Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, sits at the crossroads of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, the Fertile Crescent. The desert kingdom tells mesmerizing stories of a legendary rose city chiseled out of rock canyons and of Crusader castles. The country has a wealth of Paleolithic remains, with evidence that it was home to Homo erectus, Neanderthal and modern humans. The oldest evidence of human habitation reaches back some 250,000 years. The modern streets and traditional neighborhoods of Amman, Jordan’s capital, resound with the ring of history. Indeed, this may be one of the oldest cities on earth, with archaeological evidence that Amman saw human settlement as early as the 13th century BCE, and is mentioned in the Bible as Rabath Ammon. Jerash, a beautiful illustration of a preserved Greco-Roman city, features a colossal, restored hippodrome. The extraordinary 2,000-year-old “Rose-City” of Petra appeals to the eye and the spirit of travelers. While its origins are lost to time, Petra lives on in the startling rock-cut architecture that emerges from the sheer vertical walls of a narrow canyon. Then, there is the amazing Dead Sea, more than eight times saltier than any ocean. It is 1,378 feet below sea level, making its shores the lowest dry land found on earth. This fabled sea has drawn visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for millennia, and became a place of refuge for King David. This was one of the world’s first health resorts, used by Herod the Great. Remarkable history, unique cultures and dramatic desert settings highlight Jordan’s outstanding achievements by both man and nature.
Jordan is home to three UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites, including Petra, as well as natural attractions such as the beautiful Dana Biosphere Reserve, home to rare species of desert adapted wildlife. As part of its visionary leadership to protect these and other natural and cultural treasures found in Jordan, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has worked to develop public-private partnerships to grow the tourism sector sustainably, while benefiting a broad spectrum of Jordanians. A National Tourism Strategy was first launched in 2004, and a new strategy is under development that will take the country forward to 2021. Through relationships with groups such as the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, efforts have focused on expanding destinations and diversifying experiences so that more visitors are able to fully engage with and explore vast Jordan’s natural and cultural heritage, as well as experience authentic village life.
The country has fully embarked on a national level sustainable tourism master plan incorporating the three main pillars of best practice: environmentally-friendly operations; support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage; and improving the special and economic well-being of local people.
Jordan has much to offer travelers from dramatic desert landscapes to an overnight stay in Wadi Rum at a Bedouin camp to Aqaba and the Red Sea, known for snorkeling and scuba diving. Feynan Ecolodge is a prime example of a successful low impact, sustainable project while offering travelers the opportunity to explore Jordan’s wilderness, meet its people and explore its ancient history, with minimal impact on the environment. Feynan is located along the southwestern edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. The area was one of three main copper mining hubs in the world. The ecolodge today offers the local Bedouin communities economic opportunities previously unavailable, and provides a sustainable alternative to mining.Why the Elephant Ranking?