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Bible stories, lost cities, Lawrence of Arabia - Jordan has romantic associations up to its eyeballs. It's a country that ought to be awash with tourists, but the Middle East's bad reputation has kept them away in droves. Don't be fooled: Jordan is, on the whole, peaceful. More than that, it's one of the most welcoming, hospitable countries in the world, and doesn't even have that unsettlingly male-oriented feel so prevalent elsewhere in the region. Where else could you leave your belongings on the street for hours at a time, safe in the knowledge they'll be there when you get back? Where else do total strangers invite you into their homes despite the fact they don't own a carpet shop?

Jordan isn't just a friendly cup of tea with the locals, though. It's also home to two of the most spectacular sights in the Middle East. Petra, the ancient city of the Nabateans, may be overrun with snap-happy day-trippers, but that doesn't change the fact that it's one of the world's most atmospheric ruins. For a slightly more contemplative experience, the startling desert scenery of Wadi Rum enraptured Lawrence of Arabia and has caused more than one traveller to don a

Although generally considered safe and secure, visitors to Jordan should keep abreast of world events that might have repercussions in Jordan, and avoid political gatherings and demonstrations wherever possible.

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