Jordan, Middle East - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Jordan

Jordan

Capital: Amman

Continent: Asia

Currency: Jordanian dinar (JOD)

Dialling Code: +962

Driving Side: Right

Official Language: Arabic

Population: 8.1 million (2015)

Time Zone: EET (UTC+2)/EEST (UTC+3)

Jordan, an Arab nation on the east bank of the Jordan River, sits strategically at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The country is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the East and South; Palestine, Israel, and Dead Sea to the West; Syria to the North; Red Sea to the extreme South-West; and Iraq to the North-East.

Jordan can be divided into four main regions: the Northern Jordan, King's Highway, Eastern Desert, Southern Desert and the major cities are Amman, Aqaba, Jerash, Madaba and Zarqa.

Only five hours drive away (from anywhere in the city), the modern (and historic city) of Amman, the capital city, serves as the country's economic, political and cultural centre. The cosmopolitan city is also the most populous in Jordan and is among the most popular locations in the Arab world for multinational corporations to set up their regional offices, alongside Doha and only behind Dubai.

Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Jordan's economy. The country is home to the famous archaeological site of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, dating back to around 300 B.C.E. Other major tourist attractions sites include – the Jordan River, Mount Nebo, Madaba, numerous medieval mosques and churches, and unspoiled natural locations such as the Wadi Rum.

Jordan is also well known for education tourism, shopping tourism, health and medical tourism, focusing on the Dead Sea area. Hiking and scuba diving for nature enthusiasts also should not be missed in the Aqaba's reefs along the Gulf of Aqaba.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Petra — Jordan's top attraction, an ancient city carved out of sandstone and one of the new 7 Wonders

Dead Sea  is the lowest point on earth and the most saline sea.

Dana Nature Reserve — Stay in a village little changed since the 15th century, enjoy unforgettable hiking in an offshoot of the Great Rift.

Bethany or Bethabara is the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago.

Mount Nebo — the place mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land.

Desert Castles — Castles spanned in the desert or near small towns. These castles once were getaway for Kaliffs from the Omayyad Period. These castles include the small areas of Ajlun and Kerak.

Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand.

Ajlun — lush green rolling hills and a castle built by Saladin during the Crusades.

 

Climate

Jordan has a hot, dry climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool winters. The climate is influenced by Jordan's location between the subtropical aridity of the Arabian Desert areas and the subtropical humidity of the eastern Mediterranean area.

Communications

Jordan has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the Middle East and most of the country has mobile coverage. The international dialling code is +962, but when calling a local number - the prefix in Zero. The key local mobile operators are Zain (the first & largest), Orange and Umniah. Temporary throw-away phones and card-based temporary numbers can be accessed at any mobile phone shop across the country.

Customs

Compared to most of the countries in the Middle East, Jordan is a very peaceful country and natives are very respectful and hospitable. It is important to respect the Jordanian Monarchy – especially King of Jordan; and the dominant religion, Islam. Modest dressing to religious sites is advised and eating openly during the month of Ramadan might draw a few stares from the people.

Although Jordan is a very hospitable country to foreigners, the fact that there's a lot of tourism and that the nation is very much westernized has rendered natives somewhat indifferent to tourists.

Keep in mind Jordan is a Muslim nation, consensual sex between unmarried couples is illegal in Jordan under the law of adultery and prostitution is also illegal. The country is not a place where homosexuality is flaunted as openly as it would be in the West, although it is not illegal in Jordan unlike the case in most other Arab nations.

Electricity

The electricity supply in Jordan is 230V/50Hz, the main type of sockets in use are European sockets with two round pins. Other types include British standard three pin, rectangular, Indian and combination sockets that can take multiple types can occasionally be found.

Getting Around

By Plane

The Royal Jordanian operates the only domestic flights, twice daily between Amman (Queen Alia) and Aqaba. Flight time is a little over half an hour and offers panoramic view over the desert, the Dead Sea and the Petra Mountains are exceptional.

Taxis and Buses

For getting around within cities, most places have their own systems of short-hop buses and serveeces (Regular and Shared service) and fares are very affordable but expect higher fares on routes serving major tourist sites. Some hotels in Amman, Madaba, Petra and Aqaba organise minibus shuttle services and/or tours to key tourist destinations. If you’re carrying bulky or heavy luggage, drivers may charge you a small supplement per bag.

NB: Bus and serveece etiquette says that a foreigner should ideally not be sitting next to a Jordanian of the opposite sex. You may find that the locals shuffle themselves around to make sure that men are sitting next to men and women next to women.

Rent a Car

Car Hiring a car is also recommended, especially when visiting major popular sites such as the Dead Sea, Eastern Desert and King's Highway. Driving is on the right. For the freedom and flexibility it brings, it is best arranged before you arrive.

Others

Cycling around Jordan is a very pleasant way to travel, although only a handful of locals cycle. Other ways to go around is by Hitchhiking and organised tours.

Health

Jordan has some of the best health services in the region and life expectancy is estimated to be 74.35 years.

Language

The official language is Modern Standard Arabic, which is mostly taught in schools but English is widely spoken throughout the country, taught in schools and is the language of commerce and banking. Most Jordanians speak natively one of the dialects of Jordanian Arabic, a nonstandard version of Arabic while Jordanian Sign Language is the language of the deaf community.

Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, and Russian are popular among their communities. French and German are also increasingly popular languages.

Money

The official currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JD) and is made up of 1000 fils. The terms piastre or qirsh refers to 10 fils i.e. one dinar equals’ 100 piastres. Whenever a price is quoted most times, the unit is omitted; it is advisable to ask whether it’s fils, piastre or dinars.

Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 piastres while Notes come in denominations of JD1, 5, 10, 20 and 50.

Safety

Jordan is one of the safest countries in the Middle East for solo and group travelling. The army controls areas adjacent to the Iraqi, Syrian and Israeli/Palestinian areas so it would be best to have your passport with you when visiting such areas.

Tipping

Tips of 10% are generally expected in better restaurants (and often included in the bill). Elsewhere, rounding up the bill to the nearest 250 fils or giving back the loose change is appreciated, especially by petrol attendants and taxi drivers.

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