Throughout history, Jordan has served as a crossroads for trade, peoples, and cultures, connecting the East and the West. The capital city, Amman, is located in the north, thirty minutes from the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. Amman is historically significant for many of its early civilizations and the Biblical sites surrounding the city. Today, the city is the bustling capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with a population of over 2.5 million people. Jordan plays a significant diplomatic role in the wider Middle East region, and issues of regional peace and cooperation are at the forefront of this country's political agenda.
Jordan is located near the eastern-most portion of the Mediterranean. The territory of Jordan now covers roughly 35,475 square miles, of which most is arid desert. The Kingdom is almost entirely land-locked, with the exception of the small port-city of Aqaba on the Red Sea in the south. There is a severe fresh water shortage throughout the country, in part due to the decreased flow of the Jordan River, the arid environment, and population growth. About 70% of Jordan's population lives in urban areas, such as Amman. Less than 6% of the rural population is nomadic or semi-nomadic.
Religion and Culture
Approximately 96% of Jordanians are Muslim and 4% are Christian. Visitors to Jordan are exposed to many aspects of the daily practice of Islam. From hearing the call to prayer five times a day, to seeing women wearing the veil, to hearing a recording of the Quran in shops, students will be immersed in aspects of Muslim religious culture. On the other hand, the Middle East is where the Christian religion was born, and visitors are likely to encounter the Christian population. It is important for students to keep in mind that Jordanian Christians are not the result of Western influence or the work of missionaries in the region, as many visitors believe. Rather, many take pride in being descendents of the earliest Christians.
Growth and Development
The Hashemite Kingdom has rapidly developed since its establishment in 1921. While Amman, Irbid, and Aqaba were once sleepy villages, these three important cities have grown immensely in population and regional importance. Amman is a popular destination for Western expatriates and international investment, due to its friendly business climate and well-educated working population. In 2010, Jordan was ranked as the most politically globalized country in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the KOF Globalization Index.
AMIDEAST’s programs are based in Amman, the expansive, lively capital of the Hashemite Kingdom. Inhabited by several civilizations starting around 8,500 BCE, it is an ancient city facing distinct modern challenges, thus making it an exciting place to live and study. Originally built on seven hills, Amman has expanded in size and population from a quaint, sleepy town at the close of World War II, to the bustling, multicultural metropolis it is today. With over 2.5 million inhabitants, Amman is also the largest city in Jordan.