Some facts about Jordan
|Growing up together - photo: A. Gabriel|
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is situated in the Middle East. It borders Syria in the north, Iraq in the north east, Saudi Arabia in the south and the east, the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, and Israel and the West Bank in the west.
Jordan has a population of 6.5 million (July 2011 est.), with the capital city of Amman being home to 1.1 million. Around 80 per cent of the population lives in urban areas. Although over half of the country consists of the Arabian Desert, the western part of Jordan is arable land and forests.
The country is situated in one of the world's most politically volatile sub-regions, making it vulnerable to regional economic and political developments. It has, however, managed to maintain a sense of stability.
An emerging economy in the region
Jordan has one of the highest standards of living in the region. In the 2010 Human Development Index, Jordan came seventh among Arab countries, which placed it in the "high human development" bracket. A large proportion of the population is highly educated, and most have access to a good health system. The improved health care system, which focuses on prevention, has led to important reductions in infant and maternal mortality rates. The life expectancy rate is one of the highest in the area - 78.7 years for men and 81.4 years for women.
In the recent past, Jordan's economy has flourished. Although the economy grew by a modest 3.1 per cent in 2011, this figure is much lower than for previous years - for example, the growth was 7.6 per cent in 2008.The main sector is the service sector, which employs over 77 per cent of the population. Tourism is an important source of employment and income, contributing an estimated 10 - 12 per cent to the country's gross domestic product. The modern and developing banking sector also plays an increasing role in the country's economy. Industry accounts for 20 per cent of employment and agriculture for a mere 2.7 per cent. Jordan has one of the world's largest reserves of phosphate and uranium. The remittances sent back from Jordanian graduates working abroad in countries like the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia also make an important contribution to the Jordanian economy.
The official unemployment rate remains relatively high at about 12.5 per cent and about 14 per cent live under the nationally-established poverty line. Poverty is mostly found in rural areas, where households are often bigger and there are fewer opportunities to make a living. As a result many people from the countryside move to the cities, especially to Amman and neighbouring areas, where there is better access to basic services and more employment options. However, this rise in number is putting greater pressure on the urban services.
Jordan is home to over two million refugees: about 1.8 million from Palestine and around 500,000 from Iraq. In addition, an estimated 160,000 people who were internally dispersed by the 1967 Arab Israeli War continue to live in the country.
Situation of the children in Jordan
There are around 2.6 million children under the age of 18 living in Jordan. Due to the high level of political commitment, Jordan has made progress in improving the situation of the majority of children living in the country. Most children in Jordan have access to quality education and health care. Education is highly valued by Jordanian society and government investment in this sector is high.
|After a game of basketball - photo: R. B. Messalem|
Children who are at risk of losing parental care include those where one parent has died, where the child is born out of wedlock or where the parents have divorced. The extended family plays an important role in Jordanian culture, and they usually take care of children who can no longer live with their parents.
Poverty, however, continues to shape the lives of many children. Children from poor families are often forced to work, and this frequently means they drop out of school. Many are exposed to harsh and hazardous working conditions in construction, carpentry, and mechanics. The number of child labourers is rising, as is the number of children working and begging on the streets.
SOS Children's Villages in JordanWebsite of SOS Children's Villages Jordan
SOS Children's Villages in Jordan has developed a series of activities in response to the various problems faced by children, young people and families in the localities where our organisation works. SOS Children's Villages has remained open to acknowledge and address local challenges; it provides support to communities, through the provision of day care, and educational support. For example, the social centre in Aqaba provides a series of cultural, educational and musical activities. The social centre in Amman provides long term assistance, often in the form of counselling and psychological support for all areas of life. When children can no longer live with their families, they can move into SOS families where they are cared for by the SOS mothers. As children grow older, and their needs change, they can move to special houses where they receive care and guidance from professionals.
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