For most of its history since independence from British administration in 1946, Jordan was ruled by King HUSSEIN (1953-99). A pragmatic ruler, he successfully navigated competing pressures from the major powers (US, USSR, and UK), various Arab states, Israel, and a large internal Palestinian population, despite several wars and coup attempts. In 1989 he reinstituted parliamentary elections and gradually political liberalization; in 1994 he signed a formal peace treaty with Israel. King ABDALLAH II - the eldest son of King HUSSEIN and Princess MUNA - assumed the throne following his father's death in February 1999. Since then, he has consolidated his power and undertaken an aggressive economic reform program. Jordan acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2000, and began to participate in the European Free Trade Association in 2001. After a two-year delay, parliamentary and municipal elections took place in the summer of 2003. The prime minister and government appointed in October 2003 declared their commitment to accelerated economic and political reforms and the new cabinet includes an unprecedented three women as ministers.

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Surface Area: 92,300 square km
Population: 5,611,202 (July 2004 est.)
Located in: Asia (Middle East)
Capital City: Amman
Head of State: King ABDALLAH II
Prime Minister: Faisal al-FAYEZ
Independent since: 25 May 1946
Currency: Jordanian dinar (JOD)
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