Located between the Levantine and Arabian areas of the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is bordered by no less than four other Arabic speaking countries: Syria to the north, Iraq along its northeastern panhandle, Saudi Arabia to the east and southeast, the Gulf of Aqaba, Jordan’s only outlet to the sea, is to the south and Palestine to the west.
At 96,188 sq. km (about 37,138 sq mi.) including the Dead Sea, the kingdom is the 110th largest country in the world, similar in size to Serbia or Portugal; nonetheless, the diverse terrain and landscape that’s usually found only in countries larger than Jordan make it seem bigger than it actually is.
Jordanian weather can also be as varied as its landscape and its climate can be divided into three main geographic and climatic areas: Jordan and the Jordan Valley, the Mountain Heights Plateau, and the eastern desert, or Badia region. In western Jordan, around the country’s capital of Amman, you’ll find the hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters of the Mediterranean climate; however, a desert climate that sees no more than 200mm of rain a year can be found throughout most of the country in places like Wadi Araba, the eastern desert of Badia, the Central Desert and Wadi Rum.
South of the Dead Sea, the 166 kilometers (103 mi.) long Jordan Valley runs through the hot and dry Wadi ‘Araba. This magnificent Jordanian desert is known for the completely barren mountainsides that go from 300 meters (984 ft.) below sea level near the infamous salty sea to 355 meters (1165 ft.) high at Jebel Risha, dropping down to sea level again at Aqaba.
Eastern Desert of Badia
Around 75% of Jordan is made up of a desert area known as the North Arab Desert. With elevations rising above sea level between 600 and 900 meters (1165 ft. and 2953 ft., respectively), the desert also stretches into parts of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
The climate of the Eastern Desert of Badiacan vary a great deal both during the day and seasonally, with temperatures in the summer rising above 40°C (104°F), while the cold, dry, and windy winter nights can reach lows of freezing (0°C/32°F) or below. Although it receives less than 50 millimeters (2¼ in.) of rain each year, there are still quite a few plants and people that live and survive in this rather harsh desert climate and it is here in the Eastern Desert one can see a multitude of vegetated wadis, along with the Azraq Oasis and the Shomari Wildlife Reserve.
The Basalt and Rweishid Deserts
In the Basalt Desert you’ll find black basalt boulders covering the landscape, remnants of centuries-old volcanic activity.
Just to the east of the Basalt and extending all the way to the Iraqi border is the Rweished Desert – an undulating plateau of limestone with some farmed grassland dotting the landscape.
The Central Desert
To the south of Amman is the Central Desert, where you’ll find the Al-Jafr Basin just to the south where a number of broad, sparsely-vegetated wadis also dot this area. al-Mudawwara Desert lies just to the south of al-Jafr and is known for its wide, sandy wadis that separate the desert’s remote hills and low rocky mountains.
Without a doubt, the most famous desert attraction in Jordan, Wadi Rum is located in the Rum Desert where you’ll discover towering sandstone mesas and mountains decorated with an array of colors that create one of the most fantastic and otherworldly landscapes on Earth. The magnificent colors of the mountains spill into the sandstone dunes scattered throughout the reserve. Both rare and native flora as well as unique fauna like the Gray Wolf, Blandford’s Fox, the Sand Cat and the Ibex can be found in the ecosystem of one of the most exceptional deserts in Jordan.
In the end, if you’re looking for a desert adventure, Jordan offers plenty to choose from and enjoy.
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