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Saudi Arabia, Gulf of Aqaba, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Transjordan, Jordan River

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Jordan or Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, kingdom in the Middle East. Its full official name is Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic Al Mamlakah al Urdunniyah al Hashimiyah). The term Hashemite refers to the Jordanian monarchy’s claim of descent from Hashim, the grandfather of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Jordan’s arid desert landscape and few natural resources belie its importance in the history of the modern Middle East. The territory was part of the Ottoman Empire, which was dismantled after World War I (1914-1918) and replaced, in this part of the Middle East, by British and French control. Transjordan—the territory east of the Jordan River—came under British control, as did Palestine to the west of the Jordan River. Transjordan’s status as an independent kingdom was recognized in 1946 (the kingdom’s name was changed to Jordan in 1949).

In 1947 the United Nations (UN) voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state and to internationalize the city of Jerusalem, but that plan was rejected by the region’s Arabs. The Jewish state of Israel was nonetheless established in 1948 in Palestine. Transjordan, along with four other Arab nations, attacked Israel the same year. Following the war, Israel held western Jerusalem, while Jordanian troops held eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. In the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Jordan continued to claim the West Bank until 1988 when, in response to mass Palestinian uprisings and Palestinian claims to self-determination, Jordanian king Hussein relinquished sovereignty over the West Bank.

Today, Jordan is bounded on the north by Syria, on the east by Iraq and Saudi Arabia, on the south by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aqaba, and on the west by Israel and the West Bank. The area of Jordan is 89,556 sq km (34,578 sq mi). Amman is the capital and largest city of Jordan.


For younger readers

Kort, Michael G. The Handbook of the Middle East. 21st Century, 2002. For readers in grades 7 and up.

South, Coleman. Jordan. Marshall Cavendish, 1997. For readers in grades 5 to 9.

Wills, Karen. Jordan. Lucent, 2001. For readers in grades 5 to 8.


Foster, Leila M. Jordan. Children's Press, 1991. Overview suitable for middle school students.

Gubser, Peter. Historical Dictionary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Scarecrow, 1991. Concise, alphabetical entries.

Khouri, Rami G. The Jordan Valley. Longman, 1982. Covers development, resettlement of Palestinians, and history of civilization in the valley.

Salibi, Kamal S. A Modern History of Jordan. St. Martin's, 1998. Comprehensive history of Jordan.

Wilson, Mary C. King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. Cambridge University Press, 1994. Discusses the partition of Palestine in the 1920s and King Abdullah's role in the subsequent creation of Transjordan.


Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

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