Historical and Geographical Jordan

History

Transjordan, the ancient name of the area including Jordan, was inhabited during the Paleolithic period around 90,000 BC. Nomadic tribes settled there in the Bronze Age. It was home to several ancient kingdoms like Edom, Moab, Ammon, Israel and Amalekites. It was part of the Akkadian Empire in 2335-2193 BC. During the 15th to 11th centuries BC it was part of Ancient Egypt, Hittite Empire, and the Middle Assyrian Empire. Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Achaemenid Empire and the Israelites had control over it from the 10th to 4th century BC. Ancient Persians, Macedonian Greeks and the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire had control over it till 168 BC.

The Nabatean Kingdom of Aramaic speaking people was established after 168 BC. They controlled the regional and international trade routes of the ancient world ruling over the present Jordan, southern part of Syria and the northern part of the Arabian Penninsula. The Arabic alphabet evolved out of their alphabet. Petra, the city hewn out of rock, was their capital. Greek and Roman influence was always evident in the Kingdom and Rome had it in its empire for some time. Muslim control was established in the 7th century AD. Mamluk Sultanate based at Cairo ruled Jordan from 13th century AD until Ottoman Empire captured it in the 16th century and ruled it till World War I.

British invaded the area at the time of the Great Arab Revolt in 1916 and it became an area under Occupied Enemy Territory Administration in 1917. With the British mandate of Transjordan in early 1920s, it became the Emirate of Transjordan under the Hashemite Emir. It was in 1922 that the Council of League of Nations officially recognized Jordan as ‘The Emirate of Transjordan’, consequent on the dividing of West Asia by Britain and France following the end of World War I. In 1946 Jordan became an independent sovereign state, officially known as ‘The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan’. On 1st December, 1948, Abdullah I took the title King of Jordan and Jordan was renamed ‘The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’ which continues as its official name to date.

Geography and Climate

Geographic coordinates of Jordan are 31"00 N and 36"00 E. The major portion of Jordan is a plateau lying between 700 and 1200 metres. Valleys and gorges divide this plateau into ridges. West of this plateau, land descends to the East Bank of the Jordan Rift Valley. Most of the East Bank is dry desert. The climate consists of a medium rainy season from November to April and very dry weather throughout the rest of the year. Places farther from the Mediterranean Sea have a climate that is more extreme and dry.

Tourist Attractions

Historical sites

Petra, the capital of the Nabateans in Wadi Musa, is a complete city which was carved into a rocky mountain. The entrance to this ancient city is through a 1.25 km siq (gorge) in the rock mountain. One of the "New Seven Wonders of the World", Petra attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. The Treasury, the Monastery, the Roman Theatre, the High Place of Sacrifice, the Royal Tombs, etc are the main attractions.

Umm Qais, a ruined Hellenistic-Roman city, Jerash, with plenty of Roman ruins, Shoubak and Ajloun with Crusader Castles, Al Karak with the caste of Salah al-Din, Umm el-Jimal, the Black Gem of the Desert with black basalt mansion ruins, Qasr Amra, anUmayyad Islamic monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Umm ar-Rasas, another UNESCO World Heritage Site of archeological importance are the other ancient sites of tourist interest.

Jordan River where Jesus was baptised, Madaba with the 6th century map of Jerusalem, Mount Nebo, where Moses got a view of the Promised Land, Muwakir, the hilltop stronghold of Herod the Great, where John the Baptist was beheaded, Mahis with many religious sites and Fuheis, with traditional 18th and 19th century churches are some of the religious places of interest to the foreign tourists.

Seaside sites

Aquaba, a town on the Gulf of Aqaba, with nearby ruins of the mediaeval town of Ayla and other Edomite ruins, is a popular seaside resort city famous for a vibrant nightlife with numerous raves and concerts. It has plenty of shopping centres and hotels and offers various water sports facilities and protected marine life and coral reefs.

The Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth, is home to several world-class resorts. It is 402 metres (1,319 ft) below sea level and goes one metre down each year. It is the depository of Holy River Jordan and salty and dense water does not allow anyone to sink in it. This water and the mud on its shores have curative powers, especially in the case of skin diseases. The O-Beach which is home to cabanas, bars, international restaurants, and a beach club attract thousands of tourists.

Sightseeing

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a cosmopolitan city famous for shopping centres, hotels and ancient Roman ruins, including an amphitheatre.

Irbid is Jordan's second largest city with museums and malls worth visiting. It is especially famous as home to several famous universities. Students from all over Jordan, the Middle East and other places flock to these Universities for higher education. The University Street of Irbid has the most internet cafes per mile in the world.

Wadi Rum is a desert with scenic mountains and hills spread all over it. Beside thousands of such sights, it is also popular for the practice of a variety of adventures and sports, the chief being rock-climbing.

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