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Jordan ( ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a country in Western Asia spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the Gulf of Aqabamarker. Jordan shares borders with Syriamarker to the north, Iraqmarker to the northeast, Saudi Arabiamarker to the east and south, the Gulf of Aqabamarker to the southwest, and Palestine and Israel to the west. It shares control of the Dead Seamarker with Israel. Much of Jordan is covered by desert, particularly the Arabian Desert. However, the north-western area of Jordan, with the Jordan Rivermarker, is regarded as part of the Ancient Fertile Crescent. The capital city of Ammanmarker is in the northwestern part of the country, not far from the Jordan Rivermarker.

During its history, Jordan has seen numerous civilizations, including such ancient eastern ones as the Canaanite and later other Semitic peoples such as the Edomites, and the Moabites. Other civilizations possessing political sovereignty and influence in Jordan were: Akkadianmarker, Assyrian, Judeanmarker, Babylonian, and Persian empires. Jordan was for a time part of Pharaonic Egypt, the Hasmonean Dynasty of the Maccabees, and also spawned the native Nabatean civilization which left rich archaeological remains at Petramarker. Cultures from the west also left their mark, such as the Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Turkish empires. Since the seventh century the area has been under Muslim and Arab cultures, with the exception of a brief period when the west of the area formed part of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and a short time under British rule.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with representative government. The reigning monarch 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 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.

Jordan is a modern Arab nation with a predominantly middle class population that lacks the vast wealth of some of its neighbors. Jordan's population is 92% Sunni Muslim with a small Christian minority. Jordanian society is predominantly urbanized and very ethnically diverse. Jordan is classified as an emerging market by the CIA fact book. Jordan is a pro-Western regime that has very close relations with the West especially with the United Statesmarker, the United Kingdommarker and Francemarker. Jordan became a major non-NATO ally in 1996. Jordan is one of only two Arab nations, the other being Egyptmarker, that has diplomatic relations with Israelmarker. It is a founding member of the Arab League and the CAEU, a member of the OIC, the WTO, the AFESD, the Arab Parliament, the AIDMO, the AMF, the IMFmarker, the International Criminal Court, the UNHRC, the GAFTA, the ESCWA, the ENP and the United Nations. Jordan is also currently undergoing close integration with the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Jordan expects to receive "advanced status" with the EU by 2011.

History



Prominent early roots of Jordan, as an independent state, can be traced to the Kingdom of Petramarker, which was founded by the Nabataeans (Arabic: الأنباط, Al-Anbāt) an ancient Semitic people from Arabia who developed the North Arabic Script that evolved into the Modern Arabic script. During its glory, the Nabataean Kingdom controlled regional trade routes by dominating a large area southwest of the fertile crescent, which included the whole of modern Jordan extending from Syriamarker in the North to the northern Arabian Peninsula in the south. As a result, Petramarker enjoyed independence, prosperity and wealth for hundreds of years until it was absorbed by the Roman Empire which was still expanding in 100 A.D.

Jordan also witnessed many other smaller ancient kingdoms having sovereignty for centuries, in addition to the Nabataeans. These included the Kingdom of Edom, the Kingdom of Ammon, the Kingdom of Moab, the Kingdom of Judah, and the Hasmonean Kingdom of the Maccabees, which are all mentioned in the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern documents.

During the Greco-Roman period of influence, a number of semi-independent city-states also developed in Jordan under the umbrella of the Decapolis including: Gerasamarker (Jerashmarker), Philadelphia (Ammanmarker), Raphanamarker (Abila), Dionmarker (Capitolias), Gadaramarker (Umm Qays), and Pellamarker (Irbidmarker).

Later, Jordan became part of the Arabic Islamic Empire across its different Caliphates stages including Rashidun Empire, Umayyad Empire and Abbasid Empire. After the decline of the Abbasid, Jordan 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.

Modern Jordan

With the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the League of Nations and the occupying powers chose to redraw the borders of the Middle East. The ensuing decisions, most notably the Sykes–Picot Agreement gave birth to the French Mandate of Syria and British Mandate of Palestine. More than 76% of the British Mandate of Palestine was east of the Jordan rivermarker and was known as "Transjordanmarker".

The country was called "Transjordan", under British supervision until after World War II. In 1946, the British requested that the United Nations approve an end to British Mandate rule in Transjordan. Following this approval, the Transjordanian Parliament proclaimed King Abdullah as the first ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. Abdullah I continued to rule until a Palestinian Arab assassinated him in 1951 as he was departing from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Jordan captured the area of Cisjordan now called the West Bankmarker, which it continued to control in accordance with the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Abdullah thereupon took the title King of Jordan, and he officially changed the country's name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in April 1949. The following year he annexed the West Bank, but only two countries recognized this annexation: Britain and Pakistan.
Jordanian parachute flares illuminate Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war in 1948


Jordan and Iraqmarker united in 1958 to form the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan under the Hashemite crowns in Ammanmarker and Baghdadmarker. A coup later that year would end the union with the execution of the Hashemite crown in Baghdad. The United Arab Republic consisting of Egyptmarker, Syriamarker, and Yemenmarker quickly moved to antagonize Jordan's young King Hussein with Soviet support. King Hussein asked for British and American assistance. The RAF and the USAF was sent to patrol Jordanian airspace and British troops were deployed in Ammanmarker. The UAR backed off but then turned to Lebanonmarker. The Americans would later be deployed in Beirutmarker to support Lebanon's pro-Western government.

In 1965, there was an exchange of land between Saudi Arabiamarker and Jordan. Jordan gave up a large area of inland desert in return for a small piece of sea-shore near Aqabamarker.

Jordan signed a military pact with Egyptmarker in May 1967, and following an Israeli air attack on Egypt in June 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syriamarker and Iraqmarker continued the Six Day War against Israelmarker. During the war, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalemmarker. In 1988, Jordan renounced all claims to the territory now occupied by Israel but its 1994 treaty with Israel allowed for a continuing Jordanian role in Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. The severance of administrative ties with the West Bankmarker halted the Jordanian government's paying of civil servants and public sector employees' salaries in the West Bank.

The period following the 1967 war saw an upsurge in the activity and numbers of Arab Palestinian paramilitary elements (fedayeen) within the state of Jordan. These distinct, armed militias were becoming a "state within a state", threatening Jordan's rule of law. King Hussein's armed forces targeted the fedayeen, and open fighting erupted in June 1970. The battle in which Palestinian fighters from various Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) groups were expelled from Jordan is commonly known as Black September.

The heaviest fighting occurred in northern Jordan and Amman. In the ensuing heavy fighting, a Syrian tank force invaded northern Jordan to back the fedayeen fighters, but subsequently retreated. King Hussein urgently asked the United States, Great Britain and Israel to intervene against Syria. Consequently, Israel performed mock air strikes on the Syrian column at the Americans' request. Soon after, Syrian President Nureddin al-Atassi, ordered a hasty retreat from Jordanian soil. By September 22, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo arranged a cease-fire beginning the following day. However, sporadic violence continued until Jordanian forces, led by Habis Al-Majali, with the help of Iraqi forces, won a decisive victory over the fedayeen on July 1971, expelling them, and ultimately the PLO's Yasser Arafat, from Jordan.

At the Rabat summit conference in 1974, Jordan was now in a more secure position to agree, along with the rest of the Arab League, that the PLO was the "sole legitimate representative of the [Arab] Palestinian people", thereby relinquishing to that organization its role as representative of the West Bank.

In 1973, allied Arab League forces attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War, and fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line. Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to attack Israeli units on Syrian territory but did not engage Israeli forces from Jordanian territory.

Although Jordan did not directly participate in the Gulf War of 1990–91, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, King Hussein was accused of supporting Saddam Hussein when he attempted to persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait. As a result of the alleged support, the United States and Arab countries cut off monetary aid to Jordan, and 700,000 Jordanians who had been working in Arab countries were forced to return to Jordan. In addition, millions of Iraqi refugees fled to Jordan placing a strain on the country's social services.

In 1991, Jordan agreed, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Arab Palestinian fedayeen representatives, to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel at the Madrid Conference, sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on 25 July 1994 (see Washington Declaration). As a result, an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty was concluded on 26 October 1994. King Hussein was later honored when his picture appeared on an Israeli postage stamp in recognition of the good relations he established with his neighbor. Since the signing of the peace treaty with Israel, the United States not only contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in an annual foreign aid stipend to Jordan, but also has allowed it to establish a free trade zone in which to manufacture goods that will enter the US without paying the usual import taxes as long as a percentage of the material used in them is purchased in Israel.

King Hussein died in 1999. His son, King Abdullah II succeeded him.

Following the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Palestinians in the Second Intifada in September 2000, the Jordanian government offered its offices to both parties. Jordan has since sought to remain at peace with all of its neighbors. Particularly good relations have been maintained between the Jordanian royal family and Israel, with the Jordanian government frequently dispersing rallies and jailing demonstrators protesting against Israeli actions. The government also censors anti-Israeli views from the Jordanian news media.

The last major strain in Jordan's relations with Israel occurred in September, 1997, when two Israeli agents entered Jordan using Canadian passports and poisoned Khaled Meshal, a senior leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. Under threat of cutting off diplomatic relations, King Hussein forced Israel to provide an antidote to the poison and to release dozens of Jordanians and Palestinians from its prisons, including the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sheikh Yassin was later assassinated by Israel in a targeted bombing in early 2004 in the West Bank.

On 9 November 2005 Jordan experienced three simultaneous terrorist bombings at hotels in Amman. At least 57 people died and 115 were wounded. "Al-Qaeda in Iraqmarker", a group led by terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi#Biography, claimed responsibility.

Recently, Jordan has revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians in an attempt to thwart any attempt by Israelmarker of permanently re-settling West Bank Palestinians in Jordan. West Bank Palestinians with family in Jordan or with previous Jordanian citizenship would be issued yellow cards which guaranteed them all the rights of Jordanian citizenship. Palestinians working for the Palestinian Authority or the PLO were among those who have had their Jordanian passports taken from them, in addition to anyone who did not serve in the Jordanian army. Palestinians living in Jordan with family in the West Bankmarker would also be issued yellow cards. All other Palestinians wishing such Jordanian papers would be issued a green card which would facilitate travel into Jordan and give them temporary Jordanian passports in order to make travel easier. In addition, no Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are given any such privileges because Jordanian authority never extended into the Gaza Stripmarker.

Geography

Map of Jordan


Jordan is a Southwest Asian country, bordered by Syriamarker to the north, Iraqmarker to the northeast, Saudi Arabiamarker to the east and south and Israelmarker to the west. All these border lines add up to . The Gulf of Aqabamarker and the Dead Seamarker also touch the country, and thus Jordan has a coastline of .

Jordan consists of arid forest 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 Great Rift Valley of the Jordan Rivermarker separates Jordan, the west bank and Israel. The highest point in the country is Jabal Umm al Damimarker, it is above sea level, its top is also covered with snow, while the lowest is the Dead Seamarker . 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 Ammanmarker in the northwest, Irbidmarker, Jerashmarker and Az Zarqamarker, in the north. Madabamarker, Karakmarker and Aqabamarker in the south.

The climate in Jordan is semi-dry in summer with average temperature in the mid-30°C (mid-90°F) and relatively cold in winter averaging around . The western part of the country receives greater precipitation during the winter season from November to March and snowfall in Amman ( ~ above sea-level) and Western Heights of . Excluding the rift valley the rest of the country is entirely above (SL).

Climate

Snow in Amman
The major characteristic of the climate is humid from November to March and semi dry weather for the rest of the year. With hot, dry, uniform summers and cool, freezing variable winters during which practically all of the precipitation occurs, the country has a Mediterranean-style climate. In general, the farther inland from the Mediterranean Seamarker 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 East Bank receives less than 620 mm 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 in the south and 500 or more mm in the north. The Jordan Valley, lying in the lee of high ground on the West Bank, forms a narrow climatic zone that annually receives up to 900 mm of rain in the northern reaches; rain dwindles to less than 120 mm at the head of the Dead Seamarker.
Spring in Amman


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 and distance from the Mediterranean seacoast. Daytime temperatures during the summer months frequently exceed 29 °C and average about 32 °C. In contrast, the winter months—September to March—bring moderately cool and sometimes very cold weather, averaging about 3.2 °C. 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 in northern Jordan.

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 the Middle East 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 percent. Within a few hours there may be a 10 °C to 15 °C rise in temperature. These windstorms ordinarily last a day or so, cause much discomfort, and destroy crops by desiccating them.

The shamal, another wind of some significance, comes from the north or northwest, generally at intervals between June and September. Remarkably steady during daytime hours but becoming a breeze at night, the shammal may blow for as long as 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. The dryness allows intense heating of the Earth's surface by the sun, resulting in high daytime temperatures that moderate after sunset.

Administrative divisions

Administratively, Jordan is divided into 12 provinces called 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. The Governorates are:

Province Population (2008 est.) Area (Km2) Density (/Km2) Capital city Population (Metro, 2008 est)
Amman Governoratemarker 1,939,405 8231 246.3 Ammanmarker 1,135,733
Irbid Governoratemarker 950,700 1621 570.3 Irbidmarker 650,000
Zarqa Governoratemarker 838,250 4080 205.5 Zarqamarker 447,880
Balqa Governoratemarker 349,580 1076 324.9 Saltmarker 96,700
Mafraq Governoratemarker 245,671 26435 9.3 Mafraqmarker 56,340
Karak Governoratemarker 214,225 3217 66.6 Karakmarker 68,810
Jerash Governorate 156,680 402 379 Jerashmarker 39,540
Madaba Governoratemarker 135,890 2008 67.7 Madabamarker 83,180
Ajlun Governoratemarker 118,496 412 287.1 Ajlunmarker 8,161
Aqaba Governoratemarker 107,115 6583 16.3 Aqabamarker 95,408
Ma'an Governoratemarker 103,920 33163 3.1 Ma'anmarker 30,050
Tafilah Governoratemarker 81,000 2114 38.3 Tafilahmarker 17,000


The Governorates are subdivided into approximately fifty-two nahiyas.

Demographics

Graph showing the population of Jordan from 1960 to 2005.


The Jordan National Census for the year 2004 was released on October 1 of the same year, in it is was reported that Jordan had a population of 5,100,981. The census estimated that there are another 190,000 who were not counted (for being out of the country at the time the census was taken, or did not turn in their forms). National growth rate was 2.5% (at maximum) compared to 3.3% of the 1994 census. Males made up 51.5% of Jordan's population (2,628,717), while females constituted 2,472,264 (48.5%). Jordanian citizens made up 93% of the population (4,750,463), while non-Jordanian citizens made up 7% (349,933). However, it is estimated that most of those who did not turn in their forms were immigrants from neighboring countries, or non Arabic-speaking foreigners. There were 946,000 families in Jordan in 2004, with an average of 5.3 persons/family (compared to 6 persons/family for the census of 1994).The next census is scheduled to take place in 2014.

Ethnic groups

Approximately 95 to 98% of Jordan's population is composed of Arabs, that is, Arabic-speaking Arab-identified people. Among Arabs, the majority are Muslim by religion, with a Christian minority. People of Palestinian origin are the largest group in Jordan comprising about 48% of the total population. East Bank Jordanians comprise 29% of the total population of Jordan. The third largest group are the Iraqis, comprising of 14% of Jordan's population. Syrians comprise of 5% of Jordan's population making it the 4th largest Arab group in Jordan. The other 2% of Jordan's population that are of Arab background are from Egyptmarker, Lebanonmarker, and other Arab countries.

Of the non-Arab population which comprise 2% to 5% of Jordan's population, most are Circassians, Chechen, Armenians, Kurds, and Gypsies, all of which have maintained separate ethic identities, but have integrated into mainstream Jordanian and Arab culture. Among non-Arabs, most are Muslim by religion, with a small Christian minority (primarily the Armenians).

Religion

A Greek Orthodox Church in Amman


Islam is the predominant religion in Jordan, and it is the majority religion among both Arabs and non-Arabs. It is the official religion of the country, and approximately 92% of the population is Muslim by religion, primarily of the Sunni branch of Islam. Islamic studies are offered to students but are not mandatory to non-Muslim students. Jordan is an advocate for religious freedom in the region and the world. Religious officials have no part in the government and are not allowed to interfere in the state's affairs. People may be tried in religious courts if they wish, but civil courts are the norm.

Jordan has a small Christian minority. Christians are a religious minority both among the Arab and non-Arab segment. Christians of all ethnic backgrounds permanently residing in Jordan form approximately 6% of the population and are allocated respective seats in parliament (The Department of Statistics released no information about the religion distribution from the census of 2004). Christians made up 30% of the Jordanian population in 1950. However, emigration to Europe, Canadamarker and the United Statesmarker and lower birth rates compared to Muslims has significantly decreased the ratio of the Christian population.

Indigenous Jordanians of the Christians faith, are, like their counterpart indigenous Jordanians of the Muslim faith, an Arab people in language, culture and identity. Unlike those who became Muslim, they remained Christian, although both descend from the same earlier population of Jordan and both were Arabized. Jordanian Arab Christians hold services in the Arabic language, and share the culture of Jordan, and share the broader Levantine Arab identity. Most Jordanian Arab Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church (called "Ruum Urthudux" in Arabic, the members themselves are called Arab Orthodox). The remainder include members of the Roman Catholic Church ("Lateen" in Arabic), the Eastern Catholic ("Ruum Katoleek") also called Melkites (distinct from other "Western Catholics"), as well as various Protestant denominations including Baptists.

Among the Christian non-Arab population, significant part is made up of Armenians in Jordan. Others include expatriate Christians in Jordan from various countries, as evinced, for example, by some Catholic masses held in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Tagalog and Sinhala. Many Iraqi Christians have recently moved to Jordan with the turmoil in neighboring Iraq, and they are composed mostly of Iraqi Assyrian Christians but also some Iraqi Arab Christians.

Other religious minorities groups in Jordan include adherents to the Druze and Bahá'í Faith. The Druze are mainly located in the Eastern Oasis Town of Azraqmarker and the city of Zarkamarker, while the Village of Adassiyeh bordering the Jordan Valley is home to Jordan's Bahá'í community.

Language

The official language is Arabic, but English is used widely in commerce and government and among educated people. Arabic and English are obligatory learning at public and private schools. French is taught at some public and private schools but is not obligatory. However, a vibrant Francophone community has emerged in modern Jordan. Radio Jordan offers radio services in Arabic, English and French.

Immigration

Jordan has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syriansmarker, Egyptians, Armenians, Circassians, Iraniansmarker, Turks, and Chechens are just some of the foreign ethnic groups that make up Jordan's diverse population.

Additionally, there are several hundreds of thousands migrant workers from Indonesiamarker, the Phillipinesmarker, Chinamarker, Indiamarker, Sri Lankamarker, and Bangladeshmarker employed in Jordanian QIZs, households, and construction projects. Jordan's political stability, ethnic and religious tolerance, peace with all its neighbors, and a higher quality of life, make Jordan a favourite destination for refugees and political asylum seekers.

Refugees

During the years 2004–2007, Jordan saw a rapid increase in its population due to the heavy migration of Iraqi refugees, an independent census carried in 2007, estimated that there are 700,000 Iraqismarker residing in Jordan. Most estimates put the population of Jordan slightly over 6,000,000 as of the year 2007.

A portion of the people are registered as Palestinian refugees and displaced persons reside in Jordan, most as citizens. Since 2003 many Iraqis fleeing the Iraq War have settled in Jordan; latest estimates indicate between 700,000 and 1.7 million Iraqis living in Jordan; mainly in Amman, the capital.

The number of Lebanese permanently settling in Jordan since the 2006 Lebanon War has not been established, and is estimated to be very little. According to Labour Ministry figures, the number of guest workers in the country now stands just over 300,000, most are Egyptians who makeup 227,000 of the foreign labor, and the remaining 36,150 workers are mostly from Bangladeshmarker, China, Sri Lankamarker and India.Since the Iraq War many Christians (Assyrians and Chaldeans) from Iraqmarker have settled permanently or temporarily in Jordan.

Politics



Jordan's most executive power is the King although it is a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. The King traditionally has held substantial power, however the democratically-elected Parliament holds significant influence and power in national governance.

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 responsible 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 Islamic law and French codes. Judicial review of legislative acts occurs in a special High Tribunal. It has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justicemarker jurisdiction.

Jordan has multi-party politics. There are over 30 political parties in the Jordan from a wide range of positions ranging 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.

Specialized courts involve various bodies. One such body is the Supreme Council which will interpret the Constitution if requested by either the National Assembly or the prime minister, according to Dew et al.: "...such courts are usually created in areas that the legislator deems should be governed by specialized courts with more experience and knowledge in specific matters than other regular courts." Other examples of special courts include the Court of Income Tax and the Highest Court of Felonies.

The strictly military courts of the martial law period have been abolished and replaced with a State Security Court, which is composed of both military and civilian judges. The court tries both military and civilians and its jurisdiction includes offenses against the external and internal security of the state as well as drug-related and other offenses. The findings of this court are subject to appeal before the High Court.

Both Article 102 of the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure mandate the right of an accused person to a lawyer of his or her own choice during the investigation and trial period. Article 22 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also provides that a lawyer has the right to attend the interrogation unless the investigation is confidential or urgent. Article 28 of the Code of Criminal Procedure declares that detainees should be brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest, even in special security cases, giving them an opportunity to have full access to legal counsel.

Prior to 2002 Jordan’s legal system only allowed men to file for divorce, however, during this year the first Jordanian woman successfully filed for divorce; this was made possible from a proposal by a royal human rights commission which had been established by King Abdullah who had vowed to improve the status of women in Jordan.

Despite being traditionally dominated by men the number of women involved as lawyers in the Jordan legal system 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.In Jordan, between 15 and 20 women are murdered annually in the name of "honour" and at least eight such killings have been reported in 2008, according to Jordanian authorities. In 2007 17 such murders were recorded.

Kings of Jordan and political events

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 for both the Bedouin-related and Palestinian communities 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 Israelmarker 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

The 1952 Constitution provided for the establishment of the bicameral Jordanian National Assembly (‘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 55 Senators, all of whom are directly appointed by the King, whilst the Chamber of Deputies/House of Representatives has 80 elected members representing 12 constituencies. Of the 80 members of the Lower Chamber, 71 must be Muslim and 9 Christians, with six seats held back specifically for women. 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.

Term

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.

Political parties

The reforms of 1989 legalized political parties and opposition movements. The result is over 30 political parties, but the only political party that plays a role in the legislature is the Islamic Action Front (IAF). Political parties can be seen to represent four sections: Islamists, leftists, Arab nationalists and liberals. Some other political parties in Jordan including the Jordanian Arab Democratic Party, Jordanian Socialist Party, and Muslim Centre Party, but these have little impact on the political process because of lack of organization and clear platforms on key domestic issues as well as differences and factions within these political parties.

Human rights

Jordan "has consistently been cited by Amnesty International as the country with the best human rights record in the region." However, there are still several issues that continue to cause some concern for human rights watchdogs like administrative detention, so called "honour killings", and slow democratic reforms. In 2009, Jordan ranked as "Not Free" in Freedom House's 2008 Press Freedom rankings. Jordan’s civil liberties and political rights ranked 5.0 "Partly Free" near "Not Free" in Freedom House's 2009 rankings, a drop from last year. Jordan has the 5th freest press in the Arab World out of 21 countries..The Kingdom is committed to freedom of expression and choice. Measured by the Annual Freedom House survey, Jordan ranks third in the Middle East on major areas of freedom, from investment to expression.

Also, Jordan enjoys transparent governance, ranking 4th among Arab countries in the 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index issued by Transparency International, after Qatar, UAE and Bahrain. Further efforts to enhance its position include ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) where Jordan emerged as a regional leader in spearheading efforts to promote the UNCAC and its implementation.

Amnesty International showed concern about the practices of torture and ill-treatment in Jordan, "as well as the link between torture, unfair trials, and the death penalty." Amnesty International also showed concern about death-penalty rulings in Jordan "because there is a pattern of death sentences, and sometimes executions, occurring as a result of unfair trials where confessions extracted under torture are used as evidence against the defendants". According to the same Amnesty International report, there is a pattern of suppression of freedom of expression and association in Jordan.

According to Amnesty, "The practice of killing women and girls by husbands or family members because they have allegedly engaged in behavior that goes against social norms (so-called "honor killings") continues to be a problem in Jordan; with an average of 20 Jordanian women killed each year. Measures calling for stricter punishment for those committing honor killings have failed to be enacted" Three years ago, the government abolished the section of the penal code that allowed those convicted of honor killings to receive sentences as lenient as six months in prison. The judiciary has not, however, put them on an equal footing with other homicides, which are punishable by up to 15 years in jail. Honor crime offenders typically get anywhere between seven-and-a-half years in jail to commuted sentences after being pardoned by the slain woman's parents, which is usually their own family. Recently, the Judicial Ministry established a special tribunal for honor crimes that would speed up trials which would often take up to 18 months.

Amnesty also reported on the abuse of foreign domestic workers in Jordan. These violations surfaced after hundreds of Filipino maids fled to their embassy to escape abuse. It said that many workers out of a total of 70.000 suffer human rights violations. In August 2009, a new law aimed at improving the rights of domestic workers was passed by the cabinet making Jordan the first Arab country to guarantee legal protection for domestic workers. The reported improvements include religious freedom, health care, 10-hour workdays, one contact per month with the worker's homeland at the employer's expense, 14 day paid annual leave and 14 days of paid sick leave per year.

The Jordanian Constitution provides for the freedom to practice one's religion in accordance with the customs in the Kingdom, unless they violate public order or morality. Jordan's state religion is Islam. The Government bans conversion from Islam and efforts to proselytize Muslims.

The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report of 2009 indicated that there were “no reports that the practice of any faith was prohibited” in Jordan. In fact, Jordan has been highlighted as a model of interfaith dialogue. The study also concluded that in the last year there were “no reports of misuse or neglect” of the Kingdom’s diverse religious sites, as well as no reports of “harassment, discrimination, or restrictions” to worshippers.

Christians are well integrated into the Kingdom’s political and economic landscapes. At least one Christian holds a ministerial post in every government, eight seats in the 110-seat Parliament are reserved for Christians, and a similar number is appointed to the Upper House by the King. They serve in the military, many have high positions in the army, and they have established good relations with the royal family.

Economy



Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. The country is currently exploring ways to expand its limited water supply and use its existing water resources more efficiently, including through regional cooperation. The country depends on external sources for the majority of its energy requirements. During the 1990s, its crude petroleum needs were met through imports from Iraqmarker and neighboring countries. Since early 2003, oil has been provided by some Gulf Cooperation Council member countries. In addition, the Arab Gas Pipeline from Egyptmarker to the southern port city of Aqabamarker was completed in 2003. The government plans to extend this pipeline north to the Amman area and beyond. Since 2000, exports of light manufactured products, principally textiles and garments manufactured in the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) that enter the United States tariff and quota free, had been driving economic growth in the first years of strong economic growth achieved at the turn of the millenium. Jordan exported €5.6 million ($6.9 million) in goods to the U.S. in 1997, when two-way trade was €321 million ($395 million); it exported €538 million ($661 million) in 2002 with two-way trade at €855 million ($1.05 billion). Similar growth in exports to the United States under the bilateral US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement that went into effect in December 2001, to the European Union under the bilateral Association Agreement, and to countries in the region, holds considerable promise for diversifying Jordan's economy away from its traditional reliance on exports of phosphates and potash, overseas remittances, and foreign aid. The government has emphasized the information technology (IT) and tourism sectors as other promising growth sectors. The low tax and low regulation Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) is considered a model of a government-provided framework for private sector-led economic growth.
Location of Qualifying Industrial Zones in Jordan


Since King Abdullah II's accession to the throne in 1999, liberal economic policies have been introduced which has resulted in a boom lasting for a decade continuing even through 2009. Jordan is now one of the freest and most competitive economies in the Middle East scoring higher than the United Arab Emiratesmarker and Lebanonmarker in the 2009 Heritage Foundation Index. 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 Iraqmarker and Lebanonmarker, Jordan is emerging as the "business capital of the Levant" and the "the next Beirutmarker". 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.

Jordan has more free trade agreements than any other Arab country. Jordan has FTA's with the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, Singaporemarker, Malaysiamarker, the European Union, Tunisiamarker, Algeriamarker, Libyamarker, Iraqmarker, and Syriamarker. More FTA's are planned with the Palestinian Authority, the GCC, Lebanonmarker, Turkeymarker, and Pakistanmarker. Jordan is a member of the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement, the Euro-Mediterranean free trade 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.

The main obstacles to Jordan's economy is 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 Jordan's urban centers like Ammanmarker and especially Aqabamarker. 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.

King Abdullah has repeatedly emphasised that Jordan has a bright future and that it compares favourably with much of the region on key social and economic indicators. According to JIB (Jordan Investment Board)officials, Jordan receives twice the level of per capita foreign investment than its larger neighbour Egypt does. Even though inflation pushed its way up to the 13% mark in the first half of 2008, the shocks to the system are far less than in Egypt where inflation crept up to around 23%. Jordan’s economy has come under some pressure in 2007 and perhaps more so in 2008, primarily from global increases in oil and food prices that have affected the government budget and the current account balance. While Jordan is facing enormous economic pressures, it is managing to sustain good levels of GDP growth and foreign investment.

There are a number of sectors that have performed well in 2007, including minerals, pharmaceuticals and tourism. Light industry has to face stronger competition and rising energy costs. For the construction materials sector, Chinese goods benefiting from low labour costs and Persian Gulf products capitalising on low energy costs could make life difficult for many local producers of light industrial goods. However, Jordan’s free trade agreements, investment incentives and low transport costs for shipping to major markets are still drawing producers to the country. Steel and cement producers are not expected to face the same challenges as light industry and cement production is due to rise, with two additional plants under construction and likely to provide further export income. The government is also pushing ahead with the establishment of economic zones to attract new industry and services to less developed areas of the country where problems of unemployment and poverty are particularly acute. Persian Gulf economic growth should ensure more job opportunities for Jordanians in the Persian Gulf and help to support living standards for many Jordanian families.

However, its domestic developments will be the key to improving conditions. The government will push ahead with major projects such as the housing initiative, the economic zones, and attracting knowledge-intensive investments that require high-skilled labour and vocational programmes in the hope of creating more jobs and helping to counteract the impact of higher living costs, while at the same time hoping that global developments do not make its job even harder.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States 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.[369538]

Many Iraqi and Palestinian businesses maintain important offices in Jordan. Due to the instability in these two regions, many Iraqis and Palestinians work out of Jordan. With Jordan becoming known as the gateway to Iraq and the Palestinian territories and for its free trade policies, Amman and the Kingdom of Jordan as a whole has the potential to monopolize business and trade in the Levant.

In the 2000 Competitive Industrial Performance (CIP) Index, Jordan ranked as the third most industrialized economy in the Middle East and North Africa, behind Turkeymarker and Kuwaitmarker. 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 UAEmarker, Bahrainmarker, and Qatarmarker. The report analyzes the country's market access, the country's transport and communications infrastructure, border administration, and the business environment of the countryTextile and clothing exports from Jordan to the United States shot up 2,000 percent 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.
Jordanian exports in 2006


The proportion of skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region. 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 a "lower middle income country." The per-capita GDP was approximately USD $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%. Rates of price inflation are low, at 2.3% in 2003, and the currency has been stable with an exchange rate fixed to the U.S. dollar since 1995.

By 2003 onwards following the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Jordan lost its vital oil grants provided by the regime of Saddam Hussein. This, combined with soaring world oil prices resulted in an acceleration of inflation and further pressures a gradual undermining of real income. So far the government of Jordan has not found means to reduce dependence on oil (with the exception of gas imports from Egypt).

While pursuing economic reform and increased trade, Jordan's economy will continue to be vulnerable to external shocks and regional unrest. Without calm in the region, economic growth seems destined to stay below potential. On the positive side, however, there is huge potential in the solar energy falling on Jordan's deserts, not only for the generation of pollution-free electricity but also for such spin-offs as desalination of sea water (see Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC)).

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

Brain Drain and Brain Gain

Jordan is an interesting case in the concept of brain drain and brain gain. There are approximately 700,000 highly-skilled Jordanians that work in the oil rich Persian Gulf. The major pull reasons for Jordanians to work abroad are higher wages in wealthier nations, high unemployment and high cost of living with salaries barely able to reach self-sufficiency in their native country. Economist Hussem Ayesh said that Jordanians did not only want to make money just to cover for their daily needs, a result of high inflation and a hike in the cost of basic commodities; they also want to make savings but many would not be able to do that in Jordan, so they opt for a job abroad. Jordanians save the least in the entire MENA region with only 54% of residents save some of their monthly wages. Amman was ranked as the Arab World's most expensive city in 2006 by the Economist Intelligence Unit, beating Dubaimarker. In 2009, Amman ranked as the 4th most expensive city in the Arab World, behind Dubaimarker, Abu Dhabimarker, and Beirutmarker.

These young college graduates work in the Persian Gulf where salaries are often three or even four times as much as salaries in Jordan. These expatriates work mainly in high-tech, engineering, construction, finance, and medicine sectors. Jordanian expatriates send their families about 2.7 billion dollars every year, helping sustain living standards for many Jordanian households.

However, Jordan is experiencing a brain gain from Iraqmarker where highly skilled professionals are escaping the violence in their native country. These Iraqi expatriates mainly work in medicine, business, and education.

Jordan is also an importer of low skilled and semi-skilled laborers from Egyptmarker, Syriamarker, South Asia, Indonesiamarker, and the Philippinesmarker. There are about three to four hundred thousand migrant workers of this type. 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.

Natural resources

Although Jordan is a generally resource-poor country, Jordan does contains significant deposits of both oil shale and sources of uranium; these potential sources of indigenous energy have been the focus of renewed interest in recent years. There are also modest reserves of phosphates and, more recently, natural gas that have been exploited for decades. Jordan, however, is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world and considerable water is required to develop these resources, particularly oil shale. There are very limited resources of timber and forestry products and timbering is strictly limited by Jordan's environmentalists.

Natural gas

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.

Oil shale

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 Coloradomarker 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 percent of the weight of the organic content. 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 10–12 years.

Also, the Natural Resource Authority (NRA) is in the final phases of preparing an agreement with Eesti Energia under which the Estonian energy firm is expected to invest an estimated of $7 billion in the sector.

According to NRA Director Maher Hijazeen, some 700 direct jobs and over 3,000 indirect employment opportunities will be generated by the venture, which is expected to produce 35,000 barrels of oil daily within the next 10 years. Under the agreement, JEML would produce 50,000 barrels of oil a day, 35 per cent of the Kingdom’s energy consumption in “less than 10 years”, creating a “significant” number of jobs, the NRA director said. The 45-year concessions, which are separate blocks in Al Attarat and Lajoun in the central region, will be signed within the next two to three months and then referred to Parliament for approval.

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.

Phosphates

There are phosphate mines in the south of the kingdom, making Jordan the third largest source of this mineral in the world. 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 Aqabamarker where it is shipped via cargo ship to other ports.

Uranium

Jordan has one of the largest uranium reserves in the world. Jordan's reserves account for 2% of the world's total uranium. It's estimated that 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. 4 nuclear power plants are planned to be built in Jordan with the first one to be operational in 2017.

Water

Transportation



Being that Jordan is a transit country for goods and services to the Palestinian territoriesmarker and Iraqmarker, Jordan maintains a well developed tranportation infrastructure.

There are three commercial airports, all receiving and sending international commercial flights, two of them in Ammanmarker and the third is located in the city of Aqabamarker. The largest airport in the country is Queen Alia International Airportmarker in Amman that serves as the hub of the regional airline Royal Jordanian. The airport is currently under significant expansion in a bid to make it the hub for the Levant. Marka International Airportmarker was the country's main airport before it was replaced by Queen Alia Airportmarker but it still serves several regional routes. King Hussein International Airportmarker serves Aqabamarker with connections to Amman and several regional and international cities.

Jordan has a well-developed road infrastructure with 8,000 kilometres of paved highways.

A National Rail System was approved by the Jordanian Government which will connect all major cities and towns by passenger and cargo rail. There are two lines to be constructed. The North-South Line passing through Mafraq, Zarqa, Amman, Maan, and Aqaba with international connections to Syria and Saudi Arabia. The East-West Line will run from Mafraq, Irbid, and Azraq with international connections to Iraq and possibly Israel. The national rail system will be completed by 2013. These routes are planned to be electrified. There are also plans for a light rail system operating between Amman and Zarqa and a funicular and a three line metro system for Amman.
A phosphate train at Ram station


Two connected but non-contiguously operated sections of the Hedjaz Railway exist: Jordan shares the longest common borders with the West Bankmarker, there are two border crossings between Jordan and Israelmarker in the Bisan merge (King Hussein Bridge) in the north in the Wadi Araba in the south.

The Port of Aqaba is Jordan's sole outlet to the sea. It handles all cargo bound to Jordan, Iraq,and in some cases the West Bank. The Main Port is being relocated further south and being expanded. An Abu Dhabi consortium will handle the $5 billion dollar deal. The project is set to be completed in 2013.

Currency and exchange rates

The official currency in Jordan is the Jordanian dinar and divides into 10 dirham, 100 qirsh (also called piastres) or 1000 fils. In 1949, banknotes were issued by the government in denominations of 500 fils, 1, 5 ,10 and 50 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 IMFmarker's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In practice, it is fixed at 1 U.S. dollar = 0.709 dinar most of the time, which translates to approximately 1 dinar = 1.41044 dollars. The Central Bank buys U.S. dollars at 0.708 dinar, and sell U.S. dollars at 0.710 dinar.

Tourism

The treasury, as seen from al-Siq.
An Arabian Desert castle in Al Azrak.


Tourism is a very important sector of the Jordanian economy, contributing between 10 percent and 12 percent to the country's Gross National Product in 2006. In addition to the country's political stability, the geography offered makes Jordan an attractive tourism destination. In 2008, there were over 6 million arrivals, 3 million of them tourists, to Jordan. Jordan earned over 3 billion dollars in revenue from the tourist industry. Opodo and Travel Guides named Jordan as the Top Emerging Destination for 2009. Jordan's major tourist activities include numerous ancient places, its unique desert castles and unspoiled natural locations to its cultural and religious sites. The best known attractions include:

  • Ancient sightseeing
    • Petramarker in Ma'anmarker, the home of the Nabateans, is a complete city carved in a mountain. The huge rocks are colorful, mostly pink, and the entrance to the ancient city is through a 1.25 km narrow gorge in the mountain—called the Siq. In the city are various structures, all (except 2) are carved into rock, including al Khazneh – known as the Treasurymarker – which has been designated as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" by the for-profit New Open World Corporation. Other major sites of interest in Petra include the Monastery, the Roman theater, the Royal Tombs, the High Place of Sacrifice. Petra was rediscovered for the western world by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
    • Umm Qaismarker, a town located on the site of the ruined Hellenistic-Roman city of Gadara.
      Roman ruins at Umm Qais
    • Ajlunmarker, famous for the Al-Rabad Castle.
    • Jerashmarker, famous for its ancient Roman architecture, including the colonnaded streets, arches, Roman theaters, and the Oval Plaza.
    • Ammanmarker, Jordan's capital, contains the Roman theatermarker, in addition to several museums, where one may find remains of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Amman is one of the world's oldest cities however the city is suprising modern and very prosperous. Jordan's cosmopolitan capital city boasts plenty of historical sites, a thriving nightlife scene that evolves so quickly that hot spots open and close before they are published in guide books and magazines, a rapidly growing culinary scene with restaurants serving a plethora of international dishes including anything from regional dishes to Western dishes and even Asian cusisine like sushi, a plethora of modern shopping malls and cultural events from around the world.
    • Al Karakmarker contains an important castle from the times of Salah al-Din, known as Al-Karak Castle.
  • Religious sites
  • Seaside
    • The Dead Seamarker – It is the lowest point on earth, 402 meters below sea level, and becomes 1 meter lower each year. It is located near River Jordanmarker.
    • Aqabamarker is a town on the shore of the Gulf of Aqabamarker with numerous shopping centers, hotels and access to water sports.
  • Other sites
    A sandstone monument in Wadi Rum
    • Wadi Rummarker is a desert full of mountains and hills located south of Jordan. It is popular for its sights in addition to a variety of sports that are practiced there, such as rock-climbing. It is also known for its association with Lawrence of Arabia.
    • Fuheismarker, a beautiful town about 20 minutes north-west of Amman.
    • Mahismarker with important religious sites, and wonderful landscape.
    • Muwakir (Arabic for Machaerus) was the hilltop stronghold of Herod the Great. Upon Herod's death, his son Herod Antipas inhabited the fortress, and ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded there.


Nature reserves

Jordan has a number of nature reserves.

Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve covers 308 square kilometres. It is composed of a chain of valleys and mountains which extend from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. Attractions include Rummana mountain, the ancient archaeological ruins of Feinan, the Dana Village and the grandeur of the red and white sandstone cliffs of Wadi Dana. The Reserve contains a remarkable diversity of landscapes, which range from wooded highlands to rocky slopes and gravel plains to sand dunes. Dana supports diverse wildlife including a variety of rare species of plants and animals; Dana is home to about 600 species of plants, 37 species of mammals and 190 species of birds.

Azraq Wetland Reserve

The Azraq Wetland Reserve is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the semi-arid Jordanian eastern desert, one of several beautiful nature reserves managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). Its attractions include several natural and ancient built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat known as Qa'a Al-Azraq. A wide variety of birds stop at the reserve each year for a rest during their arduous migration routes between Asia and Africa. Some stay for the winter or breed within the protected areas of the wetland.

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve

The Shaumari Wildlife Reserve was created in 1975 by the RSCN as a breeding centre for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programmes with some of the world's leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the most rare species in the Middle East. Oryx, Ostriches, Gazelles and Onagers, which are depicted on many 6th century Byzantine mosaics, are rebuilding their populations in this safe haven, protected from the hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.

Mujib Nature Reserve

The Mujib Nature Reservemarker is the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a spectacular array of scenery near the east cost of the Dead Seamarker. The reserve is located within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge, which enters the Dead Sea at 410 metres below sea level. The Reserve extends to the Kerak and Madaba mountains to the north and south, reaching 899 metres above sea level in some places. This 1,300 metre variation in elevation, combined with the valley's year-round water flow from seven tributaries, means that Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent bio-diversity that is still being explored and documented today. Over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores and numerous species of permanent and migratory birds have been recorded. Some of the remote mountain and valley areas are difficult to reach, and thus offer safe havens for rare species of cats, goats and other mountain animals. Mujib's sandstone cliffs are an ideal habitat for one of the most beautiful mountain goats in the world, the horned Ibex.

Influence of the Southwest Asian conflict

The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and other conflicts in Southwest Asia have made huge impacts on the economy of Jordan. The fact that Jordan has peace with the surrounding countries, combined with its stability, has made it a preference for many Palestinians, Lebanesemarker, and people from the Persian Gulfmarker immigrants and refugees. Though this may have resulted in a more active economy, it has also damaged it by substantially decreasing the amount of resources each person is entitled to. Jordan has a law that states that any Palestinian may immigrate and obtain Jordanian citizenship, but must remit his/her Palestinian claim. Palestinians are not allowed to purchase land unless they give up their Palestinian citizenship. In November 2005, King Abdullah called for a "war on extremism" in the wake of three suicide bombings in Ammanmarker.

Opportunity Cost of Conflict

A report by Strategic Foresight Group has calculated the opportunity cost of conflict for the Middle East from 1991 to 2010 at a whopping $12 trillion (12,000,000,000,000). Jordan’s share in this is almost $84 billion. Every Jordanian family will also have the opportunity to increase their annual income by more than $1,250 if peace is established in the region and the Arab-Israeli boycott is lifted in full.

Drain on the GDP

The report also outlines how an extremely significant cost to Jordan is that the country is host to millions of refugees who make up 40% of their population and are a drain on 7% of the GDP. Jordan also spends over 5% of its GDP on defense, and has one of the highest numbers of military personnel in the region, 23,500 military personnel per million people.

Foreign relations

Jordan has consistently followed a pro-Western foreign policy and traditionally has had close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. These relations were damaged by Jordan's neutrality and maintaining relations with Iraq during the first Gulf War even though it was negotiating a peace settlement to end the conflict. Jordan has a well earned reputation for usually following a pragmatic and non-confrontational foreign policy, leading to good relations with its neighbours.


Jordan has always been a mediator during times of high tension. During the 1970s, King Hussein negotiated with Iranmarker to halt the military buildup to annex the small Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain. In the 1990s, King Hussein also tried to mediate the conflict between the United States and Iraqmarker and tried to bring an end to hostilities while still condemning the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait. Jordan has always been at the forefront of negotiating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. King Abdullah II is the mediator between Israel and the Arab League's negotiations for peace and normalization of bilateral ties.

King Abdullah II on a visit to The Pentagon.
Following the Gulf War, Jordan largely restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the Southwest Asia peace process and enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq. Relations between Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries improved substantially after King Hussein's death. Following the fall of the Iraqi regime, Jordan has played a pivotal role in supporting the restoration of stability and security to Iraq. The Government of Jordan signed a memorandum of understanding with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to facilitate the training of up to 30,000 Iraqi police cadets at a Jordanian facility.


Jordan signed a non-belligerency agreement with Israel (the Washington Declaration) in Washington, D.C.marker, on 25 July 1994. King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin negotiated this treaty. Jordan and Israel signed a historic peace treaty on 26 October 1994, witnessed by President Bill Clinton, accompanied by U.S. Secretary, Warren Christopher. The U.S. has participated with Jordan and Israel in trilateral development discussions in which key issues have been water-sharing and security; cooperation on Jordan Rift Valley development; infrastructure projects; and trade, finance, and banking issues.

Jordan and Israel had generally close relations even before the signing of the 1994 Peace Treaty. On more than one occasion, Jordan warned Israel of an impending attack by Syriamarker and Egyptmarker. Also, during the Black September conflict in Jordan, Israel warned Syriamarker that any Syrian intervention on the side of the PLO against the Jordanian monarchy would result in an Israeli attack. Israelmarker and Jordan along with Lebanonmarker were already negotiating a peace treaty as early as the 1950s but a string of assassinations including Jordanian and Lebanesemarker ambassadors and the King of Jordan himself, stopped such an attempt at peace. However, this friendship has been damaged several times due to the worsening situation in the Palestinian territories and the slow peace process with the Palestinians. In Israelmarker, several Likud lawmakers proposed a bill that called for a Palestinian state on both sides of the Jordan Rivermarker, presuming that Jordan should be the alternative homeland for the Palestinians. As a result, right-wing Jordanian lawmakers then proposed a bill in the Jordanian Parliament in which the peace treaty between Israelmarker and Jordan would be freezed. However, many speculate whether such a drastic and radical bill would ever be endorsed by the government.

Jordan also participates in the multilateral peace talks. Jordan belongs to the UN and several of its specialized and related agencies, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Atomic Energy Agencymarker (IAEA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Jordan also is a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Nonaligned Movement (NAM), and Arab League.

Military

Jordanian troops in a military parade in Amman


Jordan has quite a strong defensive army with strong support and aid from the United Statesmarker, the United Kingdommarker and Francemarker. This is due to its critical position between Israelmarker and the West Bankmarker, Syriamarker, Iraqmarker, and Saudi Arabiamarker with very close proximity to Lebanonmarker and Egyptmarker. Jordan has an excellent and well-trained police force and military that are responsive and able to handle almost any contingency.

Army

Jordanian Special Forces


Royal Special Forces is a unit of the armed forces of Jordan. The Commander wasBrigadier-General His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah (now King Abdullah II of Jordan), 1993–1996.In 2007, these forces received training from Blackwater Worldwide

Navy

The Royal Naval Force is the Naval entity of the Jordanian Armed Forces.

Air Force

The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) (Arabic: سلاح الجو الملكي الأردني, Transliterated: Silah al-Jaw Almalaki al-Urduni in Arabic) is the Aviation branch of the Jordanian Armed Forces.

Peacekeeping Abroad

There are about 50,000 Jordanian troops working with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions across the world. These soldiers provide everything from military defense, training of native police, medical help, and charity.

Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the world such as Iraqmarker, the West Bank, Lebanonmarker, Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Congo, Liberiamarker, Ethiopiamarker, Eritreamarker, Sierra Leonemarker and Pakistan. The Kingdom's field hospitals extended aid to more than one million people in Iraq, some one million in the West Bank and 55,000 in Lebanon. According to the military, there are Jordanian peacekeeping forces in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Jordanian Armed Forces field hospital in Afghanistanmarker has since 2002 provided assistance to some 750,000 persons and has significantly reduced the suffering of people residing in areas where the hospital operates.In some missions, the number of Jordanian troops was the second largest, the sources said. Jordan also provides extensive training of security forces in Iraqmarker, the Palestinian territoriesmarker, and the GCC.

Defence industry

Jordan is a recent entrant to the domestic defense industry with the establishment of King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) in 1999. The defense industrial initiative is intended to jumpstart industrialization across a range of sectors. With the Jordanian defense expenditures at 8.7% of GDP, the Jordanian authorities created the defense industry to utilize defense budget spending power and to assist in economic growth without placing additional demands on the national budget. Jordan also hosted SOFEX 2008, an international military exhibition. Jordan is a regional and international provider of advanced military goods and services.

A KADDB Industrial Park was opened in September 2009 in Mafraq. Its is an integral industrial free zone specialised in defence industries and vehicles and machinery manufacturing. It is expected that by 2015, the park is expected to provide around 15,000 job opportunities whereas the investment volume is expected to reach JD500 million.

The KADDB Industrial Park, a limited-liability company, was established in accordance with the Free Zones Law to strengthen the industrial base of Jordan, attract investments and encourage the development of clusters in the defence and automotive industries by creating an investment-attractive environment that provides incentives, tax exemptions and state-of-the-art logistical services including communications, infrastructure and administration. It was created to provide a one-stop solution for the supply of defence and commercial equipment optimised to the requirements of the Middle East.

Police

Jordan has an efficient and well-trained police force. Jordan ranked 14th in the world, 1st in the region, in terms of police services' reliability in the Global Competitiveness Report. Also, Jordan ranked 9th in the world and 1st in the region in terms of prevention of organized crime making it one of the safest countries in the world.

Culture

The culture of Jordan, as in its spoken language, values, beliefs, ethnicities 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, like Circassians and Chechens, they have long been assimilated in the society and added their richness to the society that subsequently developed.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 borrows most of its music, cinema, and other forms of entertainment from other countries most specifically other Arab countries like Lebanonmarker and Egyptmarker and the West primarily the United Statesmarker. There has been a rise of home-grown movies, television series, and music in Jordan, but they pale in comparison to the amount imported from abroad.

Jordan has become a center for Iraqi and Palestinian artists in exile because of the violence in there volatile areas.

See:

Health

Jordan has quite an advanced health care system, although services remain highly concentrated in Ammanmarker. Government figures have put total health spending in 2002 at some 7.5 percent of Gross domestic product (GDP), while international health organizations place the figure even higher, at approximately 9.3 percent of GDP. The country’s health care system is divided between public and private institutions. In the public sector, the Ministry of Health operates 1,245 primary health-care centers and 27 hospitals, accounting for 37 percent of all hospital beds in the country; the military’s Royal Medical Services runs 11 hospitals, providing 24 percent of all beds; and the Jordan University Hospital accounts for 3 percent of total beds in the country. The private sector provides 36 percent of all hospital beds, distributed among 56 hospitals. In 1 June 2007, Jordan Hospital (as the biggest private hospital) was the first general specialty hospital who gets the international accreditation (JCI).Treatment cost in Jordanian hospitals is less than in other countries.

According to 2003 estimates, the rate of prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was less than 0.1 percent. According to a United Nations Development Program report, Jordan has been considered malaria-free since 2001; cases of tuberculosis declined by half during the 1990s, but tuberculosis remains an issue and an area needing improvement. Jordan experienced a brief outbreak of bird flu in March 2006. Noncommunicable diseases such as cancer also are a major health issue in Jordan. Childhood immunization rates have increased steadily over the past 15 years; by 2002 immunizations and vaccines reached more than 95 percent of children under five.

About 70% of Jordanians had medical insurance in 2007, the Jordanian government plans to reach 100% in 2011.

The King Hussein Cancer Center is the only specialized cancer treatment facility in the Middle East. It is one of the top cancer treatment facilities in the world. Jordan was ranked by the World Bank to be the number one health care services provider in the region and among the top 5 in the world. In 2008, 250,000 patients sought treatment in the Kingdom including Iraqis, Palestinians, Sudanese, Syrians, GCC citizens, Americans, Canadians, and Egyptians. Jordan earned almost $1 billion dollars in medical tourism revenues according to the World Bank.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the life expectancy in Jordan is 78.55 years, the second highest in the region (after Israel). There are 203 physicians per 100,000 people in th years of 2000-2004, a proportion comparable to many developed countries and higher than most of the developing world.

Water and sanitation available to only 10 percent of the population in 1950 now reaches 99 percent of Jordanians. Electricity now also reaches 99 percent of the population, as compared to less than 10 percent in 1955.

Language

Arabic is the official language of Jordan. English is widely understood among most Jordanians, although the degree to which varies with educational level and demographic concentration. Middle and upper class citizens tend to be fluent and consider English as their second language. French is understood by the upper class, especially graduates of the handful of French schools in Jordan. Armenian as well as Caucasian languages like Circassian and Chechen are understood and spoken by their respective communities residing in Jordan with minority schools teaching these languages, alongside Arabic and English. Russian is also fairly common amongst the older generation, because many studied in the USSR.

Quality of life

In the 2008 Quality of Life Index, Jordan was ranked as having one of the highest quality of life in the Arab World. Jordan also has one of the highest standard of living in the developing world with a highly educated population with access to advanced healthcare services in urban and rural areas. Jordan ranked as having the 11th highest standard of living in the developing world and the second highest standard of living in the Arab and Muslim World second only to the Occupied Territories as measured by the Human Poverty Index. This was a major accomplishment of Jordan being that it ranked higher than the much more affluent Persian Gulfmarker states. Also, Jordan is a noticeably clean country.

Jordan spends 4.2% of its GDP to guarantee the well being of its citizens- more than any other country in the region. Life expectancy and public health levels in Jordan are comparable to the West with 70% of the population on medical insurance and plans to reach 100% by 2011. Also, the Social Security Corporation (SSC) is working to increase social security subscribers across the Kingdom with public sector workers currently covered and working to include private sector employees as well. After employees in the Kingdom receive coverage, the SSC will then expand to include Jordanian expatriates in the Gulf states and then students, housewives, business owners, and the unemployed. The Social Security Corporation plans to have 85% of the population covered under the social security umbrella by 2011.

In 2008, the Jordanian government launched the "Decent Housing for a Decent Living" project aimed at giving poor people and even Palestinian refugees the chance at owning their own house. Approximately 120,000 affordable housing units will be constructed within the next 5 years, and an additional 100,000 housing units can be built if the need arises.

The main obstacle to Jordan's development is its troubled economy, but recent reforms have given the country an unprecedented economic boom. Several aspects of Jordan's quality of life include:

-Jordan has a highly educated workforceSee: Education in Jordan

-Excellent health infrastructureSee: Health in Jordan

-Relatively open socio-political environmentSee: Politics of Jordan and Human rights in Jordan

-Reliable infrastructureSee: Communications in Jordan and Transport in Jordan

-A moderate climateSee: Climate of Jordan and Geography of Jordan

-A growing economySee: Economy of Jordan

-Diverse ethnic and religious backgroundSee: Demographics of Jordan

-Political stabilitySee: History of Jordan

Globalization

In the 2007 A.T. Kearney Globalization Index, Jordan was ranked as the 9th most globalized nation in the world. 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 101% mobile penetration rate and a 28% internet penetration rate. Also, Jordan has one of the highest levels of peacekeeping troop contributions of all U.N. member states.

Jordan ranked as the 9th best outsourcing destination worldwide. Amman was ranked as the 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.

Education

Jordan has given great attention to education in particular. The role played by a good education system has been significant in the development of Jordan from a predominantly agrarian to an industrialized nation. Jordan's education system ranks number one in the Arab World and is one of the highest in the developing world. 20.5% of Jordan's total government expenditures goes to education compared to 2.5% in Turkeymarker and 3.86% in Syriamarker.

Jordan is world-renowned for its highly educated population . Jordan is among the region’s highest spenders on education, investing more than 20.4% of its GDP to enable a labor force tailored to meet the demands of the modern market. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Report in 2003, ranked Jordanian students scores to be 22 points above international average in science and mathematics. 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 country in the region.

In scientific research generally, and particularly in terms of the number researchers per population, Jordan is ranked number one in the region. Nature journal reported Jordan having the highest number of researchers per million people among all the 57 countries members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). In Jordan there are 2,000 researchers per million people, while the average among the members of OIC is 500 researchers per million people . This means that the number of researchers per population in Jordan, is higher than Italymarker, Israelmarker and Greecemarker and just close to the number in United kingdommarker and Irelandmarker .



School education

Jordan is ranked 60th in the world at 91.1% according to literacy rate. School education in Jordan could be categorized into two sections:
  • Secondary education, which consists of two years of school study, for students who have completed the 10-year basic cycle. It comprises two major tracks:
#Secondary education, which can either be academic or vocational. 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, which provides intensive vocational training and apprenticeship, and leads to the award of a Certificate (not the Tawjihi). 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.


Foreign secondary education programs

After completing the 879 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 programmes are usually offered by private schools. These programmes include: Private schools in Jordan also used to offer GCSE examinations, but they have now been replaced by IGCSE examinations.

Upon graduation, the ministry of Higher Education, through a system similar to UK tariff points, transforms the grades/marks of these foreign educational programmes 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.

Another source of trouble is the system used to transform exam results of foreign education programmes into the Tawjihi scale, which is expressed as a percentage. Again, some see the system as fair or overly lenient to non-Tawjihi graduates, while others see it as unfair.

Higher education

Access to higher education is open to holders of the General Secondary Education Certificate 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 credit-hour system, which entitles students to select courses according to a study plan, is implemented at universities. At present, there are eight public universities plus two newly licensed ones, and thirteen private universities plus four newly licensed ones. All post-secondary education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Ministry includes the Higher Education Council and the Accreditation Council.

See also

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