Except for small sections of the borders with Israel and Syria, Jordan's international boundaries do not follow well-defined natural features of the terrain. The country's boundaries were established by various international agreements, and, with the obvious exception of the border with Israel, none was in dispute in early 1989.
The de jure border with Israel is based on the Armistice line agreed on in April 1949 by Israel and what was then Transjordan, following negotiations held under the auspices of a United Nations (UN) mediator. In general, the border represents the battle positions held by Transjordanian and Israeli forces when a ceasefire went into effect and has no relation to economic or administrative factors. Until the Israeli occupation of the West Bank that occurred during the June 1967 War (also known as the SixDay War), the demarcation line divided the city of Jerusalem, with Jordan holding the Old City and most of the holy places.
Jordan's boundaries with Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia do not have the special significance that the border with Israel does; these borders have not always hampered tribal nomads in their movements, yet for a few groups borders did separate them from traditional grazing areas and water sources. By the time political boundaries were drawn across the deserts around Transjordan after World War I, most of the nomadic tribes in that region had longestablished areas lying within the confines of the new state. To accommodate the few cases where tribal peoples traditionally had moved back and forth across the country's borders, agreements with neighboring countries recognized the principle of freedom of grazing and provided for a continuation of migratory practices, subject to certain regulations.
The border between Jordan and Saudi Arabia (only partially delimited by a series of agreements between Britain and the government of what eventually became Saudi Arabia) was first formally defined in the Hadda Agreement of 1925. In 1965 Jordan and Saudi Arabia concluded a bilateral agreement that realigned and delimited the boundary. The realignment resulted in some exchange of territory, and Jordan's coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba was lengthened by about eighteen kilometers. The new boundary enabled Jordan to expand its port facilities and established a zone in which the two parties agreed to share petroleum revenues equally if oil were discovered. The agreement also protected the pasturage and watering rights of nomadic tribes inside the exchanged territories.
|Country Studies main page | Jordan Country Studies main page | Celebrity|