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Jordan

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Middle East : Jordan
Flag
Image:jo-flag.png
Quick Facts
CapitalAmman
Governmentconstitutional monarchy
CurrencyJordanian dinar (JOD)
Areatotal: 92,300 sq km
water: 329 sq km
land: 91,971 sq km
Population5,307,470 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageArabic (official), English widely understood among upper and middle classes
ReligionSunni 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 Shi'a Muslim and Druze populations) (2001 est.)
Country calling code962
Internet TLD.jo
Time ZoneUTC +2
Map of JordanMap of Jordan
Map of Jordan

Jordan (??????? al-Urdunn) is a country in the Middle East. Almost completely land-locked (save for a small outlet on the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aqaba and a frontage on the Dead Sea), Jordan is bordered by Israel to the west, by Syria to the north, by Iraq to the east and by Saudi Arabia to the south.

jordan Travel Guide :

Jordan

Cities

  • Amman — capital of the kingdom
  • Irbid — largest city in the north of the kingdom
  • Aqaba - located on the Gulf of Aqaba / Eilat, with links to the Sinai and the Red Sea
Jordan

Other destinations

  • Jerash — one of the largest Roman ruins in the Middle East
  • Kerak — site of a once-mighty Crusader castle
  • Madaba — known for its mosaic map of Jerusalem
  • Petra — Jordan's top attraction, an ancient city carved out of sandstone
  • Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand
  • Dead Sea — The lowest point on earth and the most saline sea
Jordan

Understand

For most of its history since independence from British administration in 1946, Jordan was ruled by King Hussein (1953-99). A pragmatic ruler, he successfully navigated competing pressures from the major powers (US, USSR, and UK), various Arab states, Israel, and a large internal Palestinian population, through several wars and coup attempts. In 1989 he resumed parliamentary elections and gradually permitted political liberalization; in 1994 a formal peace treaty was signed with Israel. King Abdullah II - the eldest son of King Hussein and Princess Muna - assumed the throne following his father's death in February 1999. Since then, he has consolidated his power and established his domestic priorities, including an aggressive economic reform program. Jordan acceded to the World Trade Organization in January 2000, and signed free trade agreements with the United States in 2000, and with the European Free Trade Association in 2001.

Jordan

Get in

Most visitors to Jordan (except those from other Arab countries) will need a visa, but it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival at most border points. Previously notoriously complex (and expensive), visa prices have finally been standardized at JD 10 for single entry, JD 20 for multiple entry. Check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  (http://www.mfa.gov.jo/pages.php?menu_id=85) for the latest situation.

Jordan

By plane

Jordan has its own national carrier - Royal Jordanian Airlines (http://www.rja.com.jo). In addition, Jordan is served by a number of foreign carriers including British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa and Egyptair.

Queen Alia International Airport is the country's main airport. It is 35km south of Amman (on the main route to Aqaba). You should allow 45 minutes to reach the airport from the downtown Amman, approximately 30 minutes from West Amman.

In addition to Queen Alia, Jordan has two other international airports:

  • Marka International Airport in East Amman (serving routes to nearby Middle Eastern countries, as well as internal flights to Aqaba).
  • King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba.
Jordan

By train

There are trains twice a week from Damascus (Syria) to Amman. Trains arrive from Damascus at the Mahatta junction just northeast of the downtown area and quite close to Marka Airport. It is straightforward to get a taxi to the downtown area from here.

The trip takes a very leisurely 9 hours (considerably slower than driving), and there is both 1st and 2nd class carriages available.

Jordan

By car

Jordan

From Israel

You can cross into Jordan by car from Israel, but the border formalities are time-consuming and expensive as Jordanian insurance is required and you will even have to change your license plates. The main crossings are at King Hussein Bridge (if coming from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv) and Aqaba (if coming from Eilat). There is another crossing at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge for those coming from Northern Israel.

Jordan

From Syria

Long distance taxis operate the route from Damascus to Amman.

The drive between Amman and Syria is notoriously dangerous (particularly on the Syrian side of the border) and the standard of driving and vehicle maintenance in both countries is poor (but generally worse in Syria). Don't be afraid to ask your driver to slow down and take extra care when overtaking. It's worth hiring a taxi just for yourself or your party and paying a little extra money to ensure the driver isn't tempted to race the journey to make more money.

Never drive this route at night.

Jordan

From Iraq

It is theoretically possible to enter Jordan from Iraq depending on your nationality. However, given the ever present threat from insurgents and the ongoing military operations in Iraq it is currently suicidal to attempt this journey from Baghdad or anywhere else in the country. Do not be tempted no matter what your thirst for danger.

Jordan

From Saudi Arabia

No information at present. Please expand this section.

Jordan

By bus

Long distance services operate from a number of Middle Eastern destinations including Tel Aviv and Damascus.

Jordan

By boat

Jordan can be entered at the port of Aqaba via the Egyptian port of Newaiba. There are two services, ferry and speedboat. Expect to pay around $30 for the ferry or around $60 for the speedboat (both one way) if you are a non-Egyptian national (Egyptians are not required to pay the prices inflated by the authorities)

Jordan

Get around

Jordan

By plane

The only domestic air route is between Amman and Aqaba.

Jordan

By bus

The JETT bus company has services connecting Amman to Aqaba, the King Hussein Bridge (to cross into Israel), Petra and Hammamat Ma'inHammamat Ma'in. Private buses run from Amman to Irbid and Aqaba. Minibus services connect smaller towns on a much more irregular service basis - usually they leave once they're full.

Jordan

By service taxi

Service taxis (servees) cover much the same routes as buses. Service taxis are definitely more expensive than minibuses, but a lot faster and more convenient.

Jordan

By car

Jordan's highways are generally in very good shape, but the same cannot be said about its drivers or it vehicles. Many trucks and buses drive with worn or defective tyres and brakes and in the southern and more rural parts of the country there is the tendency for some people to drive at night without headlights (in the belief that they can see better and that this is therefore safer!). Avoid driving outside the capital, Amman, after dark.

The main route is the Desert Highway, which connects Aqaba, Ma'anMa'an, Amman and continues all the way to Damascus in neighboring Syria.

One particular stretch of this, where the road rapidly descends from the highlands of Amman to the valley that leads into Aqaba through a series of steep hairpin curves, is infamous for the number of badly maintained oil trucks that lose their brakes and careen off the road into the ravine, plowing through all in their path. This stretch of the road has been made into a dual carriageway and is now a little safer - however exercise caution on this stretch of the road.

The other route of interest to travellers is the King's Highway, a meandering track to the west of the Desert Highway that starts south of Amman and links Kerak, Madaba, Wadi MujibWadi Mujib and Petra before joining the Desert Highway south of Ma'anMa'an.

Jordan

Talk

The national language of Jordan is Arabic. Most people speak some English. French and German are the second and third most popular languages after English.

Jordan

Buy

The currency is the Jordanian dinar (JD), divided into 1000 fils. The currency rate is effectively fixed at 0.71 JD per dollar, an unnaturally high rate that makes Jordan poorer value than it would otherwise be.

Jordan

Costs

A subsistence budget would be around JD 10 per day, but this means you'll be eating falafel every day. JD 20 will allow slightly better accommodations, restaurant meals and even the occasional beer.

Jordan

Eat

Jordanian cuisine is quite similar to fare served elsewhere in the region. The daily staple being khobez, a large, flat bread sold in bakeries across the country for a few hundred fils. Delicious when freshly baked, it very quickly loses all flavor as it dries.

For breakfast, the average Jordanian usually eats Falafel and Homos. This is the most popular breakfast. Manousheh and pastries come in as the second most popular breakfast item. As of recently, more and more restaurant are starting to offer American style breakfast with omelettes and so on.

The national dish of Jordan is the mansaf. Prepared with jameed, a sun-dried yogurt. Grumpygourmet.com describes the mansaf as "an enormous platter layered with crêpe-like traditional "shraak" bread, mounds of glistening rice and chunks of lamb that have been cooked in a unique sauce made from reconstituted jameed and spices, sprinkled with golden pine nuts." In actuality more people use fried almonds instead of pine nuts because of the cheaper price tag. While mansaf is the national dish, most people in urban areas eat it on special occasions and not every day. Other popular dishes include Maklouba, stuffed vegetables, freekeh.

Levantie style mezza are served in "Lebanese style" restaurants around the country, and you can easily find international fast food chains including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King. In addition to chains well-known in Europe and North America, there are some local businesses such as:

  • Abu Jbarah: one of the famous falafel's restaurant in Jordan.
  • Al-Daya'a: A famous place to get shawerma sandwiches and dishes.

As for forgeign style restaurants, there is no shortage of them. The best ones are usually found in 5 star hotels, but the price tag is high. Italian restaurants and pizza places are somewhat abundant in Amman, Madaba, and Aquaba, but are very hard to find in other cities.

Jordan

Drink

While Jordan is a Muslim country, locally brewed Amstel beer is available at better restaurants throughout the country. Guinness and Heineken can also be found in most western style restaurants. Jordanian wine is also very high quality. It is not too hard to find liquor stores in the western parts of Amman and in the Christian areas. Some of these liquor stores have a rather large selection of hardcore drinks.

Jordan

Sleep

Jordan

Learn

Jordan

Work

Work opportunities for the casual foreign visitor are somewhat limited in Jordan. The majority of foreigners working in Jordan are on contract work with foreign multinationals and development organisations (Amman is the 'gateway to Iraq' and a key base for the continuing efforts to rebuild its neighbour).

There is the possibility of picking up casual English teaching work if you hunt around hard for opportunities.

Fluent Arabic speakers might have more success, though the process of obtaining a work permit is not particularly straightforward. Engage a knowledgeable local to assist you.

Jordan

Cope

Jordan

Embassies

  • Australian - 3 Youssef Abu Shahhout, Deir Ghbar, Amman (PO Box 35201, Amman 11180), tel (06) 580 7000, fax (06) 580 7001, 1 (http://www.jordan.embassy.gov.au/)
  • British - (PO Box 87), Abdoun, Amman 11118, tel (06) 592 3100, 2 (http://www.britain.org.jo)
  • American - 3 (http://www.usembassy-amman.org.jo/)
Jordan

Stay safe

jordan is generally safe but there is some risk of terrorism. avoid western hotels and go for a cheaper local run hotel.

Jordan

Stay healthy

The biggest risk to your health in Jordan is being involved in a road traffic accident. Exercise care, check the maintenance of your vehicle and avoid driving at night.

Other health risks:

  • Don't drink tap water or ice made from tap water (it is in most places except the high-end hotels)
  • Salads and Herbs - these are difficult to wash and can lead to instances of stomach upsets or worse, Amoebic Dysentery. Local dishes such as Tabbouleh (a rich parsley based salad) are tasty and nutritious but do eat at reputable places and ease yourself into any unfamiliar foods by testing a small amount rather than consuming large quantities at a single sitting.
Jordan

Respect

Standing in Lines : Jordanians have a notable issue with standing in line-ups for service. Often those near the rear of a line will try to sidle forwards and pass those in front of them. The line members being passed, rather than object to this tactic, will often instead start to employ this same trick themselves, on the line members in front of them. The end result is often a raucous crowd jostling for service at the kiosk in question.

No one, including the person manning the kiosk, is happy when this situation develops and often tensions in the jostling crowd seem high enough that violent disagreements feel moments away. However, this commentator never witnessed any violence and the sense was that Jordanians recognized common distinct limits as to what was reasonable in line jostling.

Nonetheless, due to this common Jordanian phenomenon, several strategies are suggested.

  1. Arrive early, allow for time, and be patient. Since a degenerate line-up is rarely an efficient line-up, allow in your travel plans for the fact that it will invariably take longer than expected to deal with any service booth arrangements, whether that means Customs, buying tickets, waiting to get on a bus, etc.
  2. Don't get upset about the line-up yourself, or get caught up in the emotions of the crowd. You will keep moving forward, even if a few people sneak in front of you. No one in the 'line crowd' is entirely unreasonable, and you won't keep getting pushed back indefinitely. Often, at most, you will end up being served at the kiosk 3 or 4 turns later than expected. Just try to relax and take it in stride.
  3. Avoid the line-up entirely when possible. Often kiosks handle groups in bursts, such as a Customs kiosk that deals with a bus load of people at a time. In these cases, if you don't start already at the front of the line, find a comfortable spot away from the crowd and just wait for the rest of the group to make their fractious way through before you. Then make your way up to the kiosk once it's clear. The advantage of being last is that often the kiosk attendant will appreciate your patience and be happy to deal with you, now that they don't have a clamoring crowd jostling for their attention.
Jordan

Contact

Jordan

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