The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small Middle Eastern country steeped in history. It is situated at the crossroads of the Middle East, connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe. Because of the logistics of Jordan's central location, it has played the role of communicator and connector for the east, west, north, and south.
The government of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with the King as the Head of State and the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the king, as the Head of Government. The Parliament is made up of the National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma, which has two chambers: the Assembly of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab with 110 members - six of which are reserved for women - that are elected for a four-year term; and the Assembly of Senators or Majlis al-Aayan, which has 55 members that are appointed by the king.
Being a small country, Jordan has a limited supply of water and natural resources. Unlike its Arab neighbors, it does not have the valuable resource of oil to depend on. Jordan's few natural resources include phosphate, potash, and limestone, which contribute to the export of phosphates and fertilizers. Fruits and vegetables are also exported, with approximately 20 percent of the labor force employed in agriculture.
King Abdullah II developed limited economic reform through privatization of government industries and by joining the World Trade Organization in 2000.
Politics in the region have also had a tremendous influence on Jordan's economy. After the Persian Gulf crisis in August of 1990, sanctions were placed on Iraq, Jordan's largest trading partner and main provider of energy, by the United Nations. Trade revenues and aid from Gulf Arab states diminished, while a large influx of Palestinian refugees from the Palestinian-Israel conflict put a strain on the already limited resources of the government.
After Iraq's invasion in 2003, displaced Iraqis increased demands for housing and resources. The instability of the region and the proximity to terrorist activities in and around Israel has also created issues that affect growth in the tourism trade.
During a period known as the Arab Spring, King Abdullah II of Jordan dismissed his government in early 2011. He appointed a new prime minister, with orders to implement political reform. The dismissal followed several protests calling for change in Jordan. Parliamentary elections in January 2013 installed a new parliament, in an environment touched with tension and calls for further reform.
Jordan is country of friendly and hospitable people. They welcome those who come to their country with a good-natured kindness. They are proud of their heritage, their families, and their accomplishments. It is a country that exists as a link to the east and west by combining its traditions and its modern ways.