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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Jordan

Ethnicity

Jordan's population consists almost entirely of Arabs, who are originally from the Arabian Peninsula. Like all Arab people though, the Arab people of Jordan have had a number of ethnic variations, although they tend to have a larger percentage of Bedouin blood, which is the group from which the term Arab comes. However, today the term Bedouin generally only refers to a nomadic Arab. Jordan also has a very small, but distinct Armenian population in the capital.

Language

Arabic is the only official language in Jordan. The written form of the language is called Modern Standard Arabic (written in the Arabic script), which gives the language consistency across countries from a written perspective. The spoken dialects of Arabic are so drastic from location to location that Arabic speakers in Jordan may not even understand Arabic speakers from a country further away, like Morocco. Obviously the dialect of Arabic in Jordan is most closely related to the dialects spoken in nearby countries like Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Arabic is a Semitic language; other closely related Semitic languages include Amharic (Ethiopia) and Hebrew. More distantly related are languages like Berber (North Africa) as well as historic languages including Phoenician and ancient Egyptian.

English is the most commonly taught second language in the country and nearly everyone with a college education speaks at least minimal English.

Religion

Sunni Muslim is the official religion of Jordan as nearly 92% of the people adhere to this faith. Another 6% are Christian, primarily Greek Orthodox, and the final 2% of the population fall into various categories, primarily Shia Muslims and Druze.

Islam (the name of the religion, whose followers are called Muslims) is a monotheistic religion, whose holy book is called the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed to be the word of God spoken through the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE (Common Era is preferred over AD (Anno Domini or "year of the Lord") since the Islamic world doesn't believe Jesus was the messiah). Islam believes Muhammad was the last prophet sent to earth by God, the last in a long line of prophets, which includes Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among others.

Muslims follow five pillars of their faith: testimony, prayer, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage. These pillars, and other tenants of their faith, can give great structure to their lives as some foods, like pork, are forbidden and every Muslim is expected to pray five times a day. However, the level of participation in each of these pillars and to what degree Islam influences an individual's life varies from person to person and community to community. Generally speaking, Jordan is fairly liberal in how they practice Islam, but it is not uncommon to find very conservative Muslims throughout the country.

This page was last updated: May, 2014