Country Listing

Jordan Table of Contents



Size: About 91,880 square kilometers.

Topography: Most of East Bank (see Glossary) consists of arid desert. Dead Sea lowest point on surface of earth (more than 400 meters below sea level). Jabal Ramm (1,754 meters) is Jordan's highest point. Except for short coastline on Gulf of Aqaba, country landlocked.


Population: In 1987 East Bank population--about 70 percent urban--2.9 million with annual growth rate variously given as between 3.6 and 4 percent.

Languages: Almost all Jordanians speak a dialect of Arabic as mother tongue; increasing numbers speak or understand Modern Standard Arabic. Most of those people who have another native language (e.g., Circassians, Armenians) also speak Arabic.

Ethnic Groups: Significant distinction between Palestinians (see Glossary) --estimated 55 to 60 percent of population--and Transjordanians (see Glossary). Small numbers of non-Arabs originating elsewhere include Circassians, Shishans (Chechens), Armenians, and Kurds.

Religion: Most Jordanians Sunni (see Glossary) Muslims; about 2,000 Shia (see Glossary) Muslims. Christians (Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, a few Protestants) constitute between 5 and 8 percent of population. Also other small religious groups, such as Druzes and Bahais.

Education: First six years (primary) and next three years (preparatory) compulsory and free; grades ten through twelve (secondary) also free. In 1987 more than 900,000 students enrolled in 3,366 schools with approximately 39,600 teachers. Nearly 68 percent of adult population literate; nearly 100 percent of ten-to-fifteen age-group literate.

Health: Water shortage and concomitant sanitary problems contribute to health problems. Steady increase in health facilities and medical personnel in major urban areas. Following adoption of primary health care concept, facilities and personnel better distributed in rural areas than in past. In 1986 life expectancy at birth was sixty-five years.

Data as of December 1989