JORDAN AT A GLANCE
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a place which once captivated ancient travelers, continues to enthrall a new generation with it’s eclectic mix of modernity and tradition.
From the enchanting starkness of Wadi Rum, to the restless city centre of urban Amman, and the majestic ruins of civilizations once forgotten. Jordan is a unique destination offering breathtaking sights, charming accommodations, and exquisite cuisine. Jordan is home to countless wonders that are sure to leave you in awe.
Pro-Tip: Learn how to dance dabke, it’s a hit at parties, and you will be made an honorary Jordanian.
Quietly becoming a premier destination within the region, Jordan has witnessed an emergence of luxury hotels in Amman, Petra, Aqaba and the Dead Sea. Whether you’re looking for the authentic backpacker experience, or the casual refinement of 5 star service, the Hashemite Kingdom is fit for both the aristocrat and the modest.
JORDAN'S CURRENT GOVERNMENT
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. The monarch is the head of state, the chief executive, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The King exercises his executive authority through the Council of Ministers. The cabinet, meanwhile, is responsible before the elected House of Deputies, which, along with the Senate, constitutes the legislative branch of the government. The judicial branch is an independent branch.
Jordan is a land steeped in history. It has been home to some of Humankind's earliest settlements and villages; harboring hidden relics from the world's great civilizations.
As the crossroads of the Middle East, the lands of Jordan and Palestine have served as a strategic nexus; connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe. Since the dawn of civilization, Jordan's geography has given it an important role as a conduit for trade and communications; connecting the orient with the west. Jordan continues to play a critical role in geopolitical affairs.
Pro-Tip: Jordan’s Independence Day is on May 25th which is a public holiday and involved various celebrations throughout the country.
THE ROYAL FAMILY
His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein assumed his constitutional powers as King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on February 7th, 1999, the day his father, the late King Hussein, passed away.
His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal, the father of modern Jordan, will always be remembered as a leader who guided his country through strife and turmoil to become an oasis of peace, stability, and moderation in the Middle East. Among Jordanians, his memory is cherished as the inspiration for Jordan's climate of openness, tolerance, and compassion. Known to his people as Al-Malik Al-Insan ("The Humane King"), King Hussein was the forty-second generation direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (PBUH).
JUST THE FACTS
To ensure you get the most from your visit to Jordan, it is important to have a few basic facts on hand before you arrive. From currency to transport, from newspapers to business hours, you'll find the information you need by clicking the links below.
Jordan is a primarily Muslim country, although the freedom of all religions is protected. Muslim women’s clothing often covers their arms, legs and hair. Western women are not subject to these customs, but very revealing clothing is never appropriate and conservative dress is advisable for both men and women in the old part of Amman (downtown), and outside cities. Shorts are rarely worn by either sex, and would be out of place in the downtown Amman area.
Visitors with a valid passport may obtain a visa at any Jordanian embassy or consulate abroad. A visa can also be obtained at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport (for unrestricted nationalities) or at any other border crossing except King Hussein Bridge and the ferryboat from Egypt. Visas are valid for one month, but can be extended at any police station.
Credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and larger shops, including American Express, Visa, Diners Club, and MasterCard. Please note that many smaller shops still prefer cash payment in the Jordanian currency, and it’s essential for shopping in the local souks.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic, but English is widely spoken especially in the cities. Many Jordanians have traveled, or have been educated abroad, so French, German, Italian and Spanish are also spoken, but to a lesser extent.When Arabic is written in Jordan using the Latin alphabet, English spelling is applied; however, these spellings can be interpreted in various ways - the spelling, for example, of street addresses can vary widely. For this reason, the sounds of the words are a much better guide than the spelling.
Speaking Arabic is easier than you might think; attempting a few basic words will gain you respect from the locals and is a good way to break the ice. The Jordanian people are extremely understanding and will help you whenever they are able.
Arabic numbers are easy to read - in fact, the western numerical system was originally derived from the Arabic system. Unlike the words, Arabic numerals are read from left to right (the same as western numerals).
220 AC volts, 50 cycles, requiring rounded two-prong wall plugs. Visitors from the US will need a transformer, which most hotels can provide.
Wherever you go in Jordan you will find plenty of opportunities to shop. For visitors there is a wide range of locally made handicrafts and other goods available at all the popular sites, as well as within the boutiques of the leading hotels and at the various visitors' centers. There you will find hand-woven rugs and cushions, beautifully embroidered items and clothing, traditional pottery, glassware, silver jewelry embedded with semi-precious stones, Bedouin knives, coffee pots, narghiles (hubble bubble), marquetry work, antiques and other artefacts. The list is endless and about as varied as you can imagine.
Take time to visit the souks in Jordan’s larger towns and cities. These are treasure troves for those seeking something a little bit out of the ordinary. Within the souks are also excellent gold and silver outlets, where some great bargains can be found. Also worth visiting are the busy market shops, especially for exotic spices, herbs and seasonings.
Pro- tip: Shopkeepers are helpful and friendly. Most speak at least a little English but even if they don’t, there is usually someone around who will only be very willing to assist you. After all, this is Jordan!
October – March: Greenwich Mean Time plus 2 hours (G.M.T. + 2).
April – September: Greenwich Mean Time plus 3 hours (G.M.T. + 3).
Jordan is seven hours ahead of US Eastern Time.
Water is a precious resource in Jordan and visitors are encouraged not to waste it. Hotels rated 3 stars and up have their own water filtering systems and their water is considered safe to drink. Elsewhere, bottled water is inexpensive and readily available.
Telephone services within Jordan are efficient and reliable. Directories in Arabic and English are widely available and international calls can be made from public and private phones. Fax services are available at most hotels while telegrams can be sent from post offices. Internet access is widespread via Internet cafes and hotels.
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar, symbol JD, also pronounced as “jaydee.” There are 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD notes. The dinar is divided into 100 piasters (pronounced “pee-asters”) of 1000 fils (“fills”).
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 at major banks, exchange booths and at most hotels. Street money-changers are best avoided. Exchange rates are set daily by the Jordanian Central Bank.
As well as post offices, most 4- and 5-star hotels offer postal services.
Post office opening hours are:
- Summer: Sat-Thurs 07.00-19.00 / Fri 07.00-13.00.
- Winter: Sat-Thurs 07.00-17.00 / Fri 07.00-13.00.
There are also a number of international courier services, including DHL, FedEx, TNT International, UPS, etc.
Banks, businesses, government offices and many shops close all day for public holidays.
Fixed public holidays include:
- New Year’s Day January 1st
- Labor Day May 1st
- Independence Day May 25th
- Christmas Day December 25th
A number of public holidays are not fixed. These include Easter and the following Islamic Holidays, which are based on the Lunar calendar:
- Eid al-Fitr - A 3 or 4-day feast marking the end of Ramadan.
- Eid al-Adha - A 4 day feast at the end of the Hajj, or month of pilgrimage to Mecca.
- First of Muharam - Islamic New Year.
- 12 Rabee Al Awal - The Birthday of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
WEIGHTS & MEASURES
Jordan uses the metric system.