Jordan (Arabic: الأردنّ al-ʾUrdunn), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a country in Western Asia spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan shares borders with Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, the Gulf of Aqaba to the southwest, and Palestine and Israel to the west. It shares control of the Dead Sea with Israel. Much of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert. However, the north-western part of Jordan is part of the Ancient Fertile Crescent. The capital city is Amman.
During its history, Jordan has seen numerous civilizations, including such ancient eastern ones as the Canaanite and later other Semiticpeoples such as the Edomites, and the Moabites. Other civilizations possessing political sovereignty and influence in Jordan were: Akkadian,Assyrian, Judean, Babylonian, and Persian empires. Jordan was for a time part of Pharaonic Egypt, the Hasmonean Dynasty of theMaccabees, and also spawned the native Nabatean civilization which left rich archaeological remains at Petra. Cultures from the west also left their mark, such as the Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Turkish empires. Since the seventh century the area has been underMuslim and Arab cultures, with the exception of a brief period when the west of the area formed part of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalemand a short time under British rule.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with representative government. The reigning monarch is the head of state, the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The king exercises his executive authority through the prime ministers and the Council of Ministers, or cabinet. The cabinet, meanwhile, is responsible before the democratically elected House of Deputies which, along with the House of Notables (Senate), constitutes the legislative branch of the government. The judicial branch is an independent branch of the government.
Jordan is a modern Arab nation, its population is 92% Sunni Muslim with a small Christian minority. Jordanian society is predominantly urbanized. Jordan is classified as an emerging market with a free market economy by the CIA World Fact Book. Jordan has more Free Trade Agreements than any other country in the Arab World. Jordan is a pro-Western regime with very close relations with the United States and theUnited Kingdom. It became a major non-NATO ally in 1996, and is one of only two Arab nations, the other being Egypt, that have diplomaticrelations with Israel. It is a founding member of the Arab League, the WTO, the AFESD,the Arab Parliament, the AIDMO, the AMF, the IMF, the International Criminal Court, the UNHRC, the GAFTA, theESCWA, the ENP and the United Nations. Jordan is also currently undergoing close integration with the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Jordan expects to receive "advanced status" with the EU by 2011.