Friday, August 31, 2012

Hej då Sverige, مرحبا الأردن


Instead of packing or napping I have, of course, wasted a couple of hours on the internet and ended up with a list of 20 interesting facts about the country in which I am spending the next four months. I thought I'd share it with you (mind you, my main source for this was Wikipedia).

Interesting facts about Jordan:
1. A statue was discovered at Ein Ghazal that is thought to be 8,000 years old. Just over one meter high, it depicts a woman with huge eyes, skinny arms, knobby knees and a detailed rendering of her toes.
2. In the desert during the Chalcolithic period (4500-3200 BC), the lifestyle was probably very similar to that of modern Bedouins.
3. The Iron Age kingdom of Ammon, in the area of modern-day Amman, maintained its independence from the Assyrian empire, unlike all other kingdoms in the region which were conquered.
• The Jordanian capital of Amman is the original city of brotherly love. 2000 years ago the Greeks renamed the city Philadelphia. The city has also been occupied by the Ammonites, Israelites, Assyrians, Persians, Nabateans, Romans, Turks and British.
4. Jordan had one of the freest and most liberal societies in the Middle East and in the Greater Arab World during the 1950s and early 1960s.
5. Jordan witnessed some of the most severe protests and social upheavals in its history during the 1980s.
6. In the late 1990s, Jordan's unemployment rate was almost 25%, while nearly 50% of those who were employed were on the government payroll.
7. Jordan has the world's lowest suicide rate at 0.04 per 1,000 people.
8. It is believed that Moses is buried on Mount Nebo of Jordan.
9. The Hashemite kings of Jordan trace their ancestry in a direct line to Muhammad, the most important prophet of the Islamic religion.
10. Jordan has insignificant reserves of oil and gas, and is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East. In spite of this, living standards are relatively good.
11. According to its Water Strategy, Jordan is one of the four driest countries in the world.
12. The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of fifteen Arab countries.
13. Jordan hosts one of the highest percentages of immigrants in the world in comparison to its total population, with more than 40% of its residents being born in another country.
14. 92% of the population is Muslim.
15. Jordan is among the top ten countries whose citizens feel safest walking the streets at night.
16. Jordan was ranked in 2010 as the most expensive Arab country to live in.
17. 75% of all Arabic online content originates from Jordan. Amman is considered the “silicon valley” of the region.
18. According to the Global Innovation Index 2011, Jordan is the 3rd most innovative economy in the Middle East.
19. Jordan is considered one of the Arab World's most cosmopolitan and westernized countries with its capital Amman becoming referred to as the "New Beirut".
20. The 2010 AOF Index of Globalization ranked Jordan as the most globalized country in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Yes, I am going to that wonderful, diverse country where tradition meets modernity. I am going to live in a city where you pass ancient ruins on your way to work in a 21st century office. I will meet Palestinians, Bedouins, and above all Jordanians, with fascinating stories that I will understand because I will learn to speak their language. It is truly a dream come true.

On a final note, I just have to recommend the book I'm reading right now, People like Us by Joris Luyendijk. I will never see Western media representations of the Middle East in the same way again.

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