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Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the River Jordan.  The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing control of the Dead Sea with the latter.  Jordan's only port is at its south-western tip, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.  Over half of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert.  However, the western part of Jordan is arable land and forests.  Jordan is part of the Fertile Crescent.

In biblical times, the country that is now Jordan contained the lands of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Bashan.  Together with other Middle Eastern territories, Jordan passed in turn to the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and, about 330 BC, the Seleucids.  Conflict between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies enabled the Arabic-speaking Nabataeans to create a kingdom in southeast Jordan.  In AD 106 it became part of the Roman province of Arabia and in 633-636 was conquered by the Arabs.  In the 16th century, Jordan submitted to ottoman Turkish rule and was administered from Damascus.

Taken from the Turks by the British in World War I, Transjordan was separated from the Palestine mandate in 1920, and in 1921, placed under the rule of Abdullah Hussein as the Hashemite Emirate.  It was recognized by the League of Nations as a state under the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922 known as "The Emirate of Transjordan."  In 1946, Jordan became in independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.  After capturing the West Bank area of Cisjordan during the 1948-49 war with Israel.  Abdullah I took the title of King of Jordan and Palestine, and he officially changed the country's name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in April 1949.

Jordan is classified by the World Bank as an "upper middle income country" even though its economy is among the smallest in the Middle East with insufficient supplies of water, oil and other natural resources.  Since assuming the throne in 1999, King Abdullah II has implemented significant economic reforms, which have spurred economic growth by attracting foreign investment and creating some jobs.  Jordan's economy is undergoing a major shift from an aid-dependent, rentier economy to one of the most robust, open and competitive economies in the region.  In recent years, there has been a shift to knowledge-intensive industries and a rapidly growing trade sector benefiting from regional instability.  The Jordanian market is considered the most developed Arab market outside the Gulf States.

Education, literacy rates and measures of social well-being are very high compared to other countries with similar incomes.  The proportion of skilled workers in Jordan is among the highest in the region.  Jordan's population growth rate is high but has declined in recent years.

Jordan is considered one of the Arab World's most cosmopolitan and westernized countries with its capital Amman becoming referred to as the "New Beirut."  Although many people from different regions of the world have come to settle in Jordan, they have long been assimilated in the society and added their richness to the society that subsequently developed.  However, the culture of Jordan, as in its spoken language, values, beliefs, and ethnicity is Arab as the Kingdom is in the heart of Southwest Asia.  Jordan has a very diverse cultural scene with different artists, religious sects and ethnic groups residing in the small country because of Jordan's reputation for stability and tolerance.

Jordan imports the overwhelming majority of its music, cinema and other forms of entertainment from other countries most specifically other Arab countries as well as by the West primarily the United States.  However, there has been a rise of home grown songs, music, art, movies and television.


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