Its largest sectors are finance, which employs 22 percent of its labor force; transportation, which employs 16 percent; and the industrial sector, which employs 17 percent.

The Emirate of Transjordan was the name given to this small state when it was recognized in 1921, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration.

It was not until 1946 that Transjordan became a completely sovereign state. Jordan has an area of about 35,475 square miles (91,900 square kilometers).

Jordanians are defined as residents who have lived east of the Jordan River since before 1948.

Palestinians are defined as residents whose birthright extends back to areas west of the Jordan River.

After the 1967 war with Israel and Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, there were sudden and massive influxes of Palestinian Arab refugees, who now make up more than two-thirds of the population.

In 1996, 1,359,000 Palestinian refugees living in Jordan were registered with United Nations; 250,000 Palestinians continue to live in ten refugee camps.

The national main dish is Mansaf, which consists of lamb cooked in dried yogurt and served with seasoned rice on flat bread. The service sector, consisting of government, tourism, transportation, communication, and financial services contributes the most to the economy, employing 70 percent of the workforce.

Mansaf is always served on holidays and special family occasions such as visits to relatives or friends, engagements, and weddings. Amman has developed into a regional business center. Land ownership is the goal of many, but few can afford the cost.

A popular cheese is called halloumi (similar to feta), made from goat or sheep milk and often served in a sandwich of pita-style bread or cubed in salads.