Background

For most of its history since independence from British administration in 1946,Jordanwas ruled by King HUSSEIN (1953-99). A pragmatic ruler, he successfully navigated competing pressures from the major powers (US,USSR, andUK), various Arab states,Israel, and a large internal Palestinian population, despite several wars and coup attempts. In 1989 he reinstituted parliamentary elections and gradual political liberalization; in 1994 he signed a formal peace treaty with Israel.

 

King ABDALLAH II, the eldest son of King HUSSEIN, assumed the throne following his father's death in February 1999. Since then, he has consolidated his power and undertaken an aggressive economic reform program.

 

Jordan acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2000, and began to participate in the European Free Trade Association in 2001.

Social Conventions

Jordanians are proud of their Arab culture and hospitality here is a matter of great importance. Visitors are made to feel very welcomed and Jordanians are happy to act as hosts and guides, and are keen to inform tourists about their traditions and culture.

The majority of Jordanians are Muslims (more than 90% of the population). But Jordanian Christians are as vibrant minority active in all aspects of Jordanian Political and Social Life.

Islam inJordanis based on old tradition of harmony, openness and modernity following the example of the Royal Family. Jordanians are proud of their ethnic and religious diversity.

The month of Ramadan is a time when visitors should not eat, drink or smoke in public during the day

Handshaking is the customary form of greeting

Arabic coffee will normally be served continuously during social occasions, to signal that no more is wanted, slightly tilt the cup when handing it back, otherwise it will be refilled.

Geography

Location: Middle East, northwest of Saudi Arabia 

Terrain: Mostly desert plateau in the east, highland area in the west; Great Rift Valley separates East and West Banks of the Jordan River 

Elevation extremes: Lowest Point is the Dead Sea(420 Meters below sea level), while the Highest Point is Jabal Um Al-Dami (1854 Meters above sea level)

Climate

Mediterranean-Style Climate with four distinct seasons. Hot, semi-dry summers averaging 30°C and relatively cold winters averaging around 13 °C.

The western part of the country receives greater precipitation during the winter season from November to March.

People

Population:  6316000 (2009 Est.)

Population Growth Rate: 2.338% (2008 Est.)

Sex Ratio: 1.1 Male(s)/Female(s) (2008 Est.)

Age Structure:

-         0–14 years: 32.2% (Male 1,017,233/Female 976,284)

-         15–64 years: 62.4% (Male 2,110,293/Female 1,840,531)

-         65 years and over: 4.1% (Male 122,975/Female 131,361) (2008 Est.)

Ethnic Groups: 98% Arabs - 2% Circassians, Chechens, Armenians, Turkmans, and Gypsies

Religion: 92% Muslims - 6% Christians - 2% Others

Language: Arabic is the official language, while the English is widely understood among the educated and the upper and middle classes

Education

The literacy rate in Jordanis 93%. The education system has been significant in the shift, where it ranks number one in the Arab World and is one of the highest in the developing world. UNESCO ranked Jordan's education system 18th worldwide for providing gender equality in education.

Holidays

Friday & Saturday are the official weekly days of rest inJordan, though many Christian shopkeepers close on Sunday instead.

National Holidays are the celebrations of important events in the Jordanian or Arab history.

Religious Holidays are observed, however, Easter Holidays are only observed by Christian establishments.

Public Holidays

-         New Year's Day

-         Birth of the Prophet

-         Labor Day - 1st of May

-         Independence Day - 25th of May

-         Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) 

-         Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) 

-         Islamic New Year

-         Christmas Day – 25th of December

Food

There is a wide variety in the Jordanian style of cooking; as Jordan has many influences from Syria,Lebanon, and Palestine; to serve one of the world most sophisticated and elaborate cuisines.

 

The authentic Jordanian cuisine can range from Mezze "appetizers", grilling Kebabs, Zarb, to stuffed vegetables "grape leaves, eggplants, etc.", meat, and poultry. On top, the most distinctive Jordanian dish, "MANSAF" a Bedouin dish; often symbolizes an occasion; consists of Arabic rice, a rich broth made from dry sour milk "Jameed", and lamb meat.

In addition to a wide variety of international cuisine & restaurants.

Shopping

For shoppers, Jordan offers a whole range of bargains including Bedouin rugs and tapestries, brass and copper goods, ceramics and embroidery.
Among the most popular things to buy in Jordan are the decorated sand bottles, and the Arab "kefiyas", and the Dead Sea products.

Other good buys include gold, silver and amber jewelry, rugs, wooden boxes, furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl, olive wood items and copperware.

Electricity

220 Volt at 50 cycles.

An international adapter is required (English-pugs are commonly used)

Time

GMT + 3 hours / During Summer Time
GMT + 2 hours / During Winter Time

Currency

The local currency is the Jordanian Dinnar, divided into piasters or fils.

Bank cards (Visa, Master or American Express) are accepted in large hotels and some businesses

Cash withdrawals are available using your bank card in most banks located among Jordan

There are bank machines in most the cities in Jordan

Exchange Rate: JDS 1.00 = US$ 0.710

Health

No vaccinations are required

Avoid DRINKING tap water

Clothing

Women are expected to dress modestly, and beachwear must only be worn at the beach or poolside.

Avoid shorts and tank tops, particularly for women, at religious places & mosques.

During summer, a light knit is required for cool evenings, especially in Amman and the Desert.

Photography

It is polite to ask permission for photographing people and livestock; in some places photography is forbidden, such as Government Buildings and Military offices. Nevertheless, taking photos is allowed in all Archeological sites.