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Commonly known simply as Jordan, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an Arab state in West Asia. Jordan is bounded by Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. The Dead Sea is at its central west border, and Jordan has a small shoreline on the Red Sea. The Jordan River makes up much of its western border.

Although the region that now makes up the boundaries of Jordan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era, it has only existed in its current form for about a century.

Over the years, the region has been part of the Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Nabataean kingdoms, and then the Roman and Ottoman empires. The Ottoman Empire was divided by Britain and France after the Great Arab Revolt of 1916, largely into regions of French and British spheres of influence.

Transjordan was recognized by the League of Nations as a state under the British Mandate for Palestine, as a future state for the Palestinian people, but excluded the region east of the Jordan River from the mandate. Transjordan remained a British protectorate until 1946, but with a greater degree of autonomy than the region west of the Jordan River.

In 1946, the Emirate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, and the ruling Emir became King. During the Arab-Israel War of 1948, Transjordan invaded Palestine, along with other Arab states. In 1949, Transjordan's name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 1950, Jordan annexed the West Bank, which led to a demand for Jordan's expulsion from the Arab League. King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated by a Palestinian militant in 1951. He was succeeded by his son, Talal, who soon abdicated in favor of his son, Hussein, who was seventeen years old.

King Hussein dismissed a number of senior British officers from the Army in order to curtail foreign influences. Jordan signed a treaty with Egypt just before Israel began the Six-Day War in 1967, and Jordan joined in the war. Jordan and its allies were defeated, and Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel. Although Jordan later joined with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1968 Battle of Karameh, and with Syria and Egypt in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, these boundaries did not change. Jordan renounced its claim to the West Bank in 1988.

In recent years, Jordan has been a relatively stable country. Although it has not been free from terrorist attacks, it emerged nearly unscathed from the Arab Spring protests that disrupted the Arab world in 2011.

Jordan's government is a constitutional monarchy, which includes the monarch, a bicameral legislature, and judiciary. The king exercises authority through the government that he appoints for four-year terms. The king is the commander-in-chief of the military and the head of state. He can declare war, ratify treaties, dismiss the government, and dissolve the parliament.

Jordan has maintained close relationships with the United States and the United Kingdom, and is one of only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, although it breaks with Israel over the question of a Palestinian state.

Jordan's government has invested heavily in modernizing the country, making it more attractive for foreign investment, promoting the country as a high-tech center, and enhancing its tourist economy, including a 184-acre Star Wars themed amusement park.

More than 98% of Jordanians are of Arab descent. Although the majority of people living in Jordan are refugees or immigrants from neighboring countries, not all of them are citizens. Jordan grants citizenship only in rare cases. Sunni Islam is the dominant religion, and between 90-95% of the population adhere to Islam. Muslims who convert to another religion, as well as missionaries from other religions, are apt to face societal persecution and may face legal difficulties. Up to 5% of the population is Christian, and this includes some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. In most respects, Jordanian Christians are Arab-speaking and Orthodox. Jordanian Christians enjoy a comparatively high degree of religious freedom, for the Arab World, but they are not permitted to evangelize Muslims.

The official language is Arabic, although English is widely spoken in Jordan, particularly in commerce and education. Nearly all courses at the university level are conducted in English, and public schools teach English along with Standard Arabic.

Jordan is home to thousands of archaeological and historical tourist sites, such as Petra and Jerash. As part of the Holy Land, the country includes several Biblical attractions for Muslims and Christians. Medical tourism is also on the rise in Jordan, receiving patients largely from neighboring countries, such as Lybia, Syria, and Yemen. The Dead Sea is also an attraction for people seeking natural treatments.

 

 

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