Following World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the UK received a mandate to govern much of the Middle East. Britain separated out a semi-autonomous region of Transjordan from Palestine in the early 1920s, and the area gained its independence in 1946; it adopted the name of Jordan in 1950. The country's long-time ruler was King HUSSEIN (1953-99). A pragmatic leader, he successfully navigated competing pressures from the major powers (US, USSR, and UK), various Arab states, Israel, and a large internal Palestinian population. Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 war and barely managed to defeat Palestinian rebels who threatened to overthrow the monarchy in 1970. King HUSSEIN in 1988 permanently relinquished Jordanian claims to the West Bank. In 1989, he reinstituted parliamentary elections and initiated a gradual political liberalization; political parties were legalized in 1992. In 1994, he signed a peace treaty with Israel. King ABDALLAH II, the son of King HUSSEIN, assumed the throne following his father's death in February 1999. Since then, he has consolidated his power and undertaken an aggressive economic reform program. Jordan acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2000, and began to participate in the European Free Trade Association in 2001. In 2003, Jordan staunchly supported the Coalition ouster of Saddam in Iraq and following the outbreak of insurgent violence in Iraq, absorbed thousands of displaced Iraqis. Municipal elections were held in July 2007 under a system in which 20% of seats in all municipal councils were reserved by quota for women. Parliamentary elections were held in November 2007 and saw independent pro-government candidates win the vast majority of seats. In November 2009, King ABDALLAH exercised his constitutional authority to dissolve parliament and called for new elections. Separately, he dismissed the government and appointed a new prime minister and cabinet in December 2009. The King charged the new government with conducting elections before the end of 2010 as well as instituting economic and political reforms.
Sunni Muslim 92%, Christian 6% (majority Greek Orthodox, but some Greek and Roman Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Protestant denominations), other 2% (several small Shia Muslim and Druze populations) (2001 est.)
bicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-'Umma consists of the Senate, also called the House of Notables or Majlis al-Ayan (55 seats; members appointed by the monarch to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies, also called the House of Representatives or Majlis al-Nuwaab (110 seats; members elected using a single, non-transferable vote system in multi-member districts to serve four-year terms); note - 6 seats are reserved for women, 9 seats are reserved for Christian candidates, 9 seats are reserved for Bedouin candidates, and 3 seats are reserved for Jordanians of Chechen or Circassian descent
Chamber of Deputies - last held on 20 November 2007 (next scheduled to be held in 2011); note - a royal decree was issued to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, effective 24 November 2009; no date announced for early elections
Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - IAF 6, independents and other 104; note - seven women serve in the Assembly, six of whom filled women's quota seats and one was directly elected
Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party [Fuad DABBOUR]; Ba'ath Arab Progressive Party [Tayseer al-HAMSI]; Call Party [Mohammed Abu BAKR]; Democratic People's Party [Ahmad Yusuf 'ALIYA]; Democratic Popular Unity Party [Sa'ed DIAB]; Islamic Action Front or IAF [Ishaq al-FARHAN]; Islamic Center Party [Marwan al-FA'OURI; Jordanian Communist Party [Munir HAMARNEH]; Jordanian National Party [Mona Abu BAKR]; Jordanian United Front [Amjad al-MAJALI]; Life Party [Thaher 'AMROU]; Message Party [Hazem QASHOU]; National Constitution Party [Ahmed al-SHUNAQ]; National Movement for Direct Democracy [Mohammed al-QAQ]
Anti-Normalization Committee [Ali Abu SUKKAR, president vice chairman]; Jordan Bar Association [Saleh al-ARMUTI, chairman]; Jordanian Press Association [Sayf al-SHARIF, president]; Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood [Dr. Hamam SAID, controller general]
three equal horizontal bands of black (top), representing the Abbassid Caliphate, white, representing the Ummayyad Caliphate, and green, representing the Fatimid Caliphate; a red isosceles triangle on the hoist side, representing the Great Arab Revolt of 1916, and bearing a small white seven-pointed star symbolizing the seven verses of the opening Sura (Al-Fatiha) of the Holy Koran; the seven points on the star represent faith in One God, humanity, national spirit, humility, social justice, virtue, and aspirations; design is based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I
Jordan's economy is among the smallest in the Middle East, with insufficient supplies of water, oil, and other natural resources, underlying the government's heavy reliance on foreign assistance. Other economic challenges for the government include chronic high rates of poverty, unemployment, inflation, and a large budget deficit. Since assuming the throne in 1999, King Abdullah has implemented significant economic reforms, such as opening the trade regime, privatizing state-owned companies, and eliminating most fuel subsidies, which in the past few years have spurred economic growth by attracting foreign investment and creating some jobs. The global economic slowdown, however, has depressed Jordan's GDP growth while foreign assistance to the government in 2009 plummeted, hampering the government's efforts to reign in the large budget deficit. Export-oriented sectors such as manufacturing, mining, and the transport of re-exports have been hit the hardest. Amman is considering sweeping tax cuts to attract foreign investment and stimulate domestic growth, and the government has guaranteed bank deposits through 2010. Jordan's financial sector has been relatively isolated from the international financial crisis because of its limited exposure to overseas capital markets. Jordan is currently exploring nuclear power generation to forestall energy shortfalls.
general assessment: service has improved recently with increased use of digital switching equipment; microwave radio relay transmission and coaxial and fiber-optic cable are employed on trunk lines; growing mobile-cellular usage in both urban and rural areas is reducing use of fixed-line services; Internet penetration remains modest and slow-growing
1995 telecommunications law opened all non-fixed-line services to private competition; in 2005, monopoly over fixed-line services terminated and the entire telecommunications sector was opened to competition; currently multiple mobile-cellular providers with subscribership rapidly approaching 100 per 100 persons
country code - 962; landing point for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) FEA and FLAG Falcon submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 33 (3 Intelsat, 1 Arabsat, and 29 land and maritime Inmarsat terminals); fiber-optic cable to Saudi Arabia and microwave radio relay link with Egypt and Syria; participant in Medarabtel (2010)
radio and TV dominated by the government-owned Jordan Radio and Television Corporation (JRTV) that operates a main network, a sports network, a film network, and a satellite channel; first independent TV broadcaster aired in 2007; international satellite TV and Israeli and Syrian TV broadcasts are available; roughly 30 radio stations operational with JRTV operating the main government-owned station; transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are available (2007)
Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF): Royal Jordanian Land Force (RJLF), Royal Jordanian Navy, Royal Jordanian Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Malakiya al-Urduniya, RJAF), Special Operations Command (Socom); Public Security Directorate (normally falls under Ministry of Interior, but comes under JAF in wartime or crisis) (2008)
17 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription at age 18 was suspended in 1999, although all males under age 37 are required to register; women not subject to conscription, but can volunteer to serve in non-combat military positions in the Royal Jordanian Arab Army Women's Corps; conscription for males only resurrected in July 2007 in order to provide youth training necessary for job market needs (2010)