Things you need to know about Jordan and Jordanians:
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Jordan is located in the heart of the Middle East, it is bordered by Syria from the North, Iraq and Saudi Arabia from the East, Israel and the Palestinian territories from the West and Saudi Arabia from the South.
Land area: 34,286 sq mi (88,802 sq km)
Total area: 34,495 sq mi (89,342 sq km) excludes West Bank.
October – March: Greenwich Mean Time plus 2 hours (G.M.T. + 2).
April – September: Greenwich Mean Time plus 3 hours (G.M.T. + 3)
CLIMATE AND WEATHER:
Although Jordan is mostly desert, within its compact area, there are 3 distinct climatic zones; the Jordan valley, Mountain Heights Plateau and the Desert or Badia region, which constitutes 75% of the total land area of Jordan.
Jordan is a very sunny country, with over 310 days of sunshine a year. The weather is almost exclusively dry and sunny from May to October, where there is barely any rainfall. Summers are hot but relatively pleasant due to the low humidity in the mountain heights with daytime temperatures frequently exceeding 36°C and averaging about 32°C, while nights are almost exclusively cool and pleasant. In the Jordan valley, summers can be very hot with temperatures reaching on occasions into the low forties, while Aqaba’s weather in the South is similar to the Jordan valley’s but with less rainfall. In brief: hot and dry summers with cool evenings.
The Jordan Valley below the sea level is warm during winter and very hot in summer, Aqaba has a drier climate than the Dead Sea (with temperatures on average 10 degrees Celsius above those in Amman). Rain falls between November and April (mostly in the central and northern mountain ranges), while colder weather conditions occur in December / January.
STATE AND GOVERNMENT:
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with an appointed government. The reigning monarch is the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The king exercises his executive authority through the prime minister and the Council of Ministers, or cabinet. King Abdullah II succeeded his father King Hussein following the latter’s death in February 1999. Jordan has grown into the modern nation that has enjoyed a remarkable measure of peace, stability and economic growth in recent decades.
CAPITAL AND MAJOR CITIES:
Amman is the capital of Jordan and the most inhabitant city in the country. It is a modern city built on the the ruins of ancient civilizations. Amman has rapidly become one of the most sophisticated cities in the Arab countries and the Middle East. Irbid, Zarqa, Aqaba, Karak, Madaba and Salt are the most important cities after Amman.
The population of Jordan has grown rapidly over the last fifty years or so to 6,249,000 million people. Around 82.6% of the population live in urban areas, with 2,419,600 million living in the capital, Amman.
Arabic is the official language, English is the the second language in Jordan and it is widely spoken especially in the cities. French, German, Italian and Spanish are also spoken in many tourist areas.
The official religion of the state is Islam but there is a considerable Christian population. In Jordan the freedom of all religions is maintained and protected. 92% of Jordanians are Sunni Muslim. A significant Greek Orthodox Christian minority (6%) resides mainly in the villages around Madaba city, Ajloun, Karak and Irbid.
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar, symbol JD.There are 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD notes. The dinar is divided into 100 piasters of 1000 fils. The fils is the unit most commonly used and you will usually see prices written as 4,750 (which is 4 JD and 750 fils).
Currency can be exchanged in the major banks, exchange booths and in most hotels. Most of shops and big restaurants accept the American Dollar and Euro especially in the tourist areas.
Exchange rates are set daily by the Jordanian Central Bank.
Jordan is accessible by air through two international airports. These are: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) which is near Amman and King Hussein International Airport (AQJ) which is located in Aqaba. Jordan is also accessible by different crossing borders with the neighbor countries such as Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and there are several crossing points between Jordan and Israel / Palestinian territories. To get into Jordan by the sea, the only access is through the port of Aqaba.
The cost of one entry visa for all nationalities is 20 JD (around $30) obtained upon arrival at the airport; for multiple entries for all nationalities it is 60 JD (around $85) and can be obtained at the nearest embassy/consulate. Visa validity can be easily extended up to 3 months from the nearest police station.
Group of five people or more arriving through a designated Jordanian tour operator with a government certified tour guide are exempt from all visa charges, provided the group arrives and departs together as well as stay a minimum of 2 nights in Jordan.
Certain nationalities require an entry visa to be obtained prior to travel from the Jordanian embassies /consulates abroad. It is recommended that you check with the Jordanian diplomatic mission in your country prior to travel to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork for travel.
Arrivals at Aqaba, either through the port, the airport or at the crossing from Israel or Saudi Arabia, are granted a free visa to Jordan. There is no obligation associated with this visa, provided that they leave the country from the same border and within 1 month of arrival, and that they do not need to renew their visa.
Exit service fee applies for land and sea border points. 8.00 JD per passenger and 5.00 JD per vehicle.
In Jordan it is easy to move around on your own especially in the big cities. Most of the signs are translated into English. Taxis are available 24 hours and they are relatively cheap. The public buses stations are also available and there are special designated terminals for buses that connect between cities. In the big hotels you can easily get full information about routes and buses stations.
Car rental agencies in Jordan can be found in most of hotels and in the city of Amman. Jordan has an excellent and expanding road network, and renting a car can be a good way to see the country. A driving license valid in your country of origin is acceptable, provided you have held it for at least one year. Driving is on the right. Road signs on the highways are in Arabic and English. Brown signs are designed for tourists. There are plenty of petrol stations in Amman and other cities, and on most highways.
Wherever you go in Jordan you will find plenty of opportunities to shop either from huge malls and hypermarkets or small shops located in the local market (souk) in the cities and towns.
For visitors there is a wide range of locally made handicrafts and other goods available at all the popular sites. There you will find hand-woven rugs and cushions, beautifully embroidered items and clothing, traditional pottery, glassware, silver jewellery embedded with semi-precious stones, Bedouin knives, coffee pots, marquetry work, antiques and other artefacts. The list is endless and about as varied as you can imagine.
Both Amman and Aqaba offer sophisticated shops and boutiques selling the very latest fashions in jewellery, clothing, accessories, leather and electronic goods. Almost everywhere in Jordan you can find the world-famous Dead Sea spa products. All are of excellent quality and produced under strict clinical conditions. They are also very reasonably priced.
Medical services are excellent in Jordan and most doctors are bilingual in Arabic and English. Larger hotels have a doctor on call and embassies can also suggest doctors and hospitals.
The Jordanian medical service has become very distinguished among the region and the world as being very modern and advanced. Many visitors from other counties come to Jordan specially for treatments and surgeries. In addition to those who come to Jordan to benefit from the Dead Sea features and spas.
Jordan is a conservative country but that doesn’t mean there is no nightlife here. Amman is an active city at night and offers a wide selection of pubs, bars and clubs where visitors and locals can enjoy. Many different kinds of entertainment programs take a place during the weekends and on special occasions. Most of the leading hotels in all Jordan have places for entertainment and live events. In addition to the nightclubs and pubs it is very common to go at night to the coffee shops that serve hot drinks, snacks and the famous water pipe (argela or shesha). Those popular places are often crowded in weekends and the Jordanian’s public holidays. Most of tourists who visit Jordan go to those places and they enjoy it.
FOOD AND CUISINE
Within Jordan, mealtimes are the time of celebration. Food is a very important aspect of the Jordanian culture. In villages, meals are a community event with immediate and extended family presence. In addition, food is commonly used by Jordanians to express their hospitality and generosity. Jordanians by nature are very hospitable people and, often, food is presented within minutes of a guest arriving at a local house.
Jordanians serve family, friends, and guests with great pride in their homes; no matter how modest their means. A ‘Jordanian invitation’ means that you are expected to bring nothing and eat everything. Rich Jordanian food coupled with the famous Jordanian hospitality creates an atmosphere of festivity each time a meal is served. Like other countries in the region, Jordanian cuisine offers many different kinds of traditional dishes using wide variety of spices and herbs. Mansaf is the national traditional dish for Jordanians. It is very popular. Mostly every visitor who come to Jordan is interested to try this dish.
TRADITIONAL VALUES AND CUSTOMS:
Jordan can be regarded for a typically Arab country for its people are very warm, friendly and hospitable. Jordanians are typically happy to forgive foreigners who break the rules of etiquette. Local women in Jordan enjoy considerable freedom when compared with many other countries in the region. Women are entitled to a full education, they drive cars, they work and they often play significant roles in the society, business and politics.
Muslim women’s clothing often covers their arms, legs and hair. In Jordan not all women follow this custom, but if they do, they do it upon their choice. This differs from family to another and it is more common in the rural areas. Western women are not subject to these customs, but very revealing clothing is never appropriate. Conservative dress is advisable for both men and woman in downtown Amman and outside the cities. Topless sunbathing is prohibited and one-piece swimsuits are preferred, although two-piece swimsuits are acceptable.
Public displays of affection are rare but are not unusual.
Alcohol is available at bars and hotels across Jordan and can be bought from liquor shops that exist in the cities and towns. During Ramadan, drinks are only available to visitors in their hotels.
Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, the date of which varies according to the Islamic lunar calendar. During Ramadan, alcohol is not sold, except to non-Muslims in larger hotels. Smoking, eating and drinking in public is prohibited during the hours of daylight. As a sign of respect, visitors are kindly requested to refrain from these activities in public during fasting hours. During Ramadan, many stores, banks and offices open late at 09:00 and close early at 14:00. During the month of Ramadan you may notice that the locals live is active till late hours at night in the streets, cafes and markets.
ACCIDENTS AND EMERGENCIES:
Jordan is known as the oasis of peace in the Middle East. It is one of the most secured and safe countries. The Jordanian people are known with their warm hospitality. Their Arabic traditions, norms and values is to welcome the guest to be protective and to offer assistance in any trouble.
In general tourists in Jordan feel secure everywhere throughout the country and feel safe to walk in the streets day and night. In case of any accident or emergency you just need to call the number 911 from any phone and the assistance will come to you within few minutes. There are police stations, patrols everywhere 24 hours and there are designated unit of police look after the tourists in all touristic areas.