Middle Eastern country bordered by Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Its capital is Amman. Unlike many Middle Eastern countries, it does not have oil resources, but it is influential politically because of its physical position in the middle of everything in the area. It is considered one of the more governmentally stable countries in the area (and thus has received a lot of refugees from surrounding countries in conflict). However, economically, it is often dependent on foreign aid because there is not a lot of agricultural land or industrial development within the country.
After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire which formerly ruled the area, the British were given a mandate over the area by the League of Nations. The British area was divided into Palestine, Iraq, and "Trans-Jordan" ("across the Jordan River," for someone arriving from the Mediterranean Sea, presumably). The British government made Emir Abdullah the local leader of Transjordan (and his older brother Faisal, who formerly governed a larger area centered in modern Syria, leader in Iraq). A 1928 treaty made Abdullah hereditary king of a constitutional state established by the British. In 1946, the country received full independence and three years later changed its name to "the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan." Hashemite means descended from Hashim, the grandfather of Islamic prophet Muhammad; the royal family of Jordan claims this descent.
Transjordan was one of the Arab League countries which attacked the newly formed Israel in 1949. At the end of this war, Israel held the western part of the city of Jerusalem and Jordan the eastern part, as well as the area known as the West Bank, which Jordan claimed and ruled until its occupation by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967. (The change from "Transjordan" to "Jordan" originally reflected this gain of land on both sides of the Jordan River.) Since 1949, Jordan offered citizenship to Palestinian refugees; Palestinians who entered since 1949 and their descendants now make up nearly a third of the country's population, and at times there were uprisings by these Palestinians who wanted an independent Palestinian state rather than for their homeland to be part of Jordan, including the 1971 assassination of Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tal by members of the Black September Palestinian guerilla organization, and an attempt on King Hussein's life the next year. In 1988 Jordan gave up its West Bank claim in favor of supporting the self-determination claim of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. (This meant that Arabs living in the West Bank area were no longer citizens of Jordan.)
Jordan's first king, Abdullah, was assassinated by a Palestinian in 1951 and succeeded briefly by his son Talal and then by his grandson Hussein. Due to the Jordanian royal family's blood ties to the royalty of Iraq, Jordan and Iraq formed the "United Arab Federation" for a period in 1958 as a counterpart to the "United Arab Republic" formed by Syria and Egypt at that time, which called for the overthrow of the governments of Jordan and Lebanon. However, the Jordan-Iraq alliance ended with the coup in Iraq which expelled the royal family there. Jordan requested British troops to come to Jordan for support in 1958, and again needed Western support in 1963 when a revolutionary government-in-exile for Jordan set up shop in Syria. British and American support for King Hussein's government in 1963 included setting the American 6th fleet on alert in case of actual fighting, but this crisis ended without the need for foreign troops.
Jordan supported Iraq in both the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and the Persian Gulf War of 1991, causing strained relations with countries on the other sides of those conflicts. The Persian Gulf conflicts have also caused difficulties for Jordan by cutting off its supplies of oil from Iraq and making it difficult for Jordanians to work in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, richer countries who have used many guest workers from Jordan. Abdullah II, who has ruled Jordan since Hussein's death in 1999, has pledged to loosen up repressive government and increase economic reform; the former has not been as quick in coming as the latter.