Al-Mamlaka al-Urdunniya al-Hashimiya
Area: 88,778 sq. km.
Neighbouring countries: Syria to the North, Israel and Palestinian Territories (West Bank) to the West, Saudi Arabia to the South-East, Iraq to the East
Capital City: Amman
Other Cities: Az Zarqa, Irbid, Balqa, Mafraq, Jerash, Madaba
Ethnic groups: Arabs 98% (Jordanian and Palestinian), Armenians, Circassians and others
Languages: Arab (official), English
Currency: Jordanian Dinar
Member of: Arab League, OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference), UN and WTO (World Trade Organization)
(De Agostini, Jan. 2008)
Under British mandate since World War I, the country obtained independence on the 22nd March 1946 (under the name of Transjordan), and adopted the name of Jordan in 1949.
Today, Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. Islam is the State religion, but discriminations based on religious grounds are prohibited, and is safeguarded “the practice of all forms of worship and rites, as long as they are in compliance with the customs of the Country, except the cases in which this would be incompatible with public order and decorum".
The population is about 6 million (UN Statistics 2008). The Christians are about 6%. The Catholics, of various rites, are about 2%. (Sources: Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2008 and Dossier of the French Episcopal Conference on the Synod for the Middle East).
Relations with the Holy See
The Holy See and Jordan have diplomatic relations since the 3rd March 1994. The Apostolic Nuncio is Mgr. Giorgio Lingua (4th Sept. 2010), also Nuncio in Iraq.
Mount Nebo (806 m. above sea level) rises above the Transjordan platform, 25 km. to the South-West of Amman. Originally, it was probably linked to the worship of Babylonian god Nabu. Many springs stream from the mountain all year round, like Ayoun Mousa (Moses’ Springs) and Ayn Kanisah (Church’s Spring). In the background, one can contemplate the hills surrounding Amman and when visibility permits, Bethlehem, Herod’s fortress, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, the Oasis of Jericho, the Jerusalem Domes with their lights by night. According to tradition, this is where the Lord showed to Moses the Promised Land, at the end of the Crossing of the Desert, 40 years after leaving Egypt (Exodus).
"All this happened in Bethany, on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising"(Jn. 1, 28).
The region of “Bethany on the other side of the Jordan”was the centre of John the Baptist’s activity and the scenery for the public life of Jesus. Bethany is still buried and its precise location is unknown. It is perhaps 200 m. to the West of Prophet Elijah’s Hill, where archaeological excavations haven’t started yet. The zone is known under the name of "Wadi Al-Kharrar" (Melodious Valley), in reference to the murmur of the Jordan waters. This site is 350 m. below sea level (Mediterranean), a few kilometres from where the river broadens to meet the Dead Sea. The latter is also known as the “Salted Sea”in the Old Testament (Dt. 3, 17; Jos. 3, 16; Nb. 34, 12) and “Sea of Lot”in Arabic manuscripts.
BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF CELRA – CONFERENCE OF LATIN BISHOPS OF THE ARAB REGION: Nevertheless, it is essential to give firm support and encouragement to those who choose to remain faithful to their homeland in order to prevent it from becoming an archaeological site deprived of ecclesial life
JOHN PAUL II TO THE AMBASSADOR OF JORDAN, ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF HIS CREDENTIALS: At the dawn of the third millennium, it is still urgent to invite human beings to gather, not to destroy one another, to build a world open to human exchange, respectful of different cultures, attentive to justice and more equitable sharing among the nations, who must feel truly responsible for the common destiny of our humanity…
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF BENEDICT XVI TO THE HOLY LAND