There is no mistaking the fact that Jordan is a Kingdom steeped in history and culture. From the moment you arrive, you get a sense of its rich heritage; all around are remnants of ancient civilizations long since passed, yet they still remain, stamped into the very fabric of this amazing Kingdom and etched into the soul of the people who live here.
A sprawling city spread over 19 hills, or “jebels,” Amman is the modern – as well as the ancient – capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Known as Rabbath-Ammon during the Iron Age and later as Philadelphia, the ancient city that was once part of the Decapolis league, now boasts a population of around 2.3 million people. Amman, often referred to as the white city due to its low size canvas of stone houses, offers a variety of historical sites.
The ancient city of Petra is one of Jordan’s national treasures and by far its best known tourist attraction. Located approximately three hours south of Amman, Petra is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that enchants visitors from all corners of the globe.
Location: Jordan is located in the heart of the Middle East, Northwest of Saudi Arabia, south of Syria, Southwest of Iraq, and east of Israel and the Occupied West Bank. Jordan has access to the Red Sea via the port city of Aqaba, located at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Geographic Coordinates: 31 00 N, 36 00 E
Population: 6,508,887 (July 2012 est.)
Population Growth Rate: – .965 % (2012 est.)
Total: 89,342 sq. km
Land: 88,802 sq. km
Water: 540 sq. km
Capital: Amman – 2,200,000 (2010 est.)
Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken.
Currency and Exchange Rates: Jordan’s currency is the Jordanian Dinar, or JD. It is subdivided into 1000 fils, or 100 qirsh or piasters. Jordanian paper notes appear in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50. Coins come in denominations of 1 JD, 0.5 JD, 0.25 JD, and 100, 50, 25, 10 and 5 fils.
The rate of exchange is 1JD=1.4$
Time: Time is GMT + 2 (in winter, +3 in summer). Summer time is observed from April through September.
Climate and Geography: Jordan has a combination of Mediterranean and arid desert climates, with Mediterranean climates prevailing in the north and west of the country, while the majority of the country is desert. Generally, the country has warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters, with annual average temperatures ranging from 12 to 25 C and summertime highs reaching the 40s in the desert regions. Rainfall averages vary from 50mm annually in the desert to as much as 800 mm in the northern hills, some of which falls as snow.
The Government: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an absolute monarchy with a representative government. The reigning monarch, His Majesty King Abdullah II, is the Head of State, the Chief Executive and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces.
The king exercises his executive authority through the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, or Cabinet. The cabinet is responsible before the elected House of Deputies which, along with the House of Notables (Senate), constitutes the legislative branch of the government.
The judicial branch is an independent branch of the government. Since 1989, all elements of the Jordanian political spectrum have embarked together on a road to greater democracy, liberalization and consensus building.
These reforms, which were guided by the late King Hussein, have placed Jordan on an irreversible road to democratization. The result has been greater empowerment and involvement of everyday citizens in Jordan’s civic life, contributing to increased stability and institutionalization which will benefit the country far into the future.
The Economy: Since His Majesty King Abdullah II assumed the throne in 1999, Jordan has embarked on some broad economic reforms in a long-term effort to improve living standards. The Jordanian government has worked closely with the IMF, practiced careful monetary policy, and made significant progress with privatization. The government also has liberalized the trade regime sufficiently in order to guarantee Jordan’s membership in the Word Trade Organization (2000), an association agreement with the European Union (2000), and a Free Trade Agreement with the United States (2000).
Labor Force: 1.824 million (2012 est.)
GDP Growth Rate: 3% (2012 est.)
Main Exports: Clothing, Fertilizers, Potash, Phosphates, Vegetables, Pharmaceuticals
Main Imports: Crude Oil, Machinery, Transport Equipment, Iron, Cereals