Jordan, or Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, an Arab country in southwest Asia and one of the countries of the Middle East. It borders Israel, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf of Aqaba, an arm of the Red Sea. Jordan's area is 37,738 square miles (97,740 km2).

Facts in brief about Jordan
Capital: Amman.
Official language: Arabic.
Official name: Al-Mamlakah Al-Urdiniyah Al-Hashimiyah (Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan).
Area: 34,495 mi2 (89,342 km2).
Elevation: Highest―Jabal Ramm, 5,755 ft (1,754 m) above sea level. Lowest―shore of the Dead Sea, about 1,373 ft (419 m) below sea level.
Population: Current estimate―5,816,000; density, 169 per mi2 (65 per km2); distribution, 82 percent urban,18 percent rural. 2004 census―5,103,639.
Chief products: Agriculture―barley, citrus fruits, goats, grapes, melons, olives, poultry, sheep, tomatoes, wheat. Manufacturing―cement, clothing, fertilizer, petroleum products, pharmaceutical products, textiles. Mining―phosphate, potash.
National anthem: "Al-Salam Al-Malaki" ("The Royal Salute").
Flag and coat of arms: Jordan's flag, adopted in 1928, has three horizontal stripes, black, white, and green (top to bottom). On the left side of the flag, a white seven-pointed star is in a red triangle. The points of the star stand for seven verses of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. The coat of arms displays the shield, helmet, and eagle of Saladin, a Muslim warrior. The inscription, written in Arabic, is the king's prayer for aid and success.
Money: Basic unit―Jordanian dinar. One thousand fils equal one dinar.
Physical Geography
Jordan Jordan is a country in southwestern Asia, in an area of the world called the Middle East.

Except for the West Bank and the East Bank, in northwestern Jordan, virtually all of the country is sparsely inhabited plateau and desert land. Part of Jordan is mountainous; much of it is taken up by the Syrian Desert. The West Bank consists mainly of the hills of Samaria and Judea; the East Bank, the hills and escarpments of the plateau's edge. The Jordan Valley, containing the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, is a deep rift valley, lying largely below sea level. At the Dead Sea, the elevation drops to more than1,300 feet (-400 m). The Yarmuk is the only sizable tributary of the Jordan.

Short, mild winters and long, extremely hot summers occur throughout Jordan. Rainfall is scant everywhere, especially on the plateau and in the rift valley. The sloping lands of the East and West banks receive 15 to 20 inches (380 to 510 mm), which is sufficient for cultivation. Virtually all the rain falls during winter.

Economy

Jordan's economy suffered a severe setback with the loss of the West Bank in 1967. The West Bank was the nation's richest, most productive area. It contained roughly 40 per cent of the cultivated land, about half of the population, and nearly all of the historic places, on which the tourist trade depended. In addition, some 400,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank, causing a serious refugee problem. Foreign financial assistance, especially from other Arab countries, has been heavy. Remittances by Jordanians working abroad have also greatly aided the economy. Only about a tenth of Jordan's land can be used for farming or grazing. Agriculture provides a living for about 6 per cent of the country's workforce. Most farmers live at the subsistence level. The most productive farms are those irrigated by the East Ghor Canal in the northern Jordan Valley. Chief crops are wheat, barley, tomatoes and other vegetables, melons, citrus fruits, and grapes. Sheep, goats, cattle, camels, and poultry are the most numerous livestock.

Manufacturing consists mainly of producing foods, beverages, clothing, leather, and other consumer goods. Except for the making of cement and chemical fertilizers and the refining of petroleum, virtually all manufacturing is done in small shops and factories. Jordan's chief mineral resource is phosphate rock, mined primarily for export. Potash extraction from Dead Sea water is also important.

The nation's roads are concentrated in western Jordan, where most of the people live. The railway trackage is also in the west and consists almost entirely of a railway running between the Syrian border and Aqaba, the only seaport. Royal Jordanian Airline is the national carrier; international airports are at Amman and Al Agabah.

People

The great majority of the people are Arabs. There are small numbers of Circassians, Armenians, and Kurds. Approximately 60 per cent of Jordan's Arabs are Palestinians, who entered or whose ancestors entered Jordan as refugees after the Arab-Israeli wars of 194849 and 1967. There is a small nomadic population of Bedouins. Islam is the official religion and the faith of more than 90 per cent of the people. Most Muslims belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. Some 5 to 6 per cent of the population is Christian, largely Eastern Orthodox. Arabic is the official language.

Primary school begins at age five and lasts six years, followed by three years of preparatory school, and then three years of secondary school. The leading institutions of higher learning are the University of Jordan (founded 1962), in Amman; and Yarmouk University (1976) and the Jordan University of Science and Technology (1986), both in Irbid. The literacy rate is about 75 per cent.

Government

Under the constitution of 1952, Jordan is a monarchy. The king (head of state) appoints the prime minister (head of government) and his cabinet. The legislature, called the National Assembly, has two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members of the Senate are appointed by the king for four-year terms. Members of the House are popularly elected for four-year terms. The judicial system has both civil and religious courts.