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Amman
عمّان
City
Amman city, from right to left and from above to below: Abdali Project dominating Amman's skyline, Temple of Hercules on Amman Citadel, King Abdullah I Mosque and Raghadan Flagpole, Abdoun Bridge, Umayyad Palace, Ottoman Hejaz Railway station and Roman Theatre.
Amman city, from right to left and from above to below: Abdali Project dominating Amman's skyline, Temple of Hercules on Amman Citadel, King Abdullah I Mosque and Raghadan Flagpole, Abdoun Bridge, Umayyad Palace, Ottoman Hejaz Railway station and Roman Theatre.
Official seal of Amman
Seal
Nickname(s):
  • 'The White Pigeon'
  • 'The City of Stairs'
خريطة مدينة عمان.png
Country  Jordan
Governorate Amman Governorate
Founded 7250 BC
Municipality 1909
Area
 • Total 1,680 km2 (650 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,100 m (3,600 ft)
Lowest elevation 700 m (2,300 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Total 4,007,526
 • Density 2,380/km2 (6,200/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Ammani
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 11110-17198
Area code(s) +962(6)
Website Greater Amman Municipality

Amman (English pronunciation: /ɑːˈmɑːn/; Arabic: عمّان ʻammān pronounced [ʕamːaːn]) is the capital and most populous city of Jordan, and the country's economic, political and cultural centre. Situated in north-central Jordan, Amman is the administrative centre of the Amman Governorate. The city has a population of 4,007,526 and a land area of 1,680 square kilometres (648.7 square miles). Today, Amman is considered to be among the most liberal and westernized Arab cities. It is a major tourist destination in the region, particularly among Arab and European tourists.

The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is a Neolithic site known as 'Ain Ghazal. Its successor was known as "Rabbath Ammon", which was the capital of the Ammonites, then as "Philadelphia", and finally as Amman. It was initially built on seven hills but now spans over 19 hills combining 27 districts, which are administered by the Greater Amman Municipality headed by its mayor Yousef Al-Shawarbeh.

Approximately two million visitors arrived in Amman in 2014, which made it the 93rd most visited city in the world and the 5th most visited Arab city.

History

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'Ain Ghazal Statues are considered to be one of the oldest human statues ever found, on display at The Jordan Museum. Dating back to 7250 BC.
A Roman Temple Sunset View in Jabal Al-Qalaa' Amman
Jabal Al-Qalaa

Throughout history, Amman has been inhabited by several civilizations. The first civilization on record is during the Neolithic period, around 8500 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 civilization inhabited the city at that time. In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon or Rabat Amon by the Ammonites (רַבַּת עַמּוֹן, Standard Hebrew Rabbat ʿAmmon, Tiberian Hebrew Rabbaṯ ʿAmmôn). It was later conquered by the Assyrians, followed by the Persians, and then the Greeks. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Hellenic ruler of Egypt, renamed it Philadelphia. The city became part of the Nabataean kingdom until AD 106 when Philadelphia came under Roman control and joined the Decapolis.

In 324 AD, Christianity became the religion of the empire and 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 Circassians settlement in 1887. The tide changed when the Ottoman Sultan decided to build the Hejaz railway, linking Damascus and Medina, facilitating both the annual haj pilgrimage and permanent trade, putting Amman, a major station, back on the commercial map.

Z Ottoman Ten arches Amman 2
Ottoman railway ten arches bridge, built in 1910 in Amman

In 1921, Abdullah I chose Amman 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 1948, when the population expanded considerably due to an influx of Palestinian refugees from the occupied territories. Amman has experienced exceptionally rapid development since 1952 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 PLO and the Jordanian army. Everything around the Royal Palace sustained heavy damage from shelling. Most of Amman suffered great damage from PLO rockets and the Jordanian army's shells.

Ammansuburb
A neighbourhood in Al Ashrafiya in 1997.

The city's population continues to expand at a dizzying pace (fueled by refugees escaping the wartime events in the occupied territories and Iraq). The city received refugees from these countries on a number of occasions. The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived from the occupied territories in 1948. A second wave after the Six Day War in 1967. A third wave of Palestinian and Jordanian and South East Asians, working as domestic servants, 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. A second wave also began arriving after the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. During the last 10 years the amount of new building 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.

Jamal Abdul Nasser Circle Amman Jordan
Amman in 2013

During the last ten years the city has experienced an economic, cultural and urban boom. The large growth in population has significantly increased the need for new accommodation, and new districts of the city were established at a quick pace. This strained Jordan's scarce water supply and exposed Amman to the dangers of quick expansion without careful municipal planning. Today, Amman is known as a modern, liberal and westernized Arab city, with major mega projects such as the Abdali Urban Regeneration Project and the Jordan Gate Towers. The city contains several high-end hotel franchises including the Four Seasons Hotel Amman, Sheraton Hotel Amman, Fairmont Amman, St. Regis Hotel Amman, Le Royal Hotel and others.

Geography

Orthodox church in Amman1
A Greek Orthodox church seen with snow in Amman

Amman is situated on the East Bank Plateau, an upland characterized by three major wadis which run through it. Originally, the city had been built on seven hills. Amman's terrain is typified by its mountains. The most important areas in the city are named after the hills or mountains they lie on. The area's elevation ranges from 700 to 1,100 m (2,300 to 3,600 ft). Al-Salt and al-Zarqa are located to the northwest and northeast, respectively, Madaba is located to the west and al-Karak and Ma'an are to Amman's southwest and southeast, respectively. One of the only remaining springs in Amman now supplies the Zarqa River with water.

Climate

SPRING IN AMMAN 1
Spring in an affluent neighbourhood in the city

Amman's position on the mountains near the Mediterranean climate zone places it under the semi-arid climate classification.

Amman has extreme examples of microclimate, and almost every district exhibits its own weather. It is known among locals that some boroughs such as the northern suburb of Abu Nser are among the coldest in the city, and can be experiencing frost while other warmer districts such as Marka can be providing much warmer temperatures to its inhabitants at the same time.

Economy

Banking sector

The banking sector is one of the principal foundations of Jordan's economy. Amman is the base city for the international Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, serving clients in more than 600 branches in 30 countries on five continents.

Tourism

RJ bld, Amman, Jordan
Royal Jordanian Airlines headquarters in Amman

Amman is the 4th most visited Arab city and the ninth highest recipient of international visitor spending. Roughly 1.8 million tourists visited Amman in 2011 and spent over $1.3 billion in the city. The expansion of Queen Alia International Airport is an example of the Greater Amman Municipality's heavy investment in the city's infrastructure. The recent construction of a public transportation system and a national railway, and the expansion of roads, are intended to ease the traffic generated by the millions of annual visitors to the city.

Amman, and Jordan in general, is the Middle East's hub for medical tourism. Jordan receives the most medical tourists in the region and the fifth highest in the world. Amman receives 250,000 foreign patients a year and over $1 billion annually.

Demographics

The population of the city reached 4,007,526 in 2015, Amman contains about 42% of Jordan's entire population.

The population of Amman has risen exponentially with the successive waves of immigrants and refugees arriving throughout the 20th century. From a population of roughly 1,000 in 1890, Amman grew to around 1,000,000 inhabitants in 1990, primarily as a result of immigration, but also due to the high birthrate in the city.

Religion

Amman has a mostly Sunni Muslim population, and the city contains numerous mosques.

Large numbers of Christians from throughout Jordan, particularly from al-Salt, have moved to Amman.

Cityscape

A panoramic view of east Amman from atop the Amman Citadel overlooking the Roman amphitheater.

Downtown Amman, the city centre area (known in Arabic as Al-Balad), has been dwarfed by the sprawling urban area that surrounds it. Despite the changes, much remains of its old character. Jabal Amman is a well-known touristic attraction in old Amman, where the city's greatest souks, fine museums, ancient constructions, monuments, and cultural sites are found. Jabal Amman also contains the famous Rainbow Street and the cultural Souk Jara market.

Architecture

View of Abdali
Progress at Abdali Project as of 2015

Residential buildings are limited to four stories above street level and if possible another four stories below, according to the Greater Amman Municipality regulations. The buildings are covered with thick white limestone or sandstone. The buildings usually have balconies on each floor, with the exception of the ground floor, which has a front and back yard. Some buildings make use of Mangalore tiles on the roofs or on the roof of covered porches. Hotels, towers and commercial buildings are either covered by stone, plastic or glass.

High-rise construction and towers

Amman's Gate Towers
Jordan Gate Towers as seen from the west

Zahran district in west Amman is the location of the Jordan Gate Towers, the first high-rise towers in the city. It is a high-class commercial and residential project currently under construction, close to the 6th Circle. The towers are one of the best known skyscrapers in the city. The southern tower will host a Hilton Hotel, while the northern tower will host offices. The towers are separated by a podium that is planned to become a mall. It also contains bars, swimming pools and conference halls. The developers are Bahrain's Gulf Finance House, the Kuwait Investment and Finance Company (KIFC). The project is expected to be opened by 2018.

Culture

Lifestyle

Amman is considered one of the most liberal and westernized cities in the Arab world. The city has become one of the most popular destinations for Western expatriates 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 changed from its shawerma stands and falafel joints to embrace many popular western restaurants and fast-food outlets such as Asian fusion restaurants, French bistros and Italian trattorias. The city has become famous for its fine dining scene among Western expatriates and Persian Gulf tourists.

Souk Jara 4 Jul 2008 (7)
Souk Jara is one of the most famous outdoor markets managed by the Jabal Amman Residents Association (JARA)

Large shopping malls were built during the 2000s in Amman, including the Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall, City Mall, Al-Baraka Mall, Taj Mall, Zara Shopping Center, Avenue Mall, and Abdali Mall in Al Abdali (under construction). Wakalat Street ("Agencies Street") is Amman's first pedestrian-only street and carries a lot of name-label clothes. The Sweifieh area is considered to be the main shopping district of Amman.

Cuisine

Danielle Pergament of The New York Times described Ammani cuisine as a product of several cuisines in the region, writing that it combines "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." However, the city's streetfood scene makes the Ammani cuisine distinctive.

Transportation

With the exception of a functioning railway system, Amman has a railway station as part of the Hejaz Railway. Amman has a developed public and private transportation system. There are two international airports in Amman.

Airports

Queen Alia International Airport Terminal
Queen Alia International Airport

The main airport serving Amman is Queen Alia International Airport, situated about 30 km (18.64 mi) south of Amman. Much smaller is Amman Civil Airport, a one-terminal airport that serves primarily domestic and nearby international routes and the army. Queen Alia International Airport is the major international airport in Jordan and the hub for Royal Jordanian, the flag carrier. Its expansion was recently done and modified, including the decommissioning of the old terminals and the commissioning of new terminals costing $700M, to handle over 16 million passengers annually.

Roads

Amman has an extensive road network, although the mountainous terrain of the area has prevented the connection of some main roads, which are instead connected by bridges and tunnels. The Abdoun Bridge spans Wadi Abdoun and connects the 4th Circle to Abdoun Circle. It is considered one of Amman's many landmarks and is the first curved suspended bridge to be built in the country.

Abdoun Bridge (7)
Abdoun Bridge, considered one of Amman's landmarks

There are eight circles, or roundabouts, that span and connect west Amman.

Bus and taxi

Bus
Public transport buses in Amman

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.

Gallery


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