Summary on Modern Day Jordan
Jordan is a small
country in size (approximately 90,000km2), yet mighty in its
Hashemite leadership, its history, and its relationship with other nations. It
is possible to say that Jordan, the country, is a museum, rich in ancient
history reaching back 1.5million years.
Jordan has a strategic position within the region. Historically, Jordan was the
center and a crossroads for caravans trading on the Silk Road and Incense Road.
In respect religion, Jordan contains religious and historical sites throughout
the country for the three major western religions.
Geographically, Jordan is bordered in the north by Syria, by Saudi Arabia and
the Red Sea at the south, Israel and West Bank border the west of Jordan, and
Iraq/Saudi Arabia the east. The lowest point in Jordan, and the entire world, is
the Dead Sea at 414m below sea level. The highest point in Jordan is Jabal Um
Al-Dami in Wadi Rum at 1854m above Sea level.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic and the official religion is Islam.
There is also a minority of Christians-- most of whom are Greek Orthodox. The
country is also ethnically diverse, with Circassians, Armenians, and Chechnians.
A small population of Druze lives in the far north.
The political system in Jordan
is a centralized state system, governed by a
parliamentary system and a constitutional hereditary monarchy.
Establishment of Modern Day Jordan
In the 16th century, Turkey captured the Arab world, placing it under Ottoman
rule until the beginning of the 20th century. The Arab Revolution was
begun by the Hashemites of al-Hijaz (Saudi Arabia), and with the help of the
British, they overthrew the Turks in 1916. This overthrow of the Turks was
not unique, as Western powers had already successfully taken over Northern
Africa from Ottoman rule during the 19th century. What was unique about
the experience in the Ottomans' overthrow in the Middle East was the British
assistance to the Arabs, but at the same time, their preparation to grant
Palestine to the Jewish nation.
During the days of the Arab Revolution, there was not the country of Jordan as
we know it today. From the Jordan River eastwards and three-quarters of
Jordan to the south was part of TransDamascus. Prince Abdullah came from
Saudi Arabia to Ma'an in 1920 to help the people of TransDamascus fight the
French colonizers. When the French got word of Abdallah's intentions, and
to avoid Abdallah's advance on Damascus, the French agreed with the British to
give Abdallah the land lying to the east of the Jordan River and call it
TransJordan. This handover occurred in 1921. In 1925, Prince
Abdallah agreed with his brother Ali, Prince of the Hijaz, to expand
TransJordan's southern borders to include Ma'an and the Gulf of Aqaba.
Prince Abdallah put the first constitution forth in 1928. Yet TransJordan
was not an independent country as it fell under the British Regency Council.
This relationship was economic, military and political in nature.
In 1946, TransJordan won its independence from the British. Prince
Abdallah then assumed the throne to become King Abdallah I, naming the country
the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. King Abdallah I did not remain king for
long, as he was killed inside Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, on July 20th, 1951.
According to the hereditary monarchy, his son, Talal assumed the throne in
September 1951. However, due to King Talal's "illness", he could
not continue in his role as king and he resigned in August of 1952. His
eldest son, Hussein, assumed the throne the same month, but due to his young age
(he was 17 years old at the time), a Regency Council was established until May
2, 1953 when Hussein officially assumed his responsibilities as king.
Hussein bin Talal
King Hussein was born in Amman on 14 November 1935. As child, he attended
private schools in Amman and went on to receive his advanced training from Sand
hurst Military College in England.
King Hussein was 17 years old when he assumed his role as the head of the
government. He ruled Jordan for 46 years, the longest single rule by an
individual in the 20th century. During these 46 years he succeeded in
developing the country to what it is today. He must be recognized for his
great accomplishments in creating the country's infrastructure of the country,
and by providing education and health to nearly all people. Despite years
of political problems within Jordan, he managed to surpass them and keep the
country a whole.
During the reign, King Hussein had to overcome many economic and political
problems associated with the influx of refugees coming to Jordan for the past 50
years. Whereas some political leaders may not have been able to meet this
challenge, King Hussein successfully led his country through these difficult
King Hussein not only struggled for peace within his own country, but also for
peace in the Middle East during his reign. In 1991, King Hussein played an
important role in convening the Madrid Peace Conference, allowing for
Palestinians to negotiate their future as part of the joint
Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. The 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and
Israel is another major step towards achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting
peace in the Middle East.
On the more personal side, King Hussein married four times during his lifetime.
His first wife was Dina bint Abdulhamid
or Princess Dina, an Egyptian. His
second wife was British, named Antoinette Gardner
Hussein's third wife, Alia Toukan or Queen Alia, a Palestinian, was killed in a
helicopter crash at the age of 28. Finally, King Hussein married his
fourth wife, Queen Noor
Lisa Halaby, to whom he remained married until his
King Hussein is survived by 12 children. He has five sons--Abdallah,
Hashim--and 7 daughters--Alia, Zein, Aisha, Haya, Iman,
Raiyah and Abeer
King Hussein was the eldest of four children. He had two brothers, Prince
Mohammad and Prince
El Hassan, and one sister, Princess
The life of King Hussein has been the subject of several books, two of which he
was author--Uneasy Lies the Head (1962) and My War with Israel (1969).
King Hussein died February 7, 1999 after a long struggle with lymphatic and
spinal cancer. He was 64 years old. Two weeks before his death King
Hussein left his crown to his eldest son, Abdallah.
King Abdallah II, born in January 1962, assumed the throne immediately after his
King Abdallah began his education at the Islamic Educational College in Amman.
He went on to receive his secondary education from St. Edmond's School
(England), Eaglebrook School (USA) and Deerfield Academy (USA). In 1980,
he entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where he received his
military education. Oxford was the next destination for King Abdallah
where he attended a Special Studies course in International Politics for one
year in 1984. After returning to Jordan to assume a position with the
Royal Jordanian Air Force, King Abdallah returned to the US where he attended
Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service as a Mid-Career Fellow.
Dedicated to serving in the military, King Abdallah reached the rank of Major
General in 1998; the year after he was appointed the Commander of the Special
Operations Command. This was his last position in the military before
assuming the throne.
In his new role as Jordan's monarch, King Abdallah has turned much of his
attention to solving Jordan's economic crisis. The King has also shown
special interest in bringing Jordan current with the latest internet technology.