Islam is state religion, but the constitution guarantees religious freedom. More than nine out of ten Jordanians are Sunni Muslims. The rest are Shia Muslims or belong to small minority Christians.
Islam is of great importance in society. All family law is based on Islamic law, Sharia, for the Muslim population. According to the constitution, the king must be Muslim, born of Muslim parents. The Jordanian royal family is considered to be descended from Prophet Muhammad, which in the eyes of many Jordanians strengthens the monarch’s right to rule the country.
Islam has experienced a renaissance in recent decades. It has become more common for women to wear a veil, more people attend Friday prayers and the fasting month of Ramadan is more closely observed. For those who convert from Islam, the rules are at the same time less stringent in Jordan than in many other countries, although it can be difficult to be accepted as a convert.
The Christian minority, whose share of the population is constantly declining, mainly belongs to various Orthodox churches; a third are Catholics. The Christian families make up only a few percent of the population but have great financial influence. Christians are also politically overrepresented in parliament through quotas.
Serious contradictions are rare between Muslims and Christians, but religious issues can be sensitive. In 2018, a publisher and editor were arrested on suspicion of hate crimes after publishing an image that angered Christians. The site al-Wakil had published a joke in which Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting Communion was spiced with an addition: a Turkish celebrity chef – Nusret Gökçe, known as Salt Bae – made his signature guest (he sprinkled salt across the dining table) standing next to Jesus. Christian representatives in Jerusalem protested the image before the Jordanian authorities intervened.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Jordan, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Thousands have returned to Syria
About 28,000 Syrians have returned home from refugee lives in Jordan since the border between the countries reopened in mid-October. But the government of Jordan, which is responsible for the data, has estimated the number at 1.3 million in total during the war years. 650,000 Syrians have been registered by the UN as refugees in Jordan.
New tax rules are clubbed
Parliament’s lower house adopts a new tax law that has been reconciled with international lenders’ (IMF) demands on how Jordan’s state finances should be managed. Compared to the government’s previous proposals – which caused demonstrations during the summer – changes have been made, but increases in both payroll and corporate taxes have now been decided. One remedy for the protests is that the income threshold for when Jordanians must start paying taxes has been raised. The law must also be approved by the Senate before it can be signed by the King and come into force.
Rainfall with deadly exit
Skyfall causes at least 13 people to lose their lives in different places. Nearly 4,000 tourists are evacuated from the rocky city of Petra east of the Dead Sea and a group of Israeli tourists are rescued in the desert landscape of Wadi Ram. Several countries in the region are affected by storms, including some deaths outside Jordan.
Rain creates disaster in desert nature
At least 21 people die when a school bus is flushed away by a flood near the Dead Sea. A large rescue effort is looking in the area. Israel contributes with helicopters. In case of rainfall, floods and floods occur easily on both sides of the Dead Sea, where steep cliffs exacerbate the situation. The water in the ravines can be several meters deep as it speeds down the cliff walls.
Jordan wants to end Israeli land lease
Jordan wants the two land areas Ghumar and Baqura from Israel. Ghumar is located in southwestern Jordan, at Aqaba next to the Red Sea. Baqura is located in the northwest, in the Irbid province at the border with Israel. Ghumar was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and Baqura in 1950. Since the 1994 peace treaty, Israel has leased the areas, a total of ten square kilometers, on 25-year contracts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes for new negotiations to extend land ownership.
Important border crossing opened
The most important border crossing between Syria and Jordan has been reopened. The transition through the Nasib community on the Syrian side has been closed since the spring of 2015. Jordan chose to close the border since rebels took the Syrian side in breach of the government army. This summer, the Assad regime regained control of Nasib, but despite the offensives in various areas during the year, the regime is said to only control the booklet of Syria’s transfers to other countries.
Budget support and loan guarantees
Jordan receives $ 1 billion in financial support from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, in line with even more far-reaching promises (see June 4). Payments have been made to the Jordanian Riksbank. The Emirates has also pledged loan guarantees for Jordan to the World Bank. Since a large loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2016, Jordan has struggled to reduce its debts, but there were demonstrations as prices of basic commodities rose and tax increases were proposed.
The US withdraws support for refugees
Concern is growing with Palestinian refugees since US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw US support for the UN organization UNRWA, which provides health care and education to Palestinian refugees. The United States has been UNRWA’s largest individual donor country and in 2016 accounted for 30 percent of the budget. In Jordan, there are many people affected by a reduction in UNRWA’s resources. According to the UN, there are 2.2 million registered Palestinian refugees, of whom 370,000 live in the ten official camps.
Increased interest from China
China’s investments in especially the mining industry are increasing and the country is now Jordan’s second largest trading partner. This is stated in a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Amman in connection with a ministerial meeting in Beijing between Arab countries and China.
British prince on a round trip
British Prince William, next to Crown Prince Charles in the throne, makes an official visit – the first of a British royal who also goes to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. The official program, which mentions the Palestinian territories that occupied, provokes irritation in Israeli right-wing circles. Most of the visit to Jordan spends Prince William with the successor Crown Prince Hussein, as well as himself educated at the British Military College Sandhurst.
Summit with Israel
King Abdullah receives a rare visit: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The king and Netanyahu are discussing, among other things, the failed peace process between Israelis and Palestinians and the issue of the status of Jerusalem, which is one of the key issues in the conflict. King Abdullah reiterates Jordan’s well-known position – that a peace between Israelis and Palestinians must be based on a two-state solution.
New government takes office
The country’s new government is joining Omar al-Razzaz as head of government and defense minister. Half of the 28 ministers have been replaced, but Home Minister Samir al-Mabidin and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi remain in office. The new prime minister states that he has already embarked on the controversial issue of a new tax system and initiated a dialogue with various parties with the aim of developing a system that should be “fair to all”.
Mass protests shake the government
The growing protests against the electoral policy have prompted King Abdullah to call Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki, who resigns after two years as head of government. Omar al-Razzaz gets the king’s assignment to form a new government. He has a background as an economist at the World Bank. Even after a few days, the incoming prime minister announces that the criticized tax proposal will be withdrawn. The outside world is responding to the crisis by promising more support for Jordan. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait pledge to give the country $ 2.5 billion and the EU promises $ 23 million.
Protests against tax increases
Price increases for electricity and fuel and increased income taxes for both individuals and companies have led to several days of demonstrations. The government removes government subsidies to meet loan requirements from the International Monetary Fund (IMF): the state needs to widen its tax base and increase its income. A majority of MPs declare that they are opposed to the income tax proposal and King Abdullah orders that price increases be frozen. Earlier this year, bread prices doubled after subsidies were removed.
Wafer scales tighten safety requirements
In Jordan, where crime is otherwise low, more than 20 armed robberies against banks, exchange offices and post offices have been reported since New Year, of which seven in Amman. The robbery has been committed by previously unpunished persons, not by organized crime, state authorities say. Parliament is discussing how security can be increased, while analysts point to a number of noticeable changes that are underway: Unemployment has risen to around 18.5 percent and state price support for basic commodities such as bread and fuel has been cut.
More expensive care for refugees
Human Rights Watch expresses concern about how conditions will change for refugees from Syria. They have started to obtain a residence permit, a measure that began on March 4 and improves their conditions. But at the same time, the authorities have withdrawn the subsidized health care for refugees who do not live in camps. The decision, which was made in January, is believed to affect up to 50,000 people, according to HRW. The UN has registered over 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, whose government says the real number reaches over one million. Since 2014, no refugees have been given free care in the country.
Policemen are trained against terrorism
Jordan and the United States have opened an anti-terrorism police training center, which will, among other things, learn how to deal with cyber threats, explosives and hostage situations. The education is linked to the police college and located in Suwaqa south of Amman. Since 2009, the two countries have been conducting similar special education in al-Zarqa.
Extended support from the United States
An agreement with the United States gives Jordan $ 1.3 billion a year, including $ 750 million in financial aid and $ 350 million in military assistance. The deal is the first since Donald Trump became president and is expanding US support for Jordan. Separately, according to AFP, the United States has provided humanitarian assistance for nearly a billion dollars to refugees from Syria.
Settlement clear with Israel
30th of January
Israel has reopened its embassy in Amman, which has been closed for six months. The mission was closed after an Israeli security guard shot dead two Jordanians. One had attacked the guard, the other was a landlord who was accidentally shot. The diplomatic disagreement between the countries that followed was reported to be resolved. Even in 2014, when a Jordanian judge was shot dead at the border, the countries have made up their minds. According to Jordan, Israel has paid damages.