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Jordan Information - Page 2
In ancient times Jordan formed part of the area known as the Fertile Crescent. The kingdoms of Ammon, Edom and Moab are mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Perhaps the most famous ancient city in Jordan is Petra, the capital city of the Nabatean Arabs. Petra was a meeting place for merchants' caravans travelling the trade routes to and from Europe, India and China.

In 331 BC Alexander the Great conquered the area. On Alexander's death in 323 BC the region came under the rule of Alexander's general, Ptolemy.

Later, the area became part of the Roman Empire, and then a region of the Byzantine Empire. During Roman rule four of Jordan's cities - Jeresh, Pella, Philadelphia (Amman) and Umm Qais - belonged to a commercial region known as the Decapolis which consisted of ten cities.

In the early seventh century the country came under the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate and then the succeeding Abbasid Caliphate.

The history of "Jordan" was the same as the surrounding regions: wars with the European Crusaders; attacks from Mongols; and eventually absorption into the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish conquest lasted from 1516 until the end of the First World War (1918).

In 1920 "Transjordan" became part of the British Mandate for Palestine, a League of Nations mandate administered by Britain. This administration lasted until 1946 when Jordan became a monarchy ruled by King Abdullah I. The British handed over Palestine to the United Nations in 1947.

1948 saw the foundation of the State of Israel. This was followed by war between the newly created state and its Arab neighbours. Thousands of Palestinian refugees fled to the West Bank and Jordan. In 1950 Jordan annexed the West Bank. During the Six-Day War (1967) Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel.

In 1994 the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan signed a formal peace treaty with the State of Israel.

Jordan has little farming land and only a small percentage of the working population is employed in agriculture. The largest percentage of the work force is employed in the service sector.

Agricultural products are cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, citrus fruits, apricots, melons, strawberries and figs. Sheep, goats and poultry are reared.

Important industries include phosphate mining, potash, cement, petroleum refining, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, light manufacturing and clothing.

The Jordanian tourist industry has much to offer: historic monuments, desert scenery and beach resorts. In the Dead Sea spa resorts hot springs are said to alleviate various health problems.

The global economic crisis in 2009 caused a slowdown in Jordan's Gross Domestic Product. Export-oriented sectors such as mining, manufacturing and the transport of re-exports suffered most. (2011)

Jordan's Madaba mosaics from Byzantine and Umayyad rule are the world's largest collection of mosaics. Examples of Islamic art and architecture can be seen in the desert castles built by the Umayyad Caliphs.

Traditional crafts include pottery, rugs, embroidery, gold and silver jewellery.

Popular sports in Jordan include football, volleyball and athletics. The Dead Sea Ultra Marathon is an annual event.

The Dead Sea, the lowest place on the surface of the earth, is famous for its high salt content that keeps swimmers afloat. Hot springs in its spa resorts are said to alleviate various health problems.

The Gulf of Aqaba is a well known resort for water sports such as water-skiing, wind surfing and diving. Its waters contain some of the world's best coral reefs.

Jordan is a Muslim country and Islamic holy days are observed (the Prophet's Birthday, Eid Al Fitr - the End of Ramadan and Eid Al Adha - Feast of the Sacrifice). Independence Day (25 May 1946) is commemorated.

News from Jordan is available in Newslink.

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