SIZE - Including the 2,180-square-mile West Bank, occupied by Israel since the 1967 war, Jordan is 37,700 square miles, slightly smaller than Indiana. The country is largely rocky deserts and arid plains.
PEOPLE - The population is 2.8 million, of whom a third live on the West Bank. It is mostly Arab and 95 per cent Sunni Moslem; 70 per cent are Palestinian and the rest Bedouins, except for small communities of Kurds, Circassians and Armenians.
HISTORY - Inhabited since biblical times, the area that is now Jordan was part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, Britain administered the area as two mandates: Palestine, which included present-day Israel and the West Bank became an independent kingdom in 1946. When the British mandate over Palestine ended in 1948, fighting began between Jordan and Israel over the Arab-populated West Bank, which Jordan annexed. Jordan participated in the 1967 war, in which Israel seized the West Bank, but it did not take part in the 1973 war. In fighting in 1970 and 1971, the Jordanian government won supremacy over Palestinian commandos who had taken control of parts of the East Bank. At the 1974 Rabat summit, King Hussein recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate spokesman for the West Bank but has not formally relinquished Jordan's claim of sovereignty over the West Bank.
GOVERNMENT - Jordan is a constitutional monarch. Hussein, ruler since 1953, effectively dominates the government, including the parliament, which has two houses, one oppointed and one elected. The government-sponsored Arab National Union is the only recognized political party.
ECONOMY - The loss of the fertile West Bank and the recurrent hostilities have been serious setbacks to Jordan's economy, which includes farming, grazing, light industry and exports of phosphates and cement. Many foods and manufactured goods must be imported and the country has a very unfavorable trade balance.