Jordan is part of the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent region and was originally settled around 2000 BC. Over the next several centuries, the area was settled and invaded by many groups, including the Egyptians, Romans and Ottoman Turks. Since the mid-seventh century, Jordan has for the most part remained in the hands of various Arab and Islamic dynasties.
Lay of the Land: Located in southwest Asia, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is landlocked except for a small coastline on the Dead Sea and on the Gulf of Aqaba. It is bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Save for the Jordanian Highlands on the western edge of the Arabian plateau, which receive moderate rainfall, the western three fourths of the country is largely desert. The area of the northern highlands and the Jordan Valley have received enough rainfall to support large populations; therefore farmers, villagers and townspeople have all had a tendency to settle in these areas. In the south and the east, there is little rainfall and these regions have rarely support settled populations.
Jordan was originally settled by Semitic Amorites around 2000 BC. Over the next 4,000 years, Jordan was alternately settled and invaded by the Hittites, Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arab Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Mameluks, Ottoman Turks, and, finally, the British.
Since developing a close relationship with Jordan in the early 1950s, the US has sought to assist Jordan in maintaining stability and prosperity. Development assistance from the US has totaled almost $6 billion since 1952, providing funding for road and water networks, schools, education and training opportunities for Jordanians in the US, and most recently, access to water, energy, macroeconomic policy, and workforce development. Since 1951, total US aid to Jordan through FY 2009 totaled approximately $10.72 billion.
The U.S. provides substantial funding for the Jordanian government in order to support the areas of peace and security, governing justly and democratically, investing in people, and economic growth.
Torture in Prisons
In 2009, the government’s overall record of human rights reflected significant problems. There have been countless accounts of the government restricting citizens’ right to change their government through the electoral law, which led to an underrepresentation of urban areas. Other restrictive legislation limited freedom of speech and press, there were reports of government-restricted journalism as well as restricted freedoms of assembly and association. Widespread violence against women and children was reported from local human rights organizations. Reports from prisons reveal widespread torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, as well as ill-treatment toward refugees residing in Jordan.
Note: Legation Amman was established Feb 18, 1949, with Wells Stabler as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
An academic turned diplomat, Alia Hatoug-Bouran became Jordan’s first female ambassador prior to assuming her post in the United States on September 14, 2010.
Robert Stephen Beecroft was sworn in as US Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on July 17, 2008. Beecroft holds a BA from Brigham Young University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley and previously served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in Venezuela.