Country Brief: Jordan
January 11, 2007
Shama K. Patari
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an Arab country strategically located in the Middle East at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba
It borders Iraq
, Saudi Arabia
and the West Bank
is a constitutional hereditary monarchy
that achieved its independence from Great Britain
The first Jordanian king, King Hussein, balanced pressures from both the major powers and the Arab world
and signed a peace treaty with Israel
’s desire to remain at peace with both Israel
and the Palestinian refugees, it continues to be attacked by terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda.
Jordan’s total population consists of 5,906,760 people inhabiting an area roughly the size of Indiana. Jordan’s official language is Arabic, but English is widely understood. About 91% of Jordan’s total population are literate; and 70% of the population is urban while less than 6% are considered nomadic.
Jordan is classified by the World Bank as a “lower middle income country.” It is a small country that has been plagued with limited arable land thus hampering agriculture, a long standing drought that has resulted in an inadequate supply of water, and a very small amount of oil reserves. Debt, poverty and unemployment are fundamental problems, but since assuming the throne in 1999, King Abdullah II has undertaken broad economic reforms in an effort to improve living standards. Amman, the capital of Jordan, has worked closely with the IMF, practiced careful monetary policy, and made substantial headway with privatization. Furthermore, Jordan has liberalized its trade regime to secure membership to the WTO. It has established a free trade accord with the US and has an association agreement with the EU. These measures have helped improve productivity and have resulted in macroeconomic stability, relatively low inflation and an increase in foreign investments.
Jordan spends approximately $8.681 billion on importing commodities from Saudi Arabia, China, Germany and the U.S. Imports include crude oil, textile fabrics, machinery, transport equipment and manufactured goods. To sustain energy needs, Jordan has developed a natural gas pipeline that extends from Egypt through the southern port of Al 'Aqabah and into Amman. Jordan exports $4.226 billion in commodities to the U.S., Iraq, India and Saudi Arabia. Export commodities include textiles and clothing, phosphates, fertilizers, potash, vegetables and pharmaceuticals.
In December 2001, a free trade agreement (FTA) between Jordan and the U.S. took effect. The FTA will phase out duties on nearly all goods and services by the year 2010. Additionally, it provides for more open markets in communications, construction, finance, health, transportation, and services, as well as strict application of international standards for the protection of intellectual property. In 1996, Jordan and the United States signed a civil aviation agreement that provides for "open skies" between the two countries. By 2003, the U.S.-Jordan treaty for the protection and encouragement of bilateral investment entered into force.
Jordan’s communications and transportation systems have experienced some improvement in the last few years. Most Jordanians have started using mobile phones as a major part of their communications; however, landlines are still utilized. Jordan has increased the use of digital switching equipment, but better access to the telephone system is needed in some rural areas and easier access to pay phones is necessary. All roads in Jordan have been paved since 2005. The country has two railway systems, 20 airports, and a port.
The main economic challenges facing Jordan are reducing dependence on foreign grants, reducing the budget deficit, and creating investment incentives to promote job creation. The main foreign political problems include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jordan’s strive to maintain peace among its Arab neighbors and Israel.
 It is an Arab country that shares the longest border with Israel and the occupied West Bank.
 A form of government in which a king or queen is guided by a constitution from which his or her rights, duties and responsibilities are found in written law or by custom.
 The U.S., USSR, UK, several Arab States, Israel and over 1 million Palestinian refugees exerted pressure on Jordan and staged several coups in the 1980s, but the King prevailed and established parliamentarian elections in 1989.
 “Jordan,” Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan. In 2005, Al-Qaeda claimed that it was behind the bombings of three hotels in Amman, Jordan’s capital, claiming the lives of 57 people and wounding 115.
 World Fact Book. Established as of July, 2006. Approximately 1.7 million people are considered internally displaced or Palestinian refugees, but are still considered Jordanian citizens.
 English is mostly understood among upper and middle classes.
 Literacy rates only include those people that are over the age of 15.
 “About Jordan,” The Jordan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, http://www.jordanusfta.com/economy_jordan_en.asp. Jordan only has 4% of arable land to grow agricultural products such as fruit, vegetables, wheat and olive oil. To deal with the limited supplies of water, Jordan has established a water protocol with Israel and is pursuing other means of replenishing its water supply.
 World Fact Book. The public debt was 79.1% of its GDP, 30% of the population was below poverty level, and the official unemployment rate was 12.5% and the unofficial rate approximately 30% all established in 2005.
 King Abdullah has allowed for the privatization of some state-run enterprises.
 World Fact Book. Jordan is currently involved in: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OIC, ONUB, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO and WMO.
 GDP in 2001 was estimated at $7.5 billion, but increased to $26.8 billion; the annual growth rate in 2001 was 4.1%, but increased to 6.1% within three years; finally the GDP per capita increased from $1,500.00 to $4,700.00 by 2005.
 Jordan used to import oil from Iraq, but the US-led war in Iraq in 2003 made Jordan more dependent on oil from other Gulf nations, forcing the Jordanian Government to raise retail petroleum product prices and the sales tax base.
 Exports of textiles and garments to the U.S. have been driving economic growth, but have unfortunately increased sweatshop type conditions in Jordan.
 Four out of the 20 airports are paved. The port is called Al 'Aqabah