The Emirate of Transjordan was the name given to this small state when it was recognized in , after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration. It was not until that Transjordan became a completely sovereign state.
Amman is the capital and the largest city. Jordan has an area of about 35, square miles 91, square kilometers. It lies in the center of the Middle East, sharing its northern border with Syria, eastern border with Iraq, it's southern and eastern borders with Saudi Arabia, and western border with the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and Israel.
Its only seaport is the port of Aqaba. Jordan has barren deserts, fertile valleys, and colorful rock and sand mountains. It contains the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, and the Great Rift Valley, which was created twenty million years ago when tectonic plates shifted, stretching from Lake Tiberius south through Jordan and into eastern Africa.
In , the population was about ,; in , it reached 4. After the war with Israel and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, there were sudden and massive influxes of Palestinian Arab refugees, who now make up more than two-thirds of the population. In , 1,, Palestinian refugees living in Jordan were registered with United Nations; , Palestinians continue to live in ten refugee camps.
Nomadic people, predominantly Bedouin, account for more than 10 percent of the total population. The population is young, with a birthrate that is double the world average; 43 percent of the people are under age fifteen.
By the year , the population is expected to double. Arabic is the official language. English is taught to all students and is widely spoken. The flag has black, white, and green horizontal stripes with a red triangle on the hoist side bearing a white seven-pointed star.
The flag of the Palestinian people is identical but does not have the white star. History and Ethnic Relations Emergence of the Nation. The Nabateans built the capital of their ancient Arab kingdom, Petra, in what is now Jordan between B. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed after four hundred years of rule, Britain divided up the Fertile Crescent, and modern Jordan was born.
Jordan is the only Arab country where Palestinians can become citizens. The differentiation between Jordanians, Bedouins, and Palestinians is clear in this society. Jordanians are defined as residents who have lived east of the Jordan River since before Palestinians are defined as residents whose birthright extends back to areas west of the Jordan River.
People of Bedouin descent are considered to be of the purest Arab stock. In deserts with little vegetation and water, Bedouin families have lived in the traditional way for thousands of years.
They roam freely and pay little attention to borders. Bedouins form the core of the army, occupying key positions, even though their political influence is diminishing. Palestinians are typically referred to as educated, hard-working people, and their influence in Jordan has resulted in a greater emphasis on education and Jordan the development of a richer, global economy.
Jordanians who no longer espouse the Bedu nomad lifestyle are gradually accepting the standards of the modern Arab world. Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space Most people live in one- or two-room apartments or houses.
Affluent urban families live in larger apartments or individual homes. Buildings and homes are made of concrete, and some are made of mud and stone, with a design that allows more floors to be added, to create apartments for married sons. Privacy is very important, and many homes and other buildings open into private courtyards with concrete walls.
Nomadic farmers live in tents made from the hides and fur of their animals. Amman's appearance reflects a Western influence, with modern hotels and commercial buildings.
Streets are identified and numbered in an inefficient manner, and maps are hard to read and often useless. Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. An ancient legend tells of an Arabian shepherd who six thousand years ago put his supply of milk in a pouch made from a sheep's stomach before making a journey across the desert. The rennet in the lining of the pouch, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to form curds, and cheese was discovered.
Bedouin farmers keep herds of goats and sheep whose milk is used to produce cheese and yogurt. A popular cheese is called halloumi similar to feta , made from goat or sheep milk and often served in a sandwich of pita-style bread or cubed in salads.
Rice, legumes, olives, yogurt, flat breads, vegetables cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, okra, tomatoes, and cucumbers , lamb or chicken, and fruits apricots, apples, bananas, melons, and oranges form the basis for most meals.
Main dishes of rice with spices are eaten almost daily. The main meal typically is served during the middle of the afternoon. A covering is placed on the floor, with a large tray of rice and meat placed in the center surrounded by small dishes of yogurt and salad.
Torn pieces of bread are folded in half and used to scoop the food. The left hand is never used to feed oneself. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. When people visit family and friends, tea, Turkish-style or Arabic-style coffee, or fruit juice is served.
Often this meal includes sweets, especially on holidays. The national main dish is Mansaf, which consists of lamb cooked in dried yogurt and served with seasoned rice on flat bread. Mansaf is always served on holidays and special family occasions such as visits to relatives or friends, engagements, and weddings. The economy is based on free enterprise. The service sector, consisting of government, tourism, transportation, communication, and financial services contributes the most to the economy, employing 70 percent of the workforce.
Amman has developed into a regional business center. Land Tenure and Property. Land ownership is the goal of many, but few can afford the cost.
Except for the very wealthy, most people live in rented housing. Because most of the country is desert, less than 4 percent of the land is cultivated. Natural resources are scarce, and no oil has been found. The country's archaeological sites draw more than two million visitors a year.
Potash, phosphate, and gypsum mining and the manufacturer of cement, fertilizers, and refined petroleum products are the largest industries. Jordan is among the world's top three potash exporters. Since the Gulf War, the number of immigrants has increased greatly, leading to a severe trade deficit and a labor market that has not produced enough jobs.
Jordan's economy is heavily impacted by its location in the Middle East, the arid landscape, its relationship with its neighbors, and its dependence on foreign aid. Its largest sectors are finance, which employs 22 percent of its labor force; transportation, which employs 16 percent; and the industrial sector, which employs 17 percent. Tourism offers the greatest prospect for development.
Social Stratification Jordan's political and social systems are a mix of new and old, traditional and non-traditional, Bedouin and Palestinian. 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. Since , Jordan has been a constitutional hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. It is politically stable, with freedom of religion, the press, and private property guaranteed.
There is an ongoing program of democratization. In parliamentary elections were instituted, and since that time, martial law has been lifted and political parties have been legalized. Elections were held in and Leadership and Political Officials. In , King Hussein, the longest-serving head of state in the world, died.
Hussein's oldest son, Prince Abdullah, Buildings in Amman, a city that reflects western influence. King Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein has indicated that he intends to follow his father's policies. He wields wide power over the government and appoints the prime minister. Jordan's present legislative branch consists of an eighty-member elected Lower House and a forty-member Upper House. After a bill is approved by the Lower House and Senate, it is given to the King, who either grants consent by Royal Decree or returns the bill unapproved.
Jordan's Constitution guarantees an independent judicial branch, dividing the courts into three categories: Social Problems and Control. Many of the country's laws are based on the Koran and the Hadith, a collection of Mohammed's sayings. These laws are enforced in religious courts called Sharia courts, which have jurisdiction over personal matters.
Chastity is demanded of all single women. If a woman's chastity is compromised, a male relative may feel obligated to murder her to save the family's honor. When these cases go to court, often the charges are dropped or the murderer receives a short sentence. Jordan has a low crime rate by international standards, with few petty crimes such as robbery reported. Jordan maintains an army, an air force, and a small navy.
The total strength of the armed forces in was , active members and 35, reserves.