Jordan Basic Facts - History

Jordan Basic Facts - History

Population 2007........................................................... 5,307,470
GDP per capita 2007 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$)........... 4,900
GDP 2007 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$ billions)................ 28.9

Average annual growth 1991-97
Population (%) ....... 3.7
Labor force (%) ....... 4.9

Total Area...................................................................34,573 sq. mi.
Poverty (% of population below national poverty line)......15
Urban population (% of total population) ............................... 73
Life expectancy at birth (years)..................................................... 71
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births)........................................ 29
Child malnutrition (% of children under 5) ..............................10
Access to safe water (% of population) .....................................98
Illiteracy (% of population age 15+) ............................................13


Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $37.37 billion per capita $6,000. Real growth rate: 2.5%. Inflation: 6.4%. Unemployment: 12.3% official rate unofficial rate is approximately 30% (2011 est.). Arable land: 3.32%. Agriculture: citrus, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, strawberries, stone fruits sheep, poultry, dairy. Labor force: 1.771 million services 77.4%, industry 20%, agriculture 2.7% (2007 est.). Industries: clothing, fertilizers, potash, phosphate mining, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refining, cement, inorganic chemicals, light manufacturing, tourism. Natural resources: phosphates, potash, shale oil. Exports: $8.066 billion (2011 est.): clothing, phosphates, fertilizers, potash, vegetables, pharmaceuticals. Imports: $14.01 billion (2011 est.): crude oil, machinery, transport equipment, iron, cereals. Major trading partners: U.S., Iraq, India, Saudi Arabia, China, Germany, Egypt, Lebanon, Italy (2011).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 485,000 (2009) mobile cellular: 6.62 million (2009). Broadcast media: radio and TV dominated by the government-owned Jordan Radio and Television Corporation (JRTV) that operates a main network, a sports network, a film network, and a satellite channel first independent TV broadcaster aired in 2007 international satellite TV and Israeli and Syrian TV broadcasts are available roughly 30 radio stations with JRTV operating the main government-owned station transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are available (2007). Internet hosts: 49,083 (2010). Internet users: 1.642 (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 507 km (2010). Highways: total: 7,891 km paved: 7,891 km unpaved: 0 km (2009). Ports and terminals: Al 'Aqabah. Airports: 18 (2012).

International disputes: 2004 Agreement settles border dispute with Syria pending demarcation.


Evidence of human activity in Jordan dates back to the Paleolithic period. While there is no architectural evidence from this era, archaeologists have found tools, such as flint and basalt hand-axes, knives and scraping implements.

In the Neolithic period (8500–4500 BC) three major shifts occurred. First, people became sedentary, living in small villages, and discovering and domesticating new food sources such as cereal grains, peas and lentils, as well as goats. The human population increased to tens of thousands.

Second, this shift in settlement patterns appears to have been catalyzed by a marked change in climate. The eastern desert, in particular, grew warmer and drier, eventually to the point where it became uninhabitable for most of the year. This watershed climate change is believed to have occurred between 6500 and 5500 BC.

Third, beginning sometime between 5500 and 4500 BC, the inhabitants began to make pottery from clay rather than plaster. Pottery-making technologies were probably introduced to the area by craftsmen from Mesopotamia.

The largest Neolithic site in Jordan is at Ein Ghazal in Amman. The many buildings were divided into three distinct districts. Houses were rectangular and had several rooms, some with plastered floors. Archaeologists have unearthed skulls covered with plaster and with bitumen in the eye sockets at sites throughout Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Syria. A statue discovered at Ein Ghazal is thought to be 8,000 years old. Just over one meter high, it depicts a woman with huge eyes, skinny arms, knobby knees and a detailed rendering of her toes.

During the Chalcolithic period (4500–3200 BC), copper began to be smelted and used to make axes, arrowheads and hooks. The cultivation of barley, dates, olives and lentils, and the domestication of sheep and goats, rather than hunting, predominated. The lifestyle in the desert was probably very similar to that of modern Bedouins.

Tuleitat Ghassul is a large Chalcolithic era village located in the Jordan Valley. The walls of its houses were made of sun-dried mud bricks its roofs of wood, reeds and mud. Some had stone foundations, and many had large central courtyards. The walls are often painted with bright images of masked men, stars, and geometric motifs, which may have been connected to religious beliefs. [1]

Many of the villages built during the Early Bronze Age (3200–1950 BC) included simple water infrastructures, as well as defensive fortifications probably designed to protect against raids by neighboring nomadic tribes.

At Bab al-Dhra in Wadi `Araba, archaeologists discovered more than 20,000 shaft tombs with multiple chambers as well as houses of mud-brick containing human bones, pots, jewelry and weapons. Hundreds of dolmens scattered throughout the mountains have been dated to the late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages. [2]

Although writing was developed before 3000 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was generally not used in Jordan, Canaan and Syria until some thousand years later, even though archaeological evidence indicates that the inhabitants of Transjordan were trading with Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Between 2300 and 1950 BC, many of the large, fortified hilltop towns were abandoned in favor of either small, unfortified villages or a pastoral lifestyle. There is no consensus on what caused this shift, though it is thought to have been a combination of climatic and political changes that brought an end to the city-state network.

During the Middle Bronze Age (1950–1550 BC), migration across the Middle East increased. Trading continued to develop between Egypt, Syria, Arabia, and Canaan including Transjordan, resulting in the spread of technology and other hallmarks of civilization. Bronze, forged from copper and tin, enabled the production of more durable axes, knives, and other tools and weapons. Large, distinct communities seem to have arisen in northern and central Jordan, while the south was populated by a nomadic, Bedouin-type of people known as the Shasu.

New fortifications appeared at sites like Amman's Citadel, Irbid, and Tabaqat Fahl (or Pella). Towns were surrounded by ramparts made of earth embankments, and the slopes were covered in hard plaster, making the climb slippery and difficult. Pella was enclosed by massive walls and watch towers.

Archaeologists usually date the end of the Middle Bronze Age to about 1550 BC, when the Hyksos were driven out of Egypt during the 17th and 18th Dynasties. A number of Middle Bronze Age towns in Canaan including Transjordan were destroyed during this time.

The most prominent Iron Age kingdoms in Transjordan were Ammon, Moab, and Edom. [3] The Ammonites had their capital in Rabbath Ammon. The Moabites established their kingdom in what is today the Kerak Governorate with the capital at Kir of Moab (Kerak), [4] and the Kingdom of Edom was established in today's southern Jordan and southern Israel, with the capital at Bozrah in today's Tafilah Governorate. The Kingdom of Ammon maintained its independence from the Assyrian Empire, unlike all other kingdoms in the region which were conquered. [5]

In about 840 BC, Mesha, the King of the Moabites, revolted against the "House of David". Moab lay east of the Dead Sea, about 70 kilometers south of Amman. The ensuing war is recorded in the Bible's 2 Kings chapter 3. The Bible narrative is corroborated by the Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone that was found in the Jordanian town of Dhiban in 1868. This find indicated that the Moabites worked with inscriptions on bluish basalt stone.

The city of Saltus was probably established by Alexander the Great. Later antiquity saw the rise of the Nabatean kingdom (Arabic: الأنباط ‎ Al-Anbat) [ citation needed ] with its capital at Petra, which in time became a border, client state of the Roman Empire that got absorbed into the Empire in 106 CE. During the Greco-Roman period of influence, a number of semi-independent city-states also developed in the region, grouped by general Pompey into a city-league, the Decapolis, including on the territory of modern-day Jordan the cities of Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (Amman), Abila (probably identical with ancient Raphana today's Quweilbeh), Dion and Capitolias (Beit Ras possibly the same as ancient Dion, with various identification attempts), Gadara (Umm Qays), and Pella (Tabaqat Fahl, west of Irbid). After the Christianisation of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, historians use the term Byzantine Empire for the eastern realm. The Christian Arab tribe of the Ghassanids ruled Transjordan on behalf of the Byzantines. Many exquisite mosaic floors from churches of the Byzantine period have been unearthed, the best known containing the so-called Madaba Map of the Holy Land.

In the early 7th century, the area of modern Jordan became integrated into the new Arab-Islamic Umayyad Empire (the first Muslim dynasty), which ruled much of the Middle East from 661 until 750 CE. At the time, Amman, today the capital of the Kingdom of Jordan, became a major town in "Jund Dimashq" (the military district of Damascus) and became the seat of the provincial governor. In fact, the name "Al-Urdun" (Jordan) was used on Umayyad post-reform copper coins beginning in the early 8th century and represent the earliest official usage of the name adopted in the 20th century for the modern state. Additionally, lead seals with the Arabic phrase "Halahil Ardth Al-Urdun" (Master of the Land of Jordan), dating from the late 7th to early 8th century CE, have been found in Jordan as well. Additionally, Arab-Byzantine "Standing Caliph" coins minted under the Umayyads also have been found bearing the mint-mark of "Amman". Thus, usage of the names Al-Urdun/Jordan and Amman date back to at least the early decades of the Arab-Muslim takeover of the region.

Under the Umayyad's successors, the Abbasids (750–1258), Jordan was neglected and began to languish due to the geopolitical shift that occurred when the Abassids moved their capital from Damascus to Kufa and later to Baghdad.

After the decline of the Abbasids, parts of Jordan were ruled by various powers and empires including the Crusaders, the Ayyubids, the Mamluks as well as the Ottomans, who captured most of the Arab world around 1517.

In 1516, Ottoman forces invaded the Levant and gained control. [6] Agricultural villages in Jordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned. [7] For the next centuries, Ottoman rule in the region, at times, was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits. [7] This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (1803–1812), an ultraorthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd in Saudi Arabia. Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out Wahhabi power in a successful campaign between 1811 and 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule, whose oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful Peasants' revolt in Palestine in 1834. Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha's forces for harboring a fled Palestinian revolt leader. Egyptian rule was later forcibly ended after western intervention, the Ottoman rule was restored. Russian persecution of Sunni Muslim Circassians in Circassia, forced their immigration into the region in 1867, where they today form a small part of the country's ethnic fabric. [8] Oppression and neglect for the people of the region forced the population to decline, the only people left were nomadic Bedouins. [9] Urban settlements with small populations included Al-Salt, Irbid, Jerash and Al-Karak. [10] What added to the under-development of the urban life in Jordan was the fact that the settlements were raided by the Bedouins as a source of living, the urbanites had to pay them to stay safe. [11] Jordan's location lies in a route that is taken by Muslims going on pilgrimage to Mecca this helped the population economically when the Ottomans constructed the Hejaz Railway linking Mecca and Istanbul in 1910. Ottoman oppression provoked the region's Bedouin tribes, such as the Adwan, Bani Hassan, Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat, to revolt, Most notable revolts were the Shoubak revolt and the Karak revolt, they were only suppressed with great difficulty. [8]

After four centuries of stagnant Ottoman rule (1516–1918), Turkish control over Transjordan came to an end during World War I when the Hashemite Army of the Great Arab Revolt, took over and secured present-day Jordan with the help and support of the region's local Bedouin tribes, Circassians and Christians. [12] The revolt was launched by the Hashemites and led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire. This came due to the emergence of Arab nationalism and resentment towards the Ottoman authorities. [9] The revolt was supported by the Allies of World War I including Britain and France. [13]

With the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the League of Nations and the occupying powers, Britain and France, redrew the borders of the Middle East. Their decisions, most notably the Sykes–Picot Agreement, led to the establishment of the French Mandate for Syria and British Mandate for Palestine. The latter included the territory of Transjordan, which had been allocated to Abdullah I of Jordan approximately a year prior to the finalization of the Mandate document (the Mandate officially introduced in 1923). [ citation needed ]

One reason was that the British government had at that point to find a role for Abdullah, after his brother Faisal had lost his control in Syria. Following the French occupation of only the northern part of the Syrian Kingdom, Transjordan was left in a period of interregnum. A few months later, Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived into Transjordan. Faisal was subsequently given the role of the king of Iraq. The British consequently made Abdullah emir of the newly created Transjordan. At first, Abdullah was displeased with the territory given to him, and hoped it was only a temporary allocation, to be replaced by Syria or Palestine. [14] The Permanent Court of International Justice and an International Court of Arbitration established by the Council of the League of Nations handed down rulings in 1925 which determined that Palestine and Transjordan were newly created successor states of the Ottoman Empire as defined by international law. [15]

The most serious threats to Emir Abdullah's position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory. [16] The emir was powerless to repel those raids by himself, thus the British maintained a military base, with a small air force, at Marka, close to Amman. [16]

In 1928, Britain officially provided King Abdullah with full autonomy, though the British RAF continued to provide security to the emirate. [ citation needed ]

The Emirate of Transjordan had a population of 200,000 in 1920, 225,000 in 1922 and 400,000 (as Kingdom) in 1948. [17] Almost half of the population in 1922 (around 103,000) was nomadic. [17]

Establishment Edit

On 17 January 1946 the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, announced in a speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations that the British Government intended to take steps in the near future to establish Transjordan as a fully independent and sovereign state. [18] The Treaty of London was signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946 as a mechanism to recognise the full independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries' parliaments. Transjordan's impending independence was recognized on April 18, 1946 by the League of Nations during the last meeting of that organization. On 25 May 1946 the Transjordan became the "Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan" when the ruling 'Amir' was re-designated as 'King' by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London. 25 May is still celebrated as independence day in Jordan although legally the mandate for Transjordan ended on 17 June 1946 when, in accordance with the Treaty of London, the ratifications were exchanged in Amman and Transjordan gained full independence. [19] When King Abdullah applied for membership in the newly formed United Nations, his request was vetoed by the Soviet Union, citing that the nation was not "fully independent" of British control. This resulted in another treaty in March 1948 with Britain in which all restrictions on sovereignty were removed. Despite this, Jordan was not a full member of the United Nations until December 14, 1955.

In April 1949, after the country gained control of the West Bank, the country's official name became the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan". [20] [21]

1948 War and annexation of the West Bank Edit

Transjordan was one of the Arab states opposed to the second partition of Palestine and creation of Israel in May 1948. It participated in the war between the Arab states and the newly founded State of Israel. Thousands of Palestinians fled the Arab-Israeli fighting to the West Bank and Jordan. 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.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a plan for the future government of Palestine which called for termination of the Mandate not later than 1 August 1948.

The works of Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, Mary Wilson, Eugene Rogan, and other historians outline a modus vivendi agreement between Abdullah and the Yishuv. Those works are taught in most Israeli university courses on the history, political science, and sociology of the region. [22] Archival materials reveal that the parties had negotiated the non-belligerent partition of Palestine between themselves, and that initially they had agreed to abide by the terms of the UN resolution. John Baggot Glubb, the commander of the Arab Legion, wrote that British Foreign Secretary Bevin had given the green light for the Arab Legion to occupy the territory allocated to the Arab state. The Prime Minister of Transjordan explained that Abdullah had received hundreds of petitions from Palestinian notables requesting protection upon the withdrawal of the British forces. Eugene Rogan says that those petitions, from nearly every town and village in Palestine, are preserved in The Hashemite Documents: The Papers of Abdullah bin al-Husayn, volume V: Palestine 1948 (Amman 1995). [23]

After the mandate was terminated, the armed forces of Transjordan entered Palestine. The Security Council adopted a US-backed resolution that inquired about the number and disposition of Transjordan's armed forces in Palestine. The Foreign Minister of Transjordan replied in a telegram "that neither the UN nor US recognized Transjordan, although they both had been given the opportunity for more than two years. Yet the US had recognized the Jewish state immediately, although the factors for this recognition were lacking." [24]

In explaining to the Security Council why Transjordan's armed forces had entered Palestine, Abdullah said: "we were compelled to enter Palestine to protect unarmed Arabs against massacres similar to those of Deir Yassin." [25]

After capturing the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Abdullah was proclaimed King of Palestine by the Jericho Conference. The following year, Jordan annexed the West Bank.

The United States extended de jure recognition to the government of Transjordan and the government of Israel on the same day, 31 January 1949. [26] Clea Bunch said that "President Truman crafted a balanced policy between Israel and its moderate Hashemite neighbours when he simultaneously extended formal recognition to the newly created state of Israel and the Kingdom of Transjordan. These two nations were inevitably linked in the President's mind as twin emergent states: one serving the needs of the refugee Jew, the other absorbing recently displaced Palestinian Arabs. In addition, Truman was aware of the private agreements that existed between Jewish Agency leaders and King Abdullah I of Jordan. Thus, it made perfect sense to Truman to favour both states with de jure recognition." [27]

In 1978, the U.S. State Department published a memorandum of conversation between Mr. Stuart W. Rockwell of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs and Abdel Monem Rifai, a Counselor of the Jordan Legation, on 5 June 1950. Mr. Rifai asked when the United States was going to recognize the union of Arab Palestine and Jordan. Mr. Rockwell explained the Department's position, stating that it was not the custom of the United States to issue formal statements of recognition every time a foreign country changed its territorial area. The union of Arab Palestine and Jordan had been brought about as a result of the will of the people and the US accepted the fact that Jordanian sovereignty had been extended to the new area. Mr. Rifai said he had not realized this and that he was very pleased to learn that the US did in fact recognize the union. [28]

Jordan was admitted as a member state of the United Nations on 14 December 1955. [29]

On 24 April 1950, Jordan formally annexed the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) [30] declaring "complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union in one state… at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Hussain". [31] All West Bank residents were granted Jordanian citizenship. The December 1948 Jericho Conference, a meeting of prominent Palestinian leaders and King Abdullah, voted in favor of annexation into what was then Transjordan. [32]

Jordan's annexation was regarded as illegal and void by the Arab League and others. It was recognized by Britain, Iraq and Pakistan. [33] [34] [35] The annexation of the West Bank more than doubled the population of Jordan. [36] Both Irbid and Zarqa more than doubled their population from less than 10,000 each to more than, respectively, 23,000 and 28,000. [17]

Reign of King Hussein Edit

King Abdullah's eldest son, Talal of Jordan, was proclaimed king in 1951, but he was declared mentally unfit to rule and deposed in 1952. His son, Hussein Ibn Talal, became king on his eighteenth birthday, in 1953.

The 1950s have been labelled as a time of "Jordan's Experiment with Liberalism". Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association were guaranteed in the newly written constitution as with the already firmly established freedom of religion doctrine. Jordan had one of the freest and most liberal societies in the Middle East and in the greater Arab world during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Jordan ended its special defense treaty relationship with the United Kingdom and British troops completed their withdrawal in 1957. In February 1958, following announcement of the merger of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic, Iraq and Jordan announced the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan, also known as the Arab Union. The Union was dissolved in August 1958.

In 1965 Jordan and Saudi Arabia concluded a bilateral agreement that realigned the border. The realignment resulted in some exchange of territory, and Jordan's coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba was lengthened by about eighteen kilometers. The new boundary enabled Jordan to expand its port facilities and established a zone in which the two parties agreed to share petroleum revenues equally if oil were discovered. The agreement also protected the pasturage and watering rights of nomadic tribes inside the exchanged territories.

Jordan signed a mutual defense pact in May 1967 with Egypt, and it participated, along with Syria, Egypt, and Iraq in the Six-Day War of June 1967 against Israel. During the war, Israel took control of East Jerusalem and West Bank, leading to another major influx of Palestinian refugees into Jordan. Its Palestinian refugee population—700,000 in 1966—grew by another 300,000 from the West Bank. The result of the 29 August 1967 Arab League summit was the Khartoum Resolution, which according to Abd al Azim Ramadan, left only one option -a war with Israel. [37]

The period following the 1967 war saw an upsurge in the power and importance of Palestinian militants (fedayeen) in Jordan. Other Arab governments attempted to work out a peaceful solution, but by September 1970, known as the Black September in Jordan, continuing fedayeen actions in Jordan — including the destruction of three international airliners hijacked and held in the desert east of Amman — prompted the Jordanian government to take action. In the ensuing heavy fighting, a Syrian tank force took up positions in northern Jordan to support the fedayeen but was forced to retreat. By September 22, Arab foreign ministers meeting at Cairo had arranged a cease-fire beginning the following day. Sporadic violence continued, however, until Jordanian forces won a decisive victory over the fedayeen in July 1971, expelling them from the country.

An attempted military coup was thwarted in 1972. No fighting occurred along the 1967 cease-fire line during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, but Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to fight Israeli units on Syrian territory.

In 1974, King Hussein recognised the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. However, in 1986, Hussein severed political links with the PLO and ordered its main offices to be closed. In 1988, Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank but retained an administrative role pending a final settlement. Hussein also publicly backed the Palestinian uprising, or First Intifada, against Israeli rule.

Jordan witnessed some of the most severe protests and social upheavals in its history during the 1980s, protests in Jordanian universities especially Yarmouk University and urban areas protested inflation and lack of political freedom. A massive upheaval occurred in the southern city of Ma'an. There was rioting in several cities over price increases in 1989. The same year saw the first general election since 1967. It was contested only by independent candidates because of the ban on political parties in 1963. Martial law was lifted and a period of rapid political liberalization began. Parliament was restored and some thirty political parties, including the Islamic Action Front, were created.

Jordan did not participate directly in the Gulf War of 1990–91, but it broke with the Arab majority and supported the Iraqi position of Saddam Hussein. This position led to the temporary repeal of U.S. aid to Jordan. As a result, Jordan came under severe economic and diplomatic strain. After the Iraqi defeat in 1991, Jordan, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Palestinian representatives, agreed to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. Eventually, Jordan negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on July 25, 1994 the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was concluded on October 26, 1994, ending 46-year official state of war.

Food price riots occurred in 1996, after subsidies were removed under an economic plan supervised by the International Monetary Fund. By the late 1990s, Jordan's unemployment rate was almost 25%, while nearly 50% of those who were employed were on the government payroll. The 1997 parliamentary elections were boycotted by several parties, associations and leading figures.

In 1998, King Hussein was treated for lymphatic cancer in the United States. After six months of treatment he returned home to a rousing welcome in January 1999. Soon after, however, he had to fly back to the US for further treatment. King Hussein died in February 1999. More than 50 heads of state attended his funeral. His eldest son, Crown Prince Abdullah, succeeded to the throne. [38]

Reign of King Abdullah II Edit

Economy Edit

In March 2001, King Abdullah and presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt inaugurated a $300m (£207m) electricity line linking the grids of the three countries. In September 2002, Jordan and Israel agreed on a plan to pipe water from the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea. The project, costing $800m, is the two nations' biggest joint venture to date. King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the Wahdah Dam project at a ceremony on the Yarmuk River in February 2004.

Foreign relations Edit

Jordan has sought to remain at peace with all of its neighbors. In September 2000, a military court sentenced six men to death for plotting attacks against Israeli and US targets. Following the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in September 2000, Amman withdrew its ambassador to Israel for four years. In 2003, Jordan's Central Bank retracted an earlier decision to freeze accounts belonging to leaders of Hamas. When senior US diplomat Laurence Foley was gunned down outside his home in Amman in October 2002, in the first assassination of a Western diplomat in Jordan, scores of political activists were rounded up. Eight militants were later found guilty and executed in 2004. King Abdullah did, however, criticise the United States and Israel over the conflict in Lebanon in 2006.

Politics Edit

Jordan's gradual institution of political and civil liberty has continued, but the slow pace of reform has led to increasing discontent. Following the death of a youth in custody, riots erupted in the southern town of Maan in January 2002, the worst public disturbances in more than three years.

The first parliamentary elections under King Abdullah II were held in June 2003. Independent candidates loyal to the king won two-thirds of the seats. A new cabinet was appointed in October 2003 following the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. Faisal al-Fayez was appointed prime minister. The king also appointed three female ministers. However, in April 2005, amid reports of the king's dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reforms, the government resigned and a new cabinet was sworn in, led by Prime Minister Adnan Badran.

The first local elections since 1999 were held in July 2007. The main opposition party, the Islamist Action Front, withdrew after accusing the government of vote-rigging. The parliamentary elections of November 2007 strengthened the position of tribal leaders and other pro-government candidates. Support for the opposition Islamic Action Front declined. Political moderate Nader Dahabi was appointed prime minister.

In November 2009, the King once more dissolved parliament halfway through its four-year term. The following month, he appointed a new premier to push through economic reform. A new electoral law was introduced May 2010, but pro-reform campaigners said it did little to make the system more representational. The parliamentary elections of November 2010 were boycotted by the opposition Islamic Action Front. Riots broke out after it was announced that pro-government candidates had won a sweeping victory.

Arab Spring Edit

On 14 January, the Jordanian protests began in Jordan's capital Amman, and at Ma'an, Al Karak, Salt and Irbid, and other cities. The following month, King Abdullah appointed a new prime minister, former army general Marouf Bakhit, and charged him with quelling the protests whilst carrying out political reforms. The street protests continued through the summer, albeit on a smaller scale, prompting the King to replace Bakhit with Awn al-Khasawneh, a judge at the International Court of Justice (October 2011). However, Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh resigned abruptly after just six months having been unable to satisfy either the demands for reform or allay establishment fears of empowering the Islamist opposition. King Abdullah appointed former prime minister Fayez al-Tarawneh to succeed him.

In October 2012, King Abdullah called for early parliamentary elections, to be held at some time in 2013. The Islamic Action Front, continued in its calls for broader political representation and a more democratic parliament. The King appointed Abdullah Ensour, a former minister and vocal advocate of democratic reform, as prime minister.

Mass demonstrations took place in Amman (November 2012) against the lifting of fuel subsidies. Public calls for the end of the monarchy were heard. Clashes between protesters and supporters of the king followed. The government reversed the fuel price rise following the protest. [39] Al Jazeera stated that protests are expected to continue for several weeks because of increasing food prices. [39]

Arab Winter Edit

With the rapid expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant into northern and eastern Iraq in summer of 2014, Jordan became threatened by the radical Jihadist organization, boosting troops on the Iraqi and Syrian borders.

Key Facts & Information

History of Petra

  • Around 2010 BC, Petra was mentioned by Egyptians in the Amarna letters, which were a series of archives written on clay tablets, documenting correspondence between Egyptians and other tribes around and among the Arabian desert.
  • Petra was built during Indigenous rule over the area.
  • Petra is a word derived from the Greek for “rock”, and represented its importance as a natural fortress and place of refuge.
  • By around 106 AD, Petra became a part of the Roman Empire.
  • Around the same time, the Romans built a road to Petra, and erected large gates that served as an entrance to the city.
  • As a city, Petra declined over the years, and coupled with an earthquake in 365, many buildings and water management systems were destroyed, so their quality declined as well.
  • Although Petra declined, it still maintained an elusive mysterious quality that many travellers and royal folk admired.
  • In 1812, a Swiss traveller named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt became the first European to describe the ruins at Petra by 1929, scholars and archaeologists began to take steps to understand and preserve the site, as it was becoming a hotspot for thieves.
  • In October of 1917, T.E Lawrence, a British Army officer, led a revolt of Arabs against the Ottoman regime just before the Third Battle of Gaza the plan was to divert the Ottomans from a British advance.

Petra’s Geography

  • Petra is located between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea in the sovereign Arab state of Jordan.
  • It sits upon Jebel al-Madhbah, which many scholars believe to be Mount Sinai, as referenced in the bible as the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.
  • It was established as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom.
  • Petra is nestled among many rocks and has a perennial stream running through it, meaning there is water running through it year-round.
  • People who visit Petra today usually do so through a grand eastern entrance, comprised of a dark, narrow gorge called the “Siq”, meaning “the Shaft” in Arabic.
  • The Siq is a feature that forms naturally as a result of a deep split in the rose-colored sandstone rocks.
  • In some places, the Siq measures less than 10 feet wide.
  • It is said that once you travel through the Siq and approach the Al Khazneh on the other side (“the Treasury” as it is known in Arabic), you can see hundreds of small bullet holes on the face of the structure.
  • These bullet holes apparently came from surrounding local tribes who were hoping to find mysterious hidden treasures that have been rumored to be hidden within it.
  • A large amphitheatre was carved into the hillside of the mountain called “en-Nejr”, and it is at this point that the valley opens out into the plain, which showcases a majestic view of the site of the city.

Petra in the Media

  • Petra has been mentioned in multiple pieces of literature, and has appeared in several films and TV programs.
  • In 1845, John William Burgon wrote a 370 line long sonnet called Petra, which later won a writing award.
  • Petra was also mentioned in the novels The Eagle in the Sand, The Adventures of Tintin, and Last Act in Palmyra.
  • Films such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Mummy Returns, and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger also featured Petra.
  • Petra was also featured in an episode of Departures, An Idiot Abroad, and was featured in many National Geographic and PBS shows and documentaries.
  • Some video games also recreated landscapes and sites from Petra.

Threats to Petra

  • The Petra National Trust (PNT) was established in 1989 in order to reduce the impact of the various threats that face the site.
  • Some of these threats include: collapse of the ancient structures, improper restoration of portions of the structures, erosion due to flooding and incorrect rainwater drainage, and weathering.
  • SInce Petra became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, unsustainable tourism has also become a huge threat to the site.
  • The PNT has promoted Petra as a sacred place to protect, conserve, and preserve, and the site has been an example of a threatened landscape, as outlined in various historical and archaeological management books over the past few years.

World Heritage Sites: Petra (JORDAN) Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Petra across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use World Heritage Sites: Petra (JORDAN) worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Petra which is an iconic, historical city situated in Jordan, between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. It is believed to have been founded as early as the 4th century BC. It is famous for its breathtaking rock-cut architecture and its deep cultural significance. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Petra Facts.
  • Poetry Dissection.
  • Pop Culture Petra.
  • Petra Wordsearch.
  • See, Think, Wonder.
  • Unscrambling Activity.
  • Petra Quiz.
  • Stone Carvings.
  • Petra Crossword.
  • Postcard from Petra.
  • Opinion Paragraph.

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Use With Any Curriculum

These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.

Reform and protests

2009 November - King dissolves parliament half-way through its four-year term

2009 December - King Abdullah appoints new premier to push through economic reform.

2010 May - New electoral law introduced. Pro-reform campaigners say it does little to make system more representational.

2010 October - Leader of Islamist militant group jailed for plotting attacks on the army.

2010 November - Parliamentary elections, boycotted by the opposition Islamic Action Front. Riots break out after it is announced that pro-government candidates have won a sweeping victory.

2011 January - Tunisian street protests which unseat the president encourage similar demonstrations in other countries, including Jordan.

2011 February - Against a background of large-scale street protests, King Abdullah appoints a new prime minister, former army general Marouf Bakhit, and charges him with carrying out political reforms.

2011 October - Protests continue through the summer, albeit on a smaller scale, prompting King Abdullah to replace Prime Minister Bakhit with Awn al-Khasawneh, a judge at the International Court of Justice.

2012 April - Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh resigns abruptly, have been unable to satisfy either demands for reform or establishment fears of empowering the Islamist opposition. King Abdullah appoints former prime minister Fayez al-Tarawneh to succeed him.

2012 October - King Abdullah calls early parliamentary elections for January. The Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Islamic Action Front, decides to continue to boycott them in protest at unequal constituency sizes and lack of real parliamentary power. The King appoints Abdullah Ensour, a former minister and vocal advocate of democratic reform, as prime minister.

2012 November - Clashes between protesters and supporters of the king follow mass demonstrations in Amman against the lifting of fuel subsidies, at which calls for the end of the monarchy are heard. Three people are killed.

2013 January - Pro-government candidates victorious in parliamentary elections which are boycotted by the main opposition Islamic Action Front.

2013 March - New government sworn in, with incumbent Abdullah Ensour reinstalled as prime minister following unprecedented consultation between the king and parliament.

2014 June - Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada, deported from the UK after a long legal battle, is found not guilty of terrorism offences by a court in Jordan over an alleged plot in 1998.

Fighting Islamic State

2014 September - Jordan is one of four Arab states to take part, together with the US, in air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria.

2014 November - Jordanian authorities arrest the deputy head of the country's Muslim Brotherhood organisation, in the first arrest of a major opposition figure in Jordan for several years.

2015 February - Islamic State publishes a video purporting to show captured Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh being burned alive. Jordan responds by stepping up its anti-Islamic-State air campaign and executing prisoners.

European Union says it is providing 100 million euros ($113 million) in loans to Jordan to help it deal with the fallout from crises in Syria and Iraq.

2015 March - Jordan takes part in Saudi-led air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen.

2016 September - First parliamentary elections under proportional representation since 1989.

2016 December - Ten people, including a tourist, are killed in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group at a Crusader castle in the town of Karak.

2017 August - Jordan and Iraq reopen their main border crossing for the first time in two years after Islamic State militants were driven from the main highway to Baghdad.

2018 June - Street protests against tax hikes and other measures being introduced as part of an austerity programme lead to the fall of Prime Minister Hani Mulki and his replacement with the education minister and economist, Omar al-Razzaz.

Social Stratification

Jordan's political and social systems are a mix of new and old, traditional and non-traditional, Bedouin and Palestinian.

Classes and Castes. All social and political systems of Jordan are centered around extended patriarchal family units based on ancestry and wealth. Family units are often led by sheikhs whose rule depends on the size of their families, their wealth, and the will of their personalities. After the death of a sheikh, the eldest son ascends to the position of head of the family.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The emerging modern Arab culture values a college education, Mercedes cars, and a home in an urban area as symbols of success. However, in traditional Arab culture, camel breeders are still considered to be highest on the social scale. Traditional clans consider anyone outside their clan to be inferior, so the tradition of only marrying a person from within their families continues.


Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River which forms much of the country's northwestern border. [18] While several theories for the origin of the river's name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Semitic word Yarad, meaning "the descender", reflecting the river's declivity. [19] 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. [19] The Old Testament refers to the area as "the other side of the Jordan". [19] Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Semitic Yarden. [20] Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era. [20] Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain. [21]

Ancient period

The oldest evidence of hominid habitation in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years. [22] Jordan is rich in Paleolithic (up to 20,000 years ago) remains due to its location within the Levant where expansions of hominids out of Africa converged. [23] Past lakeshore environments attracted different hominids, and several remains of tools have been found from this period. [23] The world's oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in Jordan's northeastern desert. [24] The transition from hunter-gatherer to establishing populous agricultural villages occurred during the Neolithic period (10,000–4,500 BC). [25] 'Ain Ghazal, one such village located in today's eastern Amman, is one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East. [26] Dozens of plaster statues of the human form dating to 7250 BC or earlier were uncovered there and they are among the oldest ever found. [27] Other than the usual Chalcolithic (4500–3600 BC) villages such as Tulaylet Ghassul in the Jordan Valley, [28] a series of circular stone enclosures in the eastern basalt desert−whose purpose remains uncertain–have baffled archaeologists. [29]

Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (3600–1200 BC). [30] Wadi Feynan became a regional centre for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze. [31] Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations. [32] Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land. [32] Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River. [33] During the Iron Age (1200–332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab. [34] They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states. [34] Ammon was located in the Amman plateau Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south. [34]

The Transjordanian kingdoms of Ammon, Edom and Moab were in continuous conflict with the neighboring Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centered west of the Jordan River. [35] One record of this is the Mesha Stele erected by the Moabite king Mesha in 840 BC on which he lauds himself for the building projects that he initiated in Moab and commemorates his glory and victory against the Israelites. [36] The stele constitutes one of the most important direct accounts of Biblical history. [37] Around 700 BC, the kingdoms benefited from trade between Syria and Arabia when the Assyrian Empire increasingly controlled the Levant. [38] Babylonians took over the empire after its disintegration in 627 BC. [38] Although the kingdoms supported the Babylonians against Judah in the 597 BC sack of Jerusalem, they rebelled against them a decade later. [38] The kingdoms were reduced to vassals, which they remained under the Persian and Hellenic Empires. [38] 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. [34]

Classical period

Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire in 332 BC introduced Hellenistic culture to the Middle East. [39] 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. [39] 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. [39] 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. [40] The Nabataeans massed a fortune from their control of the trade routes, often drawing the envy of their neighbours. [41] Petra, Nabataea's barren capital, flourished in the 1st century AD, driven by its extensive water irrigation systems and agriculture. [42] The Nabataeans were also talented stone carvers, building their most elaborate structure, Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD. [43] It is believed to be the mausoleum of the Arab Nabataean King Aretas IV. [43]

Roman legions under Pompey conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted four centuries. [44] In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed Nabataea unopposed, and rebuilt the King's Highway which became known as the Via Traiana Nova road. [44] 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. [45] Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the East it was even visited by Emperor Hadrian during his journey to Palestine. [46]

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. [47] Christianity had become legal within the empire in 313 AD after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. [47] The Edict of Thessalonka made Christianity the official state religion in 380 AD. Transjordan prospered during the Byzantine era, and Christian churches were built everywhere. [48] The Aqaba Church in Ayla was built during this era, it is considered to be the world's first purpose built Christian church. [49] Umm ar-Rasas in southern Amman contains at least 16 Byzantine churches. [50] Meanwhile, Petra's importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures, it declined further, eventually being abandoned. [43] 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. [51]

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). [52] The Byzantines however were defeated by the Muslims in 636 AD at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk just north of Transjordan. [52] Transjordan was an essential territory for the conquest of Damascus. [53] The first, or Rashidun, caliphate was followed by that of the Ummayads (661–750). [53] Under the Umayyad Caliphate, several desert castles were constructed in Transjordan, including: Qasr Al-Mshatta and Qasr Al-Hallabat. [53] The Abbasid Caliphate's campaign to take over the Umayyad's began in Transjordan. [54] 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. [54] During Abbasid rule (750–969), several Arab tribes moved northwards and settled in the Levant. [53] As had happened during the Roman era, growth of maritime trade diminished Transjordan's central position, and the area became increasingly impoverished. [55] After the decline of the Abbasids, Transjordan was ruled by the Fatimid Caliphate (969–1070), then by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (1115–1187). [56]

The Crusaders constructed several Crusader castles as part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain, including those of Montreal and Al-Karak. [57] The Ayyubids built the Ajloun Castle and rebuilt older castles, to be used as military outposts against the Crusaders. [58] 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). [58] 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. [59] Several of the Ayyubid castles were used and expanded by the Mamluks (1260–1516), who divided Transjordan between the provinces of Karak and Damascus. [60] During the next century Transjordan experienced Mongol attacks, but the Mongols were ultimately repelled by the Mamluks after the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260). [61]

In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate's forces conquered Mamluk territory. [62] Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned. [63] Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities. [64] As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits. [63] 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. [65] 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 till the 19th century. [66] 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). [67] Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. [68] In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant. [69] His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants' revolt in Palestine in 1834. [69] Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha's forces for harboring a peasants' revolt leader. [69] Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored. [69]

Only after Ibrahim Pasha's campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. [70] 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. [70] Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant. [71] In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages. [71] After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities led to revolts in the areas it controlled. [72] Transjordan's tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed. [71] 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. [71] However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.

Modern era

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. [71] 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. [71] Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. [73] The Allies of World War I, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. [74] 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. [75] 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. [73] 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 [76] 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. [77] This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as a betrayal of their previous agreements with the British, [78] 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. [79]

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. [80]

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. [81] Transjordan then was in disarray, widely considered to be ungovernable with its dysfunctional local governments. [82] Abdullah gained the trust of Transjordan's tribal leaders before scrambling to convince them of the benefits of an organized government. [83] Abdullah's successes drew the envy of the British, even when it was in their interest. [84] The British reluctantly accepted Abdullah as ruler of Transjordan after having given him a six-month trial. [85] 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. [86]

In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the terms of the Transjordan memorandum. [87] [88] 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. [89] Multiple difficulties emerged upon the assumption of power in the region by the Hashemite leadership. [90] In Transjordan, small local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923 were suppressed by the Emir's forces with the help of the British. [90] Wahhabis from Najd regained strength and repeatedly raided the southern parts of his territory in (1922–1924), seriously threatening the Emir's position. [90] 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. [90]


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. [91] 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. [92] 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. [93] 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. [94] Following the war, Jordan controlled the West Bank and on 24 April 1950 Jordan formally annexed these territories after the Jericho conference. [95] [96] In response, some Arab countries demanded Jordan's expulsion from the Arab League. [95] 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. [97] 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. [98]

Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, who would soon abdicate due to illness in favour of his eldest son Hussein. [99] Talal established the country's modern constitution in 1952. [99] Hussein ascended to the throne in 1953 at the age of 17. [98] Jordan witnessed great political uncertainty in the following period. [100] The 1950s were a period of political upheaval, as Nasserism and Pan-Arabism swept the Arab World. [100] 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. [101] 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. [102] 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. [102]

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. [103] The Arab states were defeated and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel. [103] 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. [103] 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. [104] 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. [104] The fedayeen activities soon became a threat to Jordan's rule of law. [104] 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. [104]

In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged the Yom Kippur War on Israel, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line. [104] Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory. [104] 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". [104] Subsequently, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988. [104]

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, Jordan agreed to negotiate a peace treaty sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union. [104] The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994. [104] 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. [104] 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. [104]

On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein, who had ruled for nearly 50 years. [105] Abdullah embarked on economic liberalization when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008. [106] 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. [106] He also set up five other special economic zones. [106] 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. [107]

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. [108] The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians. [108] The attack is considered to be a rare event in the country, and Jordan's internal security was dramatically improved afterwards. [108] No major terrorist attacks have occurred since then. [109] Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country's peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West. [110]

The Arab Spring were large-scale protests that erupted in the Arab World in 2011, demanding economic and political reforms. [111] Many of these protests tore down regimes in some Arab nations, leading to instability that ended with violent civil wars. [111] 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. [111] 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. [112] 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). [112]

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. [113] 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. [18] 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. [18] Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall. [114] 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. [114] Major towns in the eastern part of the country are the oasis towns of Azraq and Ruwaished. [113]

In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley. [113] The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel. [113] Jordan has a 26 kilometres (16 mi) shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, but is otherwise landlocked. [9] The Yarmouk River, an eastern tributary of the Jordan, forms part of the boundary between Jordan and Syria (including the occupied Golan Heights) to the north. [9] The other boundaries are formed by several international and local agreements and do not follow well-defined natural features. [113] The highest point is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854 m (6,083 ft) above sea level, while the lowest is the Dead Sea −420 m (−1,378 ft), the lowest land point on earth. [113]

Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and biota due to its varied landscapes and environments. [115] The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature was set up in 1966 to protect and manage Jordan's natural resources. [116] Nature reserves in Jordan include the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the Azraq Wetland Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and the Mujib Nature Reserve. [116]


The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, there are greater contrasts in temperature and less rainfall. [18] The country's average elevation is 812 m (2,664 ft) (SL). [18] 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. [117] 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. [118]

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. [118] The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). [117] Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas. [117]


Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan. [119] 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. [120] Forests cover 1.5 million dunums (1,500 km 2 ), less than 2% of Jordan, making Jordan among the world's least forested countries, the international average being 15%. [121]

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. [129] The king retains wide executive and legislative powers from the government and parliament. [130] 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. [129]

The king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the army. 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. [129] 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. [129]

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. [131] The 130 members of the lower House of Representatives are elected through party-list proportional representation in 23 constituencies for a 4-year term. [132] 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). [133]

Courts are divided into three categories: civil, religious, and special. [134] The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters, including cases brought against the government. [134] The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, [134] High Administrative Courts which hear cases relating to administrative matters, [135] and the Constitutional Court which was set up in 2012 in order to hear cases regarding the constitutionality of laws. [136] 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. [137] The special court deals with cases forwarded by the civil one. [138]

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. [139]

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. [140] The current prime minister is Omar Razzaz who received his position on 4 June 2018 after his predecessor's austerity measures forced widespread protests. [141] 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. [142] Jordan has around 50 political parties representing nationalist, leftist, Islamist, and liberal ideologies. [143] Political parties contested a fifth of the seats in the 2016 elections, the remainder belonging to independent politicians. [144]

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. [145] The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of 15 Arab countries. [146] Jordan ranked first among the Arab states and 78th globally in the Human Freedom Index in 2015, [147] and ranked 55th out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International in 2014, where 175th is most corrupt. [148] 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". [149] 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. [150] Internet penetration in Jordan reached 76% in 2015. [151] There are concerns that the government will use the COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan to silence dissidents. [152] [153]

Largest cities

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. [155] Control for each administrative unit is in a "chief town" (administrative centre) known as a nahia. [155]

Foreign relations

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. [156]

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. [157] Jordan views an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest. [158] 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. [159]

Jordan is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and of the Arab League. [160] [161] 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. [162] 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. [163]


The first organised army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the "Arab Legion". [90] The Legion grew from 150 men in 1920 to 8,000 in 1946. [164] 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. [164] 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. [164] 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. [164] 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. [165] Jordan provides extensive training to the security forces of several Arab countries. [166]

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, [167] with one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states. [168] Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the region. [169]

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. [170] 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. [171]

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. [172] 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. [172] The number of female police officers is increasing. In the 1970s, it was the first Arab country to include females in its police force. [173] 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] [174]

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an "upper-middle income" country. [175] However, approximately 14.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line on a longterm basis (as of 2010 [update] ), [175] while almost a third fell below the national poverty line during some time of the year—known as transient poverty. [176] The economy, which has a GDP of $39.453 billion (as of 2016 [update] ), [5] grew at an average rate of 8% per annum between 2004 and 2008, and around 2.6% 2010 onwards. [18] 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. [177] 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. [18]

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. [17] 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. [178]

The official currency is the Jordanian dinar, which is pegged to the IMF's special drawing rights (SDRs), equivalent to an exchange rate of 1 US$ ≡ 0.709 dinar, or approximately 1 dinar ≡ 1.41044 dollars. [179] In 2000, Jordan joined the World Trade Organization and signed the Jordan–United States Free Trade Agreement, thus becoming the first Arab country to establish a free trade agreement with the United States. Jordan enjoys advanced status with the EU, which has facilitated greater access to export to European markets. [180] Due to slow domestic growth, high energy and food subsidies and a bloated public-sector workforce, Jordan usually runs annual budget deficits. [181]

The Great Recession and the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring have depressed Jordan's GDP growth, damaging trade, industry, construction and tourism. [18] Tourist arrivals have dropped sharply since 2011. [182] Since 2011, the natural gas pipeline in Sinai supplying Jordan from Egypt was attacked 32 times by Islamic State affiliates. Jordan incurred billions of dollars in losses because it had to substitute more expensive heavy-fuel oils to generate electricity. [183] In November 2012, the government cut subsidies on fuel, increasing its price. [184] The decision, which was later revoked, caused large scale protests to break out across the country. [181] [182]

Jordan's total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP. [107] This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity decreased foreign investments increased military expenditure attacks on Egyptian pipeline the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans. [107] According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government's annual revenue. [185] Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan. [186] An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan's debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021. [187] The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018. [188]

The proportion of well-educated and skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region in sectors such as ICT and industry, due to a relatively modern educational system. This has attracted large foreign investments to Jordan and has enabled the country to export its workforce to Persian Gulf countries. [15] Flows of remittances to Jordan grew rapidly, particularly during the end of the 1970s and 1980s, and remains an important source of external funding. [189] Remittances from Jordanian expatriates were $3.8 billion in 2015, a notable rise in the amount of transfers compared to 2014 where remittances reached over $3.66 billion listing Jordan as fourth largest recipient in the region. [190]


Jordan is ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the 2010 World Economic Forum's Index of Economic Competitiveness. This high infrastructural development is necessitated by its role as a transit country for goods and services to Palestine and Iraq. Palestinians use Jordan as a transit country due to the Israeli restrictions and Iraqis use Jordan due to the instability in Iraq. [191]

According to data from the Jordanian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of 2011 [update] , the Jordanian road network consisted of 2,878 km (1,788 mi) of main roads 2,592 km (1,611 mi) of rural roads and 1,733 km (1,077 mi) of side roads. The Hejaz Railway built during the Ottoman Empire which extended from Damascus to Mecca will act as a base for future railway expansion plans. Currently, the railway has little civilian activity it is primarily used for transporting goods. A national railway project is currently undergoing studies and seeking funding sources. [192]

Jordan has three commercial airports, all receiving and dispatching international flights. Two are in Amman and the third is in Aqaba, King Hussein International Airport. Amman Civil Airport serves several regional routes and charter flights while Queen Alia International Airport is the major international airport in Jordan and is the hub for Royal Jordanian Airlines, the flag carrier. Queen Alia International Airport expansion was completed in 2013 with new terminals costing $700 million, to handle over 16 million passengers annually. [193] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was awarded 'the best airport by region: Middle East' for 2014 and 2015 by Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey, the world's leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark programme. [194]

The Port of Aqaba is the only port in Jordan. In 2006, the port was ranked as being the "Best Container Terminal" in the Middle East by Lloyd's List. The port was chosen due to it being a transit cargo port for other neighbouring countries, its location between four countries and three continents, being an exclusive gateway for the local market and for the improvements it has recently witnessed. [195]


The tourism sector is considered a cornerstone of the economy and is a large source of employment, hard currency, and economic growth. In 2010, there were 8 million visitors to Jordan. The majority of tourists coming to Jordan are from European and Arab countries. [16] The tourism sector in Jordan has been severely affected by regional turbulence. [196] The most recent blow to the tourism sector was caused by the Arab Spring. Jordan experienced a 70% decrease in the number of tourists from 2010 to 2016. [197] Tourist numbers started to recover as of 2017. [197]

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites. [198] Some very well preserved historical cities include Petra and Jerash, the former being Jordan's most popular tourist attraction and an icon of the kingdom. [197] Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include: Al-Maghtas—a traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba and Machaerus. [199] Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad's companions such as 'Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah and Muadh ibn Jabal. [200] Ajlun Castle built by Muslim Ayyubid leader Saladin in the 12th century AD during his wars with the Crusaders, is also a popular tourist attraction. [8]

Modern entertainment, recreation and souqs in urban areas, mostly in Amman, also attract tourists. Recently, the nightlife in Amman, Aqaba and Irbid has started to emerge and the number of bars, discos and nightclubs is on the rise. [201] Alcohol is widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores and even some supermarkets. [202] Valleys including Wadi Mujib and hiking trails in different parts of the country attract adventurers. Hiking is getting more and more popular among tourists and locals. Places such as Dana Biosphere Reserve and Petra offer numerous signposted hiking trails. Moreover, seaside recreation is present on the shores of Aqaba and the Dead Sea through several international resorts. [203]

Jordan has been a medical tourism destination in the Middle East since the 1970s. A study conducted by Jordan's Private Hospitals Association found that 250,000 patients from 102 countries received treatment in Jordan in 2010, compared to 190,000 in 2007, bringing over $1 billion in revenue. Jordan is the region's top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall. [204] The majority of patients come from Yemen, Libya and Syria due to the ongoing civil wars in those countries. Jordanian doctors and medical staff have gained experience in dealing with war patients through years of receiving such cases from various conflict zones in the region. [205] Jordan also is a hub for natural treatment methods in both Ma'in Hot Springs and the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is often described as a 'natural spa'. It contains 10 times more salt than the average ocean, which makes it impossible to sink in. The high salt concentration of the Dead Sea has been proven therapeutic for many skin diseases. [ citation needed ] The uniqueness of this lake attracts several Jordanian and foreign vacationers, which boosted investments in the hotel sector in the area. [206] The Jordan Trail, a 650 km (400 mi) hiking trail stretching the entire country from north to south, crossing several of Jordan's attractions was established in 2015. [207] The trail aims to revive the Jordanian tourism sector. [207]

Natural resources

Jordan is among the most water-scarce nations on earth. At 97 cubic meters of water per person per year, it is considered to face "absolute water scarcity" according to the Falkenmark Classification. [208] Scarce resources to begin with have been aggravated by the massive influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan, many of whom face issues of access to clean water due to living in informal settlements (see "Immigrants and Refugees" below). [209] Jordan shares both of its two main surface water resources, the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, with neighbouring countries, adding complexity to water allocation decisions. [208] Water from Disi aquifer and ten major dams historically played a large role in providing Jordan's need for fresh water. [210] The Jawa Dam in northeastern Jordan, which dates back to the fourth millennium BC, is the world's oldest dam. [211] The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing sinkholes. The Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to the country and to Israel and Palestine, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2019 and to be completed in 2021. [212]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, however, the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, a minuscule quantity compared with its oil-rich neighbours. The Risha field, in the eastern desert beside the Iraqi border, produces nearly 35 million cubic feet of gas a day, which is sent to a nearby power plant to generate a small amount of Jordan's electricity needs. [213] This led to a reliance on importing oil to generate almost all of its electricity. Regional instability over the decades halted oil and gas supply to the kingdom from various sources, making it incur billions of dollars in losses. Jordan built a liquified natural gas port in Aqaba in 2012 to temporarily substitute the supply, while formulating a strategy to rationalize energy consumption and to diversify its energy sources. Jordan receives 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds reach over 7 m/s in the mountainous areas, so renewables proved a promising sector. [214] King Abdullah inaugurated large-scale renewable energy projects in the 2010s including: the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, the 53 MW Shams Ma'an and the 103 MW Quweira solar power plants, with several more projects planned. By early 2019, it was reported that more than 1090 MW of renewable energy projects had been completed, contributing to 8% of Jordan's electricity up from 3% in 2011, while 92% was generated from gas. [215] After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%. [216]

Jordan has the 5th largest oil-shale reserves in the world, which could be commercially exploited in the central and northwestern regions of the country. [217] Official figures estimate the kingdom's oil shale reserves at more than 70 billion tonnes. The extraction of oil-shale had been delayed a couple of years due to technological difficulties and the relatively higher costs. [218] The government overcame the difficulties and in 2017 laid the groundbreaking for the Attarat Power Plant, a $2.2 billion oil shale-dependent power plant that is expected to generate 470 MW after it is completed in 2020. [219] Jordan also aims to benefit from its large uranium reserves by tapping nuclear energy. The original plan involved constructing two 1000 MW reactors but has been scrapped due to financial constraints. [220] Currently, the country's Atomic Energy Commission is considering building small modular reactors instead, whose capacities hover below 500 MW and can provide new water sources through desalination. In 2018, the commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the country's first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion by 2025. [221] Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan one of the largest producers and exporters of the mineral in the world. [222]


Jordan's well developed industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, construction, and power, accounted for approximately 26% of the GDP in 2004 (including manufacturing, 16.2% construction, 4.6% and mining, 3.1%). More than 21% of Jordan's labor force was employed in industry in 2002. In 2014, industry accounted for 6% of the GDP. [223] The main industrial products are potash, phosphates, cement, clothes, and fertilisers. The most promising segment of this sector is construction. Petra Engineering Industries Company, which is considered to be one of the main pillars of Jordanian industry, has gained international recognition with its air-conditioning units reaching NASA. [224] Jordan is now considered to be a leading pharmaceuticals manufacturer in the MENA region led by Jordanian pharmaceutical company Hikma. [225]

Jordan's military industry thrived after the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) defence company was established by King Abdullah II in 1999, to provide an indigenous capability for the supply of scientific and technical services to the Jordanian Armed Forces, and to become a global hub in security research and development. It manufactures all types of military products, many of which are presented at the bi-annually held international military exhibition SOFEX. In 2015, KADDB exported $72 million worth of industries to over 42 countries. [226]

Science and technology

Science and technology is the country's fastest developing economic sector. This growth is occurring across multiple industries, including information and communications technology (ICT) and nuclear technology. Jordan contributes 75% of the Arabic content on the Internet. [228] In 2014, the ICT sector accounted for more than 84,000 jobs and contributed to 12% of the GDP. More than 400 companies are active in telecom, information technology and video game development. There are 600 companies operating in active technologies and 300 start-up companies. [228]

Nuclear science and technology is also expanding. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which began working in 2016, is a 5 MW training reactor located at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Ar Ramtha. [229] The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the country and will provide Jordan with radioactive isotopes for medical usage and provide training to students to produce a skilled workforce for the country's planned commercial nuclear reactors. [229]

Jordan was also selected as the location for the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) facility, supported by UNESCO and CERN. [230] This particle accelerator that was opened in 2017 will allow collaboration between scientists from various rival Middle Eastern countries. [230] The facility is the only particle accelerator in the Middle East, and one of only 60 synchrotron radiation facilities in the world. [230]

The 2015 census showed Jordan's population to be 9,531,712 (Female: 47% Males: 53%). Around 2.9 million (30%) were non-citizens, a figure including refugees, and illegal immigrants. [4] There were 1,977,534 households in Jordan in 2015, with an average of 4.8 persons per household (compared to 6.7 persons per household for the census of 1979). [4] The capital and largest city of Jordan is Amman, which is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most modern in the Arab world. [232] The population of Amman was 65,754 in 1946, but exceeded 4 million by 2015.

Arabs make up about 98% of the population. The remaining 2% consist largely of peoples from the Caucasus including Circassians, Armenians, and Chechens, along with smaller minority groups. [18] About 84.1% of the population live in urban areas. [18]

Immigrants and refugees

Jordan is a home to 2,175,491 Palestinian refugees as of December 2016 most of them, but not all, were granted Jordanian citizenship. [233] The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and peaked in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1990 Gulf War. In the past, Jordan had given many Palestinian refugees citizenship, however recently Jordanian citizenship is given only in rare cases. 370,000 of these Palestinians live in UNRWA refugee camps. [233] Following the capture of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to thwart any attempt to permanently resettle from the West Bank to Jordan. West Bank Palestinians with family in Jordan or Jordanian citizenship were issued yellow cards guaranteeing them all the rights of Jordanian citizenship if requested. [234]

Up to 1,000,000 Iraqis moved to Jordan following the Iraq War in 2003, [235] and most of them have returned. In 2015, their number in Jordan was 130,911. Many Iraqi Christians (Assyrians/Chaldeans) however settled temporarily or permanently in Jordan. [236] Immigrants also include 15,000 Lebanese who arrived following the 2006 Lebanon War. [237] Since 2010, over 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan to escape the violence in Syria, [4] the largest population being in the Zaatari refugee camp. The kingdom has continued to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the flux of Syrian refugees places on the country. The effects are largely affecting Jordanian communities, as the vast majority of Syrian refugees do not live in camps. The refugee crisis effects include competition for job opportunities, water resources and other state provided services, along with the strain on the national infrastructure. [14]

In 2007, there were up to 150,000 Assyrian Christians most are Eastern Aramaic speaking refugees from Iraq. [238] Kurds number some 30,000, and like the Assyrians, many are refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. [239] Descendants of Armenians that sought refuge in the Levant during the 1915 Armenian genocide number approximately 5,000 persons, mainly residing in Amman. [240] A small number of ethnic Mandeans also reside in Jordan, again mainly refugees from Iraq. [241] Around 12,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Jordan after the Islamic State took the city of Mosul in 2014. [242] Several thousand Libyans, Yemenis and Sudanese have also sought asylum in Jordan to escape instability and violence in their respective countries. [14] The 2015 Jordanian census recorded that there were 1,265,000 Syrians, 636,270 Egyptians, 634,182 Palestinians, 130,911 Iraqis, 31,163 Yemenis, 22,700 Libyans and 197,385 from other nationalities residing in the country. [4]

There are around 1.2 million illegal, and 500,000 legal, migrant workers in the kingdom. [243] Thousands of foreign women, mostly from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, work in nightclubs, hotels and bars across the kingdom. [244] [245] [246] American and European expatriate communities are concentrated in the capital, as the city is home to many international organizations and diplomatic missions. [202]


Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in Jordan. Muslims make up about 95% of the country's population in turn, 93% of those self-identify as Sunnis. [247] There are also a small number of Ahmadi Muslims, [248] and some Shiites. Many Shia are Iraqi and Lebanese refugees. [249] Muslims who convert to another religion as well as missionaries from other religions face societal and legal discrimination. [250]

Jordan contains some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating as early as the 1st century AD after the crucifixion of Jesus. [251] Christians today make up about 4% of the population, [252] down from 20% in 1930, though their absolute number has grown. [13] This is due to high immigration rates of Muslims into Jordan, higher emigration rates of Christians to the West and higher birth rates for Muslims. [253] Jordanian Christians number around 250,000, all of whom are Arabic-speaking, according to a 2014 estimate by the Orthodox Church, though the study excluded minority Christian groups and the thousands of Western, Iraqi and Syrian Christians residing in Jordan. [252] Christians are exceptionally well integrated in the Jordanian society and enjoy a high level of freedom. [254] Christians traditionally occupy two cabinet posts, and are reserved nine seats out of the 130 in the parliament. [255] The highest political position reached by a Christian is the Deputy Prime Minister, currently held by Rajai Muasher. [256] Christians are also influential in the media. [257] Smaller religious minorities include Druze, Baháʼís and Mandaeans. Most Jordanian Druze live in the eastern oasis town of Azraq, some villages on the Syrian border, and the city of Zarqa, while most Jordanian Baháʼís live in the village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley. [258] It is estimated that 1,400 Mandaeans live in Amman, they came from Iraq after the 2003 invasion fleeing persecution. [259]


The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language taught in the schools. [260] Most Jordanians natively speak one of the non-standard Arabic dialects known as Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English, though without official status, is widely spoken throughout the country and is the de facto language of commerce and banking, as well as a co-official status in the education sector almost all university-level classes are held in English and almost all public schools teach English along with Standard Arabic. [260] Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities. [261] French is offered as an elective in many schools, mainly in the private sector. [260] German is an increasingly popular language it has been introduced at a larger scale since the establishment of the German-Jordanian University in 2005. [262]

Art and museums

Many institutions in Jordan aim to increase cultural awareness of Jordanian Art and to represent Jordan's artistic movements in fields such as paintings, sculpture, graffiti and photography. [263] The art scene has been developing in the past few years [264] and Jordan has been a haven for artists from surrounding countries. [265] In January 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. [266]

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of 'Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele. [267] Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman including The Children's Museum Jordan, The Martyr's Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum. [268] The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum located in Amman. [268]

Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Mitwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music. [269] The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers. [269] Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity. [270] There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka. [271]

Jordan unveiled its first underwater military museum off the coast of Aqaba. Several military vehicles, including tanks, troop carriers and a helicopter are in the museum. [272]


Several Jordanian writers and poets have gained fame in the Arab world including Mustafa Wahbi Tal (Arar), Tayseer Sboul, Nahed Hattar, Fadi Zaghmout and others.


While both team and individual sports are widely played in Jordan, the Kingdom has enjoyed its biggest international achievements in Taekwondo. The highlight came at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games when Ahmad Abu Ghaush won Jordan's first ever medal [273] of any colour at the Games by taking gold in the −67 kg weight. [274] Medals have continued to be won at World and Asian level in the sport since to establish Taekwondo as the Kingdom's favourite sport alongside football [202] and basketball. [275]

Football is the most popular sport in Jordan. [276] The national football team came within a play-off of reaching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil [277] when they lost a two-legged play-off against Uruguay. [278] They previously reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in 2004 and 2011.

Jordan has a strong policy for inclusive sport and invests heavily in encouraging girls and women to participate in all sports. The women's football team gaining reputation, [279] and in March 2016 ranked 58th in the world. [280] In 2016, Jordan hosted the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, with 16 teams representing six continents. The tournament was held in four stadiums in the three Jordanian cities of Amman, Zarqa and Irbid. It was the first women's sports tournament in the Middle East. [281]

Basketball is another sport that Jordan continues to punch above its weight in, having qualified to the FIBA 2010 World Basketball Cup and more recently reaching the 2019 World Cup in China. [282] Jordan came within a point of reaching the 2012 Olympics after losing the final of the 2010 Asian Cup to China by the narrowest of margins, 70–69, and settling for silver instead. Jordan's national basketball team is participating in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera. [283]

Boxing, Karate, Kickboxing, Muay-Thai and Ju-Jitsu are also popular. Less common sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is increasing in popularity, a Rugby Union is recognized by the Jordan Olympic Committee which supervises three national teams. [284] Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing as a lifestyle and a new way to travel especially among the youth. [285] In 2014, a NGO Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country located in Downtown Amman. [286]


As the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan. [287] A common appetizer is hummus, which is a puree of chick peas blended with tahini, lemon, and garlic. Ful medames is another well-known appetiser. A typical worker's meal, it has since made its way to the tables of the upper class. A typical Jordanian meze often contains koubba maqliya, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives and pickles. [288] Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and is similar to ouzo, rakı and pastis. Jordanian wine and beer are also sometimes used. The same dishes, served without alcoholic drinks, can also be termed "muqabbilat" (starters) in Arabic. [202]

The most distinctive Jordanian dish is mansaf, the national dish of Jordan. The dish is a symbol for Jordanian hospitality and is influenced by the Bedouin culture. Mansaf is eaten on different occasions such as funerals, weddings and on religious holidays. It consists of a plate of rice with meat that was boiled in thick yogurt, sprayed with pine nuts and sometimes herbs. As an old tradition, the dish is eaten using one's hands, but the tradition is not always used. [288] Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but there is also dessert, such as baklava, hareeseh, knafeh, halva and qatayef, a dish made specially for Ramadan. In Jordanian cuisine, drinking coffee and tea flavoured with na'na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual. [289]

Life expectancy in Jordan was around 74.8 years in 2017. [18] The leading cause of death is cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer. [291] Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years by 2002 immunisations and vaccines reached more than 95% of children under five. [292] In 1950, water and sanitation was available to only 10% of the population in 2015 it reached 98% of Jordanians. [293]

Jordan prides itself on its health services, some of the best in the region. [294] Qualified medics, a favourable investment climate and Jordan's stability has contributed to the success of this sector. [295] The country's health care system is divided between public and private institutions. On 1 June 2007, Jordan Hospital (as the biggest private hospital) was the first general specialty hospital to gain the international accreditation JCAHO. [292] The King Hussein Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment centre. [296] 66% of Jordanians have medical insurance. [4]

The Jordanian educational system comprises 2 years of pre-school education, 10 years of compulsory basic education, and two years of secondary academic or vocational education, after which the students sit for the General Certificate of Secondary Education Exam (Tawjihi) exams. [297] Scholars may attend either private or public schools. According to the UNESCO, the literacy rate in 2015 was 98.01% and is considered to be the highest in the Middle East and the Arab world, and one of the highest in the world. [290] UNESCO ranked Jordan's educational system 18th out of 94 nations for providing gender equality in education. [298] Jordan has the highest number of researchers in research and development per million people among all the 57 countries that are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In Jordan there are 8060 researchers per million people, while the world average is 2532 per million. [299] Primary education is free in Jordan. [300]

Jordan has 10 public universities, 19 private universities and 54 community colleges, of which 14 are public, 24 private and others affiliated with the Jordanian Armed Forces, the Civil Defense Department, the Ministry of Health and UNRWA. [301] There are over 200,000 Jordanian students enrolled in universities each year. An additional 20,000 Jordanians pursue higher education abroad primarily in the United States and Europe. [302] According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are the University of Jordan (UJ) (1,220th worldwide), Jordan University of Science & Technology (JUST) (1,729th) and Hashemite University (2,176th). [303] UJ and JUST occupy 8th and 10th between Arab universities. [304] Jordan has 2,000 researchers per million people. [305]

Jordan Basic Facts - History

Jordan didn’t actually rock the Air Jordan 1 at the start of the 1984-85 season and his signature shoe wouldn't see its release in stores until April 1985. Instead, he wore different colorways of the Nike Air Ship, a $35 basketball sneaker similar in appearance to the Air Jordan 1.

Pushing boundaries from the get-go, Jordan wore a primarily black and red Air Ship in a preseason game against the New York Knicks on October 18, 1984. NBA commissioner David Stern didn't take kindly to the footwear breaking the league's "uniformity of uniform" rule, wherein players had to wear shoes that matched both their team's uniform and their teammates' kicks, and the league sent a letter to Strasser confirming that "the wearing of certain red and black NIKE basketball shoes" was prohibited. As the story goes, Jordan would be fined $5,000 every time he wore a non-color-code-compliant sneaker on the court, with Nike picking up the tab.

The Bulls' management was also worried about the message Jordan was sending by standing apart through his color choices. Did he think he was better than everyone else? Back then, NBA players wore primarily white sneakers with one additional color to match their team's jersey. It was a team game, and it was understood that on-court sneakers shouldn't be too flashy.

Jordan himself had reservations about his new shoes' color combination. “I can't wear that shoe — those are the devil’s colors,” he's reported to have said in reference to his college team's hated local rivals NC State.

"Michael, unless you can get the Chicago Bulls to change their colors to Carolina blue, those are going to be your colors," came Strasser's reply.

According to sneaker collector and former ProServ employee Kris Arnold, Nike’s original plan was for two primary Air Jordan colorways: a white/black/red colorway (now known as the “Black Toe”) for home games and black/red for road games (now commonly referred to as the “Bred”).

Photographer Chuck Kuhn and Jordan did a two-day shoot in Chicago with both colorways, but the sneakers were yet to feature the classic Wings logo. Instead, the sneakers had a simple "AIR JORDAN" wordmark in its place. This was the shoot where Jordan would recreate a pose he'd struck in a 1984 photograph taken by Jacobus Rentmeester for LIFE magazine. The new shot, when turned into a silhouetted graphic, would go on to become the iconic Jumpman logo.

Once the Wings logo was finalized, it was stamped onto the sneakers Jordan would wear in the NBA. The Jumpman wouldn’t feature on a shoe until 1988's Air Jordan 3. The Air Jordan 1 was the only Air Jordan model to feature both a Nike Swoosh and the Jordan Wings logo (until 2016's Air Jordan 31).

Arnold says that, due to of the threat of being fined, Nike adapted with an alternate colorway that met NBA regulations. This model is now referred to as the “Chicago” colorway. With all of this going on behind the scenes, Jordan took to the court in the Air Jordan 1 for the first time on November 17, 1984, against the Philadelphia 76ers. He continued to flip between the Air Ships and Air Jordan 1s for the remainder of the season.

Jordan took a chance and wore the black/red Air Jordan 1 during the All-Star Weekend's Slam Dunk Contest in February 1985. As the contest wasn’t an official NBA game, Jordan got away with it. But after seeing the shoes, the NBA commissioner’s office sent another letter on February 25, 1985, reminding Nike that Jordan couldn’t wear the black/red colorway. Nike went on to mythologize these “banned” letters, generating hype for Air Jordan and even making an ad about the affair (yet failing to mention it was an Air Ship that had set things off).

Jordan also famously told David Letterman in 1986 that the black/red colorway was banned because “it didn’t have any white in it.” Jordan even responded to Letterman's quip that the shoe was banned for being ugly by replying, "Hey, I agree with you — they are ugly."

Ugly or not, the "banned" controversy gave Nike's marketing team space to push the shoes as an act of rebellion, and sales flew through the roof.

Jordan continued to wear the Air Jordan 1 in the 1985-86 season, but broke his foot three games into the campaign and missed 64 games. When Jordan returned in March of that season, Nike fitted him out with an unreleased Air Jordan 1 with ankle support straps.

In fact, the Swoosh did plenty of tinkering with the Air Jordan 1's cushioning and support, including a hybrid Air Jordan 1 with an Air Jordan 2 sole (the so-called Air Jordan 1.5 that eventually came out in 2015) and an Air Jordan 1 with a Nike Dunk sole.

At least 23 different OG Air Jordan 1 models and colorways were released, but there is no way to confirm exactly how many came out. There were low-cut Jordans, metallic-colored Jordans, baby Jordans, and even a canvas version called the AJKO (most people believe "KO" stands either for “knockout” or “knock-off”).

Some models were sold exclusively overseas, some regionally in the United States. Besides the “Chicago,” “Black Toe,” and "Bred"/“Banned” colorways, other popular versions included the black/gray “Shadow,” black/royal blue “Royal,” and white/dark powder blue “UNC.”

The Air Jordan 1 didn’t retro until 1995, with the return of the “Chicago” and “Bred” colorways. Sneaker trends had moved on to more technical models and there wasn't yet any retro market to speak of. The re-release was a dismal failure, with shoes reportedly being put on sale for a reduced price of $20 (down from $80).

Jordan Brand waited until 2001 to try its luck again, this time releasing the shoe in a new mid-top shape. Since then, interest has exploded, with countless Air Jordan 1 colorways and variants popping up, making it one of the most popular sneakers of all time.

Numerous books chart the shoe's history, the most notable being Jay Lawrence's 500-page Kickstarter-funded The Encyclopedia of Air Jordans. High-end Japanese magazines such as Air Jordan Origin and Nike Chronicle/Nike Chronicle Deluxe have also done an excellent job of showcasing prominent releases over the years.

The “Chicago,” “Black Toe,” and “Bred” Air Jordan 1s remain the most significant models due to their OG status, appearances on the court, and the exposure they received through advertising, on TV, and in the media in general. They will always be regarded as grails in the sneaker community, forever synonymous not only with streetwear and style, but, of course, His Airness himself — the skinny North Carolina guard who rose from precocious NBA rookie to the GOAT.

Jordan Basic Facts - History

The One That Started It All: A History of the Jordan 1

Whatever adjective you want to ascribe to it, the most telling thing about the Air Jordan 1 is that the Air Jordan 1 exists because Michael Jordan didn't want to sign with Nike. As history would have it, Jordan's favorite shoe to ball in during college was Converse's Chuck Taylor, a shoe that no one would dream of seriously playing in today. But Jordan loved the shoe and wanted to sign with Converse as his career in the NBA began.

Nike drove a hard bargain (going so far as to ask his parents to drag him to Nike's campus in Beaverton, Oregon). The pitch from Nike was comprehensive: they were going to create a whole brand around Jordan, push him forward as the face for the brand, and make his wildest dreams come true. But Jordan wasn’t convinced: he didn’t like the shoes – Nike’s soles were too thick, he couldn’t feel the court under his feet. Nike capitulated on that point, it was an easy change for them to make. So they did, and the Air Jordan 1 was born. What happened over the next few years would change the direction of Nike and sneaker culture forever.

Nike’s creative director, Peter C. Moore, was tasked with designing Jordan’s first shoe. The rookie gave Moore a little direction (that the shoe needed to be “different” and “exciting,” plus the aforementioned desire to be lower to the ground), and initially hated what Moore created saying, “I’m not wearing that shoe. I’ll look like a clown.” But the shoe design that we’ve come to know grew on him and it was time to release it to the masses.

The Jordan 1 launched in 1985 at the tail end of Jordan’s rookie year, and since it wasn’t going to be ready until November, Jordan played in a different sneaker: Nike’s Air Ship. They chose the Air Ship because it shares a lot of similar design elements to the Jordan 1, and they wanted to fool the world. On the TV screens and film cameras in 1985 it was hard to distinguish an Air Ship from what would become the Air Jordan, and Nike wanted to sell those Jordans, so they let the deception endure. It was that little visual trick that lead to one of the greatest sneaker legends of all time.

The first Jordan 1 that sneaker fans think of when they think of the Air Jordan 1 is the “Banned” colorway, also known as the “Bred” or Black and Red. They’re called the “Banned” because the story goes that Jordan was fined $5000 per game that he wore them since they broke league uniform rules. It’s true that Jordan wore Black and Red sneakers, and it’s true that NBA commissioner Russ Granik sent Nike a letter about the shoes, but the rest of it is pure legend as far as anyone can tell. The shoes in question were Air Ships, and he wore them only once on October 18, 1984, before the season officially began – the letter was a warning, not a levy of a fine. There’s no confirmation of any subsequent violations, except photos of Jordan wearing the Air Jordan 1s in the same colorway during the 1985 Dunk Contest. There’s no confirmation of any fines.

The reality didn’t matter. As soon as word got out that the NBA wasn’t happy with Jordan’s footwear in the fall of 1984, Nike and their advertising agency (Chiat/Day) jumped on it immediately. Scant weeks went by before a new ad appeared on televisions all over the country:

”On October 15, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe,” the narrator intones. “On October 18, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can't stop you from wearing them. Air Jordans. From Nike."

That’s all anybody needed. The shoes dropped and sold out immediately. Nike set retail at $65 a piece, expensive for their time, and they sold out as quickly as they do today. Resellers even made a few bucks at the time, flipping the shoes for $100—a habit that basically had no precedent.

During that first season, and that first go around with the sneaker, Nike released 13 colorways of the shoe. The famous “Banned,” “Chicago,” “Royal,” “Black Toe,” “Shadow,” and “Carolina Blue” colorways, as well as Black & White, Blue & White, Metallic Red, Metallic Purple, Metallic Blue, Metallic Green, and Natural Grey. Although dozens of Jordan 1 colorways have followed these first 13, those colorways will always stand as the base for what the Air Jordan 1 would grow to become. As weird as it might sound now however, back in 1985, the shoe meant less than the man, and the 1 was no more powerful than the models that would follow them.

Until, of course, Jordan retired.

As quickly as the shoes sold out, Nike restocked them. But they made too many the second time, and they sat on the shelves. And sat. And sat. They sat for years, literally, eventually getting marked down in some places all the way to $20, and many retailers just pulled them off the shelves to marinate in the stockroom, forgotten for a generation. The Jordan 1 was quickly overshadowed by later models, especially the Jordan 3, and effectively forgotten.

The 1985 flood of Jordan 1s on the market came at the same time that the skateboarding community was looking for something new, and the two communities converged. With Jordan 1s sitting on shelves for $20, and skaters looking for affordable sneakers that were more robust than the canvas shoes they were wearing, it was a perfect marriage. Although skate culture has done little to drive the success of Air Jordan, the culture has helped to drive sneaker culture writ large: you need look no further than Nike’s SB Dunk program years later (the Dunk, it should be noted, shares a lot of aesthetic similarities to the Jordan 1). This seemingly random pairing would pay off years later when Nike’s Skateboarding program got their hands on the sneaker officially with a Lance Mountain collaboration and others.

The restock of Air Jordan 1s in 1985 also explains why, although still rare, it's easy to find pairs from that year. Determining the street value for these shoes is nearly impossible because despite their rarity, serious demand is also limited. But limited at a high cost. Depending on their condition and provenance, pairs have sold in recent years for anywhere between $3,000 and $33,000. High selling price aside, it’s worth noting: 30-plus years later, the soles will no longer walk without crumbling, so only the most committed collectors keep them as cultural artifacts and monuments to successful design.

After 1986, the Jordan 1 was shelved for almost a decade, but before that sabbatical came a short mysterious chapter. Around the same time that the Jordan 1 released for the first time, the Air Jordan K.O. released as well. Known as the “AJKO,” the shoe features the same colorways as the Jordan 1, with almost exactly the same upper, but made of canvas and given a couple tweaks. There’s almost no contemporaneous documentation of why Nike created the shoe, who the target market was, or even an official word on what “K.O.” stands for. Most assume it means “Knock Out,” but there’s no primary source to offer clarity. Unless there are still hidden secrets in the Nike vault, we may never know. The AJKOs were retired along with the classic leather version, and that seemed to be the end of the shoe.

As the world followed Michael Jordan’s career, they also followed what was on his feet. And each year, with the release of a new game shoe, there was a new sneaker to buy. Back then the Air Jordan 1 wasn’t called “The Air Jordan 1.” None of the shoes were numbered. They were all merely “Air Jordans” and what you got was what was in stores. But in 1994, eight years after the last produced Air Jordan 1, Jordan Brand had the crazy idea of bringing back a piece of history. So they re-released some colorways, mainly the “Banned” and “Chicago” colorways. Surprisingly, it was pretty much a dud.

Barons minor league baseball team—a source of major sneaker inspiration in later years. In hindsight, there’s no question over the circumstances of Jordan’s decision or how it fit into his own life’s journey, but it was a doozy for his fans—and it showed in sneaker sales. Consumers were confused over Jordan’s move to baseball and, while searching for new basketball heroes, they were less than enthusiastic about the prospect of buying sneakers that commemorated Jordan’s supposedly finished NBA career. It was also the first time a sneaker brand brought a sneaker back that had gone out of production in this way. In 2017 there’s a “retro” sneaker release almost every week, but in the mid 1990s the mere idea of bringing a sneaker back from the dead didn’t make sense. The technology was old and history was happening on TV (except for when history was Jordan swinging bats at laced balls). Nostalgia hadn’t kicked in yet.

Jordan returned to the game of basketball again the next year. And then retired again in 1999. He came back in 2001 and so did the Jordan 1. Over the following three years, Jordan Brand brought back a couple of the classic 13 colorways (Royals and Breds), as well as released a small number of new colorways on the old shoe that would become classics like the Japan Navy, White Chrome (that featured a Jumpman logo instead of a swoosh), Black/Metallic Gold, and introduced the sneaker in a low profile version—the first change to the silhouette since the AJKO. Michael Jordan officially retired for the final time in 2003, and Jordan Brand retired the Jordan 1 the following year in 2004.

Until it came back for good.

In April of 2007, Air Jordan released the Jordan 1 as a two pack they called “Old Love, New Love” that included a retro of the original “Black Toe” colorway paired with an entirely new pair that was black and yellow. Hardcore Jordan fans were mixed on the New Love colorway since it was one of very few new takes on the sneaker in its 22-year history. After the original 13 colorways, very few new additions had been made to the color history and sneakerheads weren’t ready to open their hearts to New Love quite yet. That was too bad, because the floodgates were about to open.

Once the “Old Love, New Love” pack dropped, the metaphorical hose turned on and the following ten years featured a deluge of new colorways. In the first month there were ten colorways (with very few worthy of note). Then, in June, the audacious “Alpha” with a screen printed image of Jordan on the quarter appeared. That was certainly something new.

The following years brought changes to the silhouette that traced style trends. Straps were added, a “Phat” version injected more padding. In 2010 the “Air Jordan 1 Alpha” warped the whole thing to look like a nightmarish version of the future, while the “Anodized” put the whole shoe through a VacTech treatment like it were wrapped in Spandex. The years went by with very few new releases of note (the silver “25th Anniversary” pairs from 2009 still hold up, Dave White’s collaboration from 2011 still has some rabid fans, and the SB take that Lance Mountain offered in 2014 was a seminal moment), until the end of 2014 when Air Jordan released their collaboration with Fragment Design.

When pictures of the “Frags” first surfaced, there seemed to be little to them. The color scheme was the same as the Black Toes, except Hiroshi Fujiwara used the blue from the Royals instead of the traditional Chicago red. There was also a debossed Fragment logo at the heel. For one or many reasons (either because the shoes were so limited, or they kept with a recognizable theme, or stayed within the core four colors), the shoes were hunted down ruthlessly and immediately became the hottest ticket in town. Until the Frags, the only Jordan 1 releases that commanded that kind of attention were from the original 13 colorways, and even then it was mostly just five or six of them. The release of the Fragment 1s represented a modern reclamation of a sneaker that was nearly 30 years old.

After the Frags came a host of new colorways hit in 2016 that would outpace their more traditional siblings: Shattered Backboards (both Home and Away, inspired by Jordan’s shattered backboard moment in Turin, Italy), swooshless lows in pastels, and a “Top 3” take that blended Breds, Black Toes, and Royals onto one shoe. Now, more than halfway through 2017 we’ve already seen the All-Star 1s fly off the shelf through multiple restocks, and Spike Lee’s incredibly limited “Mars Blackmon Promo” pairs that demand blistering prices. But 2017 isn’t done quite yet.

In perhaps the most highly anticipated sneaker release of the year, Virgil Abloh and Off-White have gotten their hands on the Jordan 1. Abloh has conceptually deconstructed the sneaker (along with nine other Nike silhouettes) as a part of his “The Ten” collection, in a treatment he’s named “Revealing.” If you squint, the shoes look just like the Chicago Jordan 1s with all the constituent pieces, but Abloh has put the pieces together in a way that reveals how they’re made, what makes them, and flips our expectations of what the shoe should, and could, mean. Whether it’s the tacked on Swoosh that replaces a normal panel, pieces that are punched for stitches but aren’t stitched, or a sole unit with “AIR” written directly on it, the components force us to recognize our expectations and assumptions about this most iconic of sneakers.

32 years is a long time for a sneaker to be continually reimagined, recontextualized, and reinjected into the culture, but 32 years after the shoe first made it to the market, Abloh has blasted it apart so we can see how we got here through in concept and materials. 32 years later the shoe will be hunted after like it was the first time, proving there’s a long future ahead of it.

16 Interesting Facts About Petra

Constructed around 312 BC as the capital of the Nabataeans, Petra truly reflects the heritage of Jordan. This wonder of the world is half-built and half-carved into the rock. It is a small desert valley covered by towering sandstone cliffs on the edges of the Wadi Araba desert. Here are some interesting facts about Petra, Jordan:

1. Different Names

Petra got its name from a feminine Greek word “Petros” which means “rocks.” Its other name is Al-Batra in Arabic however, it’s famous as “Petra.”
Source: Wikipedia

2. The Rose City

Petra is often called ‘Rose City’ because of the rose-red colored sandstone hills. It is well surrounded by the red-tinged mountains, which makes a reddish appearance.
Source: Wikipedia

3. Discovered By A Swiss Explorer

Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer, discovered Petra in 1812. As it was an unknown entity for about 5 centuries, it is also called the ‘Lost City.”
Source: Wikipedia

4. A Famous Ancient Trade Route!

The Nabataeans, the ancient southern Arab people, made the city of Petra as a trade route to connect to South Asia and Greece. They arrived in Jordan in around the 6th century BC and were the creators of one of the most remarkable ancient civilizations.
Source:, Image:

5. Petra And Sun’s Movements

European studies found that The Nabataeans built this city to track the astronomical movements of the sun and also built an altar on the top of their house.

6. An Extraordinary Entrance!

To enter the Petra, one has to pass through a narrow canyon of about 1 km. It is bound by tall cliffs called Al-Siq up to 80 km.
Source:, Image: Wikipedia

7. Petra vs The Dead Sea

Continuous salt blowing from the Dead Sea is solidifying the pores of the sandstone and slowly hampering the structures.

8. A City Of Royal Tombs!

Petra is an enormous city of tombs, monuments and sacred structures carved into stone cliffs. It has around 800 carved tombs, and because of this, Petra is also denoted as “Royal Tombs.”

9. The Desert Of Petra Was Once A Lush Garden!

Because of the water conservation system at that time, there was a sufficient amount of water for around 30,000 people. There was also enough water in this desert region to have the lush garden they managed to grow lush green gardens in the desert.

10. Connection With Indiana Jones!

A scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade filmed at Petra

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a famous American adventure film of 1989 was filmed here. The fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon was filmed on the eastern entrance of the Petra.
Source: Wikipedia

11. Shop A Great Variety Of Souvenirs!

While touring the city of Petra, one can shop things such as authentic souvenirs of Jordanians and Nabateans. There is also a collection of stone carvings, embroidery, silverware and pottery.
Source:, Image: Flickr

12. How Was It Destroyed?

In May, 363 AD, a pair of severe earthquakes destroyed half of the city. Many buildings and their water systems were highly damaged.

13. The Ancient Commercial Hub!

Petra was the city of traders and hence was commercially vibrant and was once the house of many treasures. But due to its structural weakening, its treasures were stolen over the years.

14. A World Heritage Site

Because of its historical importance and sensitive structure, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

15. Christianity Connection

Columns of the Blue Chapel (5th-6th century AD) in Petra, Jordan