12 Awesome Facts About Jordan
Less than 200 miles (300 kms) north to south and much thinner, Jordan packs Red Sea beaches, Roman ruins, rushing canyons, a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the world’s lowest point into a compact package.
Young metropolitan Jordanians soak up Amman’s buzzing nightlife while bedouins sip tea under the stars of the desert night sky. This land of contrast is full of intrigue and unexpected wonders.
1) What’s in a name?
The official full title of Jordan is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Formerly Transjordan and part of the British and Ottoman Empires, it takes its name from the River Jordan which forms a large part of the kingdom’s northwestern border. The country is ruled by the Hashemite dynasty, which claims to be descended from the prophet Muhammad’s great-grandfather, Hashim.
2) Jordan’s wonder of the world
Jordan is home to the stunning site of Petra, one of the official New 7 Wonders of the World. This Nabataean caravan-city and important trading crossroads dates from the 1st century BC. It also served as the backdrop for the final scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
3) Peace with Israel
Alongside Egypt, Jordan is the only other Arab nation to have made peace with Israel. Jordan signed a treaty in 1994, ending the 46-year official state of war with Israel. Jordan is also the only nation-state to have open land borders with Israel.
4) Places from the Bible
Jordan is home to a number of biblical sites including the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, The Pillar of Salt said to be Lot’s Wife, the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Mount Nebo where Moses gazed across the promised land before he died.
5) The lowest point on earth
Jordan shares the Dead Sea and the earth’s lowest point on dry land with Israel and Palestine. The photos of buoyant bathers reading newspapers in the Dead Sea are possible because of the water’s 34.2% salinity, 9.6 times as salty as the ocean. Lying 1,378ft (420m) beneath sea level, the Dead Sea and its mud deposits are said to contain healing and regenerative qualities.
6) Flag symbolism
The national flag of Jordan contains the pan-Arab colors with three equal horizontal bands of black (representing the Abbasid Caliphate), white (representing the Umayyad Caliphate) and green (representing the Fatimid Caliphate). On edge of the left of the flag overlaid on the three bands is a red triangle (representing the Hashemite dynasty) and inside the triangle is the seven-pointed Islamic Star (representing the first seven surat verses of the Koran).
7) Jordan’s Roman ruins
Jerash is one of the most well-preserved ancient Roman cities outside Italy. Dating back 6500 years, Jerash became a key city on an ancient trade route to Rome.
8) A haven for refugees
Jordan has accepted refugees from a number of wars in neighboring countries, including notably conflicts in Palestine, Iraq and Syria. There are an estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees in Jordan as of 2015. There are also a number of Yemenis, Iraqis, and Libyans.
9) Movie scenes
If big blockbuster films need epic backgrounds then Wadi Rum’s red and orange sandstone mountains and desert landscape is the place to come. T.E. Lawerence was said to have passed in awe through the area, and it was where the iconic scenes from Lawrence of Arabia were filmed. Its moonlike otherworldliness was also the setting for The Martian and Red Planet.
10) King Hussein’s long reign
Known by Jordanians as the “builder king,” King Hussein ruled the nation from 1953-1999, over half the country’s existence. Under his reign, the country developed significantly with access to water, electricity, sanitation, and education increased from the minority of citizens to the vast majority.
11) Jordan is almost landlocked
Apart for a small 28km outlet in the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea and the shore of the Dead Sea, Jordan is surrounded by land. Jordan has land borders with Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, Saudi Arabia to the south, and Israel and the West Bank to the west.
12) Population Boom
Jordan’s population has increased from just under a million in 1961 to around 10 million in 2018, putting pressure on job opportunities, water resources, and the national infrastructure.