What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.
Jordan is a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country with an area of 89,342 km2 (34,495 sq mi) and a population numbering 10 million, making it the 11th-most populous Arab country. Sunni Islam, practiced by around 95% of the population, is the dominant religion in Jordan that coexists with an indigenous Christian minority. Jordan remains to be considered as among the safest of countries in the Middle East, even after the deteriorating situation of the region following the Arab Spring in 2010s. Jordan prides itself on being an "oasis of stability" in a turbulent region. In the midst of surrounding turmoil, it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts as early as 1948. An estimated 2.1 million Palestinian and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are present. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by ISIL. While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure.
Jordan is classified as a country of "high human development" with an "upper middle income" economy. The Jordanian economy, one of the smallest economies in the region, is attractive to foreign investors based upon a skilled workforce. The country is a major tourist destination, also attracting medical tourism due to its well developed health sector. Nonetheless, a lack of natural resources, large flow of refugees and regional turmoil have hampered economic growth.
Jordan is named after the Jordan River which forms the country's north-western border, where Jesus is said to have been baptised. The origin of the river's name is debated, but the most common explanation is that it derives from the word "yarad" (the descender, "Yarden" is the Hebrew name for the river), found in Hebrew, Aramaic, and other Semitic languages. Others regard the name as having an Indo-Aryan origin, combining the words "yor" (year) and "don" (river), reflecting the river's perennial nature. Another theory is that it is from the Arabic root word "wrd" (to come to), as in people coming to a major source of water.
The first recorded use of the name Jordan appears in Anastasi I, an ancient Egyptian papyrus that dates back to around 1000 BC. The lands of modern-day Jordan were historically called Transjordan, meaning "beyond the Jordan River". The name was Arabized into Al-Urdunn during the 636 Muslim conquest of the Levant. During crusader rule in the beginning of the second millennium, it was called Oultrejordain. In 1921, the Emirate of Transjordan was established and after it gained its independence in 1946, it became The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. The name was changed in 1949 to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Hashemite is the house name of the royal family.