Jordan, country, Asia: Land and People

Land and People

Jordan falls into two main geographical regions. Eastern Jordan, which encompasses about 92% of the country's land area, is made up of a section (average elevation: 2,500 ft/760 m) of the Arabian Plateau that in the northeast includes part of the Syrian Desert. In the western part of the plateau are the Jordanian Highlands, which include Jabal Ramm (5,755 ft/1,754 m), Jordan's loftiest point. Extreme W Jordan is made up of a segment of the Great Rift Valley (which continues southward into Africa) and includes the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the Arabah (a dry riverbed).

The inhabitants of Jordan are mostly Arabs, largely of either Palestinian or Bedouin descent. There are small minorities of Armenians and Circassians. Arabic, the official language, is spoken by virtually everyone. Many in the higher socioeconomic groups also speak English. Over 90% of the people are Sunni Muslims; about 5% are Christians, most of whom are Greek Orthodox. There are also small Shiite Muslim and Druze communities.

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