24 May 2011

Happy Independence Day, Jordan!

Flag of Jordan
Coat of Arms of Jordan

Jordan's Location in the World

الله، الوطن، المليك
Transliteration: Allah al-Watan al-Malek
English: “God, Homeland, The King
Tomorrow (25th May) is Independence Day in Jordan. To mark the occasion I thought I would share a bit of the colorful history of this beautiful kingdom to give you an idea what we are celebrating. The independence of the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the story of many civilizations, vast empires and such names as Abraham, Moses, Alexander the Great and Lawrence of Arabia to name just a few.

This ancient land has been occupied by the Canaanites, Edomites and Moabites. The Akkadians, Assyrians, Israelite/Judeans, the Babylonian and Persian empires came and left their marks. Pharaonic Egypt once ruled the lands of the Jordan Valley, as did the Nabataean civilization which left incredible archaeological remains at Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The Macedonian/Greek/Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires have also left evidence of their presence.

Muslim Arabs occupied the region from 7th century CE until the Crusaders established the Kingdom of Karak. Later the Seljuk Turks came and the Ottoman Empire ruled until 1918 when British rule was imposed. This led to the creation, in 1922 of the autonomous emirate of Transjordan, and later the independent state.

After the first World War the Ottoman Empire was broken up by the League of Nations and the borders of the eastern Mediterranean were redrawn. The Sykes-Picot Agreement gave birth to the British Mandate of Palestine. It was agreed by the Transjordan Memorandum that territories east of the Jordan River would be excluded from the provisions governing the Jewish settlement.

In 1946, following the end of the second World War, Britain requested approval of the United Nations to end the British Mandate in Transjordan. Independence was granted under the leadership of As-Sayyid Abdullah bin al-Husayn, who had been appointed Emir in 1921. The newly independent leader was proclaimed King Abdullah I, also known as Abdullah the Founder. He ruled until he was assassinated at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in 1951 and was succeeded by his son, King Talal who was later removed because of mental illness.

King Talal’s son, Hussein, was too young to rule and the kingdom was governed by committee until Hussein reached the age of majority and was crowned in 1953. Upon his death in 1999, his son, King Abdullah II ascended the throne and remains there until today.

The late King Hussein survived several challenges to his rule and served as a symbol of unity and stability in Jordan. He ended martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties the following year.

King Abdullah II has refocused his government’s agenda to reform economic difficulties as well as the rapidly growing population. The more open political environment has led to the emergence of a variety of political parties. Several key regime figures have been the target of investigations and corruption charges and has become the major focus of protesters and political Islamists.

Thanks to the relative freedom and tolerance, as well as the richness of historical and archaeological treasures in the kingdom, Jordan consistently ranks high as a tourist destination. Last year (2010) more than 4.6 million people spent at least a day traveling in Jordan. We enjoy a very diverse array of cultures that is welcoming to artists, religious sects and ethnic groups. Jordan enjoys an excellent reputation for stability and tolerance.

To sum up, Jordan is a wonderful place to live or to visit. The ancient Arab Hospitality is still practiced and all visitors are warmly and genuinely welcomed. Come visit us when you can and experience a vacation that cannot be matched anywhere on the globe!

The late King Hussein
His Majesty, King Abdullah II

His Majesty in an episode of Star Trek, Voyager
The Royal Couple
Her Majesty, Queen Rania

The most beautiful Queen in the world!
7 Pillars of Wisdom in Wadi Rum

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