Hard facts about Jordan
Summary, visas, exit tax and
with a population of a little over 5 million people, has been an
independent state since 1921 when the Emir Abdullah declared the
existence of the "Emirate of Transjordan" with himself
as the ruler. Abdullah was the second son of Sharif Hussein, the
leader of the Hashemite tribe in Saudi Arabia, and older brother
of Faisal of "Lawrence of Arabia" fame - see web page
- (the eldest brother's name was Ali). Originally intended
as the King of Iraq, with Faisal as King of Syria, he had to
content himself with the lesser prize when Faisal took the
kingdom of Iraq in his place. It is perhaps ironic that today his
descendants still rule Jordan, whereas Faisal's family was wiped
out in the revolution of 1958.
Jordan became a kingdom
in 1946 when the official name of the country became the "Hashemite
Kingdom of Transjordan" with Abdullah as the first king.
The name was changed to "Kingdom of Jordan" in 1948. (See the
history page "The
beginning of the Kingdom")
Abdullah (today known
as Abdullah I) was assassinated in 1951 and the throne passed
automatically to his son the Crown Prince Talal. He abdicated for
medical reasons in 1952 and his son Hussein became King at the
age of 17.
Hussein ruled until his
death in 1999 and was succeeded by his eldest son Abdullah II who
rules at the moment. Since his succession, Abdullah has had to
face a number of problems, economic, social and political, with
the successive crises in Palestine and the Middle East.
Jordan is in theory a
democratic monarchy, the people have a number of liberties and
feel themselves quite free. But these liberties are granted for
as long as the monarch wishes. King Abdullah has the power to
delay or to cancel parliamentary elections, the press is closely
watched and people can be detained for an almost indefinite
period with no reason given. These powers are used with
discretion, and as I said, the people in Jordan are on the whole
perfectly happy with their government, and frequently compare it
favourably with neighbouring states.
Queen Rania, the wife
of King Abdullah II and something of an international media star,
invariably accompanies him on his frequent travels, and is almost
always a silent participant in any official interview. The couple
have four small children, two boys and two
Annual population growth
Population aged under 19
25% (2004 estimate)
88.778 sq kilometers
238.640 hectares (2003)
71.320 hectares (2003)
Annual water deficit
480 million cubic meters (2000)
Tourist visas are
easily available at any entry point into Jordan except the King
Hussein Bridge. The logic here is that "Palestine" is
still part of Jordan - go figure! These are single entry visas
and cost 20JD or approx 30USD. You don't need photos, or any
document except your passport. Please see below for information
about free visas in Aqaba (ASEZ
Single entry visas are
officially valid for three months from the date you entered the
country, but you must "register" them at a main police
station within one month of your arrival.
(This has been so since 05 July 2005 - before that it was two weeks only).
If you forget about this, then you have a fine of 1.5JD per day for each
day you have neglected to register. What's more, you cannot pay this fine at the
same police station as the one that "registers" you : you have to do it at the
district police station that may not even be in the same town! And when the fine
is paid, you are still not registered, you have to return to the first police
station to do it. All in all, it is much simpler to check in with the police
before your month is up.
This registration is fairly painless: you are
asked where you are stying, if you intend to work in Jordan, etc. As long as the
three month extension is enough you don't need to worry.
gives most nationalities the right to stay for three months (but a little lower down); if
you leave the country before the three months are up, then you
start again when you come back again, ie with the obligation of
checking in to a police station within one month. If you are
planning to go and come a bit, then a multiple entry visa makes
life simpler, but it absolutely doesn't mean that you mustn't
register within the month. If you decide to opt for this, you
must get it at an embassy; they are NOT delivered at a border
point. These visas are usually valid for six months, and cost the
equivalent of 20JD which at the moment is about 31USD. You can
see that this is cheaper than three single entries, so if you can
get the visa easily, you will probably prefer this solution. If
the visa is a drag to get from an embassy, then stay with several
single entry visas, you don't lose much.
If you plan to stay
longer than three months with a single entry visa, then you are
supposed to apply for a residence permit - unless you are really
staying for a good while, it is much simpler to go for a weekend
to Israel, Sinai or Syria and start again when you come back!
It is worth remembering however, that with a residence permit you can obtain a
visa for Syria in Amman and also you pay lower prices for entering most tourist
If this applies to you, I should warn you that lately Jordan
is very sensitive about the AIDS virus, and anybody
wanting any kind of official paper: residence permit, driving
licence, work permit, and
even high school and university registration must present the result of a blood
test saying one is Aids free. This unfortunately, also applies to a residence
permit. You must therefore head for a
clinic or a hospital for your blood test. I warn you that the cost of it is
20JD! Just remember that this sum is probably less onerous for you than for most
Once you do have the (negative) result, the rest of the
registration procedure at a police station goes easily, you are just asked where
you are staying, what are you doing in Jordan and do you intend to look for
note that there is recently some talk of its being possible to have a visa for 6
months without the obligation to register it. I have not been able to check
this, and it seems likely that this is an option which you must request
exit tax is no longer charged when you leave by air, since it is included
in the price of your ticket. It is still to be paid when you leave by sea or by
land, including if you leave Jordan by the King Hussein Bridge in the direction
of Palestine and Israel. In this case it is now 8JD (instead of 5JD!)
additional information you should check out
The Aqaba Special
Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA for short) has introduced a special Economic Zone
visa for Jordan, to be known as an "ASEZ visa".
Anybody arriving in
Aqaba, whether at the port, at the airport or from the Arava
crossing from Israel can get a free visa for Jordan. There is no
obligation associated with this visa, providing they leave the
country within one month and do not need to register their visa for
"renewal". Passports are not checked at the ASEZ
control point leaving the Economic Zone.
People arriving at any
entry point other than Aqaba, who say to the authorities that
they are going to Aqaba can claim a free visa, but with the
obligation to register with the ASEZA visa office in Aqaba within
48 hours of their arrival in Jordan. Failure to do this brings
liability to pay for the visa plus a fine of 1.5JD/day for each
day non registered.
Anybody arriving in
Aqaba can if they wish, ask for a normal visa (usual price=10JD)
instead of the free ASEZ visa. In this case if they want to stay
they can register at their local police
station as per current practice.
Anybody holding an ASEZ
visa, and wishing to stay longer than
must extend it at
the ASEZA office in Aqaba and not with their local police station
as holders of a normal visa can do, so remember this and be
careful about claiming the ASEZ visa if you will be in Jordan for
Everybody without a
specific exemption must pay the 5JD exit tax whether holding an
ASEZ visa or not and wherever leaving the country. Travellers
staying in Jordan less than 24 hours are considered to be "in
transit" and are exempt from the tax, as are certain cruise
ship passengers - see below about transit visas.
In other words, if you
are staying less than
in the country and arrive in Aqaba,
you can ask for a free visa without hesitation. If you arrive
somewhere else, you must decide if you want the hassle of getting
to Aqaba within 48 hours or if you prefer paying the 10JD (approx
16USD) for a normal visa.
Note that many taxi
drivers in Aqaba are completely unfamiliar with the term "ASEZA".
Ask them to drive you to the "Acleem" office, this
meaning something like "Regional Authority".
note that these visas differ from the usual Jordanian visa in that they expire
you exit Jordan at any border. They CANNOT be used to
re-enter Jordan at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge in the same way that Jordan
The background is that ASEZA visas are issued in
order to attract business and investment into Aqaba. Tourists are then not
restricted from using them to travel around Jordan, although ASEZA do,
apparently, reserve the right - if, for instance, someone enters Aqaba on a free
ASEZA visa then immediately leaves Aqaba in order to travel around Jordan - to
rescind their ASEZA visa on the 'border' (Wadi Yitm road/Wadi Araba road etc)
and ensure they buy a Jordan visa for 10 JD. In practice, this never happens -
but that is the principle on which the ASEZA visa system was set up.
They are intended to benefit Aqaba, and Aqaba alone - not the whole of Jordan.
ASEZA visas are when you enter through Aqaba only, and not
through any other point.
It is also possible to
obtain a free "transit visa" valid for 48 hours.
Obviously with this visa you are automatically exempt from the
exit tax, but if you stay longer than the 48 hours, you will not
only have to pay both the visa charge and the exit tax but a fine
of 1.5JD for each day you have been in Jordan. The easiest way to
get them at Amman airport is to apply to the Transit Desk, the
officials at the normal visa counter don't seem to have heard of
Health treatment in
Jordan is on the whole pretty good. Jordan has an extremely high
level of medical care; all doctors are proficient in English,
many have trained in Europe or North America. Most medicines are
obtainable "over the counter" at the pharmacies, but
some medicines are available only on prescription, e.g. valium
and analgesics like codeine, etc. Antibiotics are readily
available and are very reasonably priced. Again and again I am
surprised by the fact that "x" drug is immediately
available instead of needing to be special-ordered. There is
seldom any difficulty either with the dates of manufacture - I
say "seldom" but in fact I don't think I have ever
treatment for cases not needing hospitalization, is free in Jordan.
however, suggest that you avoid being hospitalized in any public
hospital if you have any alternative. The levels of comfort and
privacy are not to be judged by Western standards. While the
actual medical care is irreproachable, the local custom of having
a relative sleep nearby to provide any non-medical care says it
Some of the local fauna
(scorpions, snakes - uh! ...) can be nasty when provoked. Unless
you have a specific allergy to their bites, and provided you can
get rapid treatment, they will probably be no more than nasty.
Anti toxins are available in Wadi Rum and also in Dana.
Inoculations are not
required for entry into Jordan unless you are travelling from an
infected location. If you come from a country where diseases such
as cholera and yellow fever are prevalent, you will have to show
a certificate of inoculation at your point of entry into Jordan.
Although they are not required, it is not a bad idea to have
preventive shots for polio, tetanus and typhoid.
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