Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: "المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية") also known as Jordan (Arabic: "الأردنّ") is a constitutional monarchy in the Middle East. It borders Syria to the north, Saudi Arabia to the southwest, Iraq to the east, and Israel and the Palestinian territories (west bank) to the west. Along with Israel, Jordan borders the Dead Sea.
Jordanians are Arabs, except for a few small communities of Circassians, Armenians, and Kurds who have adapted to Arab culture. The official language is Arabic, but English is used widely in commerce and government. About 70% of Jordan's population is urban; less than 6% of the rural population is nomadic or semi-nomadic. Most of the population lives where rainfall can support agriculture. Approximately 1.7 million registered Palestinian refugees and other displaced persons reside in Jordan, most as citizens.
- Population (2006, per IMF): 5.63 million.
- Religions (est.): Sunni Muslim 94%, Christian 6%,
- Languages: Arabic (official), English.
- Education (2006, according to Jordan's Department of Statistics): Literacy--90.9%.and is the highest in the Arab world.
- Health (2003): Infant mortality rate--19/1,000. Life expectancy--71 yrs.
- Ethnic groups: Mostly Arab but small communities of Circassians, Armenians, and Kurds.
- Work force (1.3 million, of which 260 thousand are registered guest workers): public sector 17%, services 36%, manufacturing 20%, education 12%, health and social services 10%, primary industries 5%.
- Unemployment rate (2006): 13% of economically active Jordanians.
Jordan has consistently followed a pro-Western foreign policy and traditionally has had close relations with the United States. These relations were damaged by support in Jordan for Iraq during the first Gulf war. Although the Government of Jordan stated its opposition to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, popular support for Iraq was driven by Jordan's Palestinian community, which favored Saddam as a champion against Western supporters of Israel.
Following the first Gulf war, Jordan largely restored its relations with Western countries through its participation in the Middle East peace process and enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq. Relations between Jordan and the 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 has facilitated the training of over 50,000 Iraqi police cadets at a Jordanian facility near Amman.
Jordan signed a nonbelligerency agreement with Israel (the Washington Declaration) in Washington, DC, on July 25, 1994. Jordan and Israel signed a historic peace treaty on October 26, 1994, witnessed by President Clinton, accompanied by Secretary 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 also participates in 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 Agency (IAEA), and World Health Organization (WHO). Jordan also is a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Nonaligned Movement, and Arab League.
Since the outbreak of the Intifada in September 2000, Jordan has worked to maintain lines of communication between the Israelis and the Palestinians to counsel moderation and to return the parties to negotiations of outstanding permanent status issues.
During summer 2006, Jordan provided considerable relief supplies to Lebanon and has supported U.S. efforts to generate international security assistance for Lebanese national forces.
The land that became Jordan is part of the richly historical Fertile Crescent region. Around 2000 B.C., Semitic Amorites settled around the Jordan River in the area called Canaan. Subsequent invaders and settlers included Hittites, Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arab Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottoman Turks, and, finally, the British. At the end of World War I, the League of Nations awarded the territory now comprising Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem to the United Kingdom as the mandate for Palestine and Transjordan. In 1922, the British divided the mandate by establishing the semiautonomous Emirate of Transjordan, ruled by the Hashemite Prince Abdullah, while continuing the administration of Palestine under a British High Commissioner. The mandate over Transjordan ended on May 22, 1946; on May 25, the country became the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It ended its special defense treaty relationship with the United Kingdom in 1957.
Transjordan was one of the Arab states which moved to assist Palestinian nationalists opposed to the creation of Israel in May 1948, and took part in the warfare between the Arab states and the newly founded State of Israel. The armistice agreements of April 3, 1949 left Jordan in control of the West Bank and provided that the armistice demarcation lines were without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines.
In 1956, the country gained it's full independence from the British and became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to include those portions of Palestine annexed by King Abdullah I. While recognizing Jordanian administration over the West Bank, the United States maintained the position that ultimate sovereignty was subject to future agreement.
Jordan signed a mutual defense pact in May 1967 with Egypt, and it participated in the June 1967 war against Israel. During the war, Israel gained control of the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. In 1989, Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank but retained an administrative role pending a final settlement, and its 1994 treaty with Israel allowed for a continuing Jordanian role in Muslim holy places in Jerusalem. The U.S. Government considers the West Bank to be territory occupied by Israel and believes that its final status should be determined through direct negotiations among the parties concerned on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
In 1968, the Israeli army attacked the area in western Jordan to hit fedayeen controlled areas and to take control of the Salt hights in central Jordan, a battle erupted in the Jordanian valley between the Israeli troops and the Jordanian army, which led the Israelis to withraw from the area.
The 1967 war led not only to a loss of a huge part of land under Jordan's control (the West Bank), but also a dramatic increase in the number of Palestinians living in the remainder of Jordan due to an inclusion of refugees. Its Palestinian refugee population--700,000 in 1966--grew by another 300,000 from the West Bank. The period following the 1967 war saw an upsurge in the power and importance of Palestinian resistance elements (fedayeen) in Jordan. The heavily armed fedayeen constituted a growing threat to the sovereignty and security of the Hashemite state, and open fighting erupted in June 1970.
No fighting occurred along the 1967 Jordan River cease-fire line during the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, but Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to fight Israeli units on Syrian territory. Jordan did not participate in the Gulf war of 1990-91. In 1991, Jordan agreed, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Palestinian representatives, to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. It negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a peace treaty in 1994. Jordan has since sought to remain at peace with all of its neighbors.
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