HOME I. Introduction

Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of (Arabic Al Mamlakah al Urdunniyah al Hashimiyah), kingdom in southwestern Asia, bounded on the north by Syria, on the east by Iraq and Saudi Arabia, on the south by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aqaba, and on the west by Israel and the West Bank, an area previously held by Jordan that has been occupied by Israel since 1967. The area of Jordan is 89,556 sq km (34,578 sq mi). Amman is the capital and largest city of Jordan.

II. Land and Resources

The principal geographical feature of Jordan is an arid plateau that thrusts abruptly upward on the eastern shores of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, reaching a height of about 610 to 915 m (about 2,000 to 3,000 ft), then sloping gently downward toward the Syrian Desert in the extreme east of the country. The Jordan Valley is in the deep depression of the Great Rift Valley, which is 209 m (686 ft) below sea level in the area of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and 408 m (1,340 ft) below sea level at the Dead Sea, the world's lowest point. Deep canyons and mountainous outcroppings with elevations of approximately 1,500 m (approximately 4,900 ft) and more characterize the Arabian Plateau in the southern portion of the country. The Jordan River, forming the country's border with Israel and the West Bank, is the heart of the country's drainage system.

A. Climate

The climate of Jordan is marked by sharp seasonal variations in both temperature and precipitation. Temperatures below freezing are not unknown in January, the coldest month, but the average winter temperature is above 7° C (45° F). In the Jordan Valley summer temperatures may reach 49° C (120° F) in August, the hottest month, but the average summer temperature in Amman is 26° C (78° F). Precipitation is confined largely to the winter season and ranges from about 660 mm (about 26 in) in the northwestern corner to less than 127 mm (less than 5 in) in the extreme east.

B. Vegetation and Animal Life

Because much of Jordan consists of desert and steppe, plant life is not abundant. Grassland and wooded areas are found in the Jabal Ajlun district between Amman and the Syrian border. In these regions the trees include willow, oleander and tamarisk along the lower Jordan River valley and also ilex, olive, Aleppo pine, and palm. Wildlife includes the hyena, hyrax, gazelle, ibex, fox, partridge, mongoose, and mole rat; birds are also well-represented.

C. Mineral Resources

Except for potash and phosphate deposits, Jordan has few known mineral resources that are large enough for commercial exploitation.