The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is situated in the Middle East (Southwest Asia) and occupies an important strategic position. It shares land and water (Gulf of Aqaba) borders with Israel (including the West Bank) to the west. It borders on Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, and Saudi Arabia to the east and southeast. The capital city of Jordan is Amman, situated in the country’s northwest region. Other major cities are Irbid, Az Zarqa, Al Karak, and Al Aqabah.
Jordan is a small country (92,300 sq. km) with limited natural resources. It is covered primarily with desert terrain in the east, while some arable highland areas are present in the west. These areas reflect the climate of the country, which is very dry in the east and with a rainy season, from November to March, in the west. Since the majority of the country is 300 m (984 ft.) above sea level and Amman is 756 m (2,480 ft.) above sea level, snow in the capital city is common.
Just over six million people live in Jordan (2008) and the national growth rate is 2.5 percent. The population of Jordan is young with a median age of less than 24. Jordanians are predominately Arabs (95 percent). The non-Arabs belong to small communities of Circassians, Chechens, Armenians, and Kurds. Recent conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon have contributed to a large inflow of Iraqi and Lebanese refugees and displaced persons. The number of Lebanese permanently settled in Jordan due to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict is small. At the same time, according to an independent census in 2007, the number of immigrants coming from Iraq is estimated to be around 700,000.
Independent Jordan is a relatively young country. After the end of World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations gave Great Britain a mandate to govern a large part of the Middle East. In 1921 Great Britain gave semi-autonomous control of what was known as Transjordan to the Hashemite family led by Abdullah I. In 1946 the
United Nations approved a British request to end the British mandate; Transjordan became an independent country and Abdullah I became king and the first ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (the name “Jordan” was adopted in 1950). King Hussein ruled the country from 1953 until 1999 and was directly involved in the 1967 war with Israel and indirectly involved in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Finally, he negotiated the end of hostilities and signed a peace treaty with Israel on July 25, 1994. King Abdullah II, the son of King Hussein, assumed the throne in 1999 and is currently the ruler of Jordan. Jordan is a constitutional monarchy and executive authority is in the hands of the king and his council of appointed ministers. The legal system is based on Islamic law and French codes; Jordan’s constitution guarantees the independence of the judicial branch.
Unlike other Middle Eastern countries, Jordan has very limited natural resources. High levels of poverty, inflation, and unemployment are problems that King Abdullah II started addressing when he took power in 1999. Jordan is a member of the World Trade Organization and currently practices careful monetary policy, pursuing privatization of state-owned enterprises and liberalizing trade. Jordan’s exports increased after it signed the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. This agreement, which is driving economic growth, specifies that textiles and garments made in Qualifying Industrial Zones can enter the United States tariff and quota free. This agreement will phase out duties on nearly all goods and services by 2010.
Tourism is a very important sector of the Jordanian economy and contributes to around 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. A long history, political stability, and diverse geography make Jordan an attractive tourist destination. Some of the most famous Jordanian attractions are Petra in Ma’an, Umm Qais, Ajlun, Jerash, Amman, Al Karak, Madaba, the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, Fuheis, Mahis, and AlOmwia’s Palace.
Although Jordan is an Islamic country, it has consistently followed pro-Western policies illustrated by economic restructuring and political reforms. Besides signing the peace treaty with Israel in 1994 (the Washington Declaration), Jordan has discussed with Israel issues such as security and water-sharing, infrastructure, finance, banking, and trade. Cooperation with Israel has the potential to serve as an example to other Middle Eastern countries and contribute to long lasting stability and progress in the region.
- S. H. Abu-Hamatteh, T. A. Al-Azab, and M. El-Amyan, “Total Quality Management Achievement: King Abdullah II Award for Excellence of Jordan as a Model,” Technovation (v.23/7, 2003);
- Association of British Chambers of Commerce, Jordan: Market Brief (Ten Alps, 2007);
- Gökhan Bacik, Hybrid Sovereignty in the Arab Middle East: The Cases of Kuwait, Jordan, and Iraq. The Middle East in Focus (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008);
- Faten Baddar Al-Husan and Philip James, “Cultural Control and Multinationals: The Case of Privatized Jordanian Companies,” International Journal of Human Resource Management (v.14/7, 2003);
- Thomas Baunsgaard, Randa Sab, and Helaway Tadesse, Jordan: Selected Issues, IMF Country Report (n.8/291, 2008);
- CIA World Factbook, “Jordan,” www.cia.gov (cited March 2009);
- Hamed El-Said and Kip Becker, Management and International Business Issues in Jordan (Haworth Press, 2001);
- Amal A. Kandeel, Jordan’s Struggle for Survival: War in the Middle East and Arab Economies’ Underdevelopment (Pluto, 2008);
- Markus Loewe, The Impact of Favouritism on the Business Climate: A Study on Wasta in Jordan (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, 2007).
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