Jordan is a relatively small country situated at the crossroads of the Middle East. It is bordered to the north by Syria, to the east by Iraq, to the west by Palestine, and to the south and east by Saudi Arabia. In southern Jordan are the unique destinations of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.
89,342 Sq. Km.
There is a diversity of terrain in Jordan usually found only in large countries. Its main regions are the lush Jordan River Valley in the West, the vast desert or Badia in the East, the deeply colorful Mountain Heights Plateau in the South, and lovely Red Sea beaches at the port of Aqaba. Each region has its own distinctive geology and climatic conditions.
Jordan At Glance
Capital : Amman
The Kingdom of Jordan is steeped in history. Archaeological evidence is constantly bringing to light signs of habitation from the dawn of history to the present day. In 331 BC, the armies of Alexander the Great conquered the Near East, introducing Hellenic culture to the area. Upon Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the Greek Empire was divided between his two generals. Jordan, Palestine and Egypt were given to General Ptolemy. Between 400 BC and 160 AD, the Nabataean civilization flourished in the southern part of the Kingdom. The awe-inspiring Nabataean capital of Petra is now Jordan’s most popular tourist attraction.
Jordan was part of the Roman Empire between 63 and 324 AD. A league of ten cities, known as the Decapolis, was established at this time to facilitate the area’s trade and commerce. Four of the best known cities in Jordan, Jeresh, Philadelphia (now Amman), Umm Qais, and Pella were part of the Decapolis.
During the Byzantine period, 324 to 632 AD, the inhabitants of Jordan offered crops and livestock from their farmlands to sustain travelers on the caravan routes which linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria and the Mediterranean.
630 AD marked the beginning of the Arab-Islamic era. The area was ruled for two centuries by the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties of Baghdad and Damascus.
In 1099, the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, establishing themselves by building two castles in Jordan at Shobak and Kerek to protect their conquests. In 1187, Salah al Din (known as Saladin) defeated the Crusaders at Kerek and forced the Crusaders to withdraw completely from the Near East.
A 300-year rule by the Mameluks followed, after which Jordan became part of the Ottoman Empire. This period came to an end with the famous Arab Revolt, between 1915 and 1918.
Jordan’s modern history dates from 1921, when Emir Abdullah, the second son of Sherif Hussein, established the Emirate of Trans-Jordan as a self-governing territory under British mandate. The current ruler, His Majesty King Abdullah II, is the 43rd generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
Almost 7 Million.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic. English is widely spoken. Officially licensed guides are available for all major European languages.
The state religion is Islam, as indicated in the Constitution. The majority of the population (92%) is Sunni Muslim, including other non-Arab minorities such as Circassians and Chechens who, towards the end of the 19th century, fled their homeland in the Caucasus. The rest of Jordan inhabitants are Christian Arabs and Armenians whose freedom of worship, opinion, and association are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Jordan is blessed with a Mediterranean climate that makes year-round travel pleasurable. The climate is arid, and moderate in temperature. Winter temperatures average around 8-10°, with summer temperatures reaching 28-35°. Amman, located 950 meters above sea level, is known for its cool, dry nights even in the middle of summer.
Nov – Mar : GMT + 2 Hours.
Apr – Oct : GMT + 3 Hours.
Most Jordanians work a five-and-a-half day week with Thursday afternoons and Fridays off, but business and shopping hours are flexible. Some establishments and shops are open from 09:30 to 13:30 and again from 15:30 to 18:00; others may be open straight through the day, from 08:00 to 20:00. Banks are open from 08:00 to 15:30. Friday and Saturday are the official days of rest, though many Christian shopkeepers close on Sunday instead and shops in the souks remain open on Fridays.
Religious & Public Holidays
Islamic Holidays: Among the Islamic holidays celebrated in Jordan are the small feast at the end of Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, and the big feast, Eid Al-Adha. During the eid holidays many shops and offices close for three-four days. Due to the Islamic calendar, which uses lunar months, the dates of these feasts vary each year.
220 V – 50 Hz. Electrical outlets have two holes for rounded prongs.
Road: From Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi-Arabia.
Air: Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport receives regular flights from Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Chartered flights to Aqaba airport.
Sea: Aqaba Port, by regular ferries arriving from Nuweiba, Egypt.
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JD/JOD). The Dinar is divided into 100 Piasters or 1000 fils. Notes in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD are commonly used. Prices are written with decimals; for example, 4.750 JD equals 4 JD and 750 fils. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 Piasters, and 5 and 10 fils. It is useful to always carry some coins and notes in low denominations, since Jordanians rarely carry enough change for larger denominations. Currency can be exchanged at major banks and at most hotels. Moneychangers on the street are best avoided. The Jordanian Central Bank sets exchange rates daily. ATMs give cash advances on major credit cards. Only major banks accept traveler’s cheques. There are no restrictions on the import and export of Jordanian or foreign currencies.
Held every year in July in the historical city of Jerash, this festival is one of the largest cultural celebrations in Jordan. Thousands descend to participate in special art and performances. Visitors will find music, dance, literature, food, handicrafts and general merriment among the festival goers. There are also artist’s workshops and seminars which are open for everyone to attend.
Taking place in October, the Jordan Rally is a motorcar race which brings together those with the need for speed from every corner of the globe. For a few thrilling days, the festival turns Jordan’s golden dunes into a race track and a large international crowd can be seen getting their adrenaline fill.
Food and Drinks
Eating well and heartily is part of the Jordanian tradition. Some dishes to try include: the national dish, mansaf (stewed lamb with a simmering yogurt sauce served on a bed of rice); musakhan (chicken with onions, olive oil, pine seeds and seasonings cooked in an oven on a thick loaf of Arabic bread); and maqluba (a meat or chicken and vegetable stew served with rice). With your meal try Araq, an aniseed-flavored liquor mixed with water and ice that is the local alcoholic beverage.
Vaccinations and Health
For vaccinations, please check with health authorities in your home country before traveling. While travelers may experience mild stomach discomfort or diarrhea, no serious health threats exist in Jordan. Anti-diarrhea medication may be helpful.
Jordanian handicrafts represent a tradition of skilled workmanship and folk art. The most common Jordanian craft items include Madaba rugs, carved olive wood, mother-of-pearl, cross-stitch embroidery, Palestinian pottery, Hebron glass, and Arabian colored-sand bottles.
Nawafir makes it easy to rent a car, jeep, or four-wheel-drive vehicle, with or without a driver. An international driver’s license is usually required, and in high season advance notice is almost always required as demand for cars exceeds their availability.
Useful Information for Travelers
Jordan is socially conservative by Western standards, making modest dress a necessity for both men and women. Amman has a more relaxed Western dress code at night and by the pool. Jordanians have a very strong ethic of hospitality. Bedouin invitations to coffee or tea should be accepted as an honor, as declining an invitation can be perceived as rude. Invitations to private homes or to meals do not imply any return obligation other than gratitude, and represent one of the best aspects of a culture that is committed to kindness to visitors.
As a general rule if you want to photograph people or places it is always better to ask first. Do not take pictures of any government installations, Embassies buildings, or anything else that might be considered off-limits to visitors.
Jordan is a safe and friendly place to travel. Jordanians are unfailingly helpful and it is generally safe to walk around at any time of the day or night. It is, of course, sensible to take obvious precautions: look after your belongings and keep valuables in the hotel safe. Lost property should be reported to the police without delay. If you lose your passport, you should contact your embassy.