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Jordan

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Jordan is located in the Middle East, northwest of Saudi Arabia. Slightly smaller than the state of Indiana, Jordan has a population of 6.3 million.

Jordan is primarily desert plateau in the east and highlands in the west. The Great Rift Valley separates the east and west banks of the Jordan River. The country’s climate is mostly arid, with rainy seasons occurring in the west from November to April. Jordan possesses a handful of natural resources, including phosphate, potash, and shale oil. Only about 3 percent of the land is arable.

Ethnically, Jordan’s population is 98 percent Arab, 1 percent Circassian, and 1 percent Armenian. Most Jordanians are Sunni Muslims, while 6 percent of the population belongs to one Christian denomination or another, the majority being Greek Orthodox. There is also a small minority of Shia Muslims and other faiths. Jordan’s official language is Arabic although much of the middle and upper class can speak English as well.

The area known as Jordan today has a history extending back thousands of years. The area was under the control of numerous civilizations. The earliest include the Canaanites while the most recent include the Ottoman Turks. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Britain gained control of the area. In 1946 Jordan secured its independence. The country was the ruled by King Hussein from 1953 to 1999. Under King Hussein, Jordan became one of the West’s closest Arab allies. King Abdallah II assumed his father’s throne shortly after the longtime ruler’s death. Since then King Abdallah II has pursued socioeconomic reform, hoping to develop proper healthcare and housing for his country.

The nation of Jordan possesses its share of challenges. Poverty, which analysts say affects up to 30 percent of the population, has been a persistent problem. Corruption is widespread, and the country struggles with “brain drain,” the migration of its most talented and educated citizens to other nations. In addition, Jordan has struggled to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees streaming across the border.