Index / Peoples
The ethnic composition of Jordan is unclear, it is a country of many recent immigration waves; some groups are assimilated, others uphold strong identities. Official statistics are close to non-existent, but at least Jordan is a country that is proud of its minorities, and there is no policy of hiding or marginalizing in officials accounts.
*) These figures are added figures. Whereas the total population for Jordan is 5,9 million, the calculations for temporary inhabitants from Iraq is added to this, and the percentage is calculated from 6.4 million.
The largest group today are Palestinians, and for long Jordan aspired to become the homeland for the Palestinians. Many Palestinians are natives to Jordan, there are close historical and cultural affinity to the Palestinian, and there were political motivations in which the West Bank would be assimilated into Jordanian territory. Jordan was the first country to grant citizenship to Palestinians coming as refugees or by migration. Today there is no policy of citizenship; Jordan has joined the Arab cause of putting pressure on Israel to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Out of 3.1 million Palestinians, 1.7 million are citizens of Jordan, 1.4 million are registered as refugees.
The major groups of native inhabitants are Jordanian Arabs and Bedouins.
Jordanian Arabs and Palestinian Arabs speak the same dialect of Arabic; South Levantine.
Immigration to Jordan has happened all through the centuries. During the times of the Crusades, there has even been some immigration of Europeans, often with intermarriage with locals. There is no identity coloured by this in modern Jordan.
For centuries, peoples roamed a Middle East without real borders. The substantial presence of Bedouins in Jordan is a result of nomadic lifestyles; today's Bedouin identity transverse modern borders.
There is no clear data how long groups like the Druze and Doms have lived in the lands corresponding to modern Jordan, but it seemes most likely to be several centuries. Druze, not really an ethic group, rather a religious, form small communities near the border to Syria and in Azraq, but there are available data of its size.
Doms represent scattered communities, being a group largely of low social status with semi-nomadic lifestyles.
Immigration groups from the 19th century include Circassians; Chechens; and Syrians.
Circassians arrived in large groups in the 1870's, following unrest in Russia. They first inhabited Amman, Wadi Seer and Na’ur, today they also live in Jerash, Suweileh, Zarqa, Azraq. Estimates for Circassians vary much, between 30,000 and 100,000; considering that there are around 100,000 Circassian-speakers, the highest figure is correct.
Chechens is a group that today keep their identity and traditions very much alive.
Information about Syrians is poor, it seems that many either have returned to Syria or been assimilated as Jordanian Arabs.
Immigrations groups of the 20th century include in particular Palestinians (see above); Armenians; Iranians; and Turkmens. Armenians came here largely around 1915, following the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. Iranians and Turkmens arrived around 1910, a time of persecutions in Persia (now Iran).
Some sources state that there is a Kurdish minority in Jordan, but give no figures for the population. The estimate given here is derived from statistics on Kurdish-speakers.
In Jordan there are substantial communities of Filipinos, Indians and Thai, counting several thousands.