Jordan is a small, almost landlocked, country with an area of about 90,000 sq km/35,000 sq mi. It is bordered by Syria on the north, Iraq and Saudi Arabia on the east and south, and Israel on the west. In the extreme south at Aqaba it has a short coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba branch of the Red Sea.
The general conditions of climate and weather around the year are similar to those described for Syria. About 90% of Jordan is desert, with an annual rainfall below 200 mm/8 in and falling as low as 25-50 mm/1-2 in in places. This is part of the great Syrian and an Nafud (northern Saudi Arabian) deserts. Summers are uniformly hot and sunny, but on occasions the winter weather can be cold, with occasional snow on the higher ground. The scanty rainfall occurs in winter and spring, usually as heavy showers.
The northwestern part of the country is hilly, with some areas rising to over 1,500 m/4,900 ft. The altitude and proximity to the Mediterranean make this the wettest and most fertile part of Jordan. Here the annual rainfall varies from as much as 800 mm/32 in in the higher parts to as little as 300 mm/12 in. The rain mostly falls between November and March (see the table for Amman).
On the western side of these mountains there is a long north-to-south valley, much of which is well below Mediterranean level. In this valley the River Jordan flows south to the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on the face of the earth. Here winters are very mild and summers particularly hot, while the whole area has a very low rainfall. To the west of the Jordan valley are the hills of the ancient region of Samaria and province of Judea, described for Israel (see the table for Jerusalem). This area is often called the Occupied West Bank of Palestine; it was part of Jordan 1949-67, since when it has been occupied and administered by Israel.
Jordan is a very sunny country with average daily sunshine hours ranging from six to seven in winter and as much as twelve to thirteen in summer. Although summer temperatures are high in the desert, the heat is usually moderated by low humidity and a stiff daytime breeze while the nights are cool and pleasant. The worst weather is that brought by hot, dry winds from Arabia (the khamsin). These are most likely to blow in early or late summer and last for a day or two at a time. Under these conditions heat stress may be felt.
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