Jordan Resources

Culture

Signs of traditional Arabic music in Jordan can be scarce, with, but you will find an interesting hybrid of Arab-style singers backed up by orchestras of western and traditional instruments dominating everywhere you go. The Bedouin are still hanging on to their musical traditions, with groups of men singing trance-like chants to accompany a lone belly-dancer.

Architecture is the predominant visual art in the Arab world, partly because Islam forbids the depiction of living things. Throughout Jordan you will find spectacular mosques, ancient ruins from the Roman Empire and earlier, and magnificent mosaics. The Qusayr ‘ (Castle) Amra is notable for its frescoes, one of which shows a nude woman bathing – an unusual artform for this part of the world. The Qur’an is one of the finest examples of classical Arabic writing, while the Al-Mu’allaqaat is an even older collection of Arab poetry. One of the best-known works of Arab literature is Alf Layla wa Layla, A Thousand and One Nights, a collection of tales from several centuries and countries. Bedouin artworks include silver jewelry, colorful textiles , and a wide range of knives.

Hospitality is a cornerstone of Arab life. It is commonplace for Jordanian families, particularly desert dwellers, to welcome strangers into their home. The tradition developed from the harshness of desert life – without food, water and shelter from strangers, most desert travelers would die. Wherever you go in Jordan, you are likely to hear the word, ‘Welcome’, and you will frequently be invited into people’s homes for food or a cup of tea.

Islam is the predominant religion in Jordan. A monotheistic religion, Islam’s holy book is the Qur’an, and Friday is its Sabbath day. Every day, five times a day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which dot the country. Islam derives from the same monotheistic roots as Judaism and Christianity, and Muslims generally regard Christians and Jews with respect – in Islam, Jesus is regarded as one of the Prophets of Allah, and Jews and Christians are considered fellow ‘people of the Book’. Mohammed was the last Prophet, and it was to him that Allah dictated the Qur’an. Most Jordanian Muslims, including the non-Arab Circassians, belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. The Circassians – as well as the other Jordanian minority, the Chechens – were originally from the Caucasus area of Russia.

Islamic law forbids eating pig and drinking alcohol, and this law is followed to a greater or lesser (generally lesser) extent throughout Jordan. Islam also has a tendency to divide the sexes, and you might find that many eating establishments only welcome men. Most of these will, if asked, show you to the ‘family room’, an area set aside for women. When Jordanians eat out they will usually order group meals – a selection of mezzeh, or starters, followed by main meals to share. Arabic unleavened bread, or khobz, is eaten with almost everything. The other staples are felafel, deep-fried chickpea balls, shwarma, spit-cooked sliced lamb, and fuul, a paste of fava beans, garlic and lemon. Mensaf is a Bedouin speciality – a whole lamb, head included, on a bed of rice and pine nuts.

(Source: Travel Document Systems)

History

The land that became Jordan is part of the historically rich 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, Mameluks, Ottoman Turks, and, finally, the British. At the end of World War I, the League of Nations as the mandate for Palestine and Transjordan awarded the territory now comprising Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem to the United Kingdom. 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 Transjordan. 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 1950, the country was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to include those portions of Palestine annexed by King Abdullah. 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 between Israel and the Arab states of Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. During the war, Israel gained control of the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. In 1988, 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.

The 1967 war led to a dramatic increase in the number of Palestinians living in Jordan. 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.

(source: Department of State state.gov)

Development

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with 5.5 million inhabitants has one of the youngest populations among lower-middle income countries – 38 percent of the population is under the age of 14. The country has experienced over the last century a succession of migrations that have added to its population, including sendentarized nomads from the fromthe Arabian Peninsula, Palestinians who fled the Arab-Israel conflict, and other minorities, such as Circassians, Armenians, and Druzes, and more recently a large number of Iraqis. It is notably resource-poor, with limited agricultural land, no oil resources, and considerably scarce water; its only natural resources are potash and phosphate. Notwithstanding the difficulty of the regional political environment, and the lack of resources, the Jordanian population enjoys today one of the highest per-capita disposable income compared to other emerging countries in the sub-region. Jordan’s GNI per capita in 2003 was $1,850. The relatively comfortable economic situation can be credited to the Kingdom’s ability to maintain social and political stability, but also depends on one of the world’s highest share of unilateral transfers, in the form of workers remittances and public grants. [source: The World Bank read more]

Resources

Here’s a bunch of links we’ve compiled that you might find useful.

Culture

History

  • Arab Net 
    (http://www.arab.net/jordan/index.html)
    It is a major Arab website that contains information on the government, history, geography, business, culture, transport, tourism of each country, and provides links to other relevant websites.
  • Archaeology in Jordan (http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/archaeology/research/projects/wadifaynan/)
    This site is for the University of Exeter’s archaeological activities in Jordan.
  • Biography – His Majesty the Late King Hussein bin Talal(http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/biography.html)
    Web site of the late King Husayn I of Jordan. Gives information on the king and the Hashemites, biography, photo bank, video and audio, Royal Court and Palaces.
  • Infoplease 
    (http://www.infoplease.com/)
    Part of the electronic Learning Network, this homepage allows searches by country which yield articles in almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographical works, etc. Additional reference links are provided as well.
  • Jordan House of Parliament
    (http://parliament.jo/en)
    It gives information on Chambers of the Parliament, its history, the Constitution, action of previous Parliament, law data bank, news and events and photo album.
  • Jordan’s Royal Family 
    (http://kinghussein.gov.jo/hashemites.html)
    This site provides information about King Hussein I. It also provides information on Jordan: past and present and the Hashemite family.
  • King Abdullah ll Official Website – King of the Hashemite Kingdom (http://www.kingabdullah.jo/en)
    It gives information concerning the history, economy, culture of Jordan.
  • Middle East Studies Center (Jordan) 
    (http://www.mesc.com.jo/)
    This site is for an independent academic center belonging to the Jordanian private sector, specialized in the study of significant changes in the Middle East regionally and nationally politically, economically, and socially.
  • World Statesmen (http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Jordan.htm) “World Statesmen is an attempt at a comprehensive and accurate list of the heads of state and heads of government (and, in certain cases, de facto leaders occupying neither of those formal positions) for all countries and territories, going back to about 1700 or in some cases earlier. Some go further back, some only from their creation. Some subdivisions of some countries are present including native or traditional polities, provinces, or states. This sight also lists the leaders of international, religious, and governmental organizations.” Searchable by leader or by nation, offers a map of the country, audio and text versions of the national anthem, and text of the national constitution for most countries.
  • State Department Country Background Notes
    (https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-jordan/ ) Provides concise over view of country information.

Development (U.S.-Based)

Development (Jordan-Based)