Jordan Ethnic Groups

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

One of the most strategically important countries in the Middle East, Jordan has a surprising amount of ethnic diversity that goes back centuries, but shows the effects of today's conflicts.

Crucial Country of the Middle East

Few countries of the Middle East have the strategic value of Jordan. It has the longest border with Israel, a major U.S. ally in the region, and Jordan is an American ally in its own right. It also represents an area of stability in the otherwise unstable arena of Middle Eastern foreign affairs.

Bedouin and Urbanites

The majority of the population of Jordan is Arab. Well over 90% of all Jordanians are Arabs. However, there are some significant differences within that Arab population that would constitute completely different demographic groups in other regions. Most Jordanian Arabs descend from longstanding families that have settled the older cities of the country, or from the nomadic Bedouin who still live with tents and camels in the desert. In some situations, long standing rivalries between tribes or neighborhoods still simmer today, although these are mostly swept under the rug. That said, while most Jordanians live in urban areas today, a small number of Bedouin still live out in the desert.


There is one other group of Arabs that has lived for decades in sizable numbers in Jordan, and those are the Palestinians. Due to its proximity to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, when Palestinians decide to leave in favor a new country, Jordan is an obvious choice. Approximately 40% of the country is made up of Palestinians, and while they have been offered citizenship by the Jordanian government, some have refused to give up hope that they will be allowed back to their ancestral homes.

Smaller Groups

Given the fact that Jordan was a crucial stop on trade routes for years, it's no surprise that a number of Middle Eastern ethnicities can still be found in small numbers throughout Jordan. The largest non-Arab group to be found in Jordan are Circassians, who originated in the Caucasus region. They are highly regarded by the other ethnicities of the country.

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