GEOGRAPHY The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is almost everywhere semi-arid or desert. With an area of 96,188 sq. km., part of it (6,333 sq. km.) is still occupied by Israel. It shares borders with Israel, Syria. Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. It has the small port of Aqaba and the Red Sea. The only region fit irrigated agriculture is the Jordan River valley.
The capital is Amman (formerly called Philadelphia). Other Biblical spots are Jericho, Edom, Gilead, Moab, and the Dead Sea. The Jordanian part of the city of Jerusalem was captured by Israel in 1973.
PEOPLE 5.4 million people half are Palestinian Arab refugees from the wars with Israel. Jordon has the world’s highest concentration of Palestinian refugees. Sunni Islam is the state religion, but there are some Christians (5%). Arabic is the language, with some English spoken.
Jordan is the most successful Arab country. Though it has a poor natural resources (no oil) and a diverse population, it has more political stability and a better life than most Arab countries. It exports phosphate, vegetables, chemicals, and citrus fruits to neighboring Arab states and the Socialist bloc. Tourism is also a major industry (1 million, tourists yearly) to see places in the Holy Land, the rock tombs of Petra, and the Wadi Rum wilderness. Jordanians are courteous, hospitable, and law- abiding. There is no serious crime rate in Jordan. Women enjoy a higher status than in other Arab countries. Literacy is high, and they have a new university. The skilled workers of Jordan are highly regarded throughout the Middle East, and their remittances home are important to the economy.
HISTORY Ancient tombs and temples cut out of the living rock at Petra show the long history of Jordan. The Nebatean state mentioned by Ashubanipal in 7th century BC existed here until 106 AD. It was conquered by the Romans under Trajan and became part of Arabia Petra.
The southern part of Jordan was called Seir, where Ammon, Moab, Sodom and Gomorrha existed. The Jordan River was the site of the baptism of Jesus, and Mt. Moab was the traditional scene of his temptation. Jordan was part of the tetrarchy of Herod. During the Crusades (1095 – 1291), most of Jordan was included as Outrejodan in the kingdom of Jerusalem. Under the Ottoman Turks, it became part of Syria.
After World War I, the Palestine area (which included Jordan) came under British mandate. In 1921 Britain separated Palestine and made a new emirate of Trans-Jordan, with Amman as the capital. Prince Adbullah, oldest son of King Hussein of the Arabian Hashemite Kingdom (and brother of King Faisal of Iraq), became the new emir with limited power. After World War II, Jordan became a sovereign independent state on May 25, 1946. Abdullah remained as king and played a leading role in the, formation of the Arab League and the 1948-1945 war with Israel. In 1950 he annexed part of Palestine still remaining in Arab hands.
When King Abdullah was assassinated by anti- Western terrorist in 1951, his son Talal succeeded him. A few month later, however, the parliament replaced the mentally-ill Talal with his 18King Abdullah years old son Hussein, who was crowned king on May 2, 1953. King Hussein was Jordan’s greatest ruler (1953-99).
From the beginning of his reign, King Hussein had to steer a dangerous course between Israel, his more powerful Arab neighbors, and rising Palestian nationalism. He survived several assassination attempts due to his policies. His brave Bedouin desert army of desert warriors stod by him at all times. In 1955 riots erupted in Amman when he joined the Baghdad Pact (CENTO). He incurred further unpopularity when he placed his army at the disposal of Egypt’s Nasser during the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. Jordan was swept into the 1967 Arab – Israeli war, and lost the old city of
JORDAN UNDER HUSSEIN. After the defeat, bitter Palestinian guerrillas took over sections of Jordan, and they battled with Jordanian government troops in 1970. Despite the help of Syrian tanks, the Palestians were defeated by Hussein’s Bedouin army. The Jordanians also drove out thousands of Syrian and Iraqi troops from their country.King Hussein’s action against the Palestinian Liberation Hussein Organization, the Syrians and Iraqis made him very unpopular among the Arabs who considered these guerrillas and militant Arabs as heroes. On November 28, 1971 his
After taking sides with the losing Arab warswith Israel, King Hussein decided to play amore moderate role to protect his smallkingdom. Jordan had lost the West Bankterritory and the city of Jerusalem to theIsraelis. He relinquished all claims to thePalestinian West Bank and Jerusalem. Hepersonally visited the family of the Israelisolider shot in a border incident. Followinga Jewish custom of mouring, he knelt downand wept before the Jewish mother for herson’s loss, a sincere gesture that capturedthe need for forgiveness for both sides.
As conditions also changed inthe Arab world, King Husseinacquired a new image and role.By the mid – 1990S he emergedas the only Middle Eastern leaderto enjoy good relations with all –Arabs, Palestinians, Israelis, theWestern, and the formerCommunist powers.
Towards the end of his life, King Hussein became the most popular man in the Middle East Like King Solomon, friends and enemies alike sought his wisdom and benediction important moves. He interceded for and between Arabs, hosted Arab summits, settled local disputes, and influenced the Palestinians to make peace with the Israelis.
His death in February 1999 was a greatloss to the cause of peace in the MiddleEast. For a man with a small build, andcoming from a small desert kingdom,King Hussein (1953 – 99) and his acts offorgiveness, humility and peace werethe most valuable and powerfulcommodities in the region.His son Adbdullah took over as the newking of the Hashemite Kingdom.