November 14 – King Hussein's Birthday in Jordan

Posted on November 14, 2014

Like many other nations in the world, the Arabic nation of Jordan still has a king. His name is not, however, King Hussein – it's King Abdullah II. King Hussein was the present king's father, but he died in 1999.

So why is Jordan celebrating their king's dad's birthday today?

King Hussein ruled during the Cold War and during a time of incredible tension between Arab countries and Israel. Yet during that tense time, Hussein put his efforts toward peace, education, empowerment for women and girls, and socioeconomic growth. Under Hussein's leadership, Jordan was the second Arab country to recognize Israel, and he was a part of peace efforts. Former Prime Minister of the U.K. Tony Blair said of Hussein, “He was an extraordinary and immensely charismatic persuader for peace. At the peace talks in America when he was extremely ill, he was there, talking to both sides, urging them forward, telling them nothing must stand in the way of peace."

Hussein's fourth wife, Queen Noor, continues the work of improving the lives of Jordanians, including improving education and conditions for women and girls.

Learn about Jordan

It used to be the Emirate of Transjordan. Now it is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is one of the freest economies in its region and is classified as a country of “high human development.” You can probably tell: that's a good thing! Of course, these praises for Jordan are partly through Hussein's efforts on behalf of his country.

I always love ancient things, and so it's no surprise that one of my favorite things about Jordan is the archeological city of Petra, which is carved into reddish rocks.

Only about 2% of Jordan's land can be farmed! That is because most of the country is desert. It does, however, border on the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, at the northern tip of the Red Sea.

Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba is pretty normal sea + coast sort of stuff. 

But the Dead Sea is not really a sea at all, because it doesn't connect directly to an ocean. Instead of being a sea, it is a large hypersaline lake. That means it's really, really, really, really salty.

And it's really low – it's the lowest part of Earth that is on land!

Did you know that it is really easy to float in super salty water?

Did you know that the Dead Sea is more than 8 times saltier than the ocean?
Lying among the salt formations...

Did you know that almost no plants or animals can live in such salty water? Almost no microbes, even! (A few kinds of bacteria and fungi do live there – but compared to almost everywhere else on Earth, the Dead Sea is very, very dead!)

The Dead Sea has salt formations in  it, and it also spits up pebbles and blocks of black asphalt! Weird, huh?


Also on this date:

Author Astrid Lindgren's birthday 

Anniversary of the launch of Nellie Bly's journey around the world

Anniversary of the invention of cellophane 

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