About Jordan

At a glance
Capital city: Amman (population 960,000)
Population: 6.5 million
Language: Arabic
Currency: JOD
Time zone: (GMT+02:00) Amman
Dialing code: +962

Geography and environment
Jordan is made up of a staggeringly diverse range of natural environments. From stark deserts to towering mountains, fertile wetlands, coastal reefs and urban cities, journeying through Jordan provides changing scenery and varying conditions.

Sharing borders with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Jordan mixes modern architecture with heritage-filled buildings, well-manicured streets with historic alleyways and impressive mansions with simple homes.

Modern, developed cities like Amman and Aqaba feature unique architecture, spectacular mosques, five-star hotels and resorts. Small villages with rustic housing populate the less-built-up rural areas and Bedouin tents made of goat hair can be found in desert areas.

History and government
Early History - The country now known as Jordan was originally inhabited by the Nabataeans thousands of years ago. Over the centuries, Jordan has been a place conquered and inhabited by many different people including the Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Ottoman Turks, Egyptians and Mamluks (people of Kurdish origins). All these influences can still be seen today in Jordan's ancient ruins, architecture, crafts and arts. Many battles were fought in Ancient Jordan, including the Christian crusaders who clashed with Islamic Forces in Jordan during the 11th and 12th centuries. The first Muslim Dynasty began with the Umayyad Empire in 661.

Recent History - In 1950, Jordan was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in 1951, King Abdullah I was assassinated while visiting a mosque. His eldest son became king but was removed from his duties in 1952 due to mental illness. In 1953, his teenage son Hussein Ibn Talal became king, and continued to rule for over 40 years. In the 1960s, Jordan saw many immigrants arrive and settle – mainly Palestinians escaping the conflict in their homeland. In 1999, King Abdullah II succeeded his father King Hussein and continues to rule Jordan now. His reign has been characterised by liberal policies, economic reforms and technological advances. His wife, Queen Rania of Jordan, has a visible public profile, is active in many social causes and is regarded internationally as a highly influential woman.

Culture and customs
As a Muslim country, Jordan's culture is quite conservative, although not as conservative as some other Middle Eastern countries. Western influences (particularly in Amman and other large cities) have infiltrated Jordanian society so Jordan now possesses a mix of Arabian customs amid modern ways of life. Due to immigration, Jordan now has a significant Palestinian and Iraqi population, adding to the cultural diversity of the country.

Despite the outside influences, Islamic traditions are strong in Jordan with spectacular mosques signalling the call to prayer five times a day, Ramadan being observed each year and some segregation of the sexes occurring.

The desert-dwelling Bedouin have a distinct culture of their own, drawing on traditions that have been passed down for centuries. Living a largely nomadic lifestyle, the Bedouin rely on the herding of animals and the creation of handicrafts in the absence of a fertile environment to farm. With a strong musical heritage, traditional instruments are played and time-honored traditions are continued.

Hospitality is a crucial element of Jordanian culture. Most visitors will be humbled by the kindness, sincerity and genuine care showed by Jordanians. Being welcomed into peoples' homes is common, and can probably be attributed to the custom of welcoming strangers and sharing food when travelling in the unforgiving desert.

Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Featuring typical Middle Eastern ingredients like lamb, chickpeas, garlic and a range of aromatic herbs and spices, Jordanian cuisine is delicious.

Best time to visit Jordan
The weather in Jordan can get quite extreme. Overall, it tends to be hot during the day and cold at night (in desert areas, expect it to be extremely hot during the day and freezing at night). Yet during winter it can get bitterly cold, with snowfall occurring in some parts of the country.

Travelling during the summer months (June, July and August) can be challenging for those not accustomed to the heat, so visiting Jordan during spring and autumn is recommended for those who wish to escape the hotter temperatures.

As a Muslim country, Jordan observes Ramadan. If you are planning to travel during Ramadan, it's important to consider that many restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating on reduced hours during this time.

Jordan is hot and arid in the summer months, especially in the desert areas and along the Dead Sea. Milder fall and winter conditions in the hills and mountains of the west are common. Daily highs in the summer reach into the mid 90s, while winter lows below 40º F are rare.

Jordan's capital city of Amman is a city of contrasts, the old and new uniquely blending together. Nearly half of Jordan's population is concentrated in the Amman area and there are plenty of boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and other attractions.

Other major attractions include the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea; the rose-red city of Petra, one of Jordan's major tourist attractions offering giant red mountains, vast mausoleums, the Treasury, shrines and museums. Other sites to see include Agaba and its sandy beaches, crusader and desert castles and a wide variety of biblical holy sites.


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