Even though Amman is said to be one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world, the entity of Jordan or Transjordan is a post-colonial construct in the early 20th century.

In the tumultuous years in the first half of the 20th century, borders and leaders of Arab nations and colonies were constantly shifting.

In return for initiating the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans during WWI, Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca was promised a united Arab nation in the future with someone from Hussein’s Hashemite clan as king.

The Hashemites can trace their ancestry directly to the prophet Mohammed and his Arab ancestors. Since the 10th century they were the rulers of Mecca and Medina – also known as the region of Hijaz.

Hussein bin Ali had five sons, Ali, Abdullah, Faisal, Zeid, and Hassan. Faisal and Abdullah both led revolts against the Ottomans, and successfully drove them out of the Hijaz.

After the end of WWI, the British went back on their promise to form a united Arab nation – as it conflicted with their promise to the French to expand their influence in the region, and their promise to create a home for Europe’s Jewish population.

Instead, Faisal was appointed King of Iraq, and Abdullah I was appointed King of newly formed Transjordan. Shortly after, the Al Saud dynasty, who had been gaining control of much of the Saudi Arabian mainland, drove the remaining Hashemites out of the Hijaz.

Faisal was soon deposed in Iraq, and to this day, Abdullah II, Abdullah I’s grandson, is the only remaining Hashemite ruler in the region. Transjordan was essentially formed as a buffer-zone between Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia – and is today a bastion of stability in an increasingly tumultuous region.

Jordan’s relationship with Palestine is key to understanding the country, as a majority of its citizens are Palestinian refugees who fled war and occupation after the formation of Israel in 1948. Refugee camps exist in Jordan that have become permanent communities – even small cities.

Ethnic Jordanians are made up of former Bedouin tribes that inhabited the region, that now play a huge role in the country’s parliamentary politics. Many Jordanians believe that the fact that the royal family is neither Jordanian nor Palestinian is crucial. They serve as a form of buffer between the Jordanian tribes and the Palestinian population.

The Hashemites relationship to the Palestinians has been characterized by policy flip-flops. Initially, Jordan was part of the Arab coalitions that went to war with Israel in 1948 and 1967, but in 1970 King Hussein did not hesitate to violently crush an Arab uprising in Jordan, known as Black September.

Eventually, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, that has lasted to this day, and has provided a stable relationship with the US and the EU.

However, the country has not been immune from attacks – in 2005 sixty people were killed in a string of suicide bombings targeting international hotels in Amman.

The country was relatively immune to the Arab Spring protests that rocked the rest of the region. Protests did occur, but King Abdullah’s approach was mostly non-violent and catered to people’s wish for continued stability. Also, the fact that the country is a monarchy with a widely popular king, contributed to its immunity from the Arab Spring.

Since then, Jordan has been a major recipient of Syrian refugees, and has participated in air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq.