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Jordan, or officially, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Asian Middle Eastern kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country shares borders to the east and southeast with Saudi Arabia, to the northeast with Iraq, to the north with Syria and to the west with West Bank and Israel, a country with which Jordan shares controls of the Dead Sea. The only coastline or port in the country is at its southwestern tip—the Gulf of Aqaba, which is shared with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Nearly 60 percent of Jordan is covered by the expansive Arabian Desert, while the western portion of the country, known for its arable land and forests, is considered part of the Fertile Crescent.
Jordan has a total permanent population of 5.1 million and is home to one of the highest percentages of immigrants in the world, with 40 percent of the population having been born in a country other than Jordan. From a race standpoint, most of Jordan’s population is Arab, but in addition to native-born Jordanians there are sizable Arab communities of Palestinians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Libyans and Syrians. Non-Arab groups, which comprise 2-5% of the population, include Circassians, Chechens, Armenians, Turkmans and Romani. The official language of Jordan is Arabic and is spoken by the majority of its residents. English, while not officially recognized, is also widely spoken and is considered the de facto language for banking and commerce in the country, and granted co-official status in the education sector. Islam, particularly the Sunni branch, is the most common religion in Jordan and is practiced by roughly 92 percent of the population, while Christianity, practiced by nearly 6 percent of the population, is the largest religious minority.
Education in Jordan
As Jordan made the shift from a predominantly agrarian economy to an industrialized nation, the education system, which is considered one of the best in the region, played a significant role. In recent years, primary school enrollment has risen from 87 percent to nearly 99 percent, secondary enrollments shot from 63 percent to 97 percent, and the percentage of Jordanian high school students who move on to pursue higher education rose from 79 percent to 85 percent—an unusually high rate for a middle income nation.
Compulsory education in Jordan includes primary education (8 years) and the initial two years of secondary education (9th and 10th grades). Students in the early primary grades are instructed in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and are given ample opportunities to practice and perfect these skills as they move through grades one through eight. Additional subjects are gradually added to the curriculum in the later grades, including mathematics, natural science, social cultural and Islamic studies, history, geography, Arabic and English language arts, music and physical education.
Following the 10th grade, students can pursue one of two tracks for their final two years of secondary school: academic or vocational education. Those in the academic program are given coursework that will help prepare them for tertiary or higher education opportunities, provided by Jordanian universities and community colleges. The vocational track, on the other hand, provides students with instruction and training in careers important to the Jordanian economy, leading to certification and potential entry into the workforce upon graduation.
The total adult literacy rate in Jordan is now 93 percent—a rate that would be respectable in any part of the world, but is especially high considering the region in which the country is located.