Jordan / Cities and Towns /
Other spelling: Akaba
Town in southwestern Jordan with 85,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Aqaba is the centre of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone. Aqaba is the only seaport of Jordan, importing a wide range of products, mainly manufactured goods. The export is dominated by bulk phosphates. Aqaba is also a popular tourist resort.
Aqaba is connected to the urban centres of Jordan to the north by highway. The railway is used to transport phosphates. There are overland border points to both Eilat, Israel (5 km north) and Saudi Arabia (16 km south), and ferries connecting Jordan directly to Egypt. There is an airport, serving some national and international flights.
Aqaba is dominated by widespread quarters and wide roads, and few architectural attractive buildings except upperclass hotels.
The 'Aqaba' is short of the old Arabic name Aqaba Ayla, meaning 'Pass of Ayla'.
Aqaba has been settled for millennia, due to its ideal position on the sea, and nearby freshwater springs.
Around 1300 BCE: Becomes the principal town of the country of the Edomites, known as Elath.
4th century: Passes to the Nabateans, who establishes a number of other strongholds further down along the Aqaba Gulf.
105 CE: Comes under Roman control, who establishes a garrison here, known as Aelana.
4th century: Passing to the Byzantine Empire, who establishes a Christian bishopric here.
630 or 631: Conquered by Muhammad, and comes under Muslim rulers.
1115: Passes for a period to the Christian Crusaders, who establishes a fort here.
1183: Is retaken by the Muslims under the command of Saladin.
1917 July: Is conquered by Thomas Edward Lawrence and becomes part of the Kingdom of Hijaz.
1925: Is ceded to Transjordan by British initiative, following Ibn Saud's conquest of Hijaz.
1956 November: Is occupied by Israeli forces.
1957 January: Recaptured by Jordanian forces.
1961: A deepwater port is established at Aqaba.
1965: A border agreement is reached between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, where Jordan control of Aqaba and the coast 16 km southwards is bartered with desert territories in the interior.
1980's: Strong increase in Iraqi exports over the port of Aqaba.