TRANS-JORDAN, a territory under British mandate, bounded west by Palestine, north by Syria, east by Najd and 'Iraq, and south by Hejaz, whose north district (`Aqaba-Ma'an) has, since its occupation by British forces in 1925, been de facto in cluded in the mandated area. The Jordan, Dead sea and Wadi tAraba form the west frontier, from which the land rises abruptly to the mountains (4,000-5,000 ft.) of Gilead, Moab and Edom, which are the most fertile parts of the country and produce excel lent grapes (for raisins), wheat and other crops. Along the east edge of this highland belt runs the Hejaz railway, beyond which is the desert stretching to the frontier, which is undefined where it marches with 'Iraq and Hejaz and was fixed so far as Najd is concerned by the Treaty of Hadda (1925). Under the Ottoman regime this tract formed part of the Wilayat of Syria, becoming after the World War part of the short-lived Arab king dom of Syria. On Faisal's expulsion by the French in 1920 the three Trans-Jordan districts of tAjlun, Balqa and Karak formed a loose semi-independent federation under the general control of British representatives appointed from Palestine. In April, 1921, Sharif tAbdullah, second son of King Husain, suddenly arrived at 'Amman with an Arab force for the invasion of Syria and was recognized by Great Britain as Amir of an independent state comprising the Trans-Jordan districts. At first the Palestine au thorities exercised a rigid control over tAbdullah's administra tion with the result that intrigues and other more serious trouble occurred. In October the experiment was tried of allowing the Trans-Jordan Government a greater latitude, but, after a period of comparative success and tranquillity, tAbdullah's reckless ex travagance and irresponsibility resulted in its failure. A British proclamation of 1923 recognizing the independent status of Trans Jordan subject to certain conditions never became operative and at the beginning of 1924, after an abortive rebellion of the `Adwan tribe in Sept., 1923, and further financial complications, the British Government decided to suspend the experiment and to establish direct control over the more important branches of the administration through British officials directly responsible to the Palestine Government. A considerable increase in the number of British officials and the transfer of the Palestine gendarmerie en bloc to Trans-Jordan resulted in fact in the carrying on of the administration on Crown-colony lines and the local government, existing as a facade, exercised little or no independent authority.
The position being thus stabilized, negotiations between the British Government and eAbdullah resulted in Nov., 1927, in the signing of a treaty, by which the independence of the Trans Jordan Government was formally recognized with such stringent provisions for British supervision and control in all departments of the administration that all semblance of real independence was effectively disguised. In fact, the treaty formally legalized the
status quo, and the only innovation introduced by it was the pro vision made for an elective legislative assembly designed to con trol tAbdullah but powerless to act in opposition to the mandatory Power. Local feeling has run high against the treaty and 'Abdul lah has been accused of betraying the interests of the country for a personal advantage. Nevertheless the status of the country and its relations with the Mandatory are for the time being regu lated by this instrument which ensures a measure of harmony between the policies, particularly in the economic field, of Pales tine and Trans-Jordan. The clauses of the Palestine mandate relating to the establishment of a national home for the Jews do not operate beyond the Jordan, but the plans, now far advanced, for the exploitation of the potash and other contents of the Dead sea, of which half belongs to Trans-Jordan, indicate a settled policy of co-operation between the two countries under effective British control. Under this arrangement economic prosperity is assured as a substitute for political independence, and the still exiguous revenues of the country, which are eked out by a British grant-in-aid, should in due course be capable of bearing the whole cost of its administration besides providing much needed funds for development in various directions. Occasional trouble between. the Badawin tribes of Najd and Trans-Jordan is perhaps inevi table in the process of change that is going on in a desert that knew no frontiers and recognized raiding as a reasonable pastime. Latterly courts of arbitration have been convened for the settle ment of such incidents without however achieving much success and much yet remains to be done before the relations of Trans Jordan with Hejaz-Najd can be regarded as satisfactory.
The population of Trans-Jordan is about 300,000, of whom half are Badawin; there are 30,00o Circassians inhabiting a number of colonies planted by the Turkish Government after the Russo-Turkish war of the 'los and about 40,000 Chris tians of various sects. The chief towns are: 'Amman (20,000), Salt (20,000), Karak (8,000), Irbid and Mean (3,000 each). At the beginning of the Christian era 'Amman (Philadelphia), Jarash (Gerasa), Umm Kais (Gadara) and other places were important centres of Greco-Roman civilization. Later Trans-Jordan was part of the territory of the local kingdom of Ghassan and was conquered by the Muslim armies in 637. During the Crusades Karak was an important administrative centre of Oultre-Jour dain. (See also ARABIA and PALESTINE.) (H. ST. J. B. P.)