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Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing control of the Dead Sea with the latter. Jordan's only port is at its south-western tip, at the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Over half of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert. However, the western part of Jordan is arable land and forests. Jordan is part of the Fertile Crescent. The capital city is Amman.
Modern Jordan was founded in 1921, and it was recognized by the League of Nations as a state under the British mandate in 1922 known as The Emirate of Transjordan. In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In antiquity, the present day Jordan was in the heart of the earlier civilizations which prospered in the Fertile Crescent including the Babylonian and the Canaanites. Later, Jordan became a home for several ancient kingdoms including: the kingdom of Edom, the kingdom of Moab, the kingdom of Ammon and the prominent Nabataean kingdom of Petra. However, across different eras of history, parts of the country laid under the control of some regional powers including Pharaonic Egypt during their wars with the Babylonian and the Hittites; and for discrete periods of times by Israelites who were taken under the captivity of the Babylonian, and who were later defeated by the Moabites as recorded in Mesha stele. Furthermore, and due to its strategic location in the middle of the ancient world, Jordan was also controlled by the ancient empires of Greece, the Persians, the Romans and later by the Byzantine. Yet, the Nabataean managed to create their independent kingdom which covered most parts of modern Jordan and beyond, for some centuries, before it was taken by the still expanding Roman empire. However, apart from Petra, the Romans maintained the prosperity of most of the ancient cities in Jordan which enjoyed a sort of city-state autonomy under the umbrella of the alliance of the Decapolis. With the decline of the Roman Empire, Jordan came to be controlled by the Ghassanid Arab kingdom. In the seventh century, and due to its proximity to Damascus, Jordan became a heartland for the Arabic Islamic Empire and therefore secured several centuries of stability and prosperity, which allowed the coining of its current Arabic Islamic identity. In the 11th century, Jordan witnessed a phase of instability, as it became a battlefield for the Crusade wars which ended with defeat by the Ayyubids. Jordan suffered also from the Mongol attacks which were blocked by Mamluks. In 1516, It became part of the Ottoman Empire and it remained so until 1918, when the Army of the Great Arab Revolt took over, and secured the present day Jordan with the help and support of Jordan local tribes.
Nabataean civilization left many magnificent archaeological sites at Petra, which is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World as well as recognized by the UNESCO as a world Heritage site. Other civilizations leaving their archaeological fingerprints on Jordan include the Hellenistic and the Roman through their ruins in Decapolis cities of Gerasa (Jerash), Gadara (Umm Qais), Philadelphia (Amman), Capitolias (BeitRas), Raphana, Pella and Arabella (Irbid) and the Byzantine site of Um er-Rasas (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Arabic Islamic Empire has left desert palaces such as QasrMshatta, Qasr al Hallabat and QasrAmra; and the castles of Ajloun and Al Karak which were used in the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk eras.
The country also has Ottoman mosques, tombs, railway stations and fortresses.
Modern Jordan is classified as a country of "high human development" by the 2010 Human Development Report, and an emerging market with a free market economy by the CIA World Fact Book. Jordan has an "upper middle income" economy. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States went into effect in December, 2001 phased out duties on nearly all goods and services between the two countries. Jordan has also enjoyed "advanced status" with the European Union since December 2010 as well as being a member of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. Jordan has more Free Trade Agreements than any other country in the region. It has close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom, and became a major non-NATO ally of the United States in 1996. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Jordan was invited to Join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Jordan was the first Arab and Middle Eastern state to join the International Criminal Court. The Jordanian Government is one of three members of the 22 Arab League states to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, the others being the Egyptian and Palestinian governments.
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