Jordan Travel Guide
Jordan Travel: General Information
Petra being voted as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ has indeed been a boon for Jordan tourism, but the tiny desert kingdom has always been a favorite travelers’ haunt. The once-lost Nabataean city is only an instance of Jordan’s antiquity and you will come across many such archeological ruins, equally spell-bounding in their beauty in Jerash, Umm Qais and even in the urban-center of Amman. Again, there are many medieval castles strewn all over in Jordan. Look beyond the ancient cities and citadels and you will not only have some spectacular natural scenery unfolding before your eyes in the red-sand deserts of Wadi Rum or the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba but also stumble upon Biblical sites such as the Jordan River (where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist) and Mt. Nebo (where Moses had his last view of the Promised Land). You will not be done yet, for Jordan promises you much more – water-sports, hiking, wildlife viewing, fine-dining, great shopping – all these with assurances of safety and unparalleled hospitality.
Jordan Travel: Key Facts
Capital City: Amman
Area: 92,300 sq km
Monetary Unit: Jordanian Dinar
Official Language: Arabic
International Dialing Code: 962
Jordan Travel: Popular Tourist Destinations
- Amman: Amman, the capital city, has the best of both worlds – ancient and modern. Occupied since the Bronze Age or even earlier, Amman is full of archeological remains like an ancient citadel, a Roman amphitheater, a public square, a two-storey fountain, a Byzantine Church, etc. Modern architectural marvels like the Abu Darwish Mosque and the King Abdullah Mosque are good representations of Amman’s present. The city has many museums and galleries worth visiting. Westernized to some extent, Amman has some of the biggest malls in Jordan and you can do some brisk shopping before you proceed to explore other destinations.
- Petra: Petra is the greatest magnetism of Jordan. The ancient city carved mostly in rose-pink rock is divided into several segments – Siq (the chasm that acts as the entrance to the city), the Al-Khazneh or treasury (it is the grand Roman façade of the treasury that got Petra the recognition as one of the new wonders), the Royal tombs, the Monastery, the High Place of Sacrifice, etc. Visit Petra at night and its accompanying stillness best enhance Petra’s mystery.
- Aqaba: With its pristine sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, Aqaba is one of Jordan’s top tourist destinations. It is just the place to sit-back and relax, to escape the mad-rush of modern life; but if you are looking for excitement, Aqaba is ready with its lures of water sports. Go snorkeling in the Gulf of Aqaba for views of the underwater-world or go for a whale-watching trip. Try water-skiing or wind-surfing, there are multiple activities to partake in this aquatic playground.
- Other Popular Destinations: Jordan is small in size but it is full of must-see attractions and destinations. There is Jerash, the ancient Greco-Roman city. There is Madaba with its Biblical associations and famous mosaics. There is Wadi Rum with its breathtaking desert landscape, adventure sports and Bedouin populace. Jordan has some important Wildlife Reserves that house various bird species and wildlife like gazelles, hyenas, oryxes, etc. And if you go to Jordan, mud-baths at the Dead Sea is a must.
Jordan Travel: Economy and Infrastructure
Jordan is one of Middle East’s most liberal economies and the ‘business capital of the Levant’. With inadequate natural resources (except, oil shale, uranium, natural gas and phosphates) and a very weak agricultural sector (due to scarcity of water and low rainfall), Jordan relied on foreign-aid to a large extent in the past. The adoption of liberal economic policies in 1999, however, ushered Jordan into a new era of economic growth. Today, Jordan has emerged as a trade-center and many business-houses of its neighboring countries operate from Jordan (mostly from their offices in Amman). If this has increased employment opportunities, Jordan’s developed services-sector (that contributes more than 70% of the GDP) has helped reduce unemployment.
Jordan is infrastructure-wise and quite well-developed. Although the dearth of conventional energy resources like petroleum poses a challenge for the energy sector, Jordan’s telecommunications and transportation systems are quite strong and have well supported Jordan’s image as a trade and tourism center.
Jordan Travel: Culture
Jordan’s culture, like the other Middle Eastern cultures, manifests influences of the Islamic Arab world. Jordan’s state religion is Islam, with the majority of the populace belonging to the Sunni sect. They speak Arabic but English is widely understood and used, too. Jordan has rich culinary tradition, but the Jordanians are also famous for their hospitality and this is something to be savored along with Jordan’s tasty fare. Jordanian traditional music has very pronounced Bedouin influence. Belly-dancing is the other form of performing art practiced by Jordanians. Speaking of Jordan’s visual art, you find it depicted in various forms – as landmarks, frescoes, mosaics, calligraphy or as crafts including beadwork, jewelry, carpet-weaving, etc.
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