The population of Jordan is almost entirely Arab. The only sizable
racial minorities in the country are the Circassians and the Armenians;
each group accounts for less than 1 percent of the population. Jordan
is 72 percent urban; nomads and seminomads make up perhaps 5 percent
of the population.
The population of Jordan (1997 estimate), is 4,322,255, yielding
an average population density of 48 persons per sq km (125 per sq
The term Arabic refers to the standard form of the language used
in all writing and heard on television and radio as well as in mosques.
The diverse colloquial dialects of Arabic are interrelated but vary
considerably among speakers from different parts of the Middle East.
These dialects differ from standard Arabic and from one another
in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar and are usually labeled
according to major geographic areas, such as North African, Egyptian,
Within these broad classifications, the daily speech of urban,
rural, and nomadic speakers is distinctively different. Illiterate
speakers from widely separated parts of the Arab world may not understand
one another, although each is speaking a version of Arabic.
The sound system of Arabic has 28 consonants, including all the
Semitic guttural sounds produced far back in the mouth and throat.
Each of the three vowels in standard Arabic occurs in a long and
short form, creating the long and short syllables so important to
the meter of Arabic poetry. Although the dialects retain the long
vowels, they have lost many of the short-vowel contrasts.
The great majority of the Jordanian people are Sunni Muslims. Shiite
Muslims form a small minority. Christians, about one-third of whom
belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, make up about 5 percent of the
population. Islam is the state religion.