Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a country in Southwest Asia spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the Gulf of Aqaba. It shares borders with Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, Israel and the disputed Palestinian territories to the west, and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. It shares control of the Dead Sea with Israel, and the coastline of the Gulf of Aqaba with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Much of Jordan is covered by desert land, particularly the Arabian Desert, however the north-western area, with the sacred Jordan River is regarded as part of the Fertile Crescent.

The capital city, Amman, is in the north-west. Jordan has a rich history, its location in the central Middle East has long made it a prized possession. During its long history, Jordan has seen numerous civilisations, including such ancient eastern civilisations as the Sumerian, Akkadian, Israelite, Babylonian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian and Persian empires. Jordan was for a time part of Pharaonic Egypt and spawned the native Nabatean civilisation who left rich archaeological remains at Petra. Cultures from the west also left their mark such as the Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine empires. Since the seventh century the area has been under Muslim and Arab cultures, with the exception of a brief period under British rule.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with representative government. The reigning monarch is the head of state, the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The king exercises his executive authority through the prime ministers and the Council of Ministers, or cabinet. The cabinet, meanwhile, is responsible before the elected House of Deputies which, along with the House of Notables (Senate), constitutes the legislative branch of the government. The judicial branch is an independent branch of the government.

I will admit that I was a little nervous about going to Jordan.  It borders Syria and Iraq, not exactly countries hospitable to the average American.  In addition, approximately half of the population are descendents of Palestinian refugees from Israel – another constituency that harbors a lot of love for Americans.  Event the hotel where we stayed in Amman (the Grand Hyatt) was the site of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack in 2005 so I was understandable nervous.  However, in hindsight I’m glad we went.  Jordan is an amazing country that has created a society that somehow balances Christian and Muslim Arabs and lives a tenuous existence between Israel and Iraq without any major natural resources (e.g., oil).  The people are friendly and the countryh has an abundance of artifacts and amazing sights.  Check the political condition before you go but if you can make it, I recommend it!  The easiest way to enter Jordan is to crossover from Israel across the Allenby Bridge:


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