Destination Guides

Facts
Capital: Amman 
Population: 6 407 000 inhabitants ((July 2010) 92% of the population is Sunni Muslims, 7% Christians)
Conventional Name:  Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Local Name: Al-Mamlakah al-ʾUrduniyyah al-Hāšimiyyah
Chief of State: King Abdullah II
Head of: Prime Minister Marouf al Bakhit

National Holidays:
New Year's Day: 1 January
King Abdullah II's Birthday: 30 January
Labor Day: 1 May 
Independence Day: 25 May
The Late King Hussein's Birthday: 14 November
Christmas Day: 25 December 

The following Islamic holidays are based on the lunar calendar: 
Eid Al – Fitr: a 3-day feast marking the end of Ramadan. 
Eid Al- Adha: a 4-day holiday, which is the feast at the end of Haj, or the month of Pilgrimage to Mecca.
First of Muharam: Islamic New Year.
Eid Al Isra Wal Mi'raj: The Prophet Mohammad's night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to heavens. 
The Birth of Prophet Mohammad

Languages
The official language is Jordanian Arabic. The spoken language is Jordanian Levantine which is very close to Egyptian Arabic and is the most widely understood. Modern Standard Arabic and English are obligatory learnt at public and most private schools with French being a less popular elective. Circassia and Chechen language are understood and spoken by small communities residing in Jordan, with several schools teaching them.

Visa - Do I need a visa to travel to Jordan?
All visitors to Jordan must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date they enter the country. The cost of one entry visa for all nationalities is 20 JD (around $30) obtained upon arrival at the airport. For multiple entries for all nationalities it is 60 JD (around $85) and can be obtained at the nearest embassy/consulate. 

Currency / Exchange rate / Banking
The country's monetary unit is the Jordanian Dinar (JD); it is divided into 100 plasters or 1000 fills. Credit cards are widely accepted, although in remote rural areas and the desert you might struggle with them. There are ATMs in all towns and cities of any size. Currency may be exchanged at any bank and most hotels, the exchange rate against the US dollar, JD 0.708 = US$. Banks are open from Sunday to Thursday, from 08:30 to 15:00.A list of banks in Amman follows. There may be more than one branch, and larger banks have branches in cities and towns throughout the country.

Tipping
Tipping is an accepted part of life in Jordan and will be expected by drivers, guides and other people who look after you or offer you some service during your trip. That having been said there is not the same request for tips at every turn that you encounter in some of the other countries of the region. In up market restaurants a tip of 10% is normally expected, whilst in smaller and cheaper establishments anything from 500 fills - JD 1 is about right. Ultimately the above suggestions are nothing more than guidelines. Tipping is discretionary, but it is also is an accepted part of culture. 

Clock Conscious
From October through March, Jordan is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. The rest of the year, Jordan is three hours ahead of GMT.

Business Hours
Most Jordanians work five days a week with Friday and Saturday off, but business and shopping hours are flexible. Some establishments are open from 9:30 - 13:30 and again from 15:30 to 18:00. Others may be open straight through the day from 08:00 to 20:00. Government offices are open from 08:30 - 15:00. All businesses and most shops, other than those in the souks, are closed on Fridays. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, working hours are more flexible and generally shorter.

Weather
The weather in Jordan is pleasurable for travel throughout the year. Amman is sunny and cloudless from May to October, with temperatures averaging approximately 25C (75 F). During the spring, the most beautiful season in Jordan, fields and mountains are coated with rich greenery and exquisite wildflowers. In autumn, the weather is mild and pleasant. July and August are hot and dry, but not restrictive of tourist activities. The valleys and Aqaba are ideal winter resorts, with temperatures averaging 16-22 C (66-72 F) between November and April. Rainfall is a rare occurrence in Aqaba as well as in the desert areas of Jordan.

Health
Jordan has quite an advanced health care system, although services remain highly concentrated in Amman. The King Hussein Cancer Center is the only specialized cancer treatment facility in the Middle East. It is one of the top cancer treatment facilities in the world. Jordan was ranked by the World Bank to be the number one health care services provider in the region and among the top 5 in the world. In 1 June 2007, Jordan Hospital (as the biggest private hospital) was the first general specialty hospital who gets the international accreditation. 

Quality of Life
Jordan is consistently ranked as having a superior quality of life in comparison to the region and developing countries as a whole. Jordan has one of the highest standards of living in the developing world with a highly educated population with access to advanced healthcare services in urban and rural areas. Jordan ranked as having the 11th highest standard of living in the developing world and the second highest standard of living in the Arab and Muslim World as measured by the Human Poverty Index. 

Water & Electricity
Potable water is a precious resource in Jordan. However, hotels rated three-star or better have their own water filtering systems (their water is considered safe to drink) and bottled water is cheap and readily available. As for electricity, 200V; 50 cycles; rounded two-prong plugs are used. Transformers and adapters are widely available.

Clothing
Whilst Jordan is a Muslim country; it is one of the more secular ones in the region. It is still important to respect Muslim social customs. Dress does not have to be as conservative as in some countries in the region, but care should still be taken. For these days, both sexes can wear shorts and t-shirts (weather-permitting!), although keeping the shoulders covered is sensible, for reasons of sunburn as much as respect for local customs. During Ramadan, do not eat, drink or smoke in public. Women in Jordan are not required to wear headscarves or face covers. It is up to the visitor's discretion to choose the appropriate attire keeping in mind the relative conservatism of Middle Eastern societies. Even summer evenings can be quite cool, so one should be prepared to wear a shawl or sweater. Winters are cold, windy and rainy. Heavy snow is not unusual.

Photography
One hour developing is widely available. All sorts of films, cameras, disposable cameras, camcorders are available. Like in any country, it is advisable that one asks permission before photographing strangers. Do not photograph anything to do with the military or government buildings - also avoid photographing bridges and canals, or anything that could be construed as having strategic significance. Ask people if they mind before photographing them.

Food
Jordanian food is strongly Arab, with Lebanese influence dominating as well as one or two traditional local dishes. The most common form of meal starts with mezze (mixed starters, predominantly non-meat dishes) followed by hot, meat-based dishes, all accompanied by lots of delicious, fresh-baked flat bread. For a quick snack, you should try shawerma. This is thinly sliced compacted meat (normally lamb, sometimes chicken) - what we would call a donner kebab - shaved into a flat bread pocket and garnished with a garlic sauce before being wrapped into a tight cylinder for easy eating.
As well as traditional Arabic coffee, tea and fruit juice, Jordan also produces its own wines, the best of which are pretty decent, and brews a couple of beers under license, the most common being Amstel. The local spirit is araq, a triple-distilled vine is part of the Jordanian traditions. 
- Mansaf, a whole stewed lamb with cooked yoghurt sauce served on a bed of rice
- Musakhan, chicken with onions, olive oil, pine seeds and seasoning. Cooked in an oven on a thick loaf of Arabic bread;
- Maglouba, a meat or fish and vegetable stew served with rice; 
- Shish Kabab, pieces of lamb, marinated chicken and patties of minced and spiced lamb meat all cooked over a charcoal fire with onions and tomatoes.

Drinking
locally produced beer, wine and spirits are available throughout the country, as are imported drinks. Bottled water is available, in addition to imported sparkling water. They are widely available in hotels, restaurants, bars and some shops. Drinking is strictly prohibited on streets.
The Jordan economy is very similar to European standards, although food products are normally less expensive. The economic traveler may get by on approx. 80$ a day (excluded accommodation).