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Jordan

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Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية (Arabic)
Al-Mamlakah al-’Urdunniyyah Al-Hāshimiyyah
Motto: الله، الوطن، الملك
Allāh, Al-Waṭan, Al-Malik
"God, Country, King"[1]
Anthem: السلام الملكي الأردني
As-Salām Al-Malakī Al-ʾUrdunī
"The Royal Anthem of Jordan"
Location of Jordan
Capital
and largest city
Amman
31°57′N 35°56′E / 31.950°N 35.933°E / 31.950; 35.933
Official languagesArabic[2]
Ethnic groups
Religion
Demonym(s)Jordanian
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary semi-constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Abdullah II
Bisher Al-Khasawneh
LegislatureParliament
Senate
House of Representatives
Independence 
• Emirate
11 April 1921
25 May 1946
11 January 1952
Area
• Total
89,342 km2 (34,495 sq mi) (110th)
• Water (%)
0.6
Population
• 2021 estimate
11,042,719[3] (84th)
• 2015 census
9,531,712[4]
• Density
114/km2 (295.3/sq mi) (70th)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $122.180 billion[5] (93th)
• Per capita
Increase$11,861 [5] (117th)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase$47.745 billion[5] (93th)
• Per capita
Increase $4,635[5] (103nd)
Gini (2011)35.4[6]
medium · 79th
HDI (2019)Increase 0.729[7]
high · 102nd
CurrencyJordanian dinar (JOD)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (EEST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+962
ISO 3166 codeJO
Internet TLD.jo
.الاردن

Jordan (Arabic: الأردن; tr. Al-ʾUrdunn [al.ʔur.dunː]), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,[a] is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe,[8] within the Levant region, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the northeast, Syria to the north, and the Palestinian West Bank, Israel, and the Dead Sea to the west. It has a 26 km (16 mi) coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the southwest. The Gulf of Aqaba separates Jordan from Egypt.[9] Amman is Jordan's capital and largest city, as well as its economic, political, and cultural centre.[10]

Modern-day Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Nabataean Kingdom, the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Rashidun, Umayyad, and Abassid caliphates, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but it was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became the second Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.[11] Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The sovereign state is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.

Jordan is a semi-arid country, covering an area of 89,342 km2 (34,495 sq mi), with a population of 10 million, making it the eleventh-most populous Arab country. The dominant majority, or around 95% of the country's population, is Sunni Muslim, with a mostly Arab Christian minority. Jordan has been repeatedly referred to as an "oasis of stability" in the turbulent region of the Middle East. It has been mostly unscathed by the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010.[12] From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighboring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census.[4] The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Christian Iraqis fleeing persecution by the Islamic State.[13][14] While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.[15]

Jordan has a high Human Development Index, ranking 102nd, and is considered an upper middle income economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce.[16] The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector.[17] Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees, and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.[18]

Etymology

Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country's northwestern border.[19] While several theories for the origin of the river's name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Hebrew word Yarad (Hebrew: ירד), meaning "the descender", reflecting the river's declivity.[20] Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning "across the Jordan", used to denote the lands east of the river.[20] The Hebrew Bible (the founding holy text of Judaism, also referred to by Christians as the Old Testament) refers to the area as Hebrew: עבר הירדן, romanizedEver ha'Yarden, lit.'The other side of the Jordan'.[20] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Hebrew Yarden.[21] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era.[21] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.[22]

History

Ancient period

The oldest known evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years.[23] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic remains (up to 20,000 years old) due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged.[24] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period.[24] Scientists have found the world's oldest known evidence of bread-making in a 14,500 year-old Natufian site in Jordan's northeastern desert.[25] A transition from hunter-gatherer culture to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,000–4,500 BC).[26] 'Ain Ghazal, one such village located at a site in the east of present-day Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.[27] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC or earlier have been uncovered there; they are "among the earliest large-scale representations of the human form" ever found.[28] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (4500–3600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley,[29] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desert−whose purpose remains uncertain–have baffled archaeologists.[30]

The Mesha Stele (c. 840 BC) records the glory of Mesha, King of Moab

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (3600–1200 BC).[31] Wadi Feynan became a regional centre for copper extraction - the metal was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze.[32] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations.[33] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water-resources and agricultural land.[33] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and came to control both banks of the Jordan River.[34]

During the Iron Age (1200–332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to the Kingdoms of Ammon, Edom and Moab.[35] The peoples of these kingdoms spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group; their polities are considered[by whom?] to be tribal kingdoms rather than states.[35] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba in the south.[35] The northwestern region of the Transjordan, known then as Gilead, was settled by the Israelites.[36] The Transjordanian kingdoms of Ammon, Edom and Moab continually clashed with the neighboring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan River.[37] One record of this is the Mesha Stele, erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC; on it he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites.[38] The stele constitutes one of the most important archeological parallels of accounts recorded in the Bible.[39] At the same time, Israel and the Kingdom of Aram-Damascus competed for control of the Gilead.[40][41]

Around 740 to 720 BC Israel and Aram Damascus were conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The kingdoms of Ammon, Edom & Moab were subjugated, but were allowed to maintain some degree of independence.[42] Babylonians took over the Assyrians' empire after its disintegration in 627 BC.[42] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against Babylon a decade later.[42] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, a status they retained under the Persian and Hellenic Empires.[42] By the beginning of Roman rule around 63 BC, the kingdoms of Ammon, Edom and Moab had lost their distinct identities, and were assimilated into the Roman culture.[35] Some Edomites survived longer - driven by the Nabataeans, they had migrated to southern Judea, which became known as Idumaea; They were later converted to Judaism by the Hasmoneans.[43]

Classical period

Al-Khazneh in Petra (c. 1st century AD), is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV
.

Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East.[44] After Alexander's death in 323 BC, the empire split among his generals, and in the end much of Transjordan was disputed between the Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Seleucids based in Syria.[44] The Nabataeans, nomadic Arabs based south of Edom, managed to establish an independent kingdom in 169 BC by exploiting the struggle between the two Greek powers.[44] The Nabataean Kingdom controlled much of the trade routes of the region, and it stretched south along the Red Sea coast into the Hejaz desert, up to as far north as Damascus, which it controlled for a short period (85–71) BC.[45] The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbours.[46] Petra, Nabataea's barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture.[47] The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD.[48] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV.[48]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries.[49] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King's Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road.[49] The Romans gave the Greek cities of Transjordan–Philadelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gedara (Umm Quays), Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) and Arbila (Irbid)–and other Hellenistic cities in Palestine and southern Syria, a level of autonomy by forming the Decapolis, a ten-city league.[50] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East; it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine.[51]

The Oval Forum of Jerash (c. 1st century AD), then member of the ten-city Roman league, the Decapolis
. Seven out of the ten Decapolis cities are present in modern-day Jordan.

In 324 AD, the Roman Empire split and the Eastern Roman Empire–later known as the Byzantine Empire–continued to control or influence the region until 636 AD.[52] Christianity had become legal within the empire in 313 AD after Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity.[52] The Edict of Thessalonica made Christianity the official state religion in 380 AD. Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere.[53] The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world's first purpose built Christian church.[54] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches.[55] Meanwhile, Petra's importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, it declined further, eventually being abandoned.[48] The Sassanian Empire in the east became the Byzantines' rivals, and frequent confrontations sometimes led to the Sassanids controlling some parts of the region, including Transjordan.[56]

Islamic era

In 629 AD, during the Battle of Mu'tah in what is today Al-Karak, the Byzantines and their Arab Christian clients, the Ghassanids, staved off an attack by a Muslim Rashidun force that marched northwards towards the Levant from the Hejaz (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[57] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan.[57] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus.[58] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661–750).[58] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat.[58] The Abbasid Caliphate's campaign to take over the Umayyad's began in Transjordan.[59] A powerful 749 AD earthquake is thought to have contributed to the Umayyads defeat to the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate's capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[59] During Abbasid rule (750–969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant.[58] As had happened during the Roman era, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan's central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished.[60] After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (969–1070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (1115–1187).[61]

The Ajloun Castle (c. 12th century AD) built by the Ayyubid leader Saladin for use against the Crusades

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak.[62] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders.[63] During the Battle of Hattin (1187) near Lake Tiberias just north of Transjordan, the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (1187–1260).[63] Villages in Transjordan under the Ayyubids became important stops for Muslim pilgrims going to Mecca who travelled along the route that connected Syria to the Hejaz.[64] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (1260–1516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus.[65] During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).[66]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate's forces conquered Mamluk territory.[67] Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned.[68] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities.[69] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits.[68] More Arab Bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat.[70] These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued until the 19th century.[71] This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (1803–1812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[72] Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818.[73] In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant.[74] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants' revolt in Palestine in 1834.[74] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha's forces for harboring a peasants' revolt leader.[74] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.[74]

The earliest detailed map of the land which became Jordan, showing the travels of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (the first European to see Petra
since the Crusades) in 1822

Only after Ibrahim Pasha's campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of.[75] A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages; the end of virtually autonomy predictably provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan.[75] Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant.[76] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages.[76] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities led to revolts in the areas it controlled.[77] Transjordan's tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed.[76] The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908–stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbul helped the population economically, as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims.[76] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Modern era

Soldiers of the Hashemite-led Arab Army holding the flag of the Great Arab Revolt
in 1916

Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt, driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities and growing Arab nationalism.[76] The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite family of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.[76] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians.[78] The Allies of World War I, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support.[79] The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917.[80] The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established an Arab-led military administration in OETA East, later declared as the Arab Kingdom of Syria, both of which Transjordan was part of.[78] During this period, the southernmost region of the country, including Ma'an and Aqaba, was also claimed by the neighbouring Kingdom of Hejaz.

The nascent Hashemite Kingdom over Greater Syria was forced to surrender to French troops on 24 July 1920 during the Battle of Maysalun;[81] the French occupied only the northern part of the Syrian Kingdom, leaving Transjordan in a period of interregnum. Arab aspirations failed to gain international recognition, due mainly to the secret 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement, which divided the region into French and British spheres of influence, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised Palestine to Jews.[82] This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British,[83] including the 1915 McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, in which the British stated their willingness to recognize the independence of a unified Arab state stretching from Aleppo to Aden under the rule of the Hashemites.[84]

Al-Salt residents gather on 20 August 1920 during the British High Commissioner
's visit to Transjordan.

The British High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, travelled to Transjordan on 21 August 1920 to meet with Al-Salt's residents. He there declared to a crowd of six hundred Transjordanian notables that the British government would aid the establishment of local governments in Transjordan, which is to be kept separate from that of Palestine. The second meeting took place in Umm Qais on 2 September, where the British government representative Major Fitzroy Somerset received a petition that demanded: an independent Arab government in Transjordan to be led by an Arab prince (emir); land sale in Transjordan to Jews be stopped as well as the prevention of Jewish immigration there; that Britain establish and fund a national army; and that free trade be maintained between Transjordan and the rest of the region.[85]

Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma'an in southern Transjordan on 21 November 1920 to redeem the Greater Syrian Kingdom his brother had lost.[86] Transjordan then was in disarray, widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments.[87] Abdullah gained the trust of Transjordan's tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government.[88] Abdullah's successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest.[89] The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan after having given him a six-month trial.[90] In March 1921, the British decided to add Transjordan to their Mandate for Palestine, in which they would implement their "Sharifian Solution" policy without applying the provisions of the mandate dealing with Jewish settlement. On 11 April 1921, the Emirate of Transjordan was established with Abdullah as Emir.[91]

In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the terms of the Transjordan memorandum.[92][93] Transjordan remained a British mandate until 1946, but it had been granted a greater level of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.[94] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership.[95] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by the Emir's forces with the help of the British.[95] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (1922–1924), seriously threatening the Emir's position.[95] The Emir was unable to repel those raids without the aid of the local Bedouin tribes and the British, who maintained a military base with a small RAF detachment close to Amman.[95]

Post-independence

The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries' parliaments.[96] On 25 May 1946, the day that the treaty was ratified by the Transjordan parliament, Transjordan was raised to the status of a kingdom under the name of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, with Abdullah as its first king.[97] The name was shortened to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 26 April 1949.[11] 25 May is now celebrated as the nation's Independence Day, a public holiday.[98] Jordan became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.[11]

On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jordan intervened in Palestine together with many other Arab states.[99] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories after the Jericho conference.[100][101] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan's expulsion from the Arab League.[100] On 12 June 1950, the Arab League declared that the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a "trustee" pending a future settlement.[102] King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumors he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel.[103]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein.[104] Talal established the country's modern constitution in 1952.[104] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17.[103] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period.[105] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World.[105] On 1 March 1956, King Hussein Arabized the command of the Army by dismissing a number of senior British officers, an act made to remove remaining foreign influence in the country.[106] In 1958, Jordan and neighboring Hashemite Iraq formed the Arab Federation as a response to the formation of the rival United Arab Republic between Nasser's Egypt and Syria.[107] The union lasted only six months, being dissolved after Iraqi King Faisal II (Hussein's cousin) was deposed by a bloody military coup on 14 July 1958.[107]

King Hussein on 21 March 1968 checking an abandoned Israeli tank in the aftermath of the Battle of Karameh
.

Jordan signed a military pact with Egypt just before Israel launched a preemptive strike on Egypt to begin the Six-Day War in June 1967, where Jordan and Syria joined the war.[108] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel.[108] The War of Attrition with Israel followed, which included the 1968 Battle of Karameh where the combined forces of the Jordanian Armed Forces and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) repelled an Israeli attack on the Karameh camp on the Jordanian border with the West Bank.[108] Despite the fact that the Palestinians had limited involvement against the Israeli forces, the events at Karameh gained wide recognition and acclaim in the Arab world.[109] As a result, the time period following the battle witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries.[109] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan's rule of law.[109] In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a conflict that became known as Black September.[109]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line.[109] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.[109] At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, in the aftermath of the Yom-Kippur War, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people".[109] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.[109]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union.[109] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994.[109] In 1997, in retribution for a bombing, Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior Hamas leader living in Jordan.[109] Bowing to intense international pressure, Israel provided an antidote to the poison and released dozens of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, after King Hussein threatened to annul the peace treaty.[109]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein, who had ruled for nearly 50 years.[110] Abdullah embarked on economic liberalization when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008.[111] Abdullah II has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free-trade zone and Jordan's flourishing information and communication technology (ICT) sector.[111] He also set up five other special economic zones.[111] However, during the following years Jordan's economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring.[112]

Al-Qaeda under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's leadership launched coordinated explosions in three hotel lobbies in Amman on 9 November 2005, resulting in 60 deaths and 115 injured.[113] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.[113] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan's internal security was dramatically improved afterwards.[113] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then.[114] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country's peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West.[115]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms.[116] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars.[116] In Jordan, in response to domestic unrest, Abdullah replaced his prime minister and introduced a number of reforms including: reforming the Constitution, and laws governing public freedoms and elections.[116] Proportional representation was re-introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments.[117] Jordan was left largely unscathed from the violence that swept the region despite an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[117]

On 4 April 2021, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the former crown prince of Jordan, was placed under house arrest of conspiracy theories with foreign elements for a "malicious plot" to destabilize the kingdom.

Geography

Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe,[8] in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent, a cradle of civilization.[118] It is 89,341 square kilometres (34,495 sq mi) large, and 400 kilometres (250 mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points; Umm Qais and Aqaba respectively.[19] The kingdom lies between 29° and 34° N, and 34° and 40° E. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and the east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, and Israel and Palestine (West Bank) to the west

The east is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.[19] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall.[119] These include Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa in the northwest, the capital Amman and Al-Salt in the central west, and Madaba, Al-Karak and Aqaba in the southwest.[119] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished.[118]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments.[120] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan's natural resources.[121] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve.[121]

Climate

The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, there are greater contrasts in temperature and less rainfall.[19] The country's average elevation is 812 m (2,664 ft) (SL).[19] The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert.[122] Although the desert parts of the kingdom reach high temperatures, the heat is usually moderated by low humidity and a daytime breeze, while the nights are cool.[123]

Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32 °C (90 °F) and sometimes exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) between July and August.[123] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 11.08 °C (52 °F).[122] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.[122]

Biodiversity

Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan.[124] Many of the flowering plants bloom in the spring after the winter rains and the type of vegetation depends largely on the levels of precipitation. The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in forests, while further south and east the vegetation becomes more scrubby and transitions to steppe-type vegetation.[125] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500 km2), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world's least forested countries, the international average being 15%.[126]

Plant species and genera include the Aleppo pine, Sarcopoterium, Salvia dominica, black iris, Tamarix, Anabasis, Artemisia, Acacia, Mediterranean cypress and Phoenecian juniper.[127] The mountainous regions in the northwest are clothed in natural forests of pine, deciduous oak, evergreen oak, pistachio and wild olive.[128] Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others.[129][130][131] Bird include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram's starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.[132]

Four terrestrial ecoregions lie with Jordan's borders: Syrian xeric grasslands and shrublands, Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests, Mesopotamian shrub desert, and Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert and semi-desert.[133]

Politics and government

Jordan is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Jordan's constitution, adopted in 1952 and amended a number of times since, is the legal framework that governs the monarch, government, bicameral legislature and judiciary.[134] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament.[135] The king exercises his powers through the government that he appoints for a four-year term, which is responsible before the parliament that is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent according to the constitution.[134]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. He can declare war and peace, ratify laws and treaties, convene and close legislative sessions, call and postpone elections, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament.[134] The appointed government can also be dismissed through a majority vote of no confidence by the elected House of Representatives. After a bill is proposed by the government, it must be approved by the House of Representatives then the Senate, and becomes law after being ratified by the king. A royal veto on legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in a joint session of both houses. The parliament also has the right of interpellation.[134]

The 65 members of the upper Senate are directly appointed by the king, the constitution mandates that they be veteran politicians, judges and generals who previously served in the government or in the House of Representatives.[136] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term.[137] Minimum quotas exist in the House of Representatives for women (15 seats, though they won 20 seats in the 2016 election), Christians (9 seats) and Circassians and Chechens (3 seats).[138]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special.[139] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government.[139] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal,[139] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters,[140] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws.[141] Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution preserves religious and personal freedoms. Religious law only extends to matters of personal status such as divorce and inheritance in religious courts, and is partially based on Islamic Sharia law.[142] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one.[143]

The capital city of Jordan is Amman, located in north-central Jordan.[10] Jordan is divided into 12 governorates (muhafazah) (informally grouped into three regions: northern, central, southern). These are subdivided into a total of 52 districts (Liwaa'), which are further divided into neighbourhoods in urban areas or into towns in rural ones.[144]

The current monarch, Abdullah II, ascended to the throne in February 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein. Abdullah re-affirmed Jordan's commitment to the peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. He refocused the government's agenda on economic reform, during his first year. King Abdullah's eldest son, Prince Hussein, is the current Crown Prince of Jordan.[145] The current prime minister is Bisher Al-Khasawneh who received his position on 12 October 2020.[146] Abdullah had announced his intentions of turning Jordan into a parliamentary system, where the largest bloc in parliament forms a government. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in the country has hampered such moves.[147] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies.[148] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians.[149]

According to Freedom House, Jordan is ranked as the 3rd freest Arab country, and as "partly free" in the Freedom in the World 2019 report.[150] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries.[151] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015,[152] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt.[153] In the 2016 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide, and 5th of 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Jordan's score was 44 on a scale from 0 (most free) to 105 (least free). The report added "the Arab Spring and the Syrian conflict have led the authorities to tighten their grip on the media and, in particular, the Internet, despite an outcry from civil society".[154] Jordanian media consists of public and private institutions. Popular Jordanian newspapers include Al Ghad and the Jordan Times. Al-Mamlaka, Ro'ya and Jordan TV are some Jordanian TV channels.[155] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015.[156] There are concerns that the government will use the COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan to silence dissidents.[157][158]

Largest cities

 
Largest cities or towns in Jordan
According to the 2015 Census[1]
Rank Name Governorate Pop.
Amman
Amman
Zarqa
Zarqa
1 Amman Amman Governorate 1,812,059 Irbid
Irbid
Russeifa
Russeifa
2 Zarqa Zarqa Governorate 635,160
3 Irbid Irbid Governorate 502,714
4 Russeifa Zarqa Governorate 472,604
5 Al Quwaysimah Amman Governorate 296,763
6 Tilā' al-'Alī Amman Governorate 251,000
7 Wadi al-Seer Amman Governorate 241,830
8 Al Jubayhah Amman Governorate 197,160
9 Khuraybat as-Sūq Amman Governorate 186,158
10 Sahab Amman Governorate 169,434

Administrative divisions

The first level subdivision in Jordan is the muhafazah or governorate. The governorates are divided into liwa or districts, which are often further subdivided into qda or sub-districts.[159] Control for each administrative unit is in a "chief town" (administrative centre) known as a nahia.[159]

Map Governorate Capital Population
Northern region
1 Irbid Irbid 1,770,158
2 Mafraq Mafraq 549,948
3 Jerash Jerash 237,059
4 Ajloun Ajloun 176,080
Central region
5 Amman Amman 4,007,256
6 Zarqa Zarqa 1,364,878
7 Balqa Al-Salt 491,709
8 Madaba Madaba 189,192
Southern region
9 Karak Al-Karak 316,629
10 Aqaba Aqaba 188,160
11 Ma'an Ma'an 144,083
12 Tafila Tafila 96,291

Foreign relations

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan at the White House
, 2017.

The kingdom has followed a pro-Western foreign policy and maintained close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. During the first Gulf War (1990), these relations were damaged by Jordan's neutrality and its maintenance of relations with Iraq. Later, Jordan restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq and in the Southwest Asia peace process. After King Hussein's death in 1999, relations between Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries greatly improved.[160]

Jordan is a key ally of the US and UK and, together with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, is one of only three Arab nations to have signed peace treaties with Israel, Jordan's direct neighbour.[161] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest.[162] The ruling Hashemite dynasty has had custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, a position re-inforced in the Israel–Jordan peace treaty. Turmoil in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque between Israelis and Palestinians created tensions between Jordan and Israel concerning the former's role in protecting the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.[163]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League.[164][165] It enjoys "advanced status" with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours.[166] Jordan and Morocco tried to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 2011, but the Gulf countries offered a five-year development aid programme instead.[167]

Military

The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the "Arab Legion".[95] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946.[168] Jordan's capture of the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War proved that the Arab Legion, known today as the Jordan Armed Forces, was the most effective among the Arab troops involved in the war.[168] The Royal Jordanian Army, which boasts around 110,000 personnel, is considered to be among the most professional in the region, due to being particularly well-trained and organised.[168] The Jordanian military enjoys strong support and aid from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. This is due to Jordan's critical position in the Middle East.[168] The development of Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the military to react rapidly to threats to homeland security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[169] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries.[170]

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. Jordan ranks third internationally in participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions,[171] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[172] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region.[173]

In 2014, Jordan joined an aerial bombardment campaign by an international coalition led by the United States against the Islamic State as part of its intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[174] In 2015, Jordan participated in the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 uprising.[175]

Law enforcement

Jordan's law enforcement is under the purview of the Public Security Directorate (which includes approximately 50,000 persons) and the General Directorate of Gendarmerie, both of which are subordinate to the country's Ministry of Interior. The first police force in the Jordanian state was organised after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 11 April 1921.[176] Until 1956 police duties were carried out by the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. After that year the Public Safety Directorate was established.[176] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force.[177] Jordan's law enforcement was ranked 37th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, in terms of police services' performance, by the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index.[12][178]

Economy

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an "upper-middle income" country.[179] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010),[179] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the year—known as transient poverty.[180] The economy, which has a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016),[5] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards.[19] GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990s—currently $9,406 per capita by purchasing power parity.[181] The Jordanian economy is one of the smallest economies in the region, and the country's populace suffers from relatively high rates of unemployment and poverty.[19]

Jordan's economy is relatively well-diversified. Trade and finance combined account for nearly one-third of GDP; transportation and communication, public utilities, and construction account for one-fifth, and mining and manufacturing constitute nearly another fifth.[18] Net official development assistance to Jordan in 2009 totalled US$761 million; according to the government, approximately two-thirds of this was allocated as grants, of which half was direct budget support.[182]

The official currency is the

View of a part of the capital Amman