countryaah, Jordan has a fairly small economy, which is largely
supported by foreign aid. The country is extremely foreign
dependent with few natural resources and poor conditions for
agriculture. When the border with Israel was closed in 1948,
relations with the ports on the Mediterranean were
interrupted, and during the 1967 war the most important
agricultural areas (the West Bank) were lost.
Internal unrest 1970-71 further aggravated the situation,
but from 1974 to the mid-1980s, economic growth was strong.
However, Jordan was hit hard by the fall in oil prices in
the mid-1980s and by trade sanctions against Iraq after the
Kuwait War in 1991 and the Iraq War in 2003. Jordan's
business sector has also benefited from the unrest in the
region as the many refugees who have come to the country
brought with them knowledge and financial assets who have
benefited the country. During the first part of the 1990s,
growth in the economy was good, but the country was then hit
by the international financial crisis.
Only 5 percent of Jordan's area is suitable for arable
farming. Grazing land occupies 7 percent of the country's
area. In 2013, agriculture employed 3 percent of the labor
force. Large investments have been made in irrigation (the
Ghawr project in the Jordan Valley), but more than 90 per
cent of the cultivated area is dependent on uncertain
rainfall. The return therefore varies greatly from year to
year and from area to area. Water scarcity is a major
problem and risks becoming permanent. A future reduction of
the irrigated area is therefore likely.
In the north-western highlands, cereals (wheat, barley)
and fruit trees are mainly grown on slopes. In the irrigated
Jordandalen with its subtropical climate, fruits and
vegetables are grown, a large proportion of which is
exported. Nomadizing livestock farming (sheep, goats) is
still important, while fishing and forestry are of no
Jordan is a mineral-poor country; however, there are
phosphate deposits at al-Hasa and Shidiya. It is the world's
third largest producer of phosphate. Pot ash is extracted
from the Dead Sea, and smaller discoveries of oil and
natural gas have also been made. However, Jordan is
completely dependent on oil imports. During the 00s,
investments were made to develop wind and solar energy, but
no larger-scale production has yet started.
Despite the lack of domestic natural resources and a
small domestic market, the industrial sector has grown a lot
since the 1970s and now employs 20 percent of the workforce.
The most important industrial branches are manure
production, oil refining, cement production and
manufacturing of consumer goods. The country is also one of
the region's largest salt producers. Much of the industrial
production is concentrated in the cities of Amman and az
Zarqa. Jordan has several special industrial zones that can
produce goods for duty-free exports to the United States.
However, these zones have never been of decisive importance
to the economy since most factories have foreign owners,
often Chinese, and employ cheap foreign labor.
Jordan has a significant trade deficit abroad. Exports
consist of clothing, phosphate and vegetables, while imports
mainly comprise crude oil, machinery, transport and food. A
generally significant share of exports goes to other Arab
countries, but political circumstances mean that this trade
is changing rapidly. Important exporting countries are the
United States, Saudi Arabia and India. Important importing
countries are China, Saudi Arabia and the United States. As
a result of the Iraq War and free trade agreements with the
United States, exports to the United States have increased
substantially during the 1990s.
Tourism and gastronomy
Tourism's importance to the Jordanian economy is
gradually increasing, but the industry is heavily influenced
by the political conflicts in the region. In 2012, 4.2
million tourists came to Jordan, mainly from the local area.
The country's main tourist attraction is the ancient city of
Petra with a large number of temples and tombs. Petra was a
hub for trade in fabrics, glass, metals, myrrh and incense
even before our era and is sometimes described as an ancient
Hong Kong. Other sights include Aqaba Bay, which attracts
with good bathing and diving opportunities and the desert of
Wadi Rum with its traditional Bedouin culture.
Garlic, spices, dates, pine nuts, citrus fruits and lamb
are common features of Jordan's food attitude, which has in
many ways retained the traditions of the Bedouins. Yogurt is
very common as a drink and as a sauce, hummus
(chickpea paste with sesame oil) is an almost daily
accessory. Various forms of dolmar, meat wrapped in
vine leaves, or mahshis, stuffed vegetables, are
The party food in front of others, with clear roots in
the Bedouin culture, is mensaf. The dish is cooked
in two steps. First, the lamb meat is seasoned with herbs in
jameed, dried yogurt diluted with water. After
several hours the preparation itself begins, as large trays
are covered with flat bread cakes moistened with yogurt.
Then a layer of rice followed and finally the lamb stew,
sprinkled with pine nuts and raisins.