Jordan (Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan)
|Flag of Jordan|
Modern-day Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. In the third century BC, the Arab Nabataeans established their Kingdom with Petra as the capital. Later rulers of the Transjordan region include the Assyrian, Babylonian, Roman, Byzantine, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and the Ottoman empires. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Greater Syria region was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan gained independence and became officially known in Arabic as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The country captured the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became the second Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Jordan is a semi-arid country, covering an area of 89,342 km2, with a population of 10 million, making it the eleventh-most populous Arab country. The dominant majority, or around 95% of the country's population, is Sunni Muslim, with a mostly Arab Christian minority. Jordan has been mostly unscathed by the violence that swept the region following the Arab Spring in 2010. From as early as 1948, Jordan has accepted refugees from multiple neighbouring countries in conflict. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present in Jordan as of a 2015 census; with most Palestinian refugees holding Jordanian citizenship. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Christian Iraqis fleeing persecution by the Islamic State. While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.
The sovereign state is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country has a high Human Development Index, ranking 102nd, and is considered an upper middle income economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce. The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector. Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees, and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.
Jordan takes its name from the Jordan River, which forms much of the country's northwestern border. While several theories for the origin of the river's name have been proposed, it is most plausible that it derives from the Hebrew word Yarad (ירד), meaning "the descender", reflecting the river's declivity. Much of the area that makes up modern Jordan was historically called Transjordan, meaning "across the Jordan", used to denote the lands east of the river. The Hebrew Bible (the founding holy text of Judaism, also referred to by Christians as the Old Testament) refers to the area as עבר הירדן. Early Arab chronicles referred to the river as Al-Urdunn, corresponding to the Hebrew Yarden. Jund Al-Urdunn was a military district around the river in the early Islamic era. Later, during the Crusades in the beginning of the second millennium, a lordship was established in the area under the name of Oultrejordain.
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