In Jordan, 95% of the population is Arab. More than half are refugees from Palestine, who fled to Jordan during the wars between 1948 and 1967. They received (as in any Arab nation) automatic citizenship and the majority of them are well integrated into Jordanian culture. In general, the Palestinians are well educated and occupy high positions in the government, in business and in the scientific community. After the Gulf War, the population of Jordan was boosted by another 400,000 as people fled from Kuwait and other Gulf states.
The Bedouin in Jordan number several hundred thousand, although few of them still pursue fully nomadic lifestyles. However, some do maintain their traditional way of life. They camp for several months when they find a suitable place to graze their herds of sheep, goats and dromedaries. When food for the animals threatens to run out, they hit the road again. You can see their black goat-fur tents in the east and the south of Jordan, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups of three or four. Such tents are usually divided into separate living areas for men and women. The compartment for the men doubles as common space, and this is where any guests are received. The family’s possessions and provisions are stored in the females’ compartment, where entry to outsiders is forbidden. The women do the household chores, fetch water, bake bread and make clothes. The men provide food and take care of security. Children are usually sent out to tend to the cattle. Many Bedouin still wear traditional clothing, and the men carry daggers. Many of the women have facial tattoos. The dromedaries, long time companions and friends to the Bedouin, are generally being replaced these days by Land Rovers and pick-up trucks. The Bedouin are renowned for being extremely hospitable, and these days many Bedouin put down permanent roots somewhere. This has been encouraged by the Jordanian government since the 1950s through the building of settlements with stone houses, schools and health centres for the Bedouin to move into. Jordanians are well educated; 97% of children attend primary school and there are nine state universities.