المملكة الأردنّيّة الهاشميّة
(Al Mamlakah al Urdunnīyah al Hāshimīyah)
Coat of arms of Jordan
Motto: الله، الوطن، الملك (Allah (God), al-watan (Homeland), al-malik (The King))/ الأردن أولاً : Al Urdun Awwalan (Jordan First)
Anthem: As-salam al-malaki al-Urduni
Location of Jordan
CapitalAmman1
Largest cityAmman
Official languagesArabic
GovernmentMonarchy
Independence
• Water (%)
~0.01%
Population
• 2005 estimate
5,729,732 (104th)
• 2003 census
5,460,000
GDP (PPP)2004 estimate
• Total
$24,697 million (100th)
• Per capita
$4,427.28 (110th)
HDI (2003)0.753
high (90th)
CurrencyJordanian dinar (JOD)
Time zoneUTC+2
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3
Calling code962
ISO 3166 codeJO
Internet TLD.jo

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, commonly called Jordan (Arabic أردنّ, transliterated ʼUrdunn), is an Arab country in the Middle East. It is bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, and Israel and the Israeli-administered West Bank to the west. It shares with Israel the coastlines of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea. Jordan's main religion is Islam and its main language is Arabic.

History

Main article: History of Jordan

The land that became present-day Jordan forms part of the history-rich Fertile Crescent region. Its known history began around 2000 B.C., when Semitic Amorites settled around the Jordan River in the area called Canaan. Subsequent invaders and settlers included Hittites, Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arab Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Mameluks, Ottoman Turks, and, finally, the British. At the end of World War I, the territory now comprising Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem was awarded to the United Kingdom by the League of Nations as the mandate for Palestine. In 1922, in an attempt to assuage Arab anger resulting from the Balfour Declaration, with the approval of the League of Nations, the British created the semi-autonomous, Arab Emirate of Transjordan in all Palestinian territory east of the Jordan river. The British installed the Hashemite Prince Abdullah, while continuing the administration of Palestine and Transjordan under a single British High Commissioner. The mandate over Transjordan ended on 22 May 1946; on 25 May, the country became the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. It ended its special defense treaty relationship with the United Kingdom in 1957.

Transjordan opposed the creation of Israel in May 1948, and took part in the warfare between the Arab states and the newly founded State of Israel. The armistice agreements of 3 April 1949 left Jordan in control of the West Bank and provided that the armistice demarcation lines were without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines.

In 1950, Transjordan annexed the West Bank, and the country was renamed "the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" to reflect this. The annexation was recognised only by the United Kingdom.

Jordan signed a mutual defense pact in May 1967 with Egypt, and it participated in the June 1967 war against Israel along with Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. During the war, Jordan lost its control of the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. In 1988, Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank 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 international community as represented in the United Nations considers the West Bank to be territory occupied by Israel and believes that its final status should be determined through direct negotiations among the parties concerned on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

The 1967 war led to a dramatic increase in the number of Palestinians, especially from the West Bank, living in Jordan. Its Palestinian refugee population – 700,000 in 1966 – grew by another 300,000 from the West Bank. The period following the 1967 war saw an upsurge in the power and importance of Palestinian resistance elements (fedayeen) in Jordan. The heavily armed fedayeen constituted a growing threat to the sovereignty and security of the Hashemite state, and open fighting erupted in June 1970. The battle in which Palestinian fighters from various Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) groups were expelled from Jordan is commonly known as Black September

Other Arab governments attempted to work out a peaceful solution, but by September, continuing fedayeen actions in Jordan – including the destruction of three international airliners hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and held in the desert east of Amman – prompted the government to take action to regain control over its territory and population. In the ensuing heavy fighting, a Syrian tank force took up positions in northern Jordan to support the fedayeen but subsequently retreated. 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 won a decisive victory over the fedayeen in July 1971, expelling them from the country.

At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan agreed, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people", thereby relinquishing to that organization its role as representative of the West Bank Palestinians.

No fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line during the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, but Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to fight Israeli units on Syrian territory. Jordan did not participate in the Gulf War of 1990-91. In 1991, Jordan agreed, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Palestinian representatives, to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on July 25, 1994 (see Washington Declaration). As a result, an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty was concluded on October 26, 1994. Following the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting 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 neighbours.

On November 9, 2005, Jordan experienced three simultaneous bombings at hotels in Amman. At least 57 people died and 115 were wounded. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group led by native Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Jordan

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated on January 8, 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.

Legislative power rests in the bicameral National Assembly. The 110-member Chamber of Deputies, elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term, is subject to dissolution by the king. Nine seats are reserved for Christians, 6 for women, and three for Circassians and Chechens. The 40-member Senate is appointed by the king for an 8-year term.

The constitution provides for three categories of courts – civil, religious, and special. Administratively, Jordan is divided into eight 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.

King Hussein ruled Jordan 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 East Bank 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.

Governorates

Main article: Governorates of Jordan

Administratively, Jordan is divided into 12 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.

File:WadiRum1.JPG
Wadi Rum, southern Jordan

Geography

Map of Jordan

Main article: Geography of Jordan

Jordan is a Middle Eastern country, bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south and Israel and West Bank to the west. All these border lines add up to 1619 km. The Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea also touch the country, and thus Jordan has a coastline of 26 km.

Jordan consists mostly of arid desert plateau in the east, with Highland area in the west. The Great Rift Valley of the Jordan River separates Jordan and Israel. The highest point in the country is Jabal Ram, while the lowest is the Dead Sea. Jordan is considered to be part of the "cradle of humanity".

Major cities include the capital Amman in the northwest, Irbid and Az Zarqa, both in the north.

The climate in Jordan is dry and hot, since the country is mainly desert. However, the western part of the country receives greater precipitation during the rainy season from November to April.

Economy

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. Jordan also 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, a natural 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 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 (ASEZ) 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. More information on the FTA is available on [1].

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as a "lower middle income country." The per capita GDP was approximately $1,817 (€1,479) for 2003 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 relatively 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. 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.

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 its potential.

Foreign relations

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 Kuwait war. Although the Government of Jordan stated its opposition to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, popular support for Iraq was driven by Jordan's Palestinian community, which favored Saddam as a champion against Western supporters of Israel.

Following the first Gulf war, Jordan largely restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the Middle East peace process and enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq. Relations between Jordan and the 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 nonbelligerency agreement with Israel (the Washington Declaration) in Washington, DC, on 25 July 1994. Jordan and Israel signed a historic peace treaty on 26 October 1994, witnessed by President Bill Clinton, accompanied by 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 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.

Since the outbreak of the Intifadah in September 2000, Jordan has worked hard, in a variety of fora, to maintain lines of communication between the Israelis and the Palestinians to counsel moderation and to return the parties to negotiations of outstanding permanent status issues.

Following the intifadah, though, Jordan along with Egypt withdrew its ambassadors from Israel. Following the Sharm-al-Sheik Summit in Egypt on 8 February 2005, both countries announced plans to return ambassadors to the country.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Jordan

Jordanians are Semitic Levantines , except for a few small communities of Chechens, Circassians, Armenians, and Kurds which have adapted to Arabic culture. The official language is Arabic, but English is used widely in commerce and government. About 70% of Jordan's population is urban; less than 6% of the rural population is nomadic or semi-nomadic. Most people live where the rainfall supports agriculture. About 2.6 million persons registered as Palestinian refugees and displaced persons reside in Jordan, most as citizens.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Jordan

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