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The geographical area that lies to the east of the Jordan River, south of Syria, and north of Saudi Arabia—known in the accounts of Western travelers as Transjordan—was terra incognita until the mid-1800s. As a part of the Ottoman Empire, the area was left to the rule of local tribal leaders, who presided over nomadic and seminomadic communities scattered across vast expanses of desert.

Focusing on several key periods and events in Jordan’s history, the entry begins with a description of the governmental reforms instituted by the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century. The next sections discuss the regional British Mandate that followed the conclusion of World War I; the establishment of Transjordan in 1946 as an independent sovereign state; the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and ...

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