Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and also known as JK (short for The Jordanian Kingdom), is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing control of the Dead Sea. Jordan’s only port is at its south-western tip, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Much of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert. However, the north-western part of Jordan is part of the Fertile Crescent. The capital city is Amman.
Modern Jordan was founded in 1921, and it was recognized by the League of Nations as a state under the British mandate in 1922 known as The Emirate of Transjordan. In 1946, Jordan joined the United Nations as an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In antiquity, the present day Jordan was in the heart of the earlier civilizations which prospered in the Fertile Crescent including the Babylonian and the Canaanites. Later, Jordan became a home for several ancient kingdoms. However, across different eras of history, parts of the country laid under the control of some regional powers including the Pharaonic Egypt during their wars with the Babylonian and the Hetites; and for discrete periods of times by Israelites whose been taken under the captivity of the Babylonian, and whose been later defeated by the Moabites as recorded in Mesha stele. Furthermore, and due to its strategic location in the middle of the ancient world, Jordan was also controlled by the ancient empires of Greek, the Persians, the Romans and later by the Byzantine. Yet, the Nabataean managed to create their independent kingdom which covered most part of modern Jordan and beyond, for some centuries, before it been over taken by the still expanding Roman empire. However, apart from Petra, the Romans maintained the prosperity of most of the ancient cities in Jordan which enjoined a sort of city-states autonomy under the umbrella of the alliance of the Decapolis. With the decline of the Roman Empire, Jordan became under the control of the Ghassanid Arab kingdom. In the seventh century, and due to its proximity to Damascus, Jordan became a heartland for the Arabic Islamic Empire and therefore secured several centuries of stability and prosperity, which allowed the coining of its current Arabic Islamic identity. In the 11th century, Jordan witnessed an era phase of instability, as it became a battle field for the Crusade wars which ended with defeat by the Ayyobis. Jordan suffered also from the Mongol attacks which was blocked by Mamluks. In 1516, It became part of the Ottoman Empire and it remained until 1918, when the Army of the Great Arab Revolt took over, and secured the present day Jordan with the help and support of Jordan local tribes.
As witness of the Jordanian rich history, the Nabataean civilization left many magnificent archaeological sites at Petra, which is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World as well as been recognized by the UNISCO as a world Heritage. The Arabic Islamic Empire also left its unique architectural signature which is embodied by dessert palaces including Qasr Mshatta, Qasr al Hallabat and Qasr Amra which is recognized as World Heritage; in addition to the castles of Ajloun and Karak which combine the Crusade, Ayyobi and Mumlouk eras all together. The more recent Ottomans left some landmarks including several mosques, tombs, small railway stations and castles.
Modern Jordan is predominantly urbanized. Jordan is classified as a country of “high human development” by the 2010 Human Development Report. Furthermore, The Kingdom has been classified as an emerging market with a free market economy by the CIA World Fact Book. It has more Free Trade Agreements than any other country in the region. It has a “pro-Western” regime with very close relations with the United Kingdom and the United States, and became a major non-NATO ally of the United States in 1996. The Jordanian Government is one of only three members of the 22 state Arab League to have diplomatic relations with Israel, the others being the Egyptian and Palestinian governments. It is a founding member of the Arab League, the WTO, the AFESD, the Arab Parliament, the AIDMO, the AMF, the IMF, the International Criminal Court, the UNHRC, the GAFTA, the GCC, the ESCWA, the ENP and the United Nations. Jordan enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union.
Jordan’s Country Profile at the CIA World Fact Book
Jordan’s page on the U.S. Department of Sate Web Site