Amman is the capital and most populous city of Jordan, and the country's economic, political and cultural centre.
Situated in north-central Jordan, Amman is the administrative centre of the Amman Governorate. It has a population of 4,007,526 and a land area of 1,680 square kilometres (648.7 sq mi).
The city 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. It is expected that in the next 10 years these three cities will capture the largest share of multinational corporation activity in the region.
Today, Amman is considered to be among the most liberal and westernized Arab cities. It is a major tourist destination in the region, particularly among Arab and European tourists.
|TIME ZONE :|| +2 Eastern European Standard Time |
Summer: +3 Arabia Standard Time (UTC)
|LANGUAGE :||Arabic (official), English (widely used)|
|RELIGION :||Sunni Muslim 92%, Christian 6%, other 2%|
|AREA :||1,680 km2 (650 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||31°56′59″N 35°55′58″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 51.02% |
• Female: 48.98%
|AREA CODE :||6|
|POSTAL CODE :||11110-17198|
|DIALING CODE :||+962(6)|
Amman forms a great base for exploring the country and does, despite popular belief, hold a few items of interest to the traveler. The city is generally well-appointed for the traveler, reasonably well-organized, and the people are very friendly.
Although not seen as much when in the air over Amman, the city holds many surprises for the visitor. Anything can be found in Amman if one asks. Visit Amman's Roman Amphitheatre or study in the University of Jordan or stay in a luxurious hotel. Shopping malls are abundant in Jordan. With new construction in Abdali, in a few years the high-end traveler could eat in the most high-end restaurant, study in the American University of Jordan, stay in a five star hotel or shop in massive malls, all a few metres from one another. Much less is being done to cater to the budget traveler, although urban beautification is going on (as of early 2011) in the city centre (old town), which is being cleaned up and made more pedestrian-friendly.
Amman is experiencing a massive (some would say: reckless) change from a quiet sleepy village to a bustling metropolis, some of whose neighbourhoods seem hell-bent on wanting to imitate Dubai. Amman's roads have a reputation of being very steep and narrow in some of the underdeveloped parts of the city but now the city has state of the art highways and paved avenues. The steep terrain and heavy traffic remains challenging for pedestrians and for the rare cyclist. New resorts and hotels dot the city and there are many things for the traveler to see and do. Use Amman as a staging point for travels to nearby cities and settlements in Jordan.
Amman is considered one of the most liberal and westernized cities in the Arab world. The city has become one of the most popular destinations for Western expatriates and college students who seek to live, study, or work in the Middle East or the Arab world in general.
The city's culinary scene has changed from its shawerma stands and falafel joints to embrace many popular western restaurants and fast-food outlets such as Asian fusion restaurants, French bistros and Italian trattorias. The city has become famous for its fine dining scene among Western expatriates and Persian Gulf tourists.
Large shopping malls were built during the 2000s in Amman, including the Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall, City Mall, Al-Baraka Mall, Taj Mall, Zara Shopping Center, Avenue Mall, and Abdali Mall in Al Abdali (under construction). Wakalat Street ("Agencies Street") is Amman's first pedestrian-only street and carries a lot of name-label clothes. The Sweifieh area is considered to be the main shopping district of Amman.
Nightclubs, music bars and shisha lounges are present across Amman, changing the city's old image as the conservative capital of the kingdom. This burgeoning new nightlife scene is shaped by Jordan's young population. In addition to the wide range of drinking and dancing venues on the social circuit of the city's affluent crowd, Amman hosts cultural entertainment events, including the annual Amman Summer Festival. Souk Jara is a Jordanian annual weekly flea market event that occurs every Friday throughout the summer. Abdoun Circle is a major centre of the city's nightlife where clubs maintain a strict "couples only" policy. Sweifieh is considered to be the unofficial red-light district of Amman as it holds most of the city's nightclubs, bars, strip-clubs, massage parlors, and other adult entertainment venues. Jabal Amman and Jabal al-Weibdeh are home to many pubs and bars as well, making the area popular among bar hoppers.
Alcohol is widely available in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and supermarkets.There are numerous nightclubs and bars across the city, especially in West Amman. As of 2011, there were 77 registered nightclubs in Jordan (excluding bars and pubs), overwhelmingly located in the capital city.There are 222 registered liquor stores in Amman.
In the outskirts of Amman, one of the largest known ancient settlements in the Near East was discovered. The site, known as 'Ain Ghazal which is situated on a valley-side, dates back to 7250 BC and spans an area of 15 hectares. It was a typical average sized aceramic Neolithic village that accommodated around 3,000 inhabitants.
'Ain Ghazal is well known for a set of small human statues found buried in pits which were discovered in 1983, when local archaeologists stumbled upon the edge of a large pit 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) containing plaster statues.These statues are human figures made with white plaster. The figures have painted clothes, hair, and in some cases ornamental tattoos. 32 figures were found in two caches, 15 of them full figures, 15 busts, and two fragmentary heads. Three of the busts were two-headed, the significance of which is not clear.
In the 13th century BC Amman was known as "Rabbath Ammon" by the Ammonites. Ammon provided several natural resources to the region, including sandstone and limestone. Along with a productive agricultural sector, which made Ammon a vital location along the King's Highway, the ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia, Syria and Anatolia.
Today, several Ammonite ruins across Amman exist, such as Qasr Al-Abd, Rujm Al-Malfouf and some parts of the Amman Citadel. The ruins of Rujm Al-Malfouf consist of a surveillance stone tower that was used to ensure protection of their capital and several store rooms east of it. The city was later conquered by the Assyrian Empire, followed by the Persian Empire.
Conquest of the Middle East and Central Asia by Alexander the Great firmly consolidated the influence of Hellenistic culture. The Greeks founded new cities in the area of modern-day Jordan, including Umm Qays, Jerash and Amman. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Macedonian ruler of Egypt, who occupied and rebuilt the city, named it "Philadelphia", which means "brotherly love" in Greek. The name was given as an adulation to his own nickname, Philadelphus.
One of the most original monuments in Jordan, and perhaps in the Hellenistic period in the Near East, is the village of Iraq Al-Amir in the valley of Wadi Al-Sir, southwest of Amman, which is home to Qasr Al-Abd (Castle of the Slave). Other nearby ruins include a village, an isolated house and a fountain, all of which are barely visible today due to the damage brought by a major earthquake that hit the region in the year 362. Qasr Al-Abd is believed to have been built by Hyrcanus of Jerusalem, who was the head of the powerful Tobiad family. Shortly after he began the construction of that large building, in 170 BC upon returning from a military campaign in Egypt, Antiochus IV conquered Jerusalem, ransacked a temple where the treasure of Hyrcanus was kept and appeared determined to attack Hyrcanus. Upon hearing this, Hyrcanus committed suicide, leaving his palace in Philadelphia uncompleted.The Tobiads fought the Arab Nabateans for twenty years until they lost the city to them. After losing Philadelphia, we no longer hear of the Tobiad family in written sources.
The Romans conquered much of the Levant in 63 BC, inaugurating a period of Roman rule that lasted for four centuries. In the northern modern-day Jordan, the Greek cities of Philadelphia (Amman), Gerasa, Gedara, Pella and Arbila joined with other cities in Palestine and Syria; Scythopolis, Hippos, Capitolias, Canatha and Damascus to form the Decapolis League, a fabled confederation linked by bonds of economic and cultural interest.
Philadelphia became a point along a road stretching from Ailah to Damascus that was built by Emperor Trajan in 106 AD. This provided an economic boost for the city in a short period of time. During the late Byzantine era in the 7th century, several bishops and churches were based in the city.
Roman rule in Jordan left several ruins across the country, some of which exist in Amman, such as the Temple of Hercules at the Amman Citadel, the Roman Theatre, the Odeon, and the Nymphaeum. The two theatres and the Nymphaeum fountain were built during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius around 161 AD. The theatre was the larger venue of the two and had a capacity for 6,000 attendees. It was oriented north and built into the hillside, to protect the audience from the sun.
Early Islamic rule
In the 630s, the Rashidun army conquered the region from the Byzantines, beginning the Islamic era in the Levant. Philadelphia was renamed "Amman" by the Muslims and became part of the district of Jund al-Urdunn. A large part of the population already spoke Arabic, which facilitated integration into the caliphate, as well as several conversions to Islam. Under the Umayyad caliphs who began their rule in 661 AD, numerous desert castles were established as a means to govern the desert area of modern-day Jordan, several of which are still well-preserved. Amman had already been functioning as an administrative centre. Amman was later destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters, including a particularly severe earthquake in 747.
Amman's importance declined by the mid-8th century after damage caused by several earthquakes rendered it uninhabitable. At some point after the mid-8th-century earthquake, and certainly from the 15th century onward until 1878, Amman became an abandoned pile of ruins only sporadically used for shelter by seasonal farmers from elsewhere who used the arable land of the area, and by Bedouin tribes who used its pastures and water.
The Ottoman Empire annexed the region of Amman in 1516, but for much of the Ottoman period, al-Salt functioned as the virtual political centre of Transjordan. After about 1,000 years without recorded history, Amman was only resettled starting from 1878, when hundreds of Circassians arrived following their exodus from the Caucasus during the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Between 1872–1910, tens of thousands of Circassians were forcibly relocated to Ottoman Syria from historical Circassia by the Russian Empire during the events of the Russo-Circassian War.
British Mandate period
The first and second battles of Amman were part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I and the Arab Revolt, taking place in 1918. Amman had a strategic location along the Hejaz Railway; its capture by British forces and the Hashemite Arab army facilitated the British advance towards Damascus. The second battle was won by the British, resulting in the establishment of the British Mandate.
In 1921, the Hashemite emir and later king, Abdullah I, designated Amman instead of al-Salt to be the capital of the newly created state, the Emirate of Transjordan, which became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1950. Its function as the capital of the country attracted immigrants from different Levantine areas, particularly from al-Salt, a nearby city that had been the largest urban settlement east of the Jordan River at the time.
Jordan gained its independence in 1946 and Amman was designated the country's capital. Amman received many refugees during wartime events in nearby countries, beginning with the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. A second wave arrived after the Six-Day War in 1967, and a third wave of Palestinian and Jordanian refugees arrived in Amman from Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War. The first wave of Iraqi refugees settled in the city after the 1991 Gulf War, with a second wave occurring in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Most recently a wave of Syrian refugees have arrived in the city during the ongoing Syrian Civil War which began in 2011. Amman was a principal destination for refugees for the security and prosperity it offered.
In 1970, Amman was a battlefield during the conflict between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Jordanian Army known as Black September. The Jordanian Army defeated the PLO in 1971, and the latter were expelled to Lebanon. On 9 November 2005, Al-Qaeda under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's leadership launched coordinated explosions in three hotel lobbies in Amman, resulting in 60 deaths and 115 injured. The bombings, which targeted civilians, caused widespread outrage among Jordanians.Jordan's security as a whole was dramatically improved after the attack, and no major terrorist attacks have been reported since then.
During the last ten years the city has experienced an economic, cultural and urban boom. The large growth in population has significantly increased the need for new accommodation, and new districts of the city were established at a quick pace. This strained Jordan's scarce water supply and exposed Amman to the dangers of quick expansion without careful municipal planning. Today, Amman is known as a modern, liberal and westernized Arab city.
Amman's position on the mountains near the Mediterranean climate zone places it under the semi-arid climate classification.
Summers are mildly hot and breezy, however, one or two heat waves may occur during summer.
Spring is brief and warm, where highs reach 28 °C (82 °F). Spring usually starts between April and May, and last about a month.
Around the end of November is the period in which winter usually starts and continues from early to mid March. Temperatures are usually near or below 17 °C (63 °F), with snow occasionally falling once or twice a year.
Amman has extreme examples of microclimate, and almost every district exhibits its own weather. It is known among locals that some boroughs such as the northern suburb of Abu Nser are among the coldest in the city, and can be experiencing frost while other warmer districts such as Marka can be providing much warmer temperatures to its inhabitants at the same time.
Climate data for Amman
|Record high °C (°F)||23.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||12.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||3.6|
|Record low °C (°F)||−4.5|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization|
Amman is situated on the East Bank Plateau, an upland characterized by three major wadis which run through it.
Originally, the city had been built on seven hills. Amman's terrain is typified by its mountains. The most important areas in the city are named after the hills or mountains they lie on. The area's elevation ranges from 700 to 1,100 m (2,300 to 3,600 ft). Al-Salt and al-Zarqa are located to the northwest and northeast, respectively, Madaba is located to the west and al-Karak and Ma'an are to Amman's southwest and southeast, respectively.
One of the only remaining springs in Amman now supplies the Zarqa River with water.
The banking sector is one of the principal foundations of Jordan's economy. Despite the unrest and economic difficulties in the Arab world resulting from the Arab Spring uprisings, Jordan's banking sector maintained its growth in 2014. The sector currently consists of 25 banks, 15 of which are listed on the Amman Stock Exchange. Amman is the base city for the international Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, serving clients in more than 600 branches in 30 countries on five continents. Arab Bank represents 28% of the Amman Stock Exchange and is the highest-ranked institution by market capitalization on the exchange.
Amman is the 4th most visited Arab city and the ninth highest recipient of international visitor spending. Roughly 1.8 million tourists visited Amman in 2011 and spent over $1.3 billion in the city.
The expansion of Queen Alia International Airport is an example of the Greater Amman Municipality's heavy investment in the city's infrastructure. The recent construction of a public transportation system and a national railway, and the expansion of roads, are intended to ease the traffic generated by the millions of annual visitors to the city.
Amman is introducing itself as a business hub. The city's skyline is being continuously transformed through the emergence of new projects. A significant portion of business flowed into Amman following the 2003 Iraq War. Jordan's main airport, Queen Alia International Airport, is located south of Amman and is the hub for the country's national carrier Royal Jordanian, a major airline in the region.
In a report by Dunia Frontier Consultants, Amman, along with Doha, Qatar and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are the favored hubs for multinational corporations operating in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Jordan is divided into twelve administrative divisions, each called a governorate. Amman Governorate divides into nine nahias, five of which are divided into districts and are further divided into neighborhoods. The other four nahias lying in the suburbs are either divided into villages or towns.
The city is administered as the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) and covers 27 districts which include:
1 Al-Madinah 15 Badr Al-Jadeedah
2 Basman 16 Sweileh
3 Marka 17 Tla' Al-Ali
4 Al-Nasr 18 Jubeiha
5 Al-Yarmouk 19 Shafa Badran
6 Ras Al-Ein 20 Abu Nseir
7 Bader 21 Uhod
8 Zahran 22 Al-Jeezah
9 Al-Abdali 23 Sahab
10 Tareq 24 Al-Muwaqqar
11 Qweismeh 25 Husban Al-Jadeedah
12 Kherbet Al-Souk 26 Na'our
13 Al-Mgablein 27 Marj Al-Hamam
14 Wadi Al-Seer