Jordan

Jordan (Arabic: اَلأُرْدُن, Al-‘Urdun), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: اَلمَمْلَكَة اَلأُرْدُنِيَّة اَلهَاشِمِيَّة), Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing control of the Dead Sea with the latter. Jordan’s only port is at its south-western tip, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Palestine, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Over half of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert. However, the western part of Jordan is arable land and forests. Jordan is part of the Fertile Crescent. The capital city is Amman.

Jordan was founded in 1921, and it was recognized by the League of Nations as a state under the British mandate in 1922 known as The Emirate of Transjordan. In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

In antiquity, the present day Jordan was in the heart of the earlier civilizations which prospered in the Fertile Crescent including the Babylonian and the Canaanites. Later, Jordan became a home for several ancient kingdoms including: the kingdom of Edom, the kingdom of Moab, the kingdom of Ammon and the prominent Nabataean kingdom of Petra. However, across different eras of history, parts of the country laid under the control of some regional powers including Pharaonic Egypt during their wars with the Babylonian and the Hittites; and for discrete periods of times by Israelites who were taken under the captivity of the Babylonian, and who were later defeated by the Moabites as recorded in Mesha stele. Furthermore, and due to its strategic location in the middle of the ancient world, Jordan was also controlled by the ancient empires of Greece, the Persians, the Romans and later by the Byzantine. Yet, the Nabataean managed to create their independent kingdom which covered most parts of modern Jordan and beyond, for some centuries, before it was taken by the still expanding Roman empire. However, apart from Petra, the Romans maintained the prosperity of most of the ancient cities in Jordan which enjoyed a sort of city-state autonomy under the umbrella of the alliance of the Decapolis. With the decline of the Roman Empire, Jordan came to be controlled by the Ghassanid Arab kingdom. In the seventh century, and due to its proximity to Damascus, Jordan became a heartland for the Arabic Islamic Empire and therefore secured several centuries of stability and prosperity, which allowed the coining of its current Arabic Islamic identity. In the 11th century, Jordan witnessed a phase of instability, as it became a battlefield for the Crusade wars which ended with defeat by the Ayyubids. Jordan suffered also from the Mongol attacks which were blocked by Mamluks. In 1516, It became part of the Ottoman Empire and it remained so until 1918, when the Army of the Great Arab Revolt took over, and secured the present day Jordan with the help and support of Jordan local tribes.

Nabataean civilization left many magnificent archaeological sites at Petra, which is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World as well as recognized by the UNESCO as a world Heritage site. Other civilizations leaving their archaeological fingerprints on Jordan include the Hellenistic and the Roman through their ruins in Decapolis cities of Gerasa (Jerash), Gadara (Umm Qais), Philadelphia (Amman), Capitolias (Beit Ras), Raphana, Pella and Arabella (Irbid) and the Byzantine site of Um er-Rasas (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Arabic Islamic Empire has left desert palaces such as Qasr Mshatta, Qasr al Hallabat and Qasr Amra; and the castles of Ajloun and Al Karak which were used in the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk eras. The country also has Ottoman mosques, tombs, railway stations and fortresses.

Modern Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” by the 2010 Human Development Report.[6] and an emerging market with a free market economy by the CIA World Fact Book. Jordan has an “upper middle income” economy.[7] Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States went into effect in December, 2001 phased out duties on nearly all goods and services between the two countries. Jordan has also enjoyed “advanced status” with the European Union since December 2010[8] as well as being a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. Jordan has more Free Trade Agreements than any other country in the region. It has close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom, and became a major non-NATO ally of the United States in 1996. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League,[9] and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Jordan was invited to Join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Jordan was the first Arab and Middle Eastern state to join the International Criminal Court. The Jordanian Government is one of three members of the 22 Arab League states to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, the others being the Egyptian and Palestinian governments.[10][11]

Etymology

The kingdom is named after the River Jordan. The name “Jordan” derives from Arabic and other Semitic languages and has multiple meanings (Ancient Arabic الأردن meaning “Steep/Slope” from the root يرد/أرد Ard/Yrd, the Canaanite root Arda, Hebrew ירד Yarad, ultimately from Aramaic Yarden meaning “down-flowing” or “one who descends” in the root ירד Yrd).

Geography

Jordan lies between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 35° and 40° E (a small area lies west of 35°). It consists of an arid plateau in the east, irrigated by oasis and seasonal water streams, with highland area in the west of arable land and Mediterranean evergreen forestry.

The Jordan Rift Valley of the Jordan River separates Jordan from the West Bank and Israel. The highest point in the country is Jabal Umm al Dami, at 1,854 m (6,083 ft) above sea level, its top is also covered with snow, while the lowest is the Dead Sea −420 m (−1,378 ft). Jordan is part of a region considered to be “the cradle of civilization“, the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent. Major cities include the capital Amman and as-Salt in the west, Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa, in the northwest and Madaba, Karak and Aqaba in the southwest. Major towns in the eastern part of the of the country are the oasis town of Azraq and Ruwaished.

Climate

Main article: Climate of Jordan

The climate in Jordan is semi-dry in summer with average temperature in the mid 30 °C (86 °F) (mid 90°F) and relatively cold in winter averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). The western part of the country receives greater precipitation during the winter season from November to March and snowfall in Amman (756 m (2,480 ft) ~ 1,280 m (4,199 ft) above sea-level) and Western Heights of 500 m (1,640 ft). Excluding the rift valley the rest of the country is entirely above 300 m (984 ft)(SL).[12]The weather is humid from November to March and semi dry for the rest of the year. With hot, dry summers and cool winters during which practically all of the precipitation occurs, the country has a Mediterranean-style climate. In general, the farther inland from the Mediterranean a given part of the country lies, the greater are the seasonal contrasts in temperature and the less rainfall.

Atmospheric pressures during the summer months are relatively uniform, whereas the winter months bring a succession of marked low pressure areas and accompanying cold fronts. These cyclonic disturbances generally move eastward from over the Mediterranean Sea several times a month and result in sporadic precipitation.

Most of the land receives less than 620 mm (24.4 in) of rain a year and may be classified as a semi dry region. Where the ground rises to form the highlands east of the Jordan Valley, precipitation increases to around 300 mm (11.8 in) in the south and 500 mm (19.7 in) or more in the north. The Jordan Valley, forms a narrow climatic zone that annually receives up to 900 mm (35.4 in) of rain in the northern reaches; rain dwindles to less than 120 mm (4.7 in) at the head of the Dead Sea.

The country’s long summer reaches a peak during August. January is usually the coldest month. The fairly wide ranges of temperature during a twenty-four-hour period are greatest during the summer months and have a tendency to increase with higher elevation. Daytime temperatures during the summer months frequently exceed 29 °C (84.2 °F) and average about 32 °C (89.6 °F). September to March are moderately cool and sometimes very cold, averaging about 3.2 °C (37.8 °F). Except in the rift depression, frost is fairly common during the winter, it may take the form of snow at the higher elevations of the north western highlands. Usually it snows a couple of times in the winter.

For a month or so before and after the summer dry season, hot, dry air from the desert, drawn by low pressure, produces strong winds from the south or southeast that sometimes reach gale force. Known in Western Asia by various names, including the khamsin, this dry, sirocco-style wind is usually accompanied by great dust clouds. Its onset is heralded by a hazy sky, a falling barometer, and a drop in relative humidity to about 10%. Within a few hours there may be a 10 °C (18.0 °F) to 15 °C (27.0 °F) rise in temperature. These windstorms ordinarily last a day or so, cause much discomfort, and destroy crops by desiccating them.

The shamal comes from the north or northwest between June and September. Steady during daytime hours but becoming a breeze at night, the shamal may blow for nine days out of ten and then repeat the process. It originates as a dry continental mass of polar air that is warmed as it passes over the Eurasian landmass.

History of Jordan

[edit] Ancient history

The Mesha stele, circa 1891. The stele describes the wars of king Mesha of Moab against the Israelites

Jordan’s roots as a sovereign independent state go back to the ancient kingdoms of Nabatean Petra, Edom, Ammon, and Moab which flourished in Jordan in the 2nd and 1st millennium B.C. The Nabatean kingdom (Arabic: الأنباط, Al-Anbāt) was one of the most prominent states in the region. The Nabateans were an ancient Semitic people who controlled the regional and international trade routes of the ancient world by dominating a large area southwest of the fertile crescent, which included the whole of modern Jordan in addition to the southern part of Syria in the north and the northern part of Arabian Peninsula in the south. The Nabataeans developed the Arabic Script, with their language as an intermediary between Aramaean and the ancient Classical Arabic, which evolved into Modern Arabic.

The Kingdom of Edom was based in the south of Jordan. The Mesha Stele recorded the glory of the King of Edom and the victories over the Israelites and other nations. The Ammon and Moab kingdoms are mentioned in ancient maps, Near Eastern documents, ancient Greco-Roman artifacts, and Christian and Jewish religious scriptures.[13]

 Classic antiquity

During the Greco-Roman period, a number of semi-independent city-states also developed in the region of Jordan under the umbrella of the Decapolis including: Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (Amman), Raphana (Abila), Dion (Capitolias), Gadara (Umm Qays), and Pella (Irbid). Parts of Jordan were later incorporated into the Hasmonean kingdom, with pastoralist Nabateans slowly establishing their own realm in the southern parts of the Transjordan. Following the establishment of Roman Empire at Syria and Judaea, the country was incorporated into the client Judaea Kingdom of Herod, and later the Iudaea Province. With the suppression of Jewish Revolts, the eastern bank of Jordan was incorporated into the Syria Palaestina province, while the eastern deserts fell under Parthian and later Persian Sassanid control.

Cardo Maximus in ancient Jerash

 Muslim empires

In the 7th century, and for several centuries, the region of today’s Jordan became one of the heartlands of the Arabic Islamic Empire across its different Caliphates’ stages, including the Rashidun Empire, Umayyad Empire and Abbasid Empire. During the Islamic era, Jordan coined its current Arabic Islamic cultural identity. Several resources pointed that the Abbasid movement, was started in region of Jordan before it took over the Umayyad empire. After the decline of the Abbasid, It was ruled by several conflicting powers including the Mongols, the Crusaders, the Ayyubids and the Mamluks until it became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516.[14]

 Great Arab Revolt

Arab Soldiers in the Arab Army during the Arab Revolt of 1916–1918

Arab Revolt Tribal Cavalry – Tribes of Jordan and Arabia, c. 1918

During World War I, the Jordanian tribes fought, along with other tribes of Hijaz and Levant regions, as part of the Arab Army of the Great Arab Revolt. The revolt was launched by Hashemites and led by Sherif Hussein of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire. It was supported by the Allies of World War I. The chronicle of the revolt was written by T. E. Lawrence who, as a young British Army officer, played a liaison role during the revolt. He published the chronicle in London, 1922 under the title “Seven Pillars of Wisdom“,[15] which was the base for the iconic movie “Lawrence of Arabia“.

The Great Arab Revolt was successful in liberating most of the territories of Hijaz and the Levant, including the region of east of Jordan. However, it failed to gain international recognition of the region as an independent state, due mainly to the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917.[citation needed] This was seen by the Hashemites and the Arabs as betrayal of the previous agreements with the British, including the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence in 1915, in which the British stated their willingness to recognize the independence of the Arab state in Hijaz and the Levant. However, a compromise was eventually reached and the Emirate of Transjordan was created under the Hashemites reign.

 British mandate of Transjordan

In September 1922 the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the British Mandate and Transjordan memorandum excluded the territories east of the River Jordan from all of the provisions of the mandate dealing with Jewish settlement.[16] The country remained under British supervision until 1946.

The Hashemite leadership met multiple difficulties upon assuming power in the region. The most serious threats to emir Abdullah‘s position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory.[17] The emir was powerless to repel those raids by himself, thus the British maintained a military base, with a small air force, at Marka, close to Amman.[17] The British military force was the primary obstacle against the Ikhwan, and was also used to help emir Abdullah with the suppression of local rebellions at Kura and later by Sultan Adwan, in 1921 and 1923 respectively.[17]

Arar (1897-1949) Poet of Jordan

Independence

On May 25, 1946 the United Nations approved the end of the British Mandate and recognized Jordan as an independent sovereign kingdom. The Parliament of Jordan proclaimed King Abdullah as the first King.

On April 24, 1950, Jordan formally annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem, an act that was regarded as illegal and void by the Arab League. The move formed part of Jordan’s “Greater Syria Plan” expansionist policy,[18] and in response, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria joined Egypt in demanding Jordan’s expulsion from the Arab League.[19][20] A motion to expel Jordan from the League was prevented by the dissenting votes of Yemen and Iraq.[18] On June 12, 1950, the Arab League declared the annexation was a temporary, practical measure and that Jordan was holding the territory as a “trustee” pending a future settlement.[21][22] On July 27, 1953, King Hussein of Jordan announced that East Jerusalem was “the alternative capital of the Hashemite Kingdom” and would form an “integral and inseparable part” of Jordan.[23]

Abdullah I was assassinated in 1951 as he was leaving the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Jordan became a founding member of the Arab League in 1945 and, as an independent country, it joined the United Nations in 1955. In 1957 it terminated the Anglo-Jordan treaty, one year after the king sacked the British personnel serving in the Jordanian Army. This act of Arabization ensured the complete sovereignty of Jordan as a fully independent nation.

Government

Main article: Government of Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with an appointed government. The reigning monarch is the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The king exercises his executive authority through the prime ministers and the Council of Ministers, or cabinet. The cabinet, meanwhile, is responsible before the democratically 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.

King Abdullah II, Jordanian Head of State.

King Abdullah I ruled Jordan after independence from Britain. After the assassination of King Abdullah I in 1951, his son King Talal ruled briefly. King Talal’s major accomplishment was the Jordanian constitution. King Talal was removed from the throne in 1952 due to mental illness. At that time his son, Hussein, was too young to rule, and hence a committee ruled over Jordan.

After Hussein reached 18, he ruled Jordan as king from 1953 to 1999, surviving a number of challenges to his rule, drawing on the loyalty of his military, and serving as a symbol of unity and stability in Jordan. King Hussein ended martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties in 1992. In 1989 and 1993, Jordan held free and fair parliamentary elections. Controversial changes in the election law led Islamist parties to boycott the 1997 elections.

King Abdullah II succeeded his father Hussein following the latter’s death in February 1999. Abdullah moved quickly to reaffirm Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. Abdullah, during the first year in power, refocused the government’s agenda on economic reform.

Jordan’s continuing structural economic difficulties, burgeoning population, and more open political environment led to the emergence of a variety of political parties. Moving toward greater independence, Jordan’s parliament has investigated corruption charges against several regime figures and has become the major forum in which differing political views, including those of political Islamists, are expressed. While the King remains the ultimate authority in Jordan, the parliament plays an important role.

Parliament

Main article: Parliament of Jordan

The 1952 Constitution provided for the establishment of the bicameral National Assembly of Jordan (‘Majlis al-Umma’). The Parliament consists of two Chambers: The Chamber of Deputies (‘Majlis al-Nuwaab’) and the Senate (‘Majlis al-Aayan’; literally, ‘Assembly of Notables’). The Senate has 60 Senators, all of whom are directly appointed by the King,[29] while the Chamber of Deputies/House of Representatives has 120 elected members representing 12 constituencies. Of the 120 members of the Lower Chamber, 12 seats are reserved for women, 9 seats are reserved for Christian candidates, 9 seats are reserved for Bedouin candidates, and 3 seats are reserved for Jordanians of Chechen or Circassian descent. The Constitution ensures that the Senate cannot be more than half the size of the Chamber of Deputies.

The constitution does not provide a strong system of checks and balances within which the Jordanian Parliament can assert its role in relationship to the monarch. During the suspension of Parliament between 2001 and 2003, the scope of King Abdullah II’s power was demonstrated with the passing of 110 temporary laws. Two of such laws dealt with election law and were seen to reduce the power of Parliament.[30][31]

Senators have terms of four years and are appointed by the King and can be reappointed. Prospective Senators must be at least forty years old and have held senior positions in either the government or military. Appointed Senators have included former Prime Ministers and Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Deputies are elected to also serve a four year term. Candidates must be older than thirty-five, cannot have blood ties to the King, and must not have any financial interests in government contracts.[32]

Constitution

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated on 8 January 1952. Executive authority is vested in the king and his council of ministers. The king signs and executes all laws. His veto power may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the National Assembly. He appoints and may dismiss all judges by decree, approves amendments to the constitution, declares war, and commands the armed forces. Cabinet decisions, court judgments, and the national currency are issued in his name. The council of ministers, led by a prime minister, is appointed by the king, who may dismiss other cabinet members at the prime minister’s request. The cabinet is accountable to the Chamber of Deputies on matters of general policy and can be forced to resign by a 50% or more of vote of “no confidence” by that body.

The constitution provides for three categories of courts: civil, religious, and special. Administratively, Jordan is divided into twelve governorates, each headed by a governor appointed by the king. They are the sole authorities for all government departments and development projects in their respective areas.

Legal system and legislation

Jordan’s legal system is based on French code law system via the Egyptian civil laws while Islamic law is limited to civic status legislation for Muslims. Religious minority civic status is regulated by respective religious courts. Judicial review of legislative acts occurs in a special High Tribunal. It has not accepted International Court of Justice jurisdiction.

Jordan has multi-party politics. There are over 30 political parties in Jordan from extreme left (Jordanian Communist Party) to extreme right (Islamic Action Front). Article 97 of Jordan’s constitution guarantees the independence of the judicial branch, clearly stating that judges are ‘subject to no authority but that of the law.’ While the king must approve the appointment and dismissal of judges, in practice these are supervised by the Higher Judicial Council.

The Jordanian legal system draws upon civil traditions as well as Islamic law and custom. Article 99 of the Constitution divides the courts into three categories: civil, religious and special. The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters in accordance with the law, and they have jurisdiction over all persons in all matters, civil and criminal, including cases brought against the government. The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, High Administrative Courts and the Supreme Court. The religious courts include shari’a (Islamic law) courts and the tribunals of other religious communities, namely those of the Christian minority. Religious courts have primary and appellate courts and deal only with matters involving personal law such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. Shari’a courts also have jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the Islamic waqfs. In cases involving parties of different religions, regular courts have jurisdiction.[33]

Despite traditional male domination, the number of women lawyers has been increasing. As of mid-2006 Jordan had 1,284 female lawyers, out of a total number of 6,915, and 35 female judges from a total of 630

Administrative divisions

Jordan is divided into 12 provinces named Governorates, which are sub-divided into 54 departments or districts named Nahias.

Governorate Capital Region
Ajloun Governorate Ajloun North
Aqaba Governorate Aqaba South
Balqa Governorate Salt Central
Capital Governorate Amman Central
Irbid Governorate Irbid North
Jerash Governorate Jerash North
Governorate Capital Location
Kerak Governorate Al Karak South
Ma’an Governorate Ma’an South
Madaba Governorate Madaba Central
Mafraq Governorate Mafraq North
Tafilah Governorate Tafilah South
Zarqa Governorate Zarqa Central

 Human rights

The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of fifteen Arab countries.[45]

Jordan ranked 141 out of 196 countries worldwide, earning “Not Free” status in Freedom House‘s 2011 Freedom of the Press 2011 report.[46] Jordan had the 5th freest press of 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Civil liberties and political rights scored 5 and 6 respectively in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2011 report, where 1 is most free and 7 is least free. This earned Jordan “Not Free” status.[47] Jordan ranked ahead of 6, behind 4, and the same as 8 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In the 2010 Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranked 120th out of 178 countries listed, 5th out of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Jordan’s score was 37 on a scale from 0 (most free) to 105 (least free).[48]

Jordan ranked 6th among the 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, and 50th out of 178 countries worldwide in the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International.[49] Jordan’s 2010 CPI score was 4.7 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean). Jordan ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in February 2005[50] and has been a regional leader in spearheading efforts to promote the UNCAC and its implementation.[34]

Areas where the government of Jordan was praised in its human rights efforts were in its protection of minority groups and freedom of religion. Christians are well integrated in Jordanian society and they are members of the country’s political and economic elite. There are usually two cabinet posts held by Christians. A survey by a Western embassy in Amman found that nearly half of Jordan’s leading business families are Christian despite being a minority group. Christians have established good relations with the royal family and many hold senior positions in the military. Jordanian Christians are equally represented in the Parliament.[51][52]

Areas of concern with respect to human rights in Jordan include:[53][54][55]

  • limitations on the right of citizens to change their government peacefully;[citation needed]
  • a newly drafted electoral law that perpetuates significant under representation of urban areas and citizens of Palestinian origin in leadership positions;
  • cases of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, poor prison conditions, impunity, arbitrary arrest and denial of due process through administrative detention, and prolonged detention;
  • breaches of fair trial standards and external interference in judicial decisions;
  • infringements on privacy rights;
  • limited freedoms of speech and press, and government interference in the media and threats of fines and detention that encourage self-censorship;
  • restricted freedoms of assembly and association;
  • legal and societal discrimination and harassment of women remain a concern, although there have been significant improvements in recent years;
  • legal and societal discrimination and harassment of religious minorities and converts from Islam are a concern, although Jordan is widely acknowledged as being a strong supporter of religious freedoms;[citation needed]
  • legal and societal discrimination of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community;
  • loss of Jordanian nationality by some citizens of Palestinian origin;
  • restricted labor rights; and
  • abuse of foreign domestic workers.

In response to domestic and regional unrest, in February 2011 King Abdallah replaced his prime minister and formed a National Dialogue Commission with a reform mandate. The King told the new prime minister to “take quick, concrete and practical steps to launch a genuine political reform process”, “to strengthen democracy,” and provide Jordanians with the “dignified life they deserve.”[56] The King called for an “immediate revision” of laws governing politics and public freedoms.[57] Initial reports say that this effort has started slowly and that several “fundamental rights” are not being addressed.[58]

[edit] Religion

Main article: Religion in Jordan
Religion in Jordan[60]
Religion Percent
Sunni Muslims 92%
Christian 6%
Other 2%

[edit] Education

Main article: Education in Jordan
Enrollment rates.jpg

The literacy rate in Jordan is 93%. The education system has been significant in the shift from a predominantly agrarian country to an industrialized nation. It ranks number one in the Arab World and is one of the highest in the developing world.[92] UNESCO ranked Jordan’s education system 18th worldwide for providing gender equality in education.[93] 20.5% of Jordan’s total government expenditures goes to education compared to 2.5% in Turkey and 3.86% in Syria.[94][95][96]

Jordan ranked 14th out of 110 countries for the number of engineers and scientists according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2004–2005 (WEF). Jordan has a higher proportion of university graduates in technological fields than any other Arab country. There are over 200,000 Jordanian students enrolled in universities each year. An additional 20,000 Jordanians pursue higher education abroad primarily in the United States and Great Britain.[97]

There is a primary school enrollment rate of 98.2% in Jordan. Secondary school enrollment has increased from 63% to 97% of high school aged students in Jordan and between 79% and 85% of high school students in Jordan move on to higher education, an extremely high rate for a middle income nation.[98]

According to the Global Innovation Index 2011, Jordan is the 3rd most innovative economy in the Middle East, only behind Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Worldwide, Jordan ranked 41st beating India, South Africa, Greece and Russia.[99]

Jordan is the top contributor among all Arab countries in terms of internet content. 75% of all Arabic online content originates from Jordan.[100]

In scientific research, Jordan is ranked number one in the Arab world and 30th worldwide. Nature Journal reported Jordan having the highest number of researchers per million people among all the 57 countries members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); the average of OIC countries is 500 researchers per million people. In Jordan there are 2,000 researchers per million people, higher than Israel and the United Kingdom.[101][isputed statement" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikipediaSmilie: :Disputed_statement">dubiousdiscuss]

The illiteracy rate in Jordan was 6.9% in 2010, one of the lowest in the region.[102] Secondary education consists of two years of school study, for students who have completed the 10-year basic cycle. It comprises two major tracks: Academic or vocational secondary education. At the end of the two-year period, students sit for the general secondary examination (Tawjihi) in the appropriate branch and those who pass are awarded the Tawjihi (General Secondary Education Certificate). The academic stream qualifies students for university entrance, whereas the vocational or technical type qualifies for entrance to Community colleges or universities or the job market, provided they pass the two additional subjects. Vocational secondary education provides intensive vocational training and apprenticeship, and leads to the award of a Certificate. This type of education is provided by the Vocational Training Corporation, under the control of the Ministry of Labour / Technical and Vocational Education and Training Higher Council.

After completing the 8, 9 or 10 years of basic education, Jordanians are free to choose any foreign secondary education program instead of the Tawjihi examinations (8 for IGCSE, 10 for SAT and IB). Such programs are usually offered by private schools. These programs include: IGCSE, SAT and International Baccalaureate.

Private schools in Jordan also offer IGCSE examinations. About 25% of school-aged students in Jordan are enrolled in private schools. Upon graduation, the ministry of Higher Education, through a system similar to UK tariff points, transforms the grades/marks of these foreign educational programs into the same marks used in grading Tawjihi students. This system is controversial, both as to the conversion process and the number of places allocated to non-Tawjihi applicants.

Higher education

Medical halls of JUST as seen with KAUH.

Access to higher education is open to holders of the General Secondary Education Certificate or Tawjihi who can then apply to private community colleges, public community colleges or universities (public and private), the admission to public universities is very competitive. The kingdom has 10 public and 16 private universities, in addition to some 54 community colleges, of which 14 are public, 24 private and others affiliated with the Jordan Armed Forces, the Civil Defence Department, the ministry of health and UNRWA.[103] The first university established in the kingdom was the University of Jordan.[104] A United Nations-supported research nuclear reactor and a synchrotron-light scientific facility (SESAME) are currently being built on campus of Jordan University of Science and Technology and the Hashemite University to establish the first nuclear facilities for academic research in the kingdom.[105][106] All post-secondary education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Jordan is home to campuses of foreign universities such as NYIT, DePaul University, Columbia University and the American University of Madaba. George Washington University is also planning to establish a medical university in Jordan as well, with plans to make it a regional hub for the training of medical personnel in the Middle East and North Africa.[107]

Economy

Main article: Economy of Jordan

A graphic rendering of the planned Abdali Urban Regeneration Project in Amman

The Four Seasons hotel in Amman, Jordan’s capital.

Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. The country is exploring ways to expand its limited water supply and use its existing water resources more efficiently, including regional cooperation with Israel. The country depends on external sources for the majority of its energy requirements. In the 1990s, its crude petroleum needs were met through imports from Iraq and neighboring countries. Since early 2003, oil has been provided by some Gulf Cooperation Council member countries. In addition, the Arab Gas Pipeline from Egypt to the southern port of Aqaba was completed in 2003. In 2005 the pipeline extended north to the Amman area, in 2008 it reached Syriya and in 2009 to Lebanon.

Since King Abdullah II’s accession to the throne in 1999, liberal economic policies have resulted in a continuing boom. Jordan is the 4th freest economy in the Middle East and North Africa, beating traditionally free economies like Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. Jordan’s developed and modern banking sector is becoming the investment destination of choice due to its conservative bank policies that helped Jordan escape the worst of the global financial crisis of 2009. With instability across the region in Iraq and Lebanon, Jordan is emerging as the “business capital of the Levant” and “the next Beirut“. Jordan’s economy has been growing at an annual rate of 7% for a decade. Jordan’s economy is undergoing a major shift from an aid-dependent, rentier economy to one of the most robust, open and competitive economies in the region. In recent years, there has been shift to knowledge-intensive industries, i.e ICT, and a rapidly growing trade sector benefiting from regional instability. The Jordanian market is considered the most developed Arab market outside the Gulf states. [108] Jordan has more free trade agreements than any other Arab country. It has such agreements with the United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, the European Union, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, with plans to include the Palestinian Authority, the GCC, Lebanon and Pakistan. Jordan is a member of the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement, the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area agreement, and the Agadir Agreement. Increased investment and exports are the main sources of Jordan’s growth. Continued close integration into the European Union and GCC markets will reap vast economic rewards for the Kingdom in the coming years. However, the main obstacles to Jordan’s economy are scarce water supplies, complete reliance on oil imports for energy, and regional instability.

Rapid privatization of previously state-controlled industries and liberalization of the economy is spurring unprecedented growth in Amman and Aqaba. Jordan has six special economic zones that attract significant amount of investment amounting in the billions: Aqaba, Mafraq, Ma’an, Ajloun, the Dead Sea, and Irbid. Jordan also has a plethora of industrial zones producing goods in the textile, aerospace, defense, ICT, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic sectors.

Hamleys – Amman

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States[109] that went into effect in December 2001 will phase out duties on nearly all goods and services by 2010. The agreement also provides for more open markets in communications, construction, finance, health, transportation, and services, as well as strict application of international standards for the protection of intellectual property. In 1996, Jordan and the United States signed a civil aviation agreement that provides for open skies between the two countries, and a U.S.-Jordan treaty for the protection and encouragement of bilateral investment entered into force in 2003. Jordan has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 2000.[110]

Wakalat Street

In the 2000 Competitive Industrial Performance (CIP) Index, Jordan ranked as the third most industrialized economy in the Middle East and North Africa, behind Turkey and Kuwait. Jordan was in the upper bracket of nations scored by the CIP index. In the 2009 Global Trade Enabling Report, Jordan ranked 4th in the Arab World behind the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar. The report analyzes the country’s market access, the country’s transport and communications infrastructure, border administration, and the business environment of the country[111] Textile and clothing exports from Jordan to the United States shot up 2,000% from 2000 to 2005, following introduction of the FTA. According to the National Labor Committee, a U.S.-based NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), Jordan has experienced sharp increases in sweatshop conditions in its export-oriented manufacturing sector.[112]

Jordanian exports in 2006

Jordan ranked as having the 35th best infrastructure in the world, one of the highest rankings in the developing world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Index of Economic Competitiveness. It even beat several developed countries like Israel, Italy, Ireland, Greece and it was only two places behind the United Kingdom. [113]

The proportion of skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region.[114] The services sector dominates the Jordanian economy. Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in Jordan with revenues over one billion. Industries such as pharmaceuticals are emerging as very profitable products in Jordan. The Real Estate economy and construction sectors continue to flourish with mass amounts of investments pouring in from the Persian Gulf and Europe. Foreign Direct Investment is in the billions. The stock market capitalization of Jordan is worth nearly $40 billion.

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an “upper middle income country.” [7] Per-capita GDP was approximately US$5,100 for 2007 and 14.5% of the economically active population, on average, was unemployed in 2003. Education and literacy rates and measures of social well-being are very high compared to other countries with similar incomes. Jordan’s population growth rate is high, but has declined in recent years, to approximately 2.8% currently. One of the most important factors in the government’s efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens is the macroeconomic stability that has been achieved since the 1990s. However, unemployment rates remain high, with the official figure standing at 12.5%, and the unofficial around 30%. The currency has been stable with an exchange rate fixed to the US dollar since 1995.

Jordan is pinning its hopes on tourism, future uranium and oil shale exports, trade, and ICT for future economic growth.

Amman was ranked as the Arab World’s most expensive city in 2006 by the Economist Intelligence Unit, beating Dubai. In 2009, Amman ranked as the 4th most expensive city in the Arab World, behind Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Beirut.

Jordan is an importer of low skilled and semi-skilled laborers from Egypt, South Asia, Indonesia, Syria, and the Philippines. There are a range of estimates of the size of the migrant workforce in Jordan from conservative estimates of 300,000 foreign workers to almost one million foreigners working in Jordan. They constitute about 20–30% of the labor force in Jordan and they are consistently cited when discussing Jordan’s chronic unemployment problem.[98] These migrant workers often work in construction, the textile factories in Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zones, municipal maintenance services, and as domestic workers. Recently, these migrant workers were incorporated into the Kingdom’s labor laws giving them a wide range of benefits and rights and access to legal protection, the first Arab country to do so.[115]

In relation to the population size, Jordan is also one of the largest suppliers of skilled labour and human capital in the world. An estimated 600,000 Jordanians or one fourth of the labour force are earning their living in foreign countries working primarily in high paying white-collar jobs. Between 1968 and 2003, the accumulated net number of emmigrants amounted to over 1.1 million persons. Most of the skilled labor that left Jordan emigrated on a temporary basis to the oil producing Persian Gulf states. Since the mid 1970s, migrants’ remittances are Jordan’s most important source of foreign exchange, and a decisive factor in the country’s economic development and the rising standard of living of the population.[67]

Jordan has the headquarters of several large-scale global corporations despite its small size. Some of these include Arab Bank, Aramex, Maktoob, and Kurdi Group. Since 2009, there are 2 Jordanian companies listed in the Forbes Global 2000 list, Arab Bank (Rank 70Smilie: 8) and Arab Potash (Rank 1964). In addition, Jordan has several billionaires as well like Ziad Manasir and Eyhab Jumean.

 Agriculture

Olive Farms in the north of Jordan (souf, Jerash)

A farm in the mountains of Ajloun

Main article: Agriculture in Jordan

Agriculture in Jordan contributed substantially to the economy at the time of Jordan’s independence, but it subsequently suffered a decades-long steady decline. In the early 1950s, agriculture constituted almost 40 percent of GNP; on the eve of the June 1967 War, it was 17 percent.[116] By the mid-1980s, agriculture’s share of GNP in Jordan was only about 6 percent.[116]

The main irrigated area in Jordan is focused in fertile lands of Jordan Valley. However, other non-irrigated lands which depends on the seasonal rain are also available. Most of these lands are in the northern region in the provinces of Jerash, Ajloun and Irbid.

Yet, some other lands are also available in the mid-western regions of Karak and Madaba. Recently, some desert land in the east of Mafraq have witnessed a large scale of irrigation projects, however, the sustainability of these projects is still in doubt, due to their dependency on groundwater.

Jordan exports many fruits and vegetables to the neighbouring countries, the Gulf and Europe, including olives, citrus fruit, grapes, apples, figs, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, almonds, and cherries.

Natural resources

Although Jordan is a resource-poor country, it has significant deposits of oil shale and sources of uranium; these potential sources of indigenous energy have been the focus of renewed interest in recent years. It is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world and considerable water is required to develop its resources, particularly oil shale. There are very limited resources of timber and forestry products and timbering is strictly limited by Jordan’s environmentalists. Nevertheless, the kingdom is home to several water parks for tourism purposes, and the capital alone has over 17,000 private swimming pools. [117]

Phosphate mines in the south have made Jordan to one of the largest producers and exporters of this mineral in the world.[118][119][120][121][122] Potassium, salt, natural gas and stone are the most important other substances extracted. Phosphates are carried by rail from the mines to the port of Aqaba where it is shipped via cargo ship to other ports.

Jordan has one of the largest uranium reserves in the world. Jordan’s reserves account for 2% of the world’s total uranium. Jordan can extract 80,000 tons of uranium from its uranic ores, and the country’s phosphate reserves also contain some 100,000 tons of uranium. Jordan plans that by 2035, 60% of the country’s total energy consumption will be from nuclear energy. Four nuclear power plants are planned with the first one to be operational in 2019.[123]

Since the beginning of 2010, the government of Jordan has been seeking approval from the US for producing nuclear fuel from Jordan’s uranium for use in nuclear power plants that Jordan plans to build. Jordan is not required to obtain US approval since, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Jordan has every right to produce nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. However, in view of the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran over Iran’s nuclear program, despite Iran being a signatory of the NPT, Jordan is first seeking US approval to avoid a fate similar to that of Iran. The government of Israel, not a signatory of the NPT, has made clear to Washington its objection to Jordan’s nuclear energy program. According to Haaretz, Jordan learned that the US position is essentially the Israeli position, and the US has rejected Jordan’s request for approval.[124]

Natural gas was discovered in Jordan in 1987, and the estimated size of the reserve discovered was about 230 billion cubic feet, and quantities are very modest compared with its neighbours. It was the development of the Risha field in the Eastern Desert beside the Iraqi border, and the field produces nearly 30 million cubic feet of gas a day, to be sent to a nearby power plant to produce nearly 10% of the Jordan’s Electric needs.[125]

Despite the fact that reserves of crude oil are non-commercial, Jordan possesses one of the world’s richest stockpiles of oil shale where there are huge quantities that could be commercially exploited in the central and northern regions west of the country. The extent the World Energy Council reserves Jordan approximately 40 billion tons, which established it as the second richest state in rock oil reserves after Canada (estimated), and first at the world’s level of proven discoveries at a rate of extraction of oil up to between 8% and 12% of content, and could be the production of 4 billion tons of oil from the current reserve, which puts the quality of Jordanian oil on the one hand extraction, on an equal footing with their counterparts in western Colorado in the United States, which its estimated amount may rise to 20 billion tons. The moisture content and ash within is relatively low. And the total thermal value is 7.5 megajoules/kg, and the content of ointments reach 9% of the weight of the organic content.[126] Jordan recently signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell to extract and exploit shale oil reserves in central Jordan. It is expected Jordan will produce its first commercial quantities of oil in the year 2020, with an estimated production of 50,000 barrels of oil a day, 35 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy consumption in “less than 10 years”. Previous NRA studies have revealed that 40 billion tonnes of oil shale exist in 21 sites concentrated near the Yarmouk River, Buweida, Beit Ras, Rweished, Karak, Madaba and Maan.

A switch to power plants operated by oil shale has the potential to reduce Jordan’s energy bill by at least 40–50 per cent, according to the National Electric Power Company.[127]

Currency and exchange rates

The official currency in Jordan is the Jordanian dinar and divides into 100 qirsh (also called piastres) or 1000 fils. In 1949, banknotes were issued by the government in denominations of 500 fils, 1, 5,10 dinar. From 1959, the Central Bank of Jordan took over note production. 20 dinar notes were introduced in 1977, followed by 50 dinar in 1999. ½ dinar notes were replaced by coins in 1999. Coins were introduced in 1949 in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 fils. The first issue of 1 fils were mistakenly minted with the denomination given as “1 fil”. 20 fils coins were minted until 1965, with 25 fils introduced in 1968 and ¼ dinar coins in 1970. The 1 fils coin was last minted in 1985. In 1996, smaller ¼ dinar coins were introduced alongside ½ and 1 dinar coins. Since October 23, 1995, the dinar has been officially pegged to the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In practice, it is fixed at 1 US dollar = 0.709 dinar, which translates to approximately 1 dinar = 1.41044 dollars.[128][129] The Central Bank buys US dollars at 0.708 dinar, and sell US dollars at 0.7125 dinar,Exchangers buys US dollars at 0.708 and sell US dollars at 0.709.[130]

Culture

The culture of Jordan, as in its spoken language, values, beliefs, ethnicity is Arab as the Kingdom is in the heart of Southwest Asia. Although many people from different regions of the world have come to settle in Jordan, Europeans like the (Circassians and the Chechens) or other Middle Easterners like the Armenians, they have long been assimilated in the society and added their richness to the society that subsequently developed[156]. Jordan has a very diverse cultural scene with many different artists, religious sects, and ethnic groups residing in the small country because of Jordan’s reputation for stability and tolerance.

Jordan imports the overwhelming majority of its music, cinema, and other forms of entertainment from other countries most specifically other Arab countries like Lebanon and Egypt as well as by the West primarily the United States. However, there has been a rise of home-grown songs, music, art, movies and television, but they pale in comparison to the amount imported from abroad.

Globalization

In the 2007 A.T. Kearney Globalization Index, Jordan was ranked as the 9th most globalized nation in the world. The 2010 AOF Index of Globalization ranked Jordan as the most globalized country in the Middle East and North Africa region as well.[157] Jordan ranked in the top 10 for the economic, social, and political components of the index. Jordan scored high on the trade tables with high investment rates, large amounts of expatriate remittances, and a liberal trade regime. Jordan also had one of the most political engagements, organization and treaty memberships in the world. High technology penetration rates and its fast growing ICT industry earned Jordan high marks in the technology connectivity rankings. For example, Jordan has a 120% mobile phone penetration rate and a 45% internet penetration rate. 97% of Jordanian households own at least one television set while 90% have satellite reception which means they have access to other Arab and European programs.[158][159] Furthermore, 52% of Jordanians, 15 years old and above, own a desktop computer and another 15 per cent own a laptop at home.[160] Also, Jordan has one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.[161]

Jordan ranked as the 9th best outsourcing destination worldwide. Amman was ranked as one of the “Top 10 Aspirants”, cities in this ranking have a good chance in making the top 50 outsourcing cities in the next ranking. The report said that Jordan had one of the region’s most favourable business climates, a well-educated population, solid capabilities in the ICT industry, and Jordan was home to numerous outsourcing companies that compete successfully internationally. [162]

Amman is one of the top 10 cities in the world to launch a tech start-up in 2012. It is also considered the region’s “Silicon Valley” beating regional technology hubs Dubai and Tel Aviv. [163]

 

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