The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as it is known today, was founded in 1946, when it joined the United Nations as an independent country. Prior to that, it was under British rule as the Emirate of Transjordan, as decided by the League of Nations following World War I. Jordan has a history of losing and regaining land, as a result of a number of wars it has engaged in during the 20thcentury. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it seized Cisjordan, or the modern day West Bank of Palestine, only to lose it during the 1967 Six Day War against Israel.
The country is part of the Levant, or the Fertile Crescent, and the site of early civilizations, such as the Babylonians and Canaanites. It takes its name from the River Jordan to the West, a significant landmark in the Bible. The capital city is Amman and the official language is Arabic.
The government is a constitutional monarchy, with King Abdullah II as the current king. Although the parliament is elected by popular vote, the King retains power to choose a Prime Minister and veto any decisions made by parliament, as well as command the army. Following the “Arab Spring”, a wave of protests called for political reforms including a more representative parliament and a constitutional monarchy. In this the powers of the King would be limited and the Prime Minister would be elected as the leader of the largest parliamentary bloc rather than appointed by the monarch.
2012 was a turbulent year in which rising gas prices also provoked angry protests and led to the dissolution of parliament and the appointment of the fourth Prime Minister in a year.
Jordan is considered to have a pro-Western regime, acting as a non-NATO ally in the region. It is also one of the only three Arab countries to recognise the State of Israel. It has taken an active role as mediator in numerous Middle Eastern disputes, particularly in those of Israel, Palestine and Egypt. The 1994 peace treaty with Israel is unpopular in the country, however, and might be revoked under a system that gave more equal electoral representation to densely populated areas with high numbers of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and of Jordanians of Palestinian origin.
The government’s legal system is based on French law, although Sharia law is applied for Muslims in family court.
The 2010 Human Development Report classifies Jordan as a country of “high human development,” owing to the modernized industry and commerce sectors, as well as stable political situation. Jordan has the most free-trade agreements of all countries in the Middle East, and has been receiving both large scale investment and aid from the USA following their signing of a peace agreement with Israel in 1994.
Jordan is ranked as the 9th most globalised country in the world by the UN. The country has few natural resources, such as water, which prevents it from developing uranium and oil shale in the south. It relies instead on phosphate mining, the production of textiles and pharmaceuticals, as well as tourism. There is a rising unemployment rate of 13% currently, with 14% of the population living below the poverty line.
Jordan has a population of 6.5 million, as well as an average of 1 million Palestinian refugees and 500,000 Iraqi refugees. Most recently, the outbreak of civil war in Syria has brought over 500,000 Syrian refugees to Jordanian soil. The large number of displaced people, as well as their political backgrounds has resulted in many problems for both the Jordanian immigrations office and foreign office. Jordan recently began revoking the citizenships of hundreds of Palestinian refugees for fear of Israel using this as a basis to relocate all Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank to Jordan.
Jordan has an 89.9% average literacy rate.
Jordan ranks 140th in the world for freedom of the press. Although freedom of expression is granted by the 1952 constitution, self-censorship is imposed. It is prohibited to publish anything criticising the Royal Family, as well as advocating reforms.
92% of Jordan’s population are Sunni Muslim, with a 6% Christian minority and 2% Shiite Muslim and Druze population. Freedom of religion is granted by the constitution, but public gatherings require state permission, resulting in the formation of many unregistered fellowships.
There are few reports of blatant discrimination against Christians in Jordan, although tolerance tends to extend only to foreign Christians. On January 25th 2011, a bus with Lebanese choir boys was attacked by an armed assailant in Amman, in which six people were wounded. The same assailant was linked to a group of men affiliated with Al-Qaeda who had been charged with throwing Molotov cocktails at a church in Amman, as well as desecrating a Christian graveyard.There remains much social discrimination against new believers and local Christians.
- Pray that the injustices against Christians in Jordan will stop, and that civil peace will prevail.
- Pray that the King is lenient in his reforms and that he and the population are able to reach a compromise in the formation of the new government.
- Pray for Jordan’s continued attempts at resolving conflicts in the Middle East and taking part in negotiations that will potentially bring peace to the region.
 UN Middle East Economic Development Report
 CIA World Factbook
 Middle East Concern
 Persecution – International Christian Concern