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Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north-west, Syria to the south, Iraq to the south-west, and Israel/Palestine to the east. It has access to the Red Sea via the port city of Aqaba, located at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli war approximately 900,000 Palestinian refugees were forced to flee their towns, villages, and homes. The vast majority fled to neighbouring Arab countries, including Jordan, which in 1950 had formally annexed the West Bank, where many refugees sought shelter. Another wave of Palestinian refugees fled to Jordan as a consequence of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza along with other Arab territories. The annexation of the West Bank and the refugee flows into Jordan transformed its demographic structure, tipping the balance in favour of a Palestinian majority. Today, Palestinians in Jordan, most of whom were granted citizenship in the early 1950s, represent over half of the Jordanian population. Beyond the demographic factor, the influx of refugees into Jordan reshaped its political, socio-economic, and cultural life. The government had to adapt its policies to accommodate the new population. The British grants-in-aid contributions before the war (and from the USA after the 1960s) enabled Jordan to create its infrastructure. Furthermore, the capital brought in by the well-off Palestinians who invested in the private sector and in housing, managed to set the bases for the urban centres that were created or developed in the years to follow.

Most of the refugees – at least officially – have equal civil rights as Jordanian citizens. However, Jordanian citizenship has not cancelled the Palestinian right of return or their status as refugees.

Jordanian Embassy
Last updated Aug 17, 2011