The land known as Jordan has a rich history beginning around 2000 B.C. The original inhabitants were Semitic Amorites who settled on the Jordan River in an area called Canaan. Subsequent settlers and invaders included Egyptians, Hittites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arab Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Ottoman Turks and finally the British. In 1946 Jordan gained independence from British rule and was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1950.
The population of Jordan is estimated at 5,611,202. Most of the country's inhabitants live in the capital city of Amman, located in the northeastern portion of the country close to its border with Israel. The vast majority of the citizens are of Arab descent (98%), and over 92% of those are members of the Sunni Muslim religion.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. The reigning monarch is the head of state, the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. King Hussein ruled Jordan from 1953 to 1999. Upon his death in 1999, King Abdullah II succeeded his father as the reigning monarch.
A small country with inadequate natural resources, Jordan has concentrated on industrialization since the 1960's. Some rapidly growing industries include hydro-electric power, cement production, textiles and pharmaceutical goods. The government also has liberalized the trade regime sufficiently to secure Jordan's membership in the World Trade Organization (2000), a free trade accord with the United States (2000), and an association agreement with the European Union (2001).
Primary and Secondary Education
Currently almost one-third of all Jordanians are enrolled in educationaL facilities. Education is free for all primary and secondary school students, and compulsory for all Jordanian children through the age of fifteen. The Ministry of Education oversees most of the elementary and secondary schools in Jordan. The government has a policy that provides every village and community with 10 or more school aged children with a school. As a result, it is estimated that Jordan has achieved over 95 percent enrollment for its school age children and that the disparity in primary school attendance rates between urban and rural areas is minimal.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Research is the governing body responsible for accrediting and evaluating institutions of higher education and their programs. More and more Jordanians are opting to pursue higher education in both universities and community colleges. In 2001 it was estimated that Jordan had a literacy rate, (citizens over the age of 15 with the ability to read) of over 91%.