At a glance
|Language:||Arabic with English widely spoken|
|Currency:||JOD (Jordanian Dinar)|
|Time zone:||(GMT+02:00) Amman|
|Electricity:||Type B (American 3-pin) Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin) Type J (Swiss 3-pin)|
Best time to visit Jordan
The weather in Jordan can get quite extreme. Overall, it tends to be hot during the day and cold at night (in desert areas, expect it to be hot during the day and freezing at night in the wintertime). In fact, during winter it can get bitterly cold, with snowfall occurring in some parts of the country.
Travelling during the summer months (June, July and August) can be challenging for those not accustomed to the heat, so visiting Jordan during spring and autumn is recommended for those who wish to escape the hotter temperatures.
As a Muslim country, Jordan observes Ramadan. If you are planning to travel during Ramadan, it’s important to consider that many restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating on reduced hours during this time.
Culture and customs
As a Muslim country, Jordan’s culture is quite conservative, although not as conservative as some other Middle Eastern countries. Western influences (particularly in Amman and other large cities) have infiltrated Jordanian society so Jordan now possesses a mix of Arabian customs amid modern ways of life. Due to immigration, Jordan now has a significant Palestinian and Iraqi population, adding to the cultural diversity of the country.
Despite the outside influences, Islamic traditions are strong in Jordan with spectacular mosques signalling the call to prayer five times a day, Ramadan being observed each year and some segregation of the sexes occurring.
The desert-dwelling Bedouin have a distinct culture of their own, drawing on traditions that have been passed down for centuries. Living a largely nomadic lifestyle, the Bedouin rely on the herding of animals and the creation of handicrafts in the absence of a fertile environment to farm. With a strong musical heritage, traditional instruments are played and time-honored traditions are continued.
Hospitality is a crucial element of Jordanian culture. Most visitors will be humbled by the kindness, sincerity and genuine care shown by Jordanians. Being welcomed into peoples’ homes is common, and can probably be attributed to the custom of welcoming strangers and sharing food when travelling in the unforgiving desert.
Eating and drinking
It is often said that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating and that is especially the case in Jordan. Whether you’re sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless culinary options to choose when travelling in Jordan.
Featuring typical Middle Eastern ingredients like lamb, chickpeas, garlic and a range of aromatic herbs and spices, Jordanian cuisine is delicious.
Things to try in Jordan
Like many other Middle Eastern countries, a plate of shared breads and dips is a great way to begin a feast.
This traditional Bedouin dish of lamb and yoghurt is usually served with rice and bread. This is the national dish of Jordan, so definitely try it before you leave.
These small, sweet pastries made with honey and nuts will have you going back for more.
The coffee in Jordan is strong. Often spiced with a hint of cardamom, coffee is strongly linked to the famed Jordanian hospitality, so drink up – it would be rude not to!
Geography and environment
Jordan is made up of a staggeringly diverse range of natural environments. From stark deserts to towering mountains, fertile wetlands, the world’s lowest spot, the Dead Sea and the Rift Valley, stretching along the River Jordan and the Wadi Arabah to the coastal reefs of the Red Sea as well the countries urban centres, journeying through Jordan provides a staggering abundance of changing scenery and varying dramatic landscapes.
Sharing borders with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Jordan mixes broad vistas of mountainous panoramas with modern city architecture with heritage-filled buildings, well-manicured streets with historic alleyways and impressive mansions with simple homes.
Modern, developed cities like Amman and Aqaba feature unique architecture, spectacular mosques, five-star hotels and resorts. Small villages with rustic housing populate the less-built-up rural areas and Bedouin tents made of goat hair can be found in desert areas.
History and government
The country now known as Jordan was originally inhabited by the inhabitants of the five kindgoms, often mentioned in the old testament of the Bible. They were the kingdoms of Gilead, Ammon, Amor, Moab and Edom. The very ancient road known as the Kings’ Highway is named after them. The Nabataeans took over the land of Edom, the most southerly of the five kingdoms from about 500 BCE ruling from their capital in Petra. As they grew wealthy from the trade networks that they built up, bringing the produce of the east, incense, silks and spices, and selling it to merchants across the Mediterranean, their kingdom expanded to cover most of what now is modern day Jordan. Over the centuries, Jordan has been a place conquered and inhabited by many different people including the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines. The first Muslim dynasty began with the Umayyad Empire in 661 CE. Many battles were fought in ancient Jordan, including when the Christian crusaders clashed with Islamic forces in Jordan during the 11th and 12th centuries. After the Ayyubid dynasty of Salah al Din had expelled the crusaders, it was the Mamlukes who ruled till the Ottoman Turks gained control at the beginning of the 16the century CE. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Turks during WW I, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan was created. The influences of all this succession of historical eras can still be seen today in Jordan’s ancient ruins, in the country’s culture and architecture, its crafts and its arts.
In 1950, Jordan was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in 1951, King Abdullah I was assassinated while visiting a mosque. His eldest son, Talal became king but was removed from his duties in 1952 due to mental illness. In 1953, King Talal’s teenage son Hussein Ibn Talal became king and continued to rule for over 40 years. In the 1960s, Jordan saw many immigrants arrive and settle – mainly Palestinians escaping the conflict in their homeland.
In 1999, King Abdullah II succeeded his father King Hussein and continues to rule Jordan now. His reign has been characterised by liberal policies, economic reforms and technological advances. His wife, Queen Rania of Jordan, has a visible public profile. She is active in many social causes and is regarded internationally as a highly influential woman.
1. Locate a Lost City
Spend a day exploring the astonishing lost city of Petra. Discover temples, tombs, a monastery and an amphitheatre in this fascinating, world-renowned archaeological site.
2. Take a Dip
Indulge yourself in the Dead Sea. Relax in its famous waters deemed by scientists and physicians to have highly therapeutic properties. The high salinity makes floating effortless so it’s easy to lie back and enjoy the view. This experience is a must-do for any visitor to Jordan.
3. Kick Back in a Cafe
The cafes of Amman are the perfect place to get acquainted with modern Jordan. From elegant, urban cafes serving international fare to earthy, family-run cafes offering traditional food and coffee, see both sides of modern Jordan when you eat.
4. Delve Into the Desert
Travel across hot, desert sands and spend the night camping under the stars with Bedouin hosts. Stargazing, eating traditional food and learning about the Bedouin way of life is an authentic experience to remember.
5. Admire Ancient Art
The town of Madaba is known for its amazing collection of ancient mosaics. Take a stroll around the city to scout out these handcrafted pieces of the past that are scattered throughout Madaba’s churches, museums and homes.
6. View an Icon
Behold the sight of legendary Mount Nebo. A revered holy site, Mount Nebo is home to the ruins of a church and monastery and is an interesting place for believers and non-believers alike.
7. Meet Mother Nature
A hike through the changing landscapes of the Dana Nature Reserve offers wildlife encounters, quaint villages and majestic mountain views. Get back to nature and see Jordan’s natural treasures here.
8. Relax in a Resort
See a different side of Jordan in the laidback resort town of Aqaba. Chill out on the beach, feast on fresh seafood, soak up the sunshine and enjoy the change of pace in this piece of coastal bliss.
9. Uncover a Bit of History
Explore the fortified town and castle of Karak to gain insight into the fascinating history of this region. Walk through a network of tunnels and walkways and imagine what life was like centuries ago.
10. Discover Roman Ruins
Travel to Jerash to see some of the biggest and most preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. Baths, theatres, temples and forums feature within the colonnaded streets and still-standing city walls.
Shopping in Jordan
From atmospheric souqs to modern malls and designer boutiques, Jordan has a shopping experience to suit everyone.
Things to buy in Jordan
1. Traditional Handicrafts
Mosaics, ceramics, rugs and carpets can be found everywhere in Jordan, but the variety and quality found in Madaba is a standout.
2. Bedouin Crafts
Silver jewellery and embroidered scarves make great souvenirs and can be purchased from souqs and independent vendors around Jordan.
3. Gold Jewellery
Traditional souvenirs and stunning gold jewellery can be found in the souqs of downtown Amman.
Festivals and Events in Jordan
Ramadan and Eid
During the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is observed by most in Jordan and is thought to be a time of spiritual rejuvenation. For this month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset – refraining from eating and drinking during daylight hours. Eid marks the end of fasting with three days of feasting and celebration.
Jerash Festival of Culture & Arts
See the best of local and international performing arts with theatre, music, poetry and dance taking over the ancient Roman city of Jerash, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike.