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Geography, Climate and Population of Jordan

Jordan population
Photo 1: Wadi Rum , Jordan, (Source: mikaelthunberg, Pixabay).

Covering a total area of 89,342 km², Jordan lies in the heart of the Middle East. It borders Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The country has a combination of semi-arid and Mediterranean climates. Annual precipitation varies from less than 50 mm in the eastern and southern desert regions to 600 mm in the northern highlands.

In general, Jordan has warm, dry summers and mild wet winters, with annual average temperatures ranging from 12 to 25°C and summertime highs reaching 35°C in the desert. Precipitation falls exclusively in the winter season. Occasionally, heavy rainstorms cause flash floods of short duration in surface watercourses (wadis) (Map 2 and 3). Part of the precipitation recharges the groundwater systems. Groundwater from springs may emerge at a flow rate of less than 1 liter per second (L/s) to more than 50 L/s. In certain places, springs and other forms of groundwater discharge feed rivers that carry water all year around.

The country has a diverse range of geographical features :

  1. The Jordan River Valley, which runs from north to south and stretches from the country’s western border to the desert plateau in the east.
  2. The Highlands, made up of a range of small hills running the length of the country from north to south.
  3. The Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth at 408 m below sea level.
  4. Semi-arid desert, which covers 92% of the territory, mainly in the eastern part of the country.

Map 1. Annual open water evaporation. Source: Fanack after MWI.
Map 1. Annual open water evaporation. Source: Fanack after MWI.

Map 2. Annual average rainfall and precipitation. Source: Fanack after MWI.
Map 2. Annual average rainfall and precipitation. Source: Fanack after MWI.

Population

A view of Amman, Jordan. Photo: David Bjorgen.
Photo 2: A view of Amman, Jordan. Photo: David Bjorgen.
The population of Jordan has risen substantially over the last 60 years, from around 470,000 in the early 1950s to 6.2 million in 2010, a figure that is expected to double in the next three decades.[1] Finding solutions to the increasing water demand in general and domestic demand in particular is becoming more difficult with the country’s rapid population growth: “the population growth rate is amongst the highest in the world, and is heightened by periodic surges of mainly refugee immigration caused by regional conflicts”.[2]

In the capital Amman, population growth is about 6% per year, almost double the national average.[3] With 2.4 million of the country’s 6.2 million inhabitants living in the capital, Amman is the largest city in Jordan.[4] Due to rural-urban migration as well as the massive immigration waves, Amman has been growing more rapidly than the rest of the country and with it, its water demand (Map 3).

Map 3. Population density in Jordan. Source: Fanack after MWI.
Map 3. Population density in Jordan. Source: Fanack after MWI.


[1] Yorke, V., 2013. ‘Politics matter: Jordan’s path to water security lies through political reforms and regional cooperation’. NCCR Trade Regulation, Working paper 2013/19.
[2] Zeitoun, M., 2009. ‘The Political Economy of Water Demand Management in Yemen and Jordan: A Synthesis of Findings’. WADImena Water Demand Management Research Series: 29-30.
[3] Amman Institute, 2011. The Amman Plan. Metropolitan Growth Summary. Report. Amman, Jordan.
[4] Department of Statistics (DoS), 2011. Estimated Population of the Kingdom by Governorate and Sex, at End-year 2010. Amman, Jordan.