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Managing to maintain an independent stance in the face of enormous international pressure, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan under King Hussein (1953–99) evolved in the late 20th century as a parliamentary democracy that promoted liberalization of its economy. After succeeding to the throne upon his father's death, King Abdallah II instituted political reforms aimed at fighting poverty and ending political corruption. With a per capita income of $4,800, Jordan is ranked 139th of 232 countries in world incomes. Official estimates place the poverty rate at 15 percent, but it is likely that the actual rate is at least twice the official count, partly because of the high unemployment rate. There is considerable economic inequity in Jordan, with the richest 10 percent of the population holding ...

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