Amman (Arabic: عمان /ɑːˈmɑːn/; ʿAmmān; Rabat Ammon) is the capital and largest city of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost 6.5 million by 2025 due to constant and rapid immigration. The recent economic growth experienced in Amman is unmatched by any other Arab city except those located in the Gulf. Amman is also the administrative seat of the homonymous governorate. Amman is also ranked a Gamma global city on the World city index.
Amman was named one of the MENA's best cities according to economic, labour, environmental, and socio-cultural factors. Amman is among the most popular locations for multinational corporations to set up their regional offices, alongside Doha and only behind Dubai. Furthermore, it is expected that in the next 10 years these three cities will capture the largest share of multinational corporation activity in the region. It is a major tourist destination in the region and the capital is especially popular among Gulf tourists. Amman is considered one of the richest and most Western-oriented cities in the Middle East.
During its long history, Amman has been inhabited by several civilizations. The first culture on record is during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, around 7250 BC, when archaeological discoveries in 'Ain Ghazal, located in eastern Amman, showed evidence of not only a settled life but also the growth of artistic work, which suggests that a well-developed culture inhabited the area at that time. A megalithic menhir has also been found in Amman at Wadi Saqra.
In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon or Rabat Amon by the Ammonites. In the Hebrew Bible, it is referred to as Rabbat ʿAmmon (Tiberian Hebrew Rabbaṯ ʿAmmôn). It was later conquered by the Assyrians, followed by the Persians, and then the Macedonians. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Macedonian ruler of Egypt, renamed it Philadelphia. The city became part of the Nabataean kingdom until 106 AD when Philadelphia came under Roman control and joined the Decapolis.
Philadelphia became the seat of a bishopric during the beginning of the Byzantine era. One of the churches of this period can be seen on the city's Citadel. Philadelphia was renamed Amman during the Ghassanian era, and flourished under the Caliphates (with nearby capital) of the Umayyads (in Damascus) and the Abbasids (in Baghdad).
It was then destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters and remained a small village and a pile of ruins until the Circassian settlement in 1878. The tide changed when the Ottoman Sultan decided to build the Hejaz railway, linking Damascus and Medina, facilitating both the annual hajj pilgrimage and permanent trade, putting Amman, a major station, back on the commercial map.
In 1921, Abdullah I chose Amman instead of As-Salt as seat of government for his newly created state, the Emirate of Transjordan, and later as the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As there was no palatial building, he started his reign from the station, with his office in a train car. Amman remained a small city until 1949,and 1963, when the population expanded considerably due to an influx of Palestinian refugees from what is now Occupied Territories. Amman has experienced exceptionally rapid development since 2010 under the leadership of two Hashemite Kings, Hussein of Jordan and Abdullah II of Jordan.
In 1970, Amman was the site of major clashes between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Jordanian army. Everything around the Royal Palace sustained heavy damage from shelling. The city's population continues to expand at a rapid pace (fueled by refugees escaping the wartime events in the West Bank and Iraq). The city received refugees from these countries on a number of occasions. The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived from Palestine in 1948.
A second wave arrived after the Six-Day War in 1967. A third wave of Palestinian and Jordanian and Southeast Asians, working as domestic workers, refugees arrived in Amman from Kuwait after the Gulf War of 1991. The first wave of Iraqi refugees settled in the city after the first Gulf War, with a second wave also arriving after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the last 10 years the number of new buildings within the city has increased dramatically with new districts of the city being founded at a very rapid pace (particularly so in West Amman), straining the very scarce water supplies of Jordan as a whole, and exposing Amman to the hazards of rapid expansion in the absence of careful municipal planning.
On November 9, 2005, coordinated explosions rocked three hotels in Amman, resulting in the death of 60 people and the injury of 115 others. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the act, which was carried out despite the fact that the birthplace of since-killed Al Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is the town of Zarqa, less than 30 km (19 mi) from Amman. The sheer brutality of the attacks, which targeted, among other things, a wedding party being held at one of the hotels, caused widespread revulsion across the widest range of Jordanians. Large protests and vigils followed in the wake of the attacks.
Amman is situated in a hilly area of north-western Jordan. The city was originally built on seven hills, but it now spans over an area of nineteen hills (each known as a Jabal, Tál, Mount or Mountain). The main areas of Amman gain their names from the hills and mountains on whose slopes they lie. The city's elevation changes from mountain to mountain. They range from 700 to 1100 m (2300–3600 feet).
Amman has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) with long, hot and dry summers and wet and cool winters with a mediterranean (dry-summer) rainfall pattern. It also has an influence of the continental climate because of its inland location and highland climate because of its high elevation. Amman's location and altitude has a profound effect on its climate. Spring is brief, mild and lasts a little less than a month, from April to May, with rain during the morning and the afternoons. High temperatures are around 15 °C (59 °F) to 20 °C (68 °F) and lows are sometimes less than 10 °C (50 °F) and several times even go near 0 °C (32 °F) causing several freezes. The temperatures vary though due to the differences in elevation across Amman.
Amman has moderate summers starting from mid June to mid September. Summer's high temperatures range from 25 °C (77 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F), usually with low humidity and frequent cool breezes. Most summers are rain-free with cloudless skies during the noon period and a brief shower or fog during the night-time. The summer's pleasant temperatures can be disturbed by heat-waves that suddenly raise the city's temperatures to around 35 °C (95 °F) and in some rare but recorded cases to as high as 41 °C (106 °F) such as during the summer of 1999.
Winter usually starts in late November or early December and continues to late April. Temperatures are usually near or below 10 °C (50 °F), with snow usually falling a few times each year. Due to its high altitude above sea level, winter in Amman is usually one of the coldest in any major city in the Levant or south-east of Europe and the surrounding countries; winters are usually foggy with at least 120 days of heavy fog per year. Snowy winter storms occur several times around the city. Due to the difference in elevation, snow may accumulate in the western parts of Amman (an average altitude of 1000 m above sea level) when at the same time it would be raining in the city centre (776 metre elevation). It can snow anywhere between November and until the end of March- more frequently in vast parts of the city which occupy higher elevations (900 – 1100 meters). On average at least one severe snow storm every few years will accumulate up to 15 or 20 inches of snow (40 to 50 centimeters) at higher altitudes in Amman and surrounding areas.
Note: The temperatures listed below are taken from the weather station at the center of the city which is at an elevation of 767 meters above sea level. At higher elevations, the temperatures will be lower. For example, in areas such as Al-Jubaiha, Sweileh, Khalda, Abu Nseir and other areas which are at 1000 meters and above have average temperatures of 7 to 9 degrees Celsius in the day and 1 to 3 degrees Celsius at night in January. In August, the average high temperatures in these areas are 26 to 28 degrees Celsius in the day and an average of 14 to 16 degrees Celsius at night.
|Climate data for Amman|
|Average high °C (°F)||12.3 |
|Average low °C (°F)||3.6 |
|Precipitation mm (inches)||63.4 |
|Avg. precipitation days||7||7||5||3||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||5||32|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||179.8||182.0||226.3||266.6||328.6||369.0||387.5||365.8||312.0||275.9||225.0||179.8||3,298.3|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization|
|Source #2: HKO|
A panoramic view of Amman's skyline in 2003, showing several landmarks including the Al-Iskan Bank Building, Raghadan Flagpole, Le Royal Hotel, Zara Towers and the King Abdullah I Mosque.
The city is administered as the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), and covers 27 districts which include:
|1||Âbdali||4||Qwésmé, Jwaydé, Abu Âlanda and Raqim||7||Müwaqar||10||Bader è Jadida||13||Jbeyha||16||Mārka||19||Ohod||22||Şafa Badran||25||Tlaâ’l Âli|
|2||Abu Nsér||5||Yarmuk||8||Mqabalayen||11||Basmān||14||Xraybet è Suq||17||Médina||20||Rās ıl Êyn||23||Swéyleh||26||Vādi'l Sér|
|3||Um-Ožayna||6||Jizah||9||Bader||12||Hüsbān||15||Marj ıl Hamām||18||Naûr||21||Sahāb||24||Tariq||27||Zahrān|
The city's largest airport, Queen Alia International Airport, situated about 30 km (18.64 mi) south of Amman, is the major international airport in Jordan and the hub for Royal Jordanian, the flag carrier. The airport has three terminals, two passenger and one cargo, and in 2010 handled between 5.8 million passengers despite the airport's capacity to only handle 3.5 million visitors. The airport is undergoing expansion, including a new terminal costing $700M, that will allow the airport to handle over 12 million passengers. Amman Civil Airport is a one-terminal airport that serves primarily domestic and nearby international routes and the military.
The recently constructed Abdoun Bridge spans Wadi Abdoun, and connects the 4th Circle to Âbdoun Circle. It is considered one of Amman's many landmarks. It is the first curved suspended bridge to be built.
Currently under construction are dedicated lanes for bus services which will operate as part of the new urban rapid transit network. The Bus Rapid Transit project is expected to be completed by 2012. The BRT service entails premium, high-capacity buses running on exclusive and completely segregated lanes that can carry more than 120 passengers and run on a three-minute frequency during peak hours along Amman’s busiest corridors. The system includes high-quality stations and stops; express buses that can carry more than 120 passengers and will run on a three-minute frequency during peak hours along Amman’s busiest corridors; terminals and park-n-ride facilities, and an integrated fare collection system allowing passengers to pay the fare at stations before embarking on the bus. The BRT is planned to run along three major corridors. The first corridor connects Sweileh with Mahatta via Sport City with major service to the University of Jordan. The second corridor connects Sport City with downtown at Ras El-Ain. The third corridor connects Customs Square with Mahatta.
There are also plans to construct a three-line metro system in Amman. The first phase consists of two lines, the red and green lines, connecting East, Central, and West Amman with an interchange station (linking the two lines) at Amman Plaza with connections to the Northern and Southern suburbs. The second phase consists of the yellow line, connecting North and South Amman with an interchange to the red and green lines at the Abdali and City Hall stations.
There are eight circles, or roundabouts, that span and connect West Amman. However, the city lacks an operable rail or metro system which causes severe congestion, especially in old Amman. To add to the congestion, all the Kingdom's highways pass through Amman, further increasing traffic in the capital.
By land, the city has frequent bus connections to other cities in Jordan, as well as to major cities in neighboring countries; the latter are also served by service taxis. Internal transport is served by a number of bus routes and taxis. Service taxis, which most often operate on fixed routes, are readily available and inexpensive. The two main bus and taxi stations are Abdali (near the King Abdullah Mosque, the Parliament and Palace of Justice) and the newly built Rağadan Central Bus Station (near the Roman Amphitheatre in downtown). The city can suffer from considerable traffic congestion at peak hours, especially during the summer months when affluent holidaymakers from the Persian Gulf region spend the summer in Amman to take advantage of its comparatively mild weather.
Amman is aggressively positioning itself as a hub for business, and new projects are continually transforming the city's skyline. Following the 2003 Iraq War, all business dealings with Iraq flow through Amman in some way. Its airport, Queen Alia International Airport, is the hub of the national carrier, Royal Jordanian, which is a major airline in the region. The airline is headquartered in central Amman.
Amman is considered to be a regional leader in the following areas:
Healthcare Amman, and Jordan as a whole for that matter, is the Middle East's hub for medical tourism as the kingdom receives the most medical tourists in the region and the 5th highest in the world. Amman receives 250,000 foreign patients a year and receives over $1 billion annually.
Information Technology Amman is one of the top 10 cities in the world to launch a tech start-up in 2012 according to a California-based venture capital firm, surpassing traditional regional tech hot-spots like Dubai and Tel Aviv. It is also considered the region's "Silicon Valley". 75% of all Arabic content on the internet originates from Jordan. Rubicon Group Holding and Maktoob, two major regional tech companies, are based in Amman.
Foreign Investment and Business In a report by Dunia Frontier Consultants, Amman along with Doha and Dubai are the favored hubs for multinational corporations operating in the Middle East and North Africa region. In FDI magazine, Amman was chosen as the Middle Eastern city with the most potential to be a leader in foreign direct investment in the region, beating Dubai. One of the Middle East's largest banks, Arab Bank, is headquartered in Amman. Also based in Amman is Aramex, the Middle East's largest logistics and transportation company. It is also one of the world's largest logistics and transportation companies in the world alongside DHL, FedEx, and UPS. Furthermore, several of the world's largest investment banks have offices in Amman including HSBC, Standard Chartered, Societe Generale, and Citibank.
-Tourism: Amman is the 8th most visited city by tourists and business travelers in the Middle East and Africa as well as the 9th highest recipient of international visitor spending. 1.8 million tourists visited the Jordanian capital in 2011 and spent over $1.3 billion in the city. If the entire kingdom is taken into account, there were 8 million tourists in 2010 and $ 4.4 billion in visitor expenditure, including medical tourists.
The Greater Amman Municipality's heavy investment in its infrastructure, such as the expansion of Queen Alia International Airport, the construction of a state of the art public transportation system, a national railway, and expansion of road works, will ease the arrival of millions of new visitors and tonnes of cargo through this soon to be regional hub.
West Amman, however, is less densely populated and more scenic. It is also the more prosperous part of Amman, with much of the city's economic activity being centered in West Amman. Most of the city's 5-star and 4-star hotels are located in West Amman. Important districts include Shmeisani and Abdali, the main economic centres of Amman, Abdoun, the up-scale residential district, and Jabal Amman, one of Amman's historic districts.
New projects and proposals in and around the city include:
- The Abdali Downtown project: this new development in the heart of Amman is among the largest projects under construction in the kingdom, and is a mixed-use development consisting of retail, outdoor shopping and restaurants, residential and office buildings. The master plan includes a large public green park, along with an outdoor pedestrian strip. The $5 billion project will contain some of Jordan's tallest buildings and most prominent real estate. Jordan's largest skyscraper Capital Tower, Rotana Hotel-Amman, W Hotel-Amman, Business Heights, and the Abdali Central Market Place, Jordan's soon to be largest mall and shopping center, are located in this mammoth redevelopment. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011 or early 2012. The entire project should be completed by 2015.
- The construction of the Jordan Gate Towers near the 6th Circle, which is nearly completed, is being funded by Bahraini and Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. The two identical skyscrapers will house office buildings and a five star hotel.
- The Abdoun suspended bridge, which spans Wadi Abdoun. This recently completed project reduces congestion in Wadi Abdoun and creates a new highway link between West and South Amman..
- The St. Regis Amman in the Abdoun area worth about $300 million which will be completed in 2014.
- Multi-billion dollar Wadi Amman Regeneration Project. This project will completely revamp the old downtown and restore it to its previous prominence. It will also revitalise the entire area by attracting affluent Ammanis to settle and shop here.
- Al Andalucia, being constructed near Amman. This project will include over 600 villas, and consists of many facilities such as spas, fitness and health centres, swimming pools, and a recreation area.
- The Fairmont Hotel in Amman opening in 2014
- Galleria Mall in Sweifieh opening in 2013
- Ähl Al Âzm, a $1 billion city near Queen Alia International Airport, will be built in several phases with a total of about 16,000 residential units and 800 offices. The city will be connected by rail to Amman. The residential city will mostly be inhabited by low and middle income families.
- A massive new Royal Jordanian headquarters.
East Amman is the historic city centre. Eastern Amman is more traditional and older than the newer West. Small shops and single family houses are dominant in East Amman's landscape. East Amman is the hub for the capital's historic sites and cultural activities.
West Amman is the current economic city centre, and is the modern, stylish extension of Amman. Malls, shopping centres, expensive hotels, bars and international restaurants are part of West Amman's development.
In 2010, there were as many as 14 universities in Amman. University of Jordan is the largest university in Amman, Philadelphia University was ranked as the largest private university.
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The New York Times praised the cuisine of Amman. “You’ll find the bright vegetables from Lebanon, crunchy falafels from Syria, juicy kebabs from Egypt and, most recently, spicy meat dishes from Jordan’s neighbor, Iraq. It’s known as the food of the Levant — an ancient word for the area bounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian peninsula. But the food here isn’t just the sum of its calories. In this politically, religiously and ethnically fraught corner of the world, it is a symbol of bloodlines and identity.” 
Amman-based soccer (football)clubs Al-Wehdat and Al-Faisaly have won the national league championship several times.
The 2007 Asian Championships in Athletics and 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships were held in the city.
Amman hosts the Jordan Rally, which form part of the FIA World Rally Championship, becoming the biggest sporting event ever held in Jordan. Amman also hosts the Sama Tournament which is a part of the Trillium Championship.
There are many radio stations in Jordan, mostly based in Amman. The majority of English speaking stations are targeted to suit the younger listeners playing hit music. There are many Arabic speaking stations that cover the Religious, Factual, Arabic music and other general local topics:
Most Jordanian newspapers and news stations are situated in Amman. Most Jordanian daily newspapers are published in Amman such as Alghad, Alrai, Ad-Dustour, and the The Jordan Times. In 2010, Alghad newspaper was ranked as 10th most popular newspaper in the Arab World by Forbes Middle-East magazine. Al-Arab Al-Yawm is the only daily pan-Arab newspaper in Jordan.
Much of Amman's tourism is focused in the older downtown area, which is centered around the old souk (a colorful traditional market) and the King Hussein Mosque. The main touristic sites in the city are:
- The downtown area (known locally as al-Balad) has been completely dwarfed by the sprawling urban area that surrounds it. Despite the changes, much remains of its old character. Jabal Amman is a known touristic attraction in old Amman, the capital's greatest souks, fine museums, ancient constructions, monuments, and cultural sites are found in Jabal Amman.
- The Citadel hill of Amman, known as Jabal al-Qal'a, is home to the Temple of Hercules which is said to have been constructed under the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who reigned from 161 to 180 AD, is similar to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. It has been inhabited for centuries, important as a military and religious site. It dates back to Roman and Byzantine times, and later work was carried out in the early Islamic era. Remains unearthed at the northern and eastern ends of the Citadel, possibly date back to the Bronze Age.
- The Roman forum and the Roman theatre — the largest theatre in Jordan — with room for 6,000 spectators. Thought to have been built between 138 and 161 AD by the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, it is constructed into the side of the mountain and is still used for sports displays and cultural events.
The Jordan Archaeological Museum is home to ancient findings from the whole country.
Amman is also home to some of the grandest mosques in the Middle East, although they compare less favorably to the ones to be found in Istanbul, Turkey. The newest of these is the enormous King Abdullah I Mosque, built between 1982 and 1989. It is capped by a magnificent blue mosaic dome beneath which 3,000 Muslims may offer prayer. The most unusual mosque in Amman is the Abu Darweesh Mosque atop Jabal Ashrafieh (the highest point in the city). It is covered with black and white checkered pattern and is unique to Jordan. It is visible from quite some distance. In contrast, the interior is totally free of the black and white scheme. Instead, there are light colored walls and Persian carpets. This religious building was erected by one of Amman's Circassian minority.
Tourism and lifestyle
Amman is considered one of the most "westernized" and cosmopolitan cities in the Arab World. Amman has become one of the most popular destinations for "Western" expats and college students who seek to live, study, or work in the Middle East or the Arab World in general. The city's culinary scene has expanded from its shwarma stands and falafel joints to embrace many popular American restaurants and fast-food outlets like McDonald's and T.G.I. Friday's, swank Asian fusion restaurants, French bistros such as La Maison Verte and Italian trattorias. The city has become famous for its sophisticated fine dining scene among Western expats and Persian Gulf tourists.
There are numerous nightclubs and bars across the city especially in West Amman. Modesty in dress for men and women is greatly relaxed and low-cut shirts, tank tops and short skirts are becoming commonplace. Abdoun Circle (not one of the eight) is a major center of the city’s night life where the chicest clubs maintain a strict “couples only” policy, meaning no unescorted men. Sweifieh is considered to be the unofficial red-light district of Amman as it holds most of the city's nightclubs, bars, strip-clubs, massage parlors, and other adult entertainment venues. The night-life scene is known to evolve so quickly that hot spots open and close almost before they can be published in magazines and tourist guide books.
Discothèques, music bars and shisha lounges have sprouted across Amman, changing the city's old image as the conservative capital of the kingdom. Jordan's young population is helping shape this new burgeoning nightlife scene. As well as the wide range of drinking and dancing venues on the social circuit of the city's affluent crowd, Amman has much cultural entertainment to indulge in like the annual Amman Summer Festival and Souk Jara.
Valued at more than US $5 Billion, the Abdali project is planned to create a new visible center for Amman and act as the major business district. The project includes Jordan's new high street and mall, luxury hotels and apartments as well as start-of-the-art offices. The entire project is expected to be finished by 2015.
Amman is a hub for Persian Gulf vacationers who come to take advantage of the mild weather and liberal atmosphere during the summer. The summer of 2009 brought 2.5 million Arab tourists to the Jordanian capital.
Large malls were built during the 2000s in Amman, including the Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall, Amman Mall, City Mall, Plaza Mall, Al Baraka Mall, Istikal Mall, Zara Shopping Center, Sweifieh Avenue Mall, and Mukhtar Mall. Furthermore, two new malls are currently under development: Taj Mall in the affluent neighbourhood Abdoun, and Abdali Mall in Al Abdali. The Wakalat Street (English: "Agencies Street") is Amman's first pedestrian-only street and carries a lot of label name clothes. The Sweifieh area in general is considered to be the main shopping district of Amman.
Twin towns — sister cities
Amman is twinned with:
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