Jordan Country Overview

Jordan Country Overview

According to the Constitution of January 1, 1952, Jordan is a constitutional monarchy; in fact, however, the sovereign holds very significant powers as he exercises executive power, assisted by a Council of Ministers, and is the head of state. The sovereign appoints the prime minister, but the government must have the confidence of Parliament, which exercises legislative power with the king. Parliament is made up of the Senate, whose members are nominated for eight years, and the House of Representatives, elected by universal suffrage for four years. In 1992, a National Charter was approved, supplementing the Constitution, which consecrates the principles of political pluralism, thus re-admitting parties, banned since 1957, into the political life of the country. The judicial system is based on Islamic law and the rules of European law. Alongside the ordinary courts, organized according to three levels of judgment (courts of first instance, Courts of Appeal and High Court of Justice) there are also religious courts that settle disputes relating to the personal sphere and religious property of Muslim subjects. The appointment of judges is directed. The death penalty is in force in the country. The Jordanian defense system is organized around the army, established for the first time in colonial times by Great Britain, whose training methods it has maintained even after the achievement of independence. The military also includes the navy and air force, as well as a special operations commando. Compulsory military service was suspended in 1999, but it is possible to carry out a leverage on a voluntary basis starting from 17 years of age. Women can also perform voluntary service, in positions that do not involve fighting.

As far as education is concerned, according to educationvv, the Jordanian school system was subject to the influences of Turkey, connected with the phase of domination until the First World War. However, with the Constitution of 1952, the system received considerable impetus for development and change. Primary education is free and compulsory: it includes a 10-year preparatory cycle and starts from 6 years of age. The second cycle is two years and allows access to university. Higher education is given in the universities of Amman and Irbid and in some agricultural or technical schools. The schooling of Palestinian refugees present in the country is guaranteed by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Despite interventions aimed at improving the education system, the illiteracy rate recorded in 2006 was 10.1%.

ENVIRONMENT

The vegetation cover of the country, once much richer, is mainly steppe; on the edge of the desert there are only xerophilous shrubs while in the wettest areas also the Mediterranean scrub grows. Jordan is among the first states in the region to have implemented an environmental conservation policy (with the 1965 decree establishing the first national park and the 1986-90 development plan). Protected areas cover 10.5% of the territory with four natural parks and numerous reserves. The main environmental emergencies are desertification and deforestation. The progressive reduction of drinking water sources is of some importance.

PREHISTORY

An important sequence has been observed in the endorheic depression of Azraq, in eastern Jordan, with materials from the evolved Acheulean, industries of the Yabrudian and the middle Paleolithic and traces of the Upper Paleolithic, Epipaleolithic (Kebarian) and Natufian. Lower Paleolithic levels with sliver industries referring to the Tayatian and topped by a recent Acheulean were discovered in the Oumm Qatafa cave in the Judean desert. Mousterian materials with the remains of a child referring to a Neanderthal are known in the Shukbah cave with, above it, levels and burials of the Natufian. The deposits on the terrace of El Khiam, near Bethlehem, have returned a sequence of the Upper Paleolithic (Aurignaziano del Levante), which evolves towards the Atlas, the geometric Kebarian, the Natufian and an industry called Khiamiano, characterized by particular points and numerous perforators. Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic industries are also known in the shelter of Erq el-Ahmara and in the Wadi Kharraneh. Among the Jordanian prehistoric stations, the main one is that of Jericho, known above all for the superimposition of the cultural layers that followed one another from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age. Also of considerable interest are the excavations of Seye-Aqlat, near Petra, where four settlements dating back to the pre-ceramic Neolithic, succeeding each other from the 7th millennium and those, with considerable remains of structures, of Beidha have been identified.

Jordan Country Overview