Jordan, officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is bordered by Israel to the East, Syria to the North, Iraq to the northeast and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. It shares the Dead Sea coastline with Israel, and the Gulf of Aqaba with Israel and Egypt. Among the many attractions in Jordan are a Roman amphitheater dating back to the second century A.D., the Triumphal Arch and Hippodrome of Jerash, and the majestic amphitheater of Petra.

Jordan has weather reflected by hot, dry summers and cold winters. The average temperature in Amman is 32 C (90 F), while temperatures in the Jordan Valley can exceed 49 C (120 F). Winters in Amman are cool, with temperatures averaging 12 C (54 F). Occasional snows blanket the desert, accompanied by freezing winds. The wettest months are January to March.

Arabic is Jordan's official language. Many people in the cities also speak English. German, French and Italian are also common. About 90 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim, with a minority of Christians and a small presence of Shiite, Druze and Bahai. Jordanians are typically welcoming and hospitable hosts. Social norms in large part conform to religious values.

Following 400 years of Turkish Ottoman rule (1517-1918) and 28 years under British mandate, Jordan gained full independence in 1946 with the conclusion of the Anglo-Transjordan Treaty.

From Queen Alia International Airport, taxis are readily available and modern buses link the airport with Amman city center every half hour. Car rental is also available. Shared taxis, called service taxis, operate nationwide and offer service between Amman and Damascus, Syria. Flights from Amman to the Red Sea resort town of Aqaba are offered by domestic air services.

Public phones and pay phones are somewhat scarce in many parts of Jordan, though they are not uncommon in Amman. Most hotel clerks and shopkeepers will make their phones available for local use for a small fee. International calls can be placed from phone centers or hotels. The Amman Central Post Office and most hotels offer fax service. GSM 900 cellular network coverage is good throughout the country. Internet cafes are also available in Amman and Aqaba.

By U.S. and western European standards, the cost of living in Jordan is favorable.

Violent crime is rare in Jordan, but petty crime such as pickpocketing is prevalent, especially in Amman's Hashemiyah Square and near the Roman Theatre. Since 60 percent of Jordan's population is Palestinian, be aware that anti-Western sentiment may flare due to ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Avoid the West Bank.



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