Israel and Its Neighbors: Jordan

Three Arab states surround Israel: Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Each country has its own unique physical and cultural geography.

The country of Jordan was created through the British Mandate after World War I, when Britain defeated the Turks in Palestine. The area east of the Jordan River became the modern country of Jordan in 1946. From 1953 to 1999, the country was ruled by a sensible leader, King Hussein, who was able to skillfully negotiate his way through a difficult relationship with Israel while keeping Jordan stable.

When Palestine was divided by the UN to create the State of Israel in 1948, Jordan took in more than a million Palestinian refugees from the West Bank and Israel. Refugees make up a large portion of the more than six million people who live in Jordan today, including a half million refugees from the US war in Iraq.

Jordan does not cover a large area. There are few natural resources such as oil and water, and the country often has to rely on international aid to support its economy. Inflation, poverty, and unemployment are basic issues.

The government of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. When King Hussein died in 1999, his son ‘Abdullah II took over. He implemented economic reforms to improve the long-term economic health of the country and to raise the standard of living. The king allowed municipal elections, with 20 percent of the positions reserved for women. Parliamentary elections are held by a democratic vote.

Jordan has a positive relationship with Europe and the United States. It also works with its Arab neighbors to obtain oil and to maintain a civil state of affairs. Jordan has its challenges, but it keeps a sense of stability and nationalism.

Source: Israel and Its Neighbors: Jordan

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