With the loss of the West Bank from the 1967 war, both the important income from the relatively highly developed agriculture established there and from the rapidly growing tourism (Jerusalem and Bethlehem) were lost. These losses were only partly met by donations and loans from Arab oil-producing countries. The Jordanian economy is partly dependent on foreign aid (including the United States and Arab oil-producing countries). The Gulf crisis of 1990-1991 and the subsequent Second Gulf War once again threatened the Jordanian economy after a period of great prosperity. The alliance with Iraq and the international trade embargo against Iraq, by far Jordan's most important export country, cost Jordan dearly. Moreover, imports almost came to a halt as a result of the blockade of Aqaba.
In 2017, according to official figures, unemployment was 18.3 %; unofficial sources put it at 30 %.
Economic growth in the 21st century averaged 2% ( 2017: 2%). In 2017, GDP was $40 billion; per capita $9,200.
Since the fall of Lebanon's Beirut, Amman has become the hub of financial transactions in the Middle East.
In 2017, the working part of the population was 2.3 million. Of these, 78% were employed in the service sector, 20% in industry and 2% in agriculture.
Agriculture, livestock and fisheries
Approximately 12% of Jordan's land area is suitable for agriculture. About 7% of this is artificially irrigated.
During the 1967 war Jordan lost the most important agricultural area, the West Bank, which it also formally relinquished in 1988. Since 1970, efforts have been made to improve agriculture in the fertile East Jordan Valley. Large irrigation projects have brought about 5% of the land under cultivation. This is done via the Ghork canal, east of the Jordan, and the Talal reservoir in the Zarqa. The hill country around Ajlun is also important agriculturally due to regular rainfall and a number of springs. Thanks to the favourable climate, two or more harvests per year are now possible.
Nevertheless, agriculture remains of secondary importance. Its share in the gross national product (GNP) is 4.5% (2017), while this sector employs about 2% of the labour force. As a result, food imports have increased over the years. Fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons, citrus are the main crops of Jordanian agriculture and are exported, especially to the Persian Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. Other important agricultural products are wheat, barley, cucumbers, melons, grapes and olives.
The dry areas to the east of the Hedjaz railway line are very extensively cultivated (cereals and olives). Apart from infrastructural problems, agriculture also suffers from a labour shortage and mechanisation is usually not financially viable.
Livestock farming is mostly concentrated in the fertile areas, where cattle, horses and chickens are bred. Camels, sheep and goats are found in the dry areas of the country, where these animals are grazed by nomads and semi-nomads. In 2017, there were 1.2 million sheep, half a million goats, 14,000 dromedaries, 35,000 cattle and 35 million chickens.
Fishing is practised in the Gulf of Aqaba and provides about 20% of domestic needs.
Apart from phosphate, the country has few or no minerals. Phosphate reserves at al-Hisa are estimated at 2000 million tonnes. Other minerals mined (in small quantities) or proven to be present are marble, potash, rock salt, limestone, pyrite, manganese, gypsum, copper ore and potassium. Potassium is mined at the southern end of the Dead Sea. The water containing minerals is evaporated in large basins, after which the potassium salt remains. This is processed in Safi and at the moment Jordan is the largest potassium supplier in the world with approximately 20 million tons per year. Potassium is used as a raw material for, amongst other things, fertilisers, medicines and paint.
There are small petroleum fields near Azraq and natural gas has been found near Ar Risha. However, the quantities of oil and natural gas are too small and therefore have no commercial value.
Since the past, Jordan's energy supply has been completely dependent on oil supplies from Arab countries. In the 1970s, however, hydroelectric plants became operational in conjunction with irrigation projects. The aim was to increasingly reduce the need for petroleum for energy purposes; at the same time, however, the ongoing industrialisation since 1970 has significantly increased demand. The Gulf War also showed how dependent the country had become on (cheap) oil supplies from Iraq.
Industrial planning and development was very successful after 1973. The successive five-year plans always provided for the stimulation of industrial development.
Heavy industry near Amman and Aqaba is dominated by large companies producing phosphate, potash, fertiliser, petroleum derivatives, cement and iron. Jordanian industry is also characterised by the large number of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are active in food processing or manufacturing all kinds of products for the local market.
Local industry is protected by tariff levies on imports.
The export of phosphate and fertiliser, fruit and vegetables is an important source of income. In addition, leather, tobacco, olive oil and electric batteries are exported on a modest scale to other Arab countries (especially Saudi Arabia).
Exports are mainly directed to Iraq and Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent to Egypt, India and Pakistan. In 2017, the value of exports was $7.5 billion, while imports accounted for nearly $18.2 billion.
Banking and services sector
Partly due to the failure of Beirut, the importance of the banking and services sector has increased considerably. Since 1975, its share in the GNP has quadrupled. Many foreign banks have branches in Amman.
Restrictions on foreign investment have been largely lifted. The central bank is the Central Bank of Jordan, founded in 1964.
The road network was considerably improved in the 1980s, especially the north-south connections. The road network consists of almost 3000 kilometres of primary roads (including motorways), almost 2000 kilometres of secondary roads and 2300 kilometres of rural, unpaved roads.
Trade was able to develop well thanks to the port of Aqaba, which is connected to Iraq by the so-called Desert Road, which is driven daily by whole caravans of trucks.
The railway network only has industrial significance. Especially the transport of phosphates to the port of Aqaba is of great importance. The railway network is 620 kilometres long.
The seaport of Aqaba is of importance for both Jordan and Iraq. In 1985 a ferry connection was opened between Aqaba and Nuweibeh in Egypt. Crude oil, which used to come via Iraq, is now transported from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia via Aqaba.
In 1983, a new international airport, Queen Alia, was opened south of Amman. The national airline (Royal Jordanian, formerly Alia) has connections with the most important airports in the world.
Allan, M. / Reishandboek Jordanië en Syrië
Grünfeld, R. / Syrië, Jordanië en Libanon
Haan-van de Wiel, W.H. de / Jordanië, Syrië
Meijer, R. / Jordanië : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen : Novib
Rauch, M. / Jordanië
Weiss, W.M. / Jordanië
Wills, K. / Jordan
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