In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Jordan. Know all about the country.
Capital: Amman Currency: Jordanian dinar Ethnicgroups: Arab 98 per cent, Circassian 1, Armenian 1
Languages: Arabic (official), English (widely understood among upper and middle classes)
Religion: Muslim 97.2 per cent (official; predominantly Sunni), Christian 2.2, Buddhist 0.4, Hindu 0.1, Jewish less than 0.1 per cent (2010 est.)
Climate: Jordan has a hot, dry climate characterised by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool winters. January is the coldest month, August the hottest. Daily temperatures can be very hot, especially in the summer; on some days it can be 40°C or more, especially when the sirocco, a hot, dry southerly wind blows. These winds can sometimes be very strong and can cause sandstorms. About 70 per cent of the average rainfall in the country falls between November and March.
Visa on Arrival: Jordan is home to more than 10,000 Indians, who are employed in textile, construction and manufacturing sectors, fertiliser companies, health sector, universities, IT, financial companies and multilateral organisations. Indians coming to Jordan can get a Visa on Arrival for two weeks of tourism by paying about $30. For this, you must produce confirmed return air ticket, confirmed accommodation booking and cash amount of $1,000 and in the absence of hotel accommodation, must have cash amount of $2,000. You can enter and exit from Aqaba along the Red Sea and get a one-month visa free.
Yoghurt and hummus: Jordanian cuisine shares many of the characteristics of Middle Eastern cooking, but the inclusion of freshly made, local yoghurt and cheese adds a twist to the menu. Aubergines, chickpeas, lentils and beans turn up in many of the dishes and rice and khoubs(Arabic bread) are staples used to scoop up spreads and dips, such as hummus and labneh (a yoghurt-like cream cheese). Black tea is the default drink and is usually served with a spoonful of sugar, though herbal blends are also common. Some of the specialities are Mezze, Mensaf, Maglouba, Kibbe, Zarb, Shraak, Baklava, Kunafeh and Muhallabiyyeh.
Arabian Sights: Petra: This is one of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites, and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra’s most imposing and impressive monument is Ad Deir (the Monastery). Amman: Here you feel the beating pulse of Arabia. There are lots of Roman ruins, the highlights being the large Roman amphitheatre and the Nymphaeum. The Citadel is home to the Roman Temple of Hercules and the large stone Ummayad Palace. Other places are Balad and Abdali. Jerash: This has an incredible collection of Greco-Roman ruins: landmarks like Hadrian’s Arch, dating back to the second century, and the Hippodrome, the smallest Roman hippodrome ever built. Visit the Archaeological Museum. Wadi Rum: Many of the major attractions in Wadi Rum are natural landmarks and rock formations as well as unique colors of sand or rock. Reddish-orange colours lend the area an otherworldly quality that has inspired sci-fi films. Lawrence of Arabia spent time here. Other interesting places are Dead Sea, Aqaba (Jordan’s gateway to the Red Sea), Al-Karak (for castles), Mujib Nature Reserve (lowest nature reserve on the globe), Dana Nature Reserve, Madaba, Ajloun (a castle), Shobak and Al-Maghtas.