- Area: 89,342 km sq / 34,495 sq mi
- Population: 10,171,480
- Infant mortality: 14.2 per 1,000
- Life expectancy: 74.1
- Urbanisation: 91%
- Literacy: 97.9%
The emergence of Jordan as a nation started when Nabateans built Petra as the capital of the ancient Arab kingdom between the period 400 BC and 160 AD.
In the Middle Ages, Jordan became part of the Ottoman Empire. This came to an end in 1916 following the Arab Revolt. Great Britain overruled the country following World War 1, but independence grew. The country became an autonomous kingdom in 1948.
Among the many Arab countries, Jordan is the only one that allows Palestinians to become citizens. However, there is still a clear differentiation in the society among its people: Bedouins, Palestinians, and Jordanians. To determine one's national identity, each is defined. Jordanians are known as the residents who have lived in the eastern part of the Jordan River prior to 1948. Palestinians are classified as the residents whose birthright can be traced back to western part of the Jordan River while the Bedouins are regarded as the purest Arab residents.
Modern Jordan is still a monarchy, but a multi-party parliamentary system is also in place with regular elections.
Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent. Eastern Jordan is an arid plateau irrigated by oases and seasonal water streams.
Major cities are overwhelmingly located on the north-western part of the kingdom due to its fertile soils and relatively abundant rainfall. These include Irbid, Jerash, Zarqa and the capital city, Amman.
In the west, a highland area of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry drops suddenly into the Jordan Rift Valley. The rift valley contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which separates Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point and the saltiest water body on earth. Jordan has a diverse range of habitats, ecosystems and wildlife due to its varied landscapes and environments.
The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, the greater the contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is. 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.
Over 2,000 plant species have been recorded in Jordan. 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.
Mammal and reptile species include, the long-eared hedgehog, Nubian ibex, wild boar, fallow deer, Arabian wolf, desert monitor, honey badger, glass snake, caracal, golden jackal and the roe deer, among others. Birds include the hooded crow, Eurasian jay, lappet-faced vulture, barbary falcon, hoopoe, pharaoh eagle-owl, common cuckoo, Tristram's starling, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, lesser kestrel, house crow and the white-spectacled bulbul.
Jordan's GDP per capita rose by 351% in the 1970s, declined 30% in the 1980s, and rose 36% in the 1990s. Jordan is classified as an emerging market. After king Abdullah II's accession to the throne in 1999, liberal economic policies were introduced that resulted in a boom that continued through 2009.
Jordan has free trade agreements with the United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, the European Union, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Turkey and Syria.
Just over 10% of Jordanian land is arable and the water supply is limited. Rainfall is low and highly variable, and much of Jordan's available ground water is not renewable. Jordan's economic resource base centres on phosphates, potash, and their fertilizer derivatives; tourism; overseas remittances; and foreign aid. These are its principal sources of hard currency earnings.
In the last few years Jordan's economic growth has slowed, averaging around 2%. In 2016, Jordan's national debt reached $35.1 billion, representing 93.4% of its GDP. 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 supplying the Kingdom with gas; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans.