Jordan is a part of the Mesopotamia civilization. It is a relatively small, semi-arid, country in the Middle East that is almost land-locked, save for a small outlet on the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan is bordered by Israel and the West Bank to the west, Syria to the north, Iraq to the east, and Saudi Arabia to the south.
Jordan sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe. It is within the Fertile Crescent, a crescent-shaped region recognized as the cradle of civilization. The oldest evidence of human civilization in Jordan dates back at least 200,000 years with the farming settlement that first emerged in the area as hunters and gatherers out of Africa started the process of clearance and modification of natural vegetation to grow crops. Several remains of tools are found within the region. The world’s oldest evidence of bread-making was found in a 14,500 years old Natufian site in the northeastern desert of Jordan.
According to the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological sites. Famous well preserved historical cities include Petra and Jerash. Also, Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several religious attractions that attract pilgrimage activities. Biblical sites include Al-Maghtas—a traditional location for the Baptism of Jesus, Mount Nebo, and several others. Islamic sites include shrines of the prophet Muhammad’s companions such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, and others. The Ajlun Castle built by Muslim Ayyubid leader Saladin in the 12th century AD during his wars with the Crusaders is also a popular site to visit. And the Waldi Rum that his home to the Zglabieh tribe which developed eco-adventure tourism is one of Jordan’s most popular attractions.
Jordan also is a hub for natural hot spring spa resorts. The Dead Sea which is a lake is described as a ‘natural spa’. It is the lowest point on earth and contains 10 times more salt than the average ocean which makes it impossible to sink. The spa resorts attract local and foreign vacationers.
Muslims make up about 95% of the country’s population. Jordan has some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Christians today make up about 4% of the population. The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, the language taught in the schools, and the Jordanian Arabic dialect. English is widely spoken in the country.
Jordan is the 8th largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan. A typical Jordanian mezze includes hummus, koubba maqliya, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives, and pickles, and with arak, a popular alcoholic drink in the middle east made from grapes and aniseed.