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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Full country name: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Area: 89,213 sq. km (34,445 sq. miles)
Population: 6.5 million
Capital City: Amman (population: 2,027,000)
People: Arab (98%), Circassian (1%), Armenian (1%). The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) report that 1,900,000 Palestinian refugees and displaced persons reside in Jordan; of whom 337,571 live in the 10 official UNRWA refugee camps. Estimates indicate that there are up to 500,000 Iraqis residing in Jordan.
Languages: Arabic (official), English
Religions: Sunni Muslim 92%, Christian 6%, Other (2%)
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JD)
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Head of State: His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin al-Hussein
Prime Minister: Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (since Oct 24 2011)
Foreign Minister: Nasser Judeh

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ECONOMY

Overview

Jordan is one of the smallest economies in the Middle East. The country has very limited natural resources and the government is heavily reliant on foreign assistance.The Jordanian economy is dominated by the services sector. Industries such as pharmaceuticals are proving to be profitable and revenues from tourism are growing. Economic growth averaged 2.5% in 2011, hampered by domestic and regional instability. Growth is expected to increase in 2012 but the economy remains at risk from further regional instability, reliance on external sources for energy and scarce water supplies.

There have been regular protests against rising unemployment, poverty and corruption. Jordan’s banks are well capitalised and are expected to withstand any further fluctuations in international markets resulting from the euro zone crisis. However, as a net energy importer Jordan is susceptible to swings in oil prices.

The authorities are looking at strengthening the private sector as a key source of future economic growth. Health, pharmaceuticals, food industries and education have been identified as sectors which present opportunities for the economy.

Basic economic facts

Sources: IMF, EIU Annual Growth (real GDP 2011): 2.6%
Consumer Price Inflation (2011): 4.4%
GDP Composition by Sector: Services 65.3%, Industry 30.3%, Agriculture 4.4%
Inflation (consumer price index, 2010): 5.0%
Major industries: Industry 11.4%, commerce/hotels/restaurants 10.5%, construction 10%, transport and communications 8.7%, agriculture 7.4%, other services 52%
Top Exports (2010): clothing, potash, fertilizers, phosphates, pharmaceuticals and vegetables.
Major trading partners: Exports – USA, Iraq, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Syria. Imports – Saudi Arabia, China, Germany, USA, Egypt, South Korea.
Aid & development: The UK is a major contributor to assistance from the EU, UNRWA, World Bank and IMF

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HISTORY

Transjordan was traditionally a sparsely populated, largely Bedouin country. It was ruled from its creation in 1921 by Amir Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, (all members of the Hashemite family are entitled to style themselves ‘Sharif' as descendants of Hussein, son of the Fourth Caliph, Ali, and Ali's wife Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed). In 1946, the British Mandate over the Amirate of Transjordan ended, Jordan became independent and the Amir became King.

At the end of the British Mandate in Palestine in 1948, the army of Transjordan (the Arab Legion) entered Palestine with other Arab forces. The war ended with the fertile coastal plain in Israeli hands and much of Eastern Palestine (the West Bank) held by the Arabs. The city of Jerusalem was divided; the Old City, containing almost all the holy places, was left in Jordanian hands. Jordan formally claimed the West Bank in 1950. Only Britain and Pakistan supported the claim and formally recognised Jordanian sovereignty over the area. King Abdullah united the West Bank and Transjordan, giving the areas equal representation in the Jordanian Parliament, to create the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Following the assassination of Abdullah , in 1951, his eldest son Talal ruled for less than a year before he was deposed (owing to illness) in favour of his eldest son, King Hussein, who succeeded to the throne in 1952.

During the war of June 1967 Israel occupied the whole West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israeli law was extended to cover East Jerusalem in the same year and the whole city was proclaimed the capital of Israel by a 'Basic Law' in 1980. The West Bank and Gaza were not annexed, but administered by a military government. In 1988 Jordan announced its 'disengagement' from the Occupied Territories, handing over responsibility for the areas, and for speaking on behalf of the Arab inhabitants, to the PLO. But Jordan did not formally renounce sovereignty over the West Bank and East Jerusalem until shortly before King Hussein’s death in 1999. Hussein was succeeded by his eldest son, King Abdullah II.

BBC News Country Timeline: Jordan (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_828000/828993.stm)

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Jordan's relations with the UK

Britain has, and is committed to maintaining a long-standing and close relationship with Jordan. Defence relations are an important part of this. Since 1993, joint military exercises have taken place and Royal Navy ships pay regular visits to Aqaba.

In July 2002, the UK helped to support a debt rescheduling agreement as a result of the Paris Club discussions. This agreement enables Jordan to reschedule debts to lender states. In January 2008 the UK and other Paris Club members agreed a $2 billion debt settlement with Jordan. Jordan and the UK are also close partners in the fight against international terrorism. Like the UK, Jordan has seen first-hand the effects of terrorist acts, the most severe being the 2005 Amman bombings where a series of coordinated bomb attacks targeted three hotels, killing 60 people and injuring 115 others.

Diplomatic Representation

We have full diplomatic relations with Jordan. Jordan is represented in London by His Excellency Mr Mazen Kemal Homoud. Our Ambassador to Amman is His Excellency Peter Millett.

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GEOGRAPHY

Land use: Permanent Pastures 9%, Arable Land 4%, Permanent Crops 1%, Forests and Woodland 1%, Other 85%
Natural resources: Phosphates, Potash, Shale Oil
Coastline: 26km
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dead Sea –408m, highest point: Jabal Um Adaami 1,830m
Environment Issues: deforestation, overgrazing, limited natural freshwater resources, soil erosion.

The greater part of Jordan consists of a plateau some 700-1,000 metres above sea level. There are no natural topographical frontiers between Jordan and its neighbours Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and the plateau continues unbroken into three countries. The River Jordan rises just inside Syria and flows through Israel and Jordan until entering the Dead Sea 251km from its source. It is a trickle of a river, especially in summer and, though a de facto frontier, is not a great natural obstacle.

Summers are hot, especially on the plateau and in the Jordan valley, where temperatures over 49ºc have been recorded. Winters are fairly cold, and on the plateau frost and some snow are usual. The key element is rainfall. Only about 25% of the total area of Jordan is suitable for cultivation. Jordan is therefore far from self-sufficient in foodstuffs, notably wheat. Some winter crops (grains) are grown in highland areas. High value vegetable and fruit crops are grown under irrigation in the Jordan Valley region, partly for export to neighbouring Arab countries. Jordan's plans for agricultural development entail increased irrigation, which depends on the availability of water, a scarce commodity in the region and therefore a potential bone of contention between Jordan and its neighbours. Various projects to improve the availability of water are being considered.

Trade and Investment with the UK

UK trade with Jordan is heavily in the UK's favour with £223m exported to Jordan in 2010 and £65m imported from Jordan.

The UK's principal exports to Jordan are telecommunication equipment; medicinal and pharmaceutical products; general and specialised industrial & electrical machinery; transport equipment; textiles and yarn; scientific instruments & office machines; power generating machinery and equipment. Exports include a substantial amount from invisible earnings, particularly in the consultancy services field. Over 30 British consultants are working in Jordan on a number of important projects in privatisation, energy, water, minerals, hotels, hospitals, transportation, telecommunication and management consultancy sectors. Jordanian imports to the UK mainly comprise fruit and vegetables, mineral water, sanitary paper, tanned leather and re-exports of spare parts, machinery, electrical appliances, and miscellaneous manufactured articles.

The UK Government's trade development branch, UK Trade & Investment (a joint FCO and DTI organisation), organises and supports an active programme of inward and outward trade missions in key sectors, as well as occasional awareness seminars held in the UK.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Jordan (http://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/jordan)

British Council

The British Council is the United Kingdom's principal agency for cultural relations abroad and is recognised as an integral and essential part of the UK's overall diplomatic and aid effort. The British Council is committed to winning international respect and long-term friends for Britain through educational, technical, scientific and cultural co-operation. The Council operates through a global network of offices in some 109 countries, and was established in Jordan in 1948.

In Jordan, the British Council:

promotes the use of English;

-- promotes British education and training goods and services;

-- promotes all aspects of the innovative, creative and hi-tech nature of contemporary British society;

administers and promotes British examinations;

-- promotes British literature and publishing;

-- designs and manages projects and programmes in key development sectors of governance and human rights;

-- supports the development of partnerships in science, technology and medicine;

-- presents the vitality and excellence of Britain's arts, and the diversity of British culture.

administers the Chevening Scholarship programme

More about the Chevening Scholarships in Jordan (http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1064571050224) British Council Jordan (http://www.britishcouncil.org/Jordan)

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POLITICS

Some weeks before his death King Hussein made his eldest son, Abdullah, Crown Prince. He ascended the throne on King Hussein's death on 7 February 1999. King Abdullah II is the head of a constitutional monarchy and retains substantial powers.

Elections

Jordan’s parliament which was established in 1989, after elections under universal suffrage, amends and approves legislation initiated by the King and his government..

On November 9 2010 the country held its sixth round of national parliamentary elections. The new electoral law included very few changes and led to the election being boycotted by Jordan’s largest political party, the Islamic Action Front. Pro-government loyalists captured a majority of the 120 seats, with 78 of them being newcomers and 13 of all the deputies being women. New parliamentary elections are planned for the end of 2012.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

The U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch prepare country specific reports. Those related to Jordan could be found at:

US Department of State (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100598.htm)

Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/jordan/report-2008)

Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=mideast&c=jordan)

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Last Updated: February 2012

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