May 25 – Independence Day in Jordan

Posted on May 25, 2018

Independence from whom?

Today Jordan celebrates its 1946 independence from Britain. You might be thinking, "Oh, those British, with their huge empire!" 

But in this case, the Brits hadn't taken over the Jordanian territory in the 1800s or earlier - in other words, Jordan hadn't been a colony of Britain.

Instead, Jordan had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire - way back in the 1500s! For centuries, the Ottoman government chose to barely lift a finger to rule what is now Jordan, although yearly taxes were required, so the people living there basically ruled themselves...but in the 1800s, several groups tried to take over this territory. As a result, Ottoman forces took firmer and more repressive control over the land and people. 

The people of Jordan didn't like that. They revolted against the Ottoman rulers several times. And when World War I broke out - and the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany, the losing side...

Well, the Arab Revolt was successful at stripping the Middle East away from the Ottoman rulers. And the people of Turkey also revolted, ending the Ottoman monarchy and creating the Republic of Turkey. And the world tried to make sure that there never would be another World War by creating a worldwide organization attempting cooperation and peace negotiations between countries. And that organization, the League of Nations, in its infinite wisdom (I'm kidding), decided to split up the lands of the Middle East between France and Britain, the main winners of WWI.

The Middle Eastern lands that had belonged to the Ottoman Empire were divvied up in this way: the British Mandate was Palestine, including Jordan, and Mesopotamia, which became Iraq; the French Mandate was Syria, including Lebanon.

The thing is, the Mandate System was supposed to be really, really different than the colonial systems that nations used to use. The British were supposed to just give advice to the peoples and territories in their mandate; they were not supposed to annex, or take ownership of the territories; they were supposed to help the territory develop for the benefit of its people, not for the benefit of the Brits; the mandate was supposed to be a "sacred trust of civilization."

To find out more about all these complexities, check out this series of maps that explore and explain a lot about the history of the Middle East.

And now...Jordan:

There are some wonderful things to explore about Jordan. Check out the Dead Sea, a place so salty that towers of salt gleam in the sun, and people cannot sink:

Check out the glories of Jordan's ancient ruins:

Check out lots more of both here or here.

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