Country and People
To the east of the Mediterranean and northwest of the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan lies between the 29°11'-33°22' north and 34°59'-39°18' east parallels. It is bordered in the north by Syria, in the east by Iraq and in the south by Saudi Arabia. To the west lies the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Israel. Jordan covers an area of 89,411 sq. km (55,900 sq. miles). It is only 414 km (257 miles) from Ar-Ramtha at the border with Syria to Aqaba in the south and 387 km (240 miles) from the King Hussein Bridge on the Jordan river to the Iraqi border in the east.
The kingdom is divided into three natural regions from east to west, which converge in the south at Aqaba, Jordan's only outlet to the sea. The first consists of the eastern depression of the Jordan Valley from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee in the north, along the Jordan River, the Dead Sea (at about 412 m/1,350 ft below sea level, the lowest point on earth) down to the Red Sea at Aqaba.
The first lies in the area between the Yarmouk and Zerqa Rivers, the second runs from the River Zerqa to the spectacular Wadi Mujib and the third consists of the upland regions around Kerak.
The second natural region is the upland area above the Jordan Valley, which begins at the Yarmouk River in the north. Stretching down to Aqaba, this region is intersected by wadis (valleys and gorges) that subdivide it into three distinct areas.
The desert to the east of these uplands is the third and largest region, forming more than 75 percent of the total area. Azraq, whose black stone fort was for a short time the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia, is the only major oasis in this inhospitable region.
Throughout history, the line between the desert and the settled uplands has fluctuated according to the strength of central authority, local villagers and the Bedoui
What To Bring
Comfortable, hard-wearing walking shoes are a must. In the cold months (November-March) bring warm and waterproof clothing. In the warm and hot weather, you will need a pair of dark sunglasses, cotton clothes (avoid synthetic materials that do not breathe) and a hat.
Even in the summer, in the uplands the temperature drops significantly after sundown and you will need something to keep yourself warm in the evenings.
If you plan to swim, bring a swimsuit. And don’t forget insect repellent.
Jordan is a conservative country as far as dress code is concerned. You should avoid wearing tight clothes, sleeveless blouses, shorts, mini-skirts, and see-through materials, and refrain from exposing your bare back.
Jordan operates on a current of 220-240V. Most places have two-pin European style plugs, but a few have British style three-pin plugs. You may find adaptors, as well as transformers, for American electrical goods in electrical stores.
The Dibbeen National Park, between Jerash and Ajlun, has 48 km (30 miles) of pine woodland, a rest house with bungalows and a picnic site. A Friday favorite with Jordanians, it is a great place for a picnic after a trip to Jerash, and for walks, especially in spring when the wildflowers are out.
The Zai National Park, on the road from Salt to the Jordan Valley is also covered with pine trees and commands beautiful views of the valley. A small road winds through it and a rest house (istiraha) offers fine views. Both parks have play areas for children.
The Shaumari Wildlife Reserve near the eastern town of Azraq was established by the Royal Jordanian Society for the conservation of Nature to reintroduce animals that had become extinct in the region, such as the Arabian oryx (an antelope species), ostriches and gazelle. The nearby Azraq Oasis hosts many bird species migrating from Europe.
The Dana Nature Reserve is a little to the south of Tafila, off the King's highway and offers camping.
The Gulf of Aqaba, with a huge variety of tropical fish and coral, offers world class scuba diving.
Wadi Rum is one of the most magnificent desert landscapes in the world.
Eating & Drinking
Where To Eat
Amman has many restaurants that serve top quality Arabic food. When Jordanians go out to eat they expect at least the same high standard of cooking that they would have at home. Amman has a host of Italian, Far Eastern and 'continental' restaurants.
Although it is difficult to generalize about the standards of restaurant hygiene in Jordan as a whole, it is safe to say that Jordan is one of the cleanest countries in the region as far as food is concerned. Nonetheless, if you have not had vaccination shots before traveling, it may be wise to enquire about the reputation of an eating establishment before you make use of it and to go easy with uncooked vegetables.
When you are faced with a buffet meal, check the freshness of the salads and cold meats and refrain if they look as if they have been sitting there for a while.
There are no vegetarian restaurants in Jordan but vegetarians will have a real feast with Arabic food (most of the many appetizers are suitable). Where available, fish makes an excellent alternative to meat dishes for a main course.
Outdoor eating starts in April and ends at the end of October. Jordanians tend to eat late, with lunch at around 2 p.m. and dinner at 9 p.m. However, restaurants do open earlier, at 12:30 p.m. for lunch, and at 7:30 p.m. for dinner.
Some of the restaurants serve alcohol except for lower range restaurants. During Ramadan, many restaurants close for the whole month. Those that do open serve food only after sunset when the fast is broken; some of these offer fantastic Ramadan specials.
Most restaurants and hotel bars in Amman and outside serve alcohol except during Ramadan when alcohol sales and drinking are banned. Jordan has its own beer, the excellent Amstel, brewed locally under license.
Wine is imported from the "Holy Land," Tunisia, Cyprus and France. The best of the Palestinian wines are the Domaine de Latroun wines, especially the Pinots and Sauvignons, as well as the Caregnano. Alcohol can also be purchased at many grocers and supermarkets.
Jordan has a rapidly developing fine art scene and Music and, to a lesser degree, theatre and poetry that are indigenous to the country and the Middle East region. Ballet and film are imported and, this being a relatively poor and small country, are very costly to operate and therefore appear irregularly and often under sponsorship.
Many of the cultural activities in Amman take place at the Royal Cultural Centre, which comprises theatres, conference and exhibition halls. The foreign cultural centers are very active in organizing lectures, exhibitions, film shows, occasional plays and recitals promoting the work of Jordanian and other Arab artists and intellectuals, as well as their own nationals.
A typical Middle Eastern market is the downtown “suq,” where you can buy almost anything. Shopping areas in Amman are less crowded now, with new neighborhoods developing and establishing their own shopping areas.
The following areas should cover almost all your shopping needs: downtown, Emir Mohammed Street (from Third Circle to the City Centre), Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq Street (known as Rainbow Street), Wasfi Tell Street, better known as Gardens Street (from Safeway to AI-Waha Circle) and the shopping areas of upmarket Suwayfiyya and Shmaysani Bargaining is gradually losing ground in Jordan as more and more shops have fixed prices. You should, however, certainly attempt it in souvenir shops and in the suq downtown.
Ceramics: For mugs, plates, bowls, cups and tiles. Pottery Workshops, has some of the most artistic (and pricey) ceramics. Other artisans are to be found in Madaba.
Pottery: The common pattern of pale-colored pottery with Arabic script designs is produced mainly in Amman. Silsal Pottery as well as at AI-Aydi, the Noor AI-Hussein Foundation Its products are on sale at the workshops, and at the airport duty-free shop.
Visit Bani Hamida House near First Circle, Jebel Amman. They sell a variety of rugs ranging from the famous Bedouin-made rugs to modern design. Open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., closed Friday. AI-Aydi also has a large stock of Bedouin rugs in authentic patterns and colors and there are a number of shops in Madaba where many are actually produced.
Hebron hand-made glass: Look out for carafes, bowls, jars, vases and mugs made in Jordan by a family originally from Hebron who now live and work in Amman, from the traditional dark-blue glass, there is also clear glass, light brown, green and yellow. It is sold at Al Aydi, where you will find a variety of colors, but many souvenir shops also stock it. For the best prices, go to the workshop in Na'ur where you can see the glass-blowers at work.
Basketry: Produced in Mukhayba, north of the Jordan Valley. Available at AI-Aydi, where you will find some of the finest new and old pieces, and at the museum shop in Umm Qais.
Gold: Cheaper here than in the West and there is a huge variety available in the suq downtown. Know has branches in Shmaysani, Gardens Street, on the main street in Jebel Al-Hussein, on the main road between Fifth and Sixth circles as well as downtown.
Wood inlaid with mother of pearl: In most souvenir shops, you will find boxes with Dome of the Rock designs, mirror and picture frames and sometimes chairs and chests of drawers.
Olivewood: From kitchen utensils to Christmas Nativity scenes, eggs and other miscellaneous kitsch. On sale all over the country as well as in the West Bank where it is produced.
Copperware: Stocked at most souvenir shops.
Try AI-Afghanf, Branches in Jebel AI-Luwaybida, opposite Khalaf Supermarket, AI-Hawuz Circle, and Jebei AIHussein. Only some items are antique. Art: See Art Galleries.
There are no export restrictions except for antiquities, i.e. items more than 100 years old. Shopkeepers can post your purchases to the US and Europe.
Fridays and Saturdays are weekly holidays when most government offices, and many other offices are closed. Banks are closed on Fridays and Saturdays as well. Some airline offices and travel agents stay open to offer a reduced service and some shops also stay open. Some businesses take Sunday as a half-day or a complete holiday.
Fixed Public Holidays
1 January/Christian New Year
30 January/ King Abdullah's Birthday
22 March/Arab League Day
1 May/Labor Day
25 May/Independence Day
10 June/Arab Renaissance Day, commemorates the Arab Revolt, and also Army Day
25 December/Christmas Day
Holidays That Are Not Fixed
Muslim holidays follow the lunar calendar, moving back each year by 11 days.
The first two holidays in this list last three days, during which Friday services are found. The remaining holidays in the list are one-day public holidays.
Ayd Al-Fitr is the feast that marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
Ayd AI-Adha: the feast of sacrifice, which falls at the beginning of the month of the pilgrimage to Mecca (HaJ). It commemorates Abraham's offering of Ismael for sacrifice. Families who can afford to slaughter a lamb share the meat with their poorer co-religionists. The richer the family, the more lambs it slaughters and distributes to the poor.
1st of Muharram: Muslim New Year
Mawoulid An-Nabawi: the Prophet Mohammed's Birthday.
Ayd Al-Isra wa AI-Miraj: the feast celebrates the nocturnal visit of Prophet Mohammed to heaven.
Although Ramadan is not a good month to come to Jordan for business, it is a great time to enjoy local customs and the special atmosphere that the shared hardship of fasting creates among Muslims. You should avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public during the hours of fasting because it is illegal and can provoke strong reactions. At sundown, everyone breaks the fast with “iftar” and then relaxes until long into the evening. Just before dawn, the last meal is eaten before the next day's fasting resumes. Food and sweets are prepared and devoured after dark. As a result some people look exhausted at work the next day and government officials may often use this as an excuse to provide a much-reduced service.
Easter: If you happen to visit Jordan during Easter, bear in mind that the local Protestant and Catholic churches celebrate Easter at approximately the same time as the local Greek Orthodox. Three out of every four years the timing will vary, usually by a week but for one year by a whole month. Eastern (Orthodox) Christians regard Easter as a more significant feast than Christmas.
If you plan to visit Jordan during Christmas, don't be put off by the fact that this is a predominantly Muslim country. Thanks to Western commercialism and the local foreign community, Christmas and the New Year are celebrated in some splendor. There are also many opportunities for children to enjoy themselves during these times.
Some personal items such as cameras, clothes, and even typewriters are exempt from duty. Regulations also exempt 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine and 200 grams (7 oz.) of tobacco and up to 200 cigarettes.
Electrical equipment, from household goods to personal computers, cars, etc., is subject to duty, which can be very high. However, if you intend to take taxable goods with you when you leave, you may ask the customs officials to enter details of these goods in your passport to avoid paying tax. Upon exit, you will be asked to show that your goods were tax exempted.
If you come from a country infected by epidemic diseases such as cholera and yellow fever you will have to show a certificate of inoculation. It is advisable to be inoculated for hepatitis (Gamma Globulin), polio, tetanus and typhoid. Jordan is one of the cleanest countries in the region, but it is advisable to take some precautions, at least until your system adjusts.
Hotels rated 4-Star and up have their own filtering systems and their tap water is safe to drink. Elsewhere you should use bottled water, which is widely available, and outside hotels, cheap. All purchased fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly. During the warmer months, avoid salads and cold meats that have been sitting for a long time at hotel buffets.
The Jordanian Currency
The currency is called the Jordanian Dinar (JD) and it is divided into 1,000 fils or 100 kirsh. There are paper notes of 50, 20, 10, 5, 1 and 0.5 JDs, copper coins of 1000, 500, 250 fils, silver coins in 100, 50 and 25 fils and in copper coins of 10 and 5 fils.
Since the 1988 devaluation of the Jordanian Dinar, Jordan has become a relatively cheap country for Westerners to visit.
1 US$ = 0.7 JD 1 £ = 1.05 JD
1 Yen = 0.65 JD 1 € =0.95 JD
You can exchange foreign cash or traveler's checks in any bank in Jordan, but traveler's checks will be charged a commission (amount varies from bank to bank). When you change traveler's checks, you will be asked to show your sales receipts for the checks, despite the fact that you are not supposed to keep them together.
There are authorized moneychangers in Amman, Aqaba and Irbid, and generally speaking, you get better deals at moneychangers downtown. Exchange rates between banks and moneychangers vary slightly. Hotels of 3-stars or more will also change money but at a less favorable rate.
Credit cards are accepted in several hotels, restaurants and shops; the most widely accepted being American Express, Visa, Diners Club and Mastercard. You can also use your cards to draw cash (up to 500 JDs) at any bank linked with your credit card network at no extra charge. The automatic cash machines outside some banks in Amman may be used.
Loss Of Belongings
Report any lost belongings to the nearest police station and ask for a certificate of loss for insurance purposes. If you lose your passport, you should also contact your embassy/consulate as soon as possible.
All treatment, including emergency treatment, must be paid at the time of service. A certificate of treatment will be issued to enable you to claim back the expenses from your insurance. It is therefore wise to buy health insurance from your travel agent before traveling.
Generally speaking, Jordan has good medical care and there is a medical center or clinic in every town and village. Amman has a large number of hospitals and high quality specialists.
Outside Amman, there are hospitals in Aqaba, Ma'an, Petra, Kerak, Madaba. Zerqa, Irbid and Ramtha and there are clinics with a small number of beds in the Jordan Valley.
There are three classes of hospital beds and prices are standardized.
Jordan employs the metric system. Length is counted in meters, distances in kilometers, weight in kilograms and volume in liters.
1 inch = 2.54 centimeters (cm) 1 foot = 0.30 meters (m)
1 yard = 0.91 meters (m)
1 mile = 1.61 kilometers (km) 1 acre = 0.40 hectares (ha)
1 ounce = 28.35 grams (g)
1 pound = 0.45 kilograms (kg)
1 British ton = 1016 kilograms 1 American ton = 907 kilograms
1 imperial gallon = 4.55 liters (I) 1 American gallon = 3.79 liters (I)
Open 8 a.m.—3 p.m.. Closed Friday and Saturday. During Ramadan: 9:30 a.m.—2 p.m.
Open winter (November-April) 8-8:30 a.m.—1-1:30 p.m., 3-3:30—6:30 p.m. and summer (May-October) 4-4:30—7:30 p.m. Most businesses close on Fridays and some close Sunday all-day or half-day. Some travel agencies stay open during lunch break. During Ramadan: 9 a.m.—3/6 p.m.
Open 8:30 a.m.—3:00 p.m., closed Friday and Saturday all day, and Thursday and Sunday afternoons. During Ramadan 9 a.m.—1/2 p.m.
Generally open 8 a.m.—5 p.m., closed Friday. consult Museum, as times vary.
Open winter 9 a.m.—6:30/7p.m., summer 9 a.m.—8/9 p.m. Most shops close in the afternoon for about two hours, any time between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Most shops close Friday, except for the Amman downtown suq, and some close Sunday. During Ramadan: 9 a.m.—1 p.m. and after the break of fast, most will reopen until 9 or l0 p.m.
In Jordan, you will certainly not be pressed near as much as other countries for what is known in Arabic as “baqsheesh,” but it is nonetheless a good idea to leave a small tip.
The better hotels and restaurants may add a 10 percent service charge to your bill, but waiters do not always get this. Other establishments expect you to leave a tip for all staff or give something to those that worked for you most.
Taxi-drivers are generally not tipped, but it is customary to pay the nearest round figure to the price on the meter. Anywhere else, tip according to will, bearing in mind that tips are always appreciated.
Post offices are open in winter 8 a.m.—5 p.m., summer 7 a.m.—7 p.m., and during Ramadan 8 a.m.—3 p.m. Postal services in Jordan are generally reliable.
You can walk and hitch everywhere in the country except in the security area at the Dead Sea and between the Jordanian and Israeli checkpoints on the King Hussein Bridge. It is relatively easy to get picked up by cars, unless you are in a very remote area. Drivers will often expect a small contribution towards their petrol, especially if you travel with them a long way. From Amman, you can hitch from the Seventh Circle to anywhere in the south and west, from Suwaylah for west and north and from the road to Zerqa to the north and east. Women should not hitchhike on their own. Summertime is not recommended for hitching but if you have to hitchhike in the summer, at least ensure that you are well equipped to cope with the heat and the sun.
Departure tax is 20 JD at the airport, 8 JD in Aqaba going to Egypt, and 8 JD at the land borders going to Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories. If you have not renewed your visa you will also have to pay .
Visa may be issued on arrival to Jordan. Groups over 5 persons do not need to pay for the visa, group arrangement must be through Jordanian travel agent.
Nothing pleases Jordanians more than meeting a foreigner who can speak their language, or even a few words, so it's very well worth the try.
How to pronounce
| i /as in/ see
|| ya /as au in/ Soraya
||ai / as in /eye
| ay/as in /may
|| aw /as in /away
||kh/as in the Scottish/loch
| gh /as in the Parisian /r
|| dh /as in/the
| Double consonants: try to pronounce them twice as long. An apostrophe ' indicates a glottal stop.
|Hello/As-Marhaba, ahlan (reply)/Marhabtayn, ahlayn
|Peace be with you/As-salam alaykum (reply)/ Walaykum as-salam (and to you peace)
|Welcome/Ahlan wasahlan (reply)/ahlan fikum
|Good morning/Sabah al-khayr (reply)/Sabah an-nur /Sabah al-wurd (a morning with the smell of flowers)
|Good man/Mabsut or woman/mneeha
|Please/min fadlak (to a man)/min fadlik (to a woman)
|After you/Tafaddal (to a man)/ Tafaddali (to a woman)/Afaddalu (to more than one)
|Sorry/Afwan or mutaasif or asif (for a man)/Afwan or mutaasifa or asifa (for a woman)
|Thank you (very much)/Shukran ( jazilan)
|Thank you, I am grateful/Mamnunak (to a man)/Mamnunik (to a woman)
|Thanks be to God/AI-hamdu li-Iia
|God willing (hopefully)/Insha alla
|Yes/Naam or aiwa
|congratulations!/Mabrok! (reply)/Allah yubarak fik
|What is your name?/Shu ismaK? (to a man)/Shu ismik? (to a woman)(replay)My name is.../Ismi.
|Where are you from?/Min wayn inta? (for a man)/Min wayn inti (for a woman)
(replay)I am from: England/Ana min Ingiltra Germany/Ana min Almania
United States/Ana min Amerika
Australia/Ana min Ustralia
|Do you speak English?/Btihki inglizi (reply) I speak: English/Bihki inglizi (or) German/Almami (or) French/Fransawi
|I do not speak Arabic/Ma bihki arabi
|I do not understand/Mish fahim
|What does this mean?/Ya'ani esh?
|Repeat, once more/Kaman marra
|Do you have...?/Andkum...?
|Is there any...?/Fi...?
|There isn't any.../Ma fi... or fish
|It is forbidden.../Mamnu'a
|post office/maktab al-barid
|not good, bad/mish kuways
|with sugar/bi sukkar
|without sugar/bidun sukkar
|mineral water/mai ma'adaniya
|I am a vegetarian/Ana nabbati (for a man)/nabbatiya (for a woman)