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Location & Culture

Jordan (officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) lies in the center of the Middle-East. The capital is Amman. The total land area of Jordan covers 89,342 square kilometers (34,495 square miles) and has a population of 6.5 million.

Jordan's landscape is strikingly diverse. It has barren deserts, fertile valleys, colorful rock and sand mountains. The Arabian Desert covers more than half of Jordan’s land, though Jordan's western region is covered by forest and arable lands. Jordan is home to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea.

The Sahara Race (Jordan) course starts in Wadi Rum and passes through four deserts before reaching the finish line in the ancient city of Petra.

Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin. This important tourist destination attracts many to trek, hike, climb, and sleep out under the stars. This largest wadi (valley) in Jordan is also known as 'The Valley of the Moon'. The extraterrestrial feel of the scenery moved the producers of 2000 movie 'Red Planet' to use the area to shoot the Mars surface sequences. David Lean's 1962 award winning film ‘Lawrence of Arabia was also shot on location in Wadi Rum.

The wadi is cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan. It houses some incredible relics including the Khaz'ali Canyon which includes petroglyths etched into the caves which depict humans and antelopes dating back to the Thamudic times (between 4th century BC and 3rd/4th century AD).

Petra is hidden amid the dramatic rose-colored sandstone mountains and breath-taking landscape on the eastern edge of the Wadi Araba desert. It is a World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO and described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." In 2007 Petra was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Petra was carved into rock more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans and prospered in the first centuries BC and AD, serving as an important junction for trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. Over time, many earthquakes hit Petra which triggered a slow decline of the city. Many buildings were never rebuilt. These earthquakes, combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city. 

By the middle of the seventh century Petra was largely abandoned, except by local Bedouin from the area. In 1812 the ancient city of Petra was opened up to the Western world upon its “rediscovery” by Swiss explorer Burckhardt 1812.

Today, Petra is Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction.

The people of Jordan are primarily of either Palestinian or Bedouin descent. The Bedouins are traditionally "desert dwellers" and nomadic, moving across the desert with their camels, cows, goats and sheep. There are less traditional nomadic Bedouins in Jordan these days, but Sahara Race 2014 competitors will pass by Bedouin camps which are recognizable by their black goat-hair tents. The tents that competitors sleep in at each campsite during the race are the traditional Bedouin style but made of lighter, brighter fabric instead of the heavy black goat-hair.

Many local staff members at the Sahara Race 2014 are of Bedouin descent. During the race competitors will experience the Bedouin characteristics of the Jordanian people - in particular, their hospitality. This comes from the harshness of desert life - no traveller is turned away.

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