Information about Amman

Location: Jordan

Amman is the capital and largest city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A city of about 2 million inhabitants (2008 estimate), it is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Amman is the administrative seat of the homonymous governorate. Amman is located 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 or "mountain"). The main areas of Amman gain their names from the hills and mountains on whose slopes they lie.

During its long 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. 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 Greeks. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Hellenic 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.
In 326 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 hajj pilgrimage and permanent trade, putting Amman, a major station, back on the commercial map.
In 1921, Abdullah I chose Amman instead of Samhal 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,and 1967, 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 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 Palestine Liberation Organization (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.

The city's population continues to expand at a dizzying 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 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, amongst 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.