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Jordan - Glossary Index
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook

      Glossary -- Jordan

      Basic currency unit consisting of 1,000 fils; created in 1950 as replacement for the Palestinian pound. Dinar's value was established at parity with the British pound sterling, or a value of US$2.80 equal to JD1. Jordan, as a member of the sterling area, maintained parity with the British pound until 1967 when the British devalued their currency. Jordan did not follow the pound, retaining the dinar at US$2.80 equal to JD1 through 1972. When United States currency was devalued in 1973, the dinar was unlinked from the dollar, since which time the rate has fluctuated. Beginning in February 1975, the dinar was pegged to the special drawing right (SDR--q.v.). According to International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.) data, the average conversion rate of the dinar for trade and other purposes was US$3.04 in 1987, US$2.1 in 1988, and US$1.54 in 1989.
      East Bank
      The area east of the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the series of wadis from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Roughly the former Amirate of Transjordan.
      GDP (gross domestic product)
      A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only output values of goods for final consumption and for intermediate production are assumed to be included in final prices. GDP is sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these have been eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have not been made.
      GNP (gross national product)
      GDP (q.v.) plus the net income or loss stemming from transactions with foreign countries. GNP is the broadest measurement of the output of goods and services by an economy. It can be calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes and subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only transfer payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost, removing indirect taxes and subsidies.
      A word used in several senses. In general use and lower-cased, it means the leader of congregational prayers; as such it implies no ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education to carry out this function. It is also used figuratively by many Sunni (q.v.) Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shia (q.v.) Muslims the word is usually upper-cased and takes on many complex and controversial meanings; in general, however, it indicates that particular descendant of the Party of Ali who is believed to have been God's designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of ascertaining his identity have been the major issues causing divisions among Shias.
      International Monetary Fund (IMF)
      Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
      Narrowly, a citizen of the British mandated territory of Palestine (1922-48). Generally, a Muslim or Christian native or descendant of a native of the region between the Egyptian Sinai and Lebanon and west of the Jordan River-Dead Sea-Gulf of Aqaba line who identifies himself primarily as a Palestinian.
      Body of Islamic law. Courts applying this law are known as sharia courts.
      sharif (Arabic pl., ashraf)
      An individual who claims to be and is accepted as a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima.
      Leader or chief. Word used to mean either a political leader or a learned religious leader. Also used as an honorific. Frequently spelled sheikh or sheik.
      Shia (also Shiite, from Shiat Ali, the Party of Ali)
      A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. Shias supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and on this issue they divided from the Sunnis (q.v.) in the first great schism within Islam. Later schisms have produced further divisions among the Shias over the identity and number of Imams (q.v.). Shias revere Twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be in hiding.
      special drawing right(s) (SDR)
      a monetary unit of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (q.v.) based on a basket of international currencies consisting of the United States dollar, the German deutschmark, the Japanese yen, the British pound sterling, and the French franc.
      Sunni (from sunna, orthodox)
      A member of the larger of the two great divisions of Islam. Sunnis supported the traditional method of election to the caliphate and accepted the Umayyad line. On this issue they divided from the Shia (q.v.) Muslims in the first great schism within Islam.
      Narrowly, a citizen of the Amirate of Transjordan (1921-46). Generally, a Muslim or Christian native of the region east of the Jordan River-Dead Sea-Gulf of Aqaba line and within the approximate boundaries of the contemporary state of Jordan, that is, of the East Bank (q.v.).
      West Bank
      The area west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, which was annexed by Jordan in 1950. Area has been under Israeli occupation since the June 1967 War. In July 1988, King Hussein renounced Jordan's claim to the West Bank.
      World Bank
      Informal name used to designate a group of three affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance specifically designed to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The three institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).

    NOTE: The information regarding Jordan on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Jordan Glossary information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Jordan Glossary should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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