Jordan is situated in south-western Asia and is bounded on the north by Syria, on the south by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aqaba, on the east by Iraq and on the west by the occupied West Bank.
The lands west of the Jordan River were originally united with those on the east of contemporary Jordan. The western lands, including the West Bank of the Jordan river, were occupied by Israel in 1967. Except for a very short stretch of coast along the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, Jordan is landlocked. Al-Aqabah is Jordan's only port; a scene in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" depicts Al-Aqaba's historic siege by an Arab army led by T.E. Lawrence, who took over the city by land, evading heavy guns pointed toward the sea. The Eastern Desert occupies about 80% of the country. In the west is the Jordan River Valley, bordered to the east by steep highlands. Jabal Ramm is Jordan's highest point in the south (5,754 ft)
Before World War I
The Kingdom of Jordan is steeped in history and had been a major site for civilization since the Paleolithic Period. Archaeological evidence is constantly bringing to light signs of habitation from the dawn of history to the present day.
In 331BC, the armies of Alexander the Great conquered the Near East, introducing Hellenic culture to the area. On Alexander's death in 323BC, the Greek Empire was divided between his two generals. Jordan, Palestine and Egypt were given to General Ptolemy.
Between 400BC and 160AD, the Nabataean civilization flourished in the southern part of the Kingdom. The awe-inspiring Nabataean capital of Petra is now Jordan's most popular tourist attraction.
Jordan was part of the Roman Empire between 63 and 324AD. A league of ten cities, known as the Decapolis, was established at that time to facilitate the area's trade and commerce. Four cities in Jordan, Jerash, Philadelphia (now Amman), Umm Qais and Pella formed part of the Decapolis.
The Byzantine period, 324 to 632AD, saw the inhabitants of Jordan providing crops and livestock from their farmlands to sustain travelers on the caravan routes, which linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria and the Mediterranean.
The year 630AD marked the beginning of the Arab-Islamic era. The area was ruled for two centuries by the Ummayyad and Abbasid dynasties of Baghdad and Damascus.
In 1099, the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, establishing themselves by building two castles in Jordan at Shobak and Kerek, to protect their conquests. In 1187, Salah al Din (known as Saladin) defeated the Crusaders at Kerek, forcing them to completely withdraw from the Near East.
A 300-year rule by the Mamelukes followed, after which Jordan became part of the Ottoman Empire. This period came to an end with the famous Arab Revolt, between 1915 and 1918.
The 20th century
Jordan's modern history dates from 1921, when Emir Abdullah, the second son of Sherif Hussein, established the Emirate of Trans-Jordan as a self-governing territory under British mandate. In May 1946, Emir Abdullah was proclaimed King of the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The formal union of Jordan and the West Bank was declared in 1950.
In 1953, King Hussein ibn Talal, Emir Abdullah's grandson, formally ascended the throne of Jordan. His reign continued until 7th February 1999, when he finally succumbed to cancer at the age of 63. The late King Husseien will be remembered for many achievements, but he will perhaps be remembered most of all as the "King of Peace" due to his efforts in establishing and maintaining peace in the Middle East.
Shortly before King Hussein's death, he relieved his own brother and Crown Prince for more than 34 years Prince Hassan from his duties and appointed his eldest son Prince Abdullah as Crown Prince. On 6th February 1999, Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Al-Hussein was sworn in as Regent, and was proclaimed and sworn in as King of Jordan on the 7 of February 1999. King Abdullah II appointed his younger brother Prince Hamza as his Crown Prince.