Area 89,342 sq km (34,495 sq miles; not including West Bank)
Currency Dinar (JOD)
1 JOD = $1.412 USD
$1 USD = 0.708 JOD
Jordan shares borders with Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Dead Sea is to the northwest and the Red Sea to the southwest. A high plateau extends 324km (201 miles) from the Syrian Arab Republic to Ras en Naqab in the south with the capital of Amman at a height of 800m (2625ft). Northwest of the capital are undulating hills, some forested, others cultivated. The Dead Sea depression, 400m (1300ft) below sea level in the west, is the lowest point on earth. The River Jordan connects the Dead Sea with Lake Tiberias (Israel). To the west of Jordan is the Palestinian National Authority Region. The east of the country is mainly desert. Jordan has a tiny stretch of Red Sea coast, centered on Aqaba.
Constitutional Monarchy since 1952.
Head of State: King Abdullah II Ibn al-Hussein al-Hashimi since 1999.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour since 2012.
Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken in the cities. French, German, Italian and Spanish are also spoken.
Over 90% Sunni Muslim, with Christian and Shi’i Muslim minorities.
People have lived in the area of Jordan since the Paleolithic period which dates back all the way to 17000 BC. There is evidence of hand tools such as flint, small axes and knives. During the Neolithic period, (8500-4500 BC) there was a dramatic increase in population when people first began to live in small villages. Also, during this time farming for basic crops and domesticating animals began. Leading to the Bronze Age, (4500-3200 BC) there is evidence of simple mud-brick homes, copper tools, simple irrigation systems and defensive fortifications around villages. In the Iron Age, there were several main kingdoms in the area of modern day Jordan. Some of these kingdoms were: The Ammon, Moad and Edom kingdoms.
In first century AD, Jordan was ruled by the Roman Empire when the Nabatean Kingdom was conquered by the Romans. At the time, the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom was Petra. While the Roman Empire ruled, they created a decapolis, which is a group of ten city-states. Deca means ten, and Polis means city. Some of these city states were: Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (later called Amman and the capital of modern day Jordan), Raphana, Dion, Gadara and Pella. The Romans left the locals pretty much alone, but taxed them and ruled the land across their entire empire.
A few hundred years later during the 7th century BC, modern day Jordan was taken into the Arab Umayyad dynasty. During the time of Muslim rule, Amman began to rapidly expand. After the Umayyad rule, Jordan passed to Abbasid rule from 750-1258 AD. Eventually the Abbasid’s moved their capital to Bagdad. After that, the area of Jordan was ruled by many different powers: Mongols, Crusaders, Ayyubids, and the Ottomans.
While the area of Jordan was ruled by the Ottomans, it was left as a primarily autonomous region ruled by Arab lords. After WWI, because the Ottoman Empire was allied with Germany and lost, the Middle East was split up dramatically. A territory known as Transjordan was given to Abdullah I of Jordan under British control. Abdullah was able to keep the area of Transjordan under control with help from the Royal Air Force. In 1928, Britain gave King Abdullah full autonomy over Jordan, but still kept soldiers there to defend the border. After the signing of the Treaty of London on May 25, 1946, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan celebrated it’s Independence Day. The name Jordan was used starting in 1949.