Following World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations awarded Britain the mandate to govern much of the Middle East. Britain demarcated a semi-autonomous region of Transjordan from Palestine in the early 1920s. The area gained its independence in 1946 and thereafter became The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The country's long-time ruler, King HUSSEIN (1953-99), successfully navigated competing pressures from the major powers (US, USSR, and UK), various Arab states, Israel, and a large internal Palestinian population. Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. King HUSSEIN in 1988 permanently relinquished Jordanian claims to the West Bank; in 1994 he signed a peace treaty with Israel. King ABDALLAH II, King HUSSEIN's eldest son, assumed the throne following his father's death in 1999. He has implemented modest political and economic reforms, including the passage of a new electoral law in early 2016 ahead of legislative elections held in September. The Islamic Action Front, which is the political arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, returned to parliament with 15 seats after boycotting the previous two elections in 2010 and 2013.
Jordan's economy is among the smallest in the Middle East, with insufficient supplies of water, oil, and other natural resources, underlying the government's heavy reliance on foreign assistance. Other economic challenges for the government include chronic high rates of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, budget and current account deficits, and government debt.King ABDALLAH, during the first decade of the 2000s, implemented significant economic reforms, such as expanding foreign trade and privatizing state-owned companies that attracted foreign investment and contributed to average annual economic growth of 8% for 2004 through 2008. The global economic slowdown and regional turmoil contributed to slower growth from 2010 to 2016 - with growth averaging 2.8% per year - and hurt export-oriented sectors, construction, and tourism. Since the onset of the civil war in Syria and resulting refugee crisis, one of Jordan’s most pressing socioeconomic challenges has been managing the influx of 650,000 UN-registered refugees, more than 80% of whom live in Jordan’s urban areas. Jordan’s own official census estimated the refugee number at 1.3 million as of early 2016.Jordan is nearly completely dependent on imported energy—mostly natural gas—and energy consistently makes up 25-30 percent of Jordan’s imports. To diversify its energy mix, Jordan has secured several contracts for liquefied natural gas and is currently exploring nuclear power generation, exploitation of abundant oil shale reserves and renewable technologies, as well as the import of Israeli offshore gas. In August 2016, Jordan and the IMF agreed to a $723 million Extended Fund Facility that aims to build on the three-year, $2.1 billion IMF program that ended in August 2015 with the goal of helping Jordan correct budgetary and balance of payments imbalances.