,915, and 35 female judges from a total of 630.
Kings of Jordan and political events
King Abdullah I ruled Jordan after independence from Britain. After the assassination of King Abdullah I in 1951, his son King Talal ruled briefly. King Talal's major accomplishment was the Jordanian constitution. King Talal was removed from the throne in 1952 due to mental illness. At that time his son, Hussein, was too young to rule, and hence a committee ruled over Jordan.
After Hussein reached 18, he ruled Jordan as king from 1953 to 1999, surviving a number of challenges to his rule, drawing on the loyalty of his military, and serving as a symbol of unity and stability for both the Bedouin-related and Palestinian communities in Jordan. King Hussein ended martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties in 1992. In 1989 and 1993, Jordan held free and fair parliamentary elections. Controversial changes in the election law led Islamist parties to boycott the 1997 elections.
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. Abdullah, during the first year in power, refocused the government's agenda on economic reform.
Jordan's continuing structural economic difficulties, burgeoning population, and more open political environment led to the emergence of a variety of political parties. Moving toward greater independence, Jordan's parliament has investigated corruption charges against several regime figures and has become the major forum in which differing political views, including those of political Islamists, are expressed. While King abdullah remains the ultimate authority in Jordan, the parliament plays an important role.
Religion in Jordan Religion Percent Sunni Muslims 92% Christian 6% Shia Muslims, Druze 2%
Main article: Religion in Jordan The population consists of 92 percent Sunni Muslims, 6 percent Christian (majority Greek Orthodox, but some Greek and Roman Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Protestant denominations), and 2 percent other (several small Shia Muslim and Druze populations).
Parliament of Jordan
Main article: Parliament of Jordan The 1952 Constitution provided for the establishment of the bicameral Jordanian National Assembly (‘Majlis al-Umma’). The Parliament consists of two Chambers: The Chamber of Deputies (‘Majlis al-Nuwaab’) and the Senate (‘Majlis al-Aayan’; literally, ‘Assembly of Notables’). The Senate has 55 Senators, all of whom are directly appointed by the King, whilst the Chamber of Deputies/House of Representatives has 80 elected members representing 12 constituencies. Of the 80 members of the Lower Chamber, 71 must be Muslim and 9 Christians, with six seats held back specifically for women. The Constitution ensures that the Senate cannot be more than half the size of the Chamber of Deputies.
The constitution does not provide a strong system of checks and balances within which the Jordanian Parliament can assert its role in relationship to the monarch. 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 such laws dealt with election law and were seen to reduce the power of Parliament.
Senators have terms of four years and are appointed by the King and can be reappointed. Prospective Senators must be at least forty years old and have held senior positions in either the government or military. Appointed Senators have included former Prime Ministers and Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Deputies are elected to also serve a four year term. Candidates must be older than thirty-five, cannot have blood ties to the King, and must not have any financial interests in government contracts.
Despite the reforms of 1989, multi-party politics has yet to develop in Jordan. The only political party that plays a role in the legislature is the Islamic Action Front (IAF). Political parties can be seen to represent four sections: Islamists, leftists, Arab nationalists and conservative. There are over 30 other political parties in Jordan including the Jordanian Arab Democratic Party, Jordanian Socialist Party, Muslim Centre Party, but these have little impact on the political process.
The Four Seasons hotel in Amman, Jordan's capital.Main article: Economy of Jordan Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. The country is currently exploring ways to expand its limited water supply and use its existing water resources more efficiently, including through regional cooperation. Although Jordan has large oil shale reserves, the country depends on external sources for the majority of its energy requirements. During the 1990s, its crude petroleum needs were met through imports from Iraq and neighboring countries. Since early 2003, oil has been provided by some Gulf Cooperation Council member countries. In addition, the Arab Gas Pipeline from Egypt to the southern port city of Aqaba was completed in 2003. The government plans to extend this pipeline north to the Amman area and beyond. Since 2000, exports of light manufactured products, principally textiles and garments manufactured in the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) that enter the United States tariff and quota free, have been driving economic growth. Jordan exported €5.6 million ($6.9 million) in goods to the U.S. in 1997, when two-way trade was €321 million ($395 million); it exported €538 million ($661 million) in 2002 with two-way trade at €855 million ($1.05 billion). Similar growth in exports to the United States under the bilateral US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement that went into effect in December 2001, to the European Union under the bilateral Association Agreement, and to countries in the region, holds considerable promise for diversifying Jordan's economy away from its traditional reliance on exports of phosphates and potash, overseas remittances, and foreign aid. The government has emphasized the information technology (IT) and tourism sectors as other promising growth sectors. The low tax and low regulation Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) is considered a model of a government-provided framework for private sector-led economic growth.
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States that went into effect in December 2001 will phase out duties on nearly all goods and services by 2010. The agreement also provides for more open markets in communications, construction, finance, health, transportation, and services, as well as strict application of international standards for the protection of intellectual property. In 1996, Jordan and the United States signed a civil aviation agreement that provides for open skies between the two countries, and a U.S.-Jordan treaty for the protection and encouragement of bilateral investment entered into force in 2003. Jordan has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 2000.
Textile and clothing exports from Jordan to the United States shot up 2,000 percent from 2000 to 2005, following introduction of the FTA. According to the National Labor Committee, a U.S.-based NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), Jordan has experienced sharp increases in sweatshop conditions in its export-oriented manufacturing sector.
The proportion of skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region. The services sector dominates the Jordanian economy. Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in Jordan with revenues over one billion. Industries such as pharmaceuticals are emerging as very profitable products in Jordan. The Real Estate economy and construction sectors continue to flourish with mass amounts of investments pouring in from the Persian Gulf and Europe. Foreign Direct Investment is in the billions. The stock market capitalization of Jordan is worth nearly $40 billion.
Jordan is classified by the World Bank as a "lower middle income country." The per-capita GDP was approximately USD $5,100 for 2007 and 14.5% of the economically active population, on average, was unemployed in 2003. Education and literacy rates and measures of social well-being are very high compared to other countries with similar incomes. Jordan's population growth rate is high, but has declined in recent years, to approximately 2.8% currently. One of the most important factors in the government’s efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens is the macroeconomic stability that has been achieved since the 1990s. However, unemployment rates remain high, with the official figure standing at 12.5%, and the unofficial around 30%. Rates of price inflation are low, at 2.3% in 2003, and the currency has been stable with an exchange rate fixed to the U.S. dollar since 1995.
By 2003 onwards following the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Jordan lost its vital oil grants provided by the regime of Saddam Hussein. This, combined with soaring world oil prices resulted in an acceleration of inflation and further pressures a gradual undermining of real income. So far the government of Jordan has not found means to reduce dependence on oil (with the exception of gas imports from Egypt).
While pursuing economic reform and increased trade, Jordan's economy will continue to be vulnerable to external shocks and regional unrest. Without calm in the region, economic growth seems destined to stay below potential. On the positive side, however, there is huge potential in the solar energy falling on Jordan's deserts, not only for the generation of pollution-free electricity but also for such spin-offs as desalination of sea water (see Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC)).
The treasury, as seen from al-Siq. An Arabian Desert castle in Al Azrak. The Corinthian columns are a popular tourist attraction in Jerash.Main article: Tourism in Jordan Tourism is a very important sector of the Jordanian economy, contributing between 10 percent and 12 percent to the country's Gross National Product in 2006. In addition to the country's political stability, the geography offered makes Jordan an attractive tourism destination. Jordan's major tourist activities include numerous ancient places, its unique desert castles and unspoiled natural locations to its cultural and religious sites. The best known attractions include:
Ancient sightseeing Petra in Ma'an, the home of the Nabateans, is a complete city carved in a mountain. The huge rocks are colorful, mostly pink, and the entrance to the ancient city is through a 1.25 km narrow gorge in the mountain — called the Siq. In the city are various structures, all (except 2) are carved into rock, including al Khazneh - known as the Treasury - which has been designated as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" by the for-profit New Open World Corporation. Other major sites of interest in Petra include the Monastery, the Roman theater, the Royal Tombs, the High Place of Sacrifice. Petra was rediscovered for the western world by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Umm Qais, a town located on the site of the ruined Hellenistic-Roman city of Gadara. Ajlun, famous for the Al-Rabad Castle. Jerash, famous for its its ancient Roman architecture, including the colonnaded streets, arches, Roman theaters, and the Oval Plaza. Amman contains the Roman theater, in addition to several museums, where one may find remains of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Al Karak contains an important castle from the times of Salah al-Din, known as Al-Karak Castle. Religious sites Madaba, well known for its mosaics, as well as important religious sites such as: The Madaba Map. The River Jordan, which is the river where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized, by John the Baptist. Mount Nebo, where Moses was said to have gone to get a view of the Promised Land before he died. Seaside The Dead Sea - It is the lowest point on earth, 402 meters below sea level, and becomes 1 meter lower each year. It is located near River Jordan. Aqaba is a town on the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba with numerous shopping centers, hotels and access to water sports. Other sites Wadi Rum is a desert full of mountains and hills located south of Jordan. It is popular for its sights in addition to a variety of sports that are practiced there, such as rock-climbing. It is also known for its association with Lawrence of Arabia. Fuheis, a beautiful town about 20 minutes north-west of Amman. Mahis with important religious sites, and wonderful landscape. Muwakir (Arabic for Machaerus) was the hilltop stronghold of Herod the Great. Upon Herod's death, his son Herod Antipas inhabited the fortress, and ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded there.
Main article: Tourism in Jordan#Natural Reserves Jordan has a number of natural reserves.
Dana Nature Reserve Dana Nature Reserve covers 308 square kilometres and is a world of natural treasures. It is composed of a chain of valleys and mountains which extend from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. The visitor to this area will be awed by the beauty of the Rummana mountain, the mystery of the ancient archaeological ruins of Feinan, the timeless serenity of Dana Village and the grandeur of the red and white sandstone cliffs of Wadi Dana. The Reserve contains a remarkable diversity of landscapes, which range from wooded highlands to rocky slopes and from gravel plains to dunes of sand. Moreover, Dana supports diverse wildlife which includes a variety of rare species of plants and animals; Dana is home to about 600 species of plants, 37 species of mammals and 190 species of birds.
Azraq Wetland Reserve Azraq is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the semi-arid Jordanian eastern desert, one of several beautiful nature reserves managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). Its attractions include several natural and ancient built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat know as Qa'a Al-Azraq. A wide variety of birds stop at the reserve each year for a rest during their arduous migration routes between Asia and Africa. Some stay for the winter or breed within the protected areas of the wetland.
Shawmari Wildlife Reserve The Shawmari Reserve was created in 1975 by the RSCN as a breeding centre for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programmes with some of the world's leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the most rare species in the Middle East. Oryx, ostriches, gazelles and onagers, which are depicted on many 6th century Byzantine mosaics, are rebuilding their populations and reasserting their presence in this safe haven, protected from the hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.
Mujib Nature Reserve The Mujib Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a spectacular array of scenery near the east cost of the Dead Sea. The reserve is located within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge, which enters the Dead Sea at 410 metres below sea level. The Reserve extends to the Kerak and Madaba mountains to the north and south, reaching 899 metres above sea level in some places. This 1,300 metre variation in elevation, combined with the valley's year-round water flow from seven tributaries, means that Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent bio-diversity that is still being explored and documented today. Over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores and numerous species of permanent and migratory birds have been recorded. Some of the remote mountain and valley areas are difficult to reach, and thus offer safe havens for rare species of cats, goats and other mountain animals. Mujib's sandstone cliffs are an ideal habitat for one of the most beautiful mountain goats in the world, the horned Ibex.
Influence of the Southwest Asian conflict
The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and other conflicts in Southwest Asia have made huge impacts on the economy of Jordan. The fact that Jordan has peace with the surrounding countries, combined with its stability, has made it a preference for many Palestinians, Lebanese, and people from the Persian Gulf immigrants and refugees. Though this may have resulted in a more active economy, it has also damaged it by substantially decreasing the amount of resources each person is entitled to. Jordan has a law that states that any Palestinian may immigrate and obtain Jordanian citizenship, but must remit his/her Palestinian claim. Palestinians are not allowed to purchase land unless they give up their Palestinian citizenship. In November 2005, King Abdullah called for a "war on extremism" in the wake of three suicide bombings in Amman.
Opportunity Cost of Conflict
A report by Strategic Foresight Group has calculated the opportunity cost of conflict for the Middle East from 1991-2010 at a whopping $12 trillion (12,000,000,000,000). Jordan’s share in this is almost $84 billion. In other words had there been peace since 1991, every Jordanian citizen would be earning $4,500 instead of the $2,700 he or she will earn in 2010. Every Jordanian family will also have the opportunity to increase their annual income by more than $1,250 if peace is established in the region and the Arab-Israeli boycott is lifted in full.
Drain on the GDP
The report also outlines how an extremely significant cost to Jordan is that the country is host to millions of refugees who make up 40% of their population and are a drain on 7% of the GDP. Jordan also spends over 5% of its GDP on defense, and has one of the highest numbers of military personnel in the region, 23,500 military personnel per million people.
Main article: Foreign relations of Jordan Jordan has consistently followed a pro-Western foreign policy and traditionally has had 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. Jordan has a well earned reputation for usually following a pragmatic and non-confrontational foreign policy, leading to fair relations with its neighbours.
King Abdullah II on a visit to The Pentagon.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. Following the fall of the Iraqi regime, Jordan has played a pivotal role in supporting the restoration of stability and security to Iraq. The Government of Jordan signed a memorandum of understanding with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to facilitate the training of up to 30,000 Iraqi police cadets at a Jordanian facility.
Jordan signed a non-belligerency agreement with Israel (the Washington Declaration) in Washington, D.C., on 25 July 1994. King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin negotiated this treaty. Jordan and Israel signed a historic peace treaty on 26 October 1994, witnessed by President Bill Clinton, accompanied by U.S. Secretary, Warren Christopher. The U.S. has participated with Jordan and Israel in trilateral development discussions in which key issues have been water-sharing and security; cooperation on Jordan Rift Valley development; infrastructure projects; and trade, finance, and banking issues. Jordan also participates in the multilateral peace talks. Jordan belongs to the UN and several of its specialized and related agencies, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Jordan also is a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Nonaligned Movement (NAM), and Arab League.
Main article: Culture of Jordan
A large plate of mezes in Petra, JordanThe culture of Jordan, as in its spoken language, values, beliefs, ethnicities is Arab as the Kingdom is in the heart of Southwest Asia. Although many people from different regions of the world have come to settle in Jordan, like Circassians and Chechens, they have long been assimilated in the society and added their richness to the society that subsequently developed.
Music of Jordan Religion in Jordan (Islam in Jordan, Christianity in Jordan) Sports in Jordan Cuisine of Jordan Art in Jordan Art in Jordan is plentiful, there are many local artists, as well as Arab, especially Iraqis, and those Arabs who live abroad frequently have exhibitions in different art galleries in the capital. In addition to an art museum in Jabal Luwiebdeh, there is Darat Al Funun, a very prestigious art center that frequently holds exhibitions by local, Arab and international artists. It is too in Jabal Luwiebdeh, but there are many other art centers that too hold exhibitions which suggests that art is a vibrant aspect of the capital Public Holidays in Jordan
Arabic is the official language of Jordan. English is widely understood among most Jordanians, although the degree to which varies with educational level and demographic concentration. Middle and upper class citizens tend to be fluent and consider English as their second language. French is understood by some, especially graduates of the handful of French schools in Jordan. Armenian and other Caucasian languages such as Circassian and Chechen are understood and spoken by their respective communities residing in Jordan with minority schools teaching these languages, alongside Arabic and English. Russian is also fairly common, amongst the older generation, which have studied in the USSR.
Main article: Education in Jordan Jordan has given great attention to education in particular. Its educational system is of international standards and its secondary education program is accepted in world-class universities. It is ranked 89th in the world at 91.1% according to literacy rate.
See also: Tawjihi and List of private schools in Jordan School education in Jordan could be categorized into two sections:
Secondary education, which consists of two years of school study, for students who have completed the 10-year basic cycle. It comprises two major tracks: Secondary education, which can either be academic or vocational. At the end of the two-year period, students sit for the general secondary examination (Tawjihi) in the appropriate branch and those who pass are awarded the Tawjihi (General Secondary Education Certificate). The academic stream qualifies students for university entrance, whereas the vocational or technical type qualifies for entrance to Community colleges or universities or the job market, provided they pass the two additional subjects. Vocational secondary education, which provides intensive vocational training and apprenticeship, and leads to the award of a Certificate (not the Tawjihi). This type of education is provided by the Vocational Training Corporation, under the control of the Ministry of Labour / Technical and Vocational Education and Training Higher Council.
Foreign secondary education programs
After completing the 8 or 10 years of basic education, Jordanians are free to choose any foreign secondary education program instead of the Tawjihi examinations (8 for IGCSE, 10 for SAT and IB). Such programmes are usually offered by private schools. These programmes include:
IGCSE SAT International Baccalaureate Private schools in Jordan also used to offer GCSE examinations, but they have now been replaced by IGCSE examinations.
Upon graduation, the ministry of Higher Education, through a system similar to UK tariff points, transforms the grades/marks of these foreign educational programmes into the same marks used in grading Tawjihi students. This system is controversial, both as to the conversion process and the number of places allocated to non-Tawjihi applicants.
Another source of trouble is the system used to transform exam results of foreign education programmes into the Tawjihi scale, which is expressed as a percentage. Again, some see the system as fair or overly lenient to non-Tawjihi graduates, while others see it as unfair.
See also: List of universities in Jordan Access to higher education is open to holders of the General Secondary Education Certificate who can then apply to private community colleges, public community colleges or universities (public and private), the admission to public universities is very competitive. The credit-hour system, which entitles students to select courses according to a study plan, is implemented at universities. At present, there are eight public universities plus two newly licensed ones, and thirteen private universities plus four newly licensed ones. All post-secondary education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Ministry includes the Higher Education Council and the Accreditation Council.
 See also Communications in Jordan Newspapers in Jordan Foreign relations of Jordan Hashemite Human rights in Jordan List of Jordanians List of Prime Ministers of Jordan Tourism in Jordan Ecotourism in Jordan Nature Reserves in Jordan Military of Jordan
Political parties in Jordan
Civil Society institutions in Jordan Public holidays in Jordan Royal Jordanian Air Force Royal Jordanian Airlines Scouting and Guiding in Jordan Transport in Jordan Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation Jordanian military ranks Oil shale in Jordan
 References ^ See table of data with source referenced and explanation on Talk page - Ethnicity ^ a b c d "Jordan". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?pr.x=54&pr.y=16&sy=2004&ey=2008&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=439&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=. Retrieved on 2008-10-09. ^  ^ Black September at History Central. ^ Jordan Expels the PLO in 1970, Palestine Facts. ^ (Arabic) Aljazeera.net article. ^ BBC World Weather - Country Guide:Jordan. ^ دائرة الإحصاءات العامة - الأردن ^ http://world-gazetteer.com/wg.php?x=&men=gcis&lng=en&des=wg&geo=-110&srt=pnan&col=adhoq&msz=1500&va=&pt=a ^ النتائج الاولية للتعداد ^ a b c CIA - The World Factbook -- Jordan ^ People of Jordan ^ Leyne, Jon. Doors closing on fleeing Iraqis, BBC News, 24 January 2007. Accessed 4 July 2008. ^ The New Iraqi Diaspora, Hii Dunia, January 2007 ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2PgiE1PCeL8C&pg=PA278&lpg=PA278&dq=jordan+special+courts&source=web&ots=zo5NSYkmBt&sig=Hwv28otEiNUZ1QNqutG0MDnG9co&hl=en#PPA278,M1 ^ Jordan woman 'wins right to divorce', BBC News, 13 May 2002. Accessed 1 July 2008. ^ http://www.legal500.com - Default Recommended Firms ^ US Department of State Background Note: Jordan http://www.infoplease.com/country/profiles/jordan.html ^ p.148 Parker, C. 2004 ‘Transformation without transition: electoral politics, network ties, and the persistence of the shadow state in Jordan’ in Elections in the Middle East: what do they mean’ Cairo Papers in Social Sciences Vol. 25 Numbers ½, Spring Summer 2002 Cairo ^ World Bank 2003 p.44 ‘Better governance for development in the Middle East and North Africa: Enhancing inclusiveness and accountability’ Washington. ^ www.lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+jo0103) ^ Jordan-US FTA. ^ NLCNet. ^ The Dead Sea, NPR ^ http://www.strategicforesight.com/Cost%20of%20Conflict%20-%206%20pager.pdf ^ http://www.strategicforesight.com/
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The King of Jordan Ma'an website by Ma'an Son Government of Jordan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Jordan Tourism Board Jordan News Agency (Petra) Chief of State and Cabinet Members General Jordan entry at The World Factbook Jordan at UCB Libraries GovPubs Jordan at the Open Directory Project Wikimedia Atlas of Jordan Jordan pictures Jordan travel guide from Wikitravel Jordan, an external wiki Traveler Guide to Jordan