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Geography of Jordan

Main areas and cities

Understanding the geography of Jordan will allow you to better comprehend the differences between different areas during your trip around the country. That’s why on this page, we show you the most significant geographical data of Jordan: its size, borders, regions, most populated cities, and more.

Table of Contents

Size and borders of Jordan

Jordan is a relatively small country, with an area of about 90,000 square kilometers, which is roughly equivalent to the size of Portugal. This is less than other countries in its region, such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia, but more than some of its neighbors, like Israel or Lebanon.

As you can see on a geographic map of Jordan, it shares land borders with five countries:

  • With Iraq to the northeast
  • With Saudi Arabia to the east and south
  • With Israel to the west
  • With Palestine (the West Bank) to the west
  • With Syria to the north.
mapa de jordania Geography

Regions of geography of Jordan

Jordan is subdivided into different administrative regions, which are called “governorates”. In total there are twelve:

  • Amman Governorate: it is the most populous and important, as it includes the capital of the country, Amman
  • Governorate of Jerash or Gerasa: it is not among the most populated or extensive, but from a tourist point of view it is relevant for its spectacular Roman ruins
  • Aqaba Governorate: It is one of the most important due to its strategic location, as it is the only one that has a coastline on the Red Sea. It takes its name from the port city of Aqaba
  • Irbid Governorate
  • Zarqa Governorate
  • Al Balqa Governorate
  • Al Mafraq Governorate
  • Karak Governorate
  • Maraba Governorate
  • Ajloun Governorate
  • Ma’an Governorate
  • Tafilah Governorate
regiones Geography

Major cities in Jordan

Although Jordan’s geography is dominated by desert, these areas have a very low population density. In other words, Jordan is an eminently urban country, as 70% of its population is concentrated in cities, approximately (compared to the world average of 55%, according to World Bank data).

Here is a list of the five most populous cities in the country, according to official government data in 2021:

  1. Amman, the capital of Jordan, with over 4 million inhabitants
  2. Zarqa, with about 735,000
  3. Irbid, with about 580,000
  4. Russeifa, with almost 550,000
  5. Saab, with almost 200,000

Some interesting facts about the relief: the ecoregions

From a tourist point of view, it is more interesting to make a simple subdivision of the geography of Jordan according to its relief. Three main areas can be distinguished:

The desert plain, which occupies the center and west of the country. Being extremely arid lands, only 3% of its surface is arable, approximately The western mountains, which extend from north to south. In these highlands is concentrated the vast majority of Jordanian cities and, therefore, of the population. In the north of this great mountain ridge is located the only Mediterranean forest biome of the geography of Jordan The Jordan Rift Valley, about 120 km, which has a north-south direction. It is formed by the Jordan River or, rather, by the Syriac-African tectonic trench, in which this river and the two large bodies of water in the area are embedded: the Sea of Galilee (in Israeli territory) and the Dead Sea.

Jordan is a mostly ‘inland’ country, but it has a small coastal strip on the Red Sea: there are about 26 km of coastline in Aqaba, which represents a gateway not only for travelers but also for goods and natural resources (gas, through a gas pipeline with Egypt, and oil through an oil pipeline projected from Iraq. The Basra-Aqaba pipeline is under study and construction, but this phrase is ambiguous enough to hold up for years like this.)

Although the highlands extend through the western mountains, the highest peak in the country is to be found in the south, on the border with Saudi Arabia: it is the Jabal um ad Dami, about 70 km southeast of Aqaba and in the vicinity of the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve. It rises to 1,854 meters above sea level.

On the other hand, in the Jordan Rift Valley you will find the opposite: the lowest point, not only of the geography of Jordan but also of the whole world, which is the Dead Sea, at -408 meters above sea level, because it is located in a deep depression on the border with Israel and Palestine.

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