The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is a Neolithic site known as 'Ain Ghazal. Its successor was known as "Rabbath Ammon", which was the capital of the Ammonites, then as "Philadelphia", and finally as Amman. It was initially built on seven hills but now spans over 19 hills combining 27 districts, which are administered by the Greater Amman Municipality headed by its mayor Yousef Al-Shawarbeh. Areas of Amman have gained their names from either the hills (Jabal) or the valleys (Wadi) they occupy, such as Jabal Lweibdeh and Wadi Abdoun. East Amman is predominantly filled with historic sites that frequently host cultural activities, while West Amman is more modern and serves as the economic center of the city.
Approximately two million visitors arrived in Amman in 2014, which made it the 93rd most visited city in the world and the 5th most visited Arab city. Amman has a relatively fast growing economy, and it is ranked Beta− on the global city index. Moreover, it was named one of the Middle East and North Africa's best cities according to economic, labor, environmental, and socio-cultural factors. The city is among the most popular locations in the Arab world for multinational corporations to set up their regional offices, alongside Doha and only behind Dubai. It is expected that in the next 10 years these three cities will capture the largest share of multinational corporation activity in the region.
Amman derives its name from the 13th century BC when the Ammonites named it "Rabbath Ammon", with the term Rabbath meaning the "Capital" or the "King's Quarters". Over time, the term "Rabbath" was no longer used and the city became known as "Ammon". The influence of new civilizations that conquered the city gradually changed its name to "Amman". In the Hebrew Bible, it is referred to as "Rabbat ʿAmmon" (Biblical Hebrew: רבת עמון, Tiberian Hebrew Rabbaṯ ʿAmmôn). However, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Macedonian ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom who reigned from 283 to 246 BC, renamed the city to "Philadelphia" (Ancient Greek: Φιλαδέλφεια; literally: "brotherly love") after occupying it. The name was given as an adulation to his own nickname, Philadelphus.
In the outskirts of Amman, one of the largest known ancient settlements in the Near East was discovered. The site, known as 'Ain Ghazal, dates back to 7250 BC and spans an area of 15 hectares (37 acres). It was a typical aceramic Neolithic village that accommodated around 3,000 inhabitants. Its houses were rectangular mud-bricked buildings that included a main square living room, whose walls were made up of lime plaster. The site was discovered in 1974 as construction workers were working on a road crossing the area. By 1982, when the excavations started, around 600 meters (2,000 feet) of road ran through the site. Despite the damage brought by urban expansion, the remains of 'Ain Ghazal provided a wealth of information.
'Ain Ghazal is well known for a set of small human statues found in 1983, when local archaeologists stumbled upon the edge of a large pit 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) containing them. These statues are human figures made with white plaster, with painted clothes, hair, and in some cases ornamental tattoos. Thirty-two figures were found in two caches, fifteen of them full figures, fifteen busts, and two fragmentary heads. Three of the busts were two-headed, the significance of which is not clear.