The population of Jordan is almost entirely Arab, with the most important minority group being the Circassians or Cherkesses (about 100,000 people), who, fleeing the persecutions of the Russian tsar, came from the Caucasus. In 1879, the first Circassians arrived in a completely deserted Amman and by 1905 several thousand immigrants from Cherkessia were already living there. The Circassians fully integrated into Arab society and made important contributions to the construction of Jordan. Despite their efforts to integrate, they have largely retained their own identity.
More than half of Jordan's population comes from Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine; the other half are Transjordans. The Transjordanians live throughout the country, while the Palestinians live mainly in the big cities in the north and north-west, where they often hold important positions. The population density in the north and northwest has always been considerably higher than in the other parts of the country.
The original inhabitants of the East Bank are mainly Bedouins; however, only a third of them still lead a nomadic existence. In 1922, half of the population was still Bedouin, in the 1970s there were only 50,000 Bedouins in a population of two million. In the desert, in the east and especially in the desert Wadi Rum, there are still a few tens of thousands of Bedouin.
In 2017, 91% of the population lived in cities, concentrated in the northwest and on the plateau. The capital Amman had less than 20,000 inhabitants in the early 1940s, and now, together with Az-Zarqa, 'greater Amman', has over 1.5 million people. The east of Jordan is practically empty.
Many Palestinian refugees settled there after the Six Day War of 1967. As a result, almost 75% of Amman's population are Palestinians. Other nationalities also fled to stable Jordan; Lebanese fled the civil war in Lebanon and 40,000 Iranians came to Jordan after the Gulf War in 1990. Other ethnic minorities include Sunni Chechens, Kurds, Turks and Armenians.
Over the past 80 years, Jordan has experienced a huge population explosion, from 586,000 inhabitants in 1954 to more than 10 million in 2017. After the Second Gulf War, many Jordanian guest workers returned to their country and the population grew by more than six percent per year.
The annual population growth rate is very high: between 1985 and 1993 on average 5.9%, in 1997 4.7% and in 2017 2.05%. Compared to Arab countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, this rate stands out.
Birth rate: 23.9 per 1000 inhabitants. (2017)
Mortality rate: 3.4 per 1000 inhabitants. (2017)
Life expectancy: men 73.4 years and women 76.5 years. (2017)
Population by age (2017):
00-14 years 34.7%
15-64 years 61,8%
When the 'oil boom' took place in the Gulf States in the 1970s, there was a great need for foreign skilled labour. Many Jordanians met these demands and went to work in the Gulf region, where the pay was much higher. In general, they were men between twenty and forty years old, who returned to Jordan after an average of four years.
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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