In places, it’s like an open-air museum with ancient ruins and mythical cities dotting the horizon. There are natural phenomena and arresting vistas that make for a photographer’s dream. The lands are steeped in a history as old as the verses of the bible and have played an important part in the biggest religions in the world. Throw in delicious cuisine and welcoming locals, and you have a wonderful destination full of adventure and intrigue.
Let’s get started!
1. The official name of Jordan is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
2. Jordan emerged from the post-World War I division of the Middle East made by Britain and France. Known as Transjordan from 1922, it was formally recognized by the UN as an independent sovereign kingdom in 1946.
3. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, closely advised leaders of the Great Arab Revolt in Jordan during World War I. The revolt culminated in the surprise attack and defeat of the Turkish forces at the Battle of Aqaba, led from nearby Wadi Rum.
4. The population of Transjordan was largely made up of tribes that had taken part in the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. In modern Jordan, those original inhabitants, known as East Bank Jordanians, are outnumbered by the descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel and the West Bank.
5. Jordan has a long history of accepting refugees. Positioned in the midst of turmoil, it has accepted vast numbers of refugees from surrounding conflicts. Most notably, the country has an estimated two million Palestinians and 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country. In a nation of just 9.5 million people, this represents over a third of the population.
6. Jordan is home to the ancient city of Petra. Known as “The Rose City” it is famous for its unique architecture carved directly into the rock face. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
7. The final scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed at Petra.
8. Unlike the other Arab states in the Middle East, Jordan has no oil of its own.
9. The Palestinian territory of the West Bank was once part of Jordan. Following the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948-49, the country annexed the West Bank – but lost it to Israel in the 1967 war.
10. Alongside Egypt, Jordan is one of only two Arab nations to have made peace with Israel. In 1994, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, ending the 46-year official state of war.
11. Jordan is home to many biblical sites including, among others, the Jordan River where Jesus was babtised by John the Baptist, Mount Nebo where Moses died, as well as the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
12. The lowest point on Earth in terms of dry land is the shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan. It lies at 1,378ft (420m) beneath sea level.
13. The waters of the Dead Sea are extremely saline which keeps bathers buoyant. With 34.2% salinity it is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean.
14. One of the quaintest facts about Jordan is that it is considered polite to refuse the offer of a meal three times before finally accepting.
15. If it weren’t for the 26km (16mi) coastline along the Red Sea, Jordan would be landlocked.
16. The national flag of Jordan shows three equal horizontal bands of black (representing the Abbassid Caliphate), white (representing the Ummayyad Caliphate) and green (representing the Fatimid Caliphate), along with a red isosceles triangle on the hoist side, representing the Great Arab Revolt of 1916.
17. In the centre of the red triangle, there is a seven point white star, representing the seven Suras (verses) of the opening of the Qur’an.
18. The capital of Jordan, Amman, was once named Philadelphia. It was named after Ptolemy Philadelphus (283-246 BC) who rebuilt the city during his reign before Amman was taken by Herod around 30 BC and fell under the influence of Rome.