Jordan is an almost landlocked country, with an estimated population of 10 million in 2019,[1] of which 671,551 are registered refugees[2], making it the second highest refugee-hosting country on a per capita basis in the world.[3] Growing at 2.4 percent annually, Jordan’s population is considered highly urbanized with more than 90 percent of its population living in urban areas. With a fertility rate of 3.3 births and increasing life expectancy reaching 74 years in 2017, up from 69 in 2000,[1] the country’s population below 24 years of age has been shrinking, reaching 55.2 percent in 2015, and is projected to further decrease to 53.2 percent in 2020.[4]


The Jordanian economy, despite external shocks, has proven to be resilient. At the fiscal level, the cash deficit narrowed from 5.3 percent of GDP in 2015 to 0.4 percent of GDP in 2018.[5] In addition, external trade’s magnitude in the Jordanian economy has been relatively stable, with international trade to GDP ratio scoring 92.6 percent in 2017.[6]


The country is considered an upper-income-country[5] with a real GDP of JD10.1 million in 2018.[7] Following popular protests in 2019, the Jordanian government decided to reduce the sales tax on a few commodities, from 10 per cent to 4 percent, in order to stimulate the economy and protect the middle and lower classes. The list of commodities mainly includes fresh foods and agricultural products. This decision aims to alleviate economic hardships and help reach a balanced tax burden.[8] In terms of trade, Jordan’s exports have increased by 9 percent during 2018, compared to the same period a year earlier, reaching JD4,280 billion, up from JD3,856 billion in 2017. This increase can be mainly explained through the improvement of regional stability.[9]


Nonetheless, the economy continues to face challenges that stagnate its economic progress. This stagnation is mirrored by slow economic growth, averaged at 2 percent in 2018, compared to 1.9 percent in 2017.[1] Affected by the spillover of conflicts from neighboring countries and because of the volatility in oil prices, the mining and agriculture sectors were mainly affected in Jordan, decreasing from 10.1 and 7.7 in 2015 to 1 percent and -5.4 percent in 2016 respectively.[5] Jordan remains burdened with its public debt, at a high of 96 percent of GDP in 2018, but is projected to decrease by 2020 to 92.4 percent.[10] Due to global shocks, the inflation rate has been fluctuating to reach 4.7 percent in 2018[1], however it is projected to decrease to 2.3 percent in 2019.[5]


In line with the challenges that undermine the macroeconomic stability, the labor market in Jordan persists to be weak, whereby inadequate employment generation has worsened the unemployment rate in Jordan, at 18.6 percent in 2018, up from 13 percent in 2015. Youth and women are particularly vulnerable, which remains a serious economic and social problem, estimated at 51.2 percent and 24.1 percent in 2016 respectively.[1]


On the educational level, quality education has been remarkably sustained across the years. The country recorded the highest adult literacy rate in the Arab region according to the most recent data available, averaging at 97.8 percent. However, the tertiary enrollment rate has been steadily decreasing, reaching 31.7 percent in 2017, down from 41.1 percent a decade earlier.[6]


In the face of a challenging water scarcity problem in Jordan, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation set out a National Water Strategy (2016-2025) plan in order to combat the challenges of water cut-offs and drought. The policy aims at managing water resources more efficiently and sustainably, mainly due to the exploitation, depletion and deterioration of groundwater quality. The per capita annual water supply has been decreasing in Jordan, from 500 cubic meter in 1975 to 100 cubic meter in 2017. This is far below global standards, where global poverty line stands at 1000 cubic meter per capita, annually.[11]

This overview was last updated in January 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Department of Statistics (DOS). 2019. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 21 January 2019].
[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Syria regional refugee response, Jordan. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 January 2019].
[3] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2018. UNHCR Jordan factsheet February 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 January 2019].
[4] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 11 January 2019].
 International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2017. Jordan: 2017 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Jordan. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 11 January 2019].
[6] The World Bank. 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2019].
[7] Ministry of Finance. 2018. General government finance bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 January 2019].
[8] Jordan News Agency. 2019. Gov’t reduces sales tax on 61 commodities. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 January 2019].
[9] Jordan News Agency. 2018. Exports of ACI rise by 9 percent in 11 months. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 January 2019].
[10] International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 January 2019].
[11] The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Jordan. 2018. Water sector policy for drought management. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 January 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • Jordan recorded the highest adult literacy rate among the Arab countries in 2012, averaging at 98%.

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