It’s easy to see why Lawrence of Arabia was so taken with Jordan. Probably the most appealing destination in the Middle East, this ancient Arab kingdom is a hospitable land packed with epic scenery and momentous relics.
Many travellers visit Jordan with its history in mind, and understandably so. The country is steeped in stories from the distant past, with the ruins to prove it. There’s the 2,000-year-old “lost city” of Petra, carved from rose-red sandstone cliffs by the Nabateans, and the legendary Lawrence of Arabia trail, which takes visitors from his crumbling fort at Azraq to the magnificent deserts of Wadi Rum.
Important biblical sites abound; visitors can trek along pilgrimage routes mentioned in the Old Testament, take in views of the Promised Land revealed to Moses and visit Bethany-by-the-Jordan where John baptised Jesus.
When Jordan’s ubiquitous historical sites begin to wear you out – and they will – take a restorative dip in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, go scuba diving over coral reefs in the Red Sea or stay in the desert with Bedouins, who offer travellers a glimpse into their traditional way of life.
For all its history and natural beauty, though, Jordan looks forward. Its relatively stable economic and political position in the Middle East has fuelled modernisation, particularly in the capital Amman. With new upmarket hotels, restaurants and bars, the city is no longer just a base from which to explore the ancient sites, but a destination in its own right.
In Jordan, hospitality is king. Everywhere you visit, you will hear heartfelt words of welcome, and will often be invited into shops or people’s homes for a glass of sweet tea and a conversation. In other places this might prelude a hard-sell campaign of carpet-flogging, but in Jordan, it’s almost always borne simply of an interest to engage with a visitor. As the Jordanians say; “Ahlan wa sahlan” – come in and make yourself at home.
89,342 sq km (34,495 sq miles).
7,747,800 (UN estimate 2016).
Head of state:
King Abdullah II since 1999.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour since 2012.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. Both round European-style plugs with two round pins and British-style plugs with three square pins are used.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Terrorist attacks are highly likely. In 2016 there have been a number of incidents, most of which have targeted local security forces. The most high profile of these included:
On 18 December 2016, 10 people were killed, including 3 civilians, and at least 29 injured in a terrorist attack in Kerak; it’s not clear if tourists were deliberately targeted.
In June 2016, 5 people were killed after a gunman gained access to the General Intelligence Directorate’s base in Baqa’a, 10km north of Amman city centre.There was also an explosion near Rukban on the north-eastern border resulting in some 20 casualties.
In March 2016, Jordanian security forces conducted an operation against a terrorist cell in Irbid, northern Jordan. The operation resulted in a number of deaths.
You should be vigilant at all times and keep updated on the situation in the country through local media and travel reports, and by subscribing for updates to this travel advice.
Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners, particularly hotels, shopping malls and tourist sites.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Terrorist groups operating in Syria, who routinely use kidnapping as a tactic, are present in the Syrian border areas.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.