RACINGTHEPLANET: THE 20-YEAR RACE LOCATION, WEATHER & CULTURE
RacingThePlanet: The 20-Year Race primarily takes place in the Badia region in the Eastern Desert which is made up of many different deserts. The vegetation and populations are sparse but the scenery of each desert varies considerably as a result of the different underlying geology. The course passes through four different deserts, each with its own distinguishing features. These are Wadi Rum, Wadi Kharaza, Humaima Desert and Wadi Araba. Wadi Rum is the most famous of all the deserts in Jordan with towering sandstone mesas dominating this arid area, producing one of the most fantastic desert-scapes in the world. Wadi Araba is the desert in which Petra is located.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the official name of Jordan, was crowned in 1946 when it became an independent sovereign state. The current King is Abdullah II who has grown Jordan into a modern nation. The capital city is Amman which is situated in the north of the country.
Jordan is a relatively small country occupying an area of approximately 96,188 square kilometers / 37,138 square miles including the Dead Sea, making it similar in size to Austria or Portugal. The diverse terrain and landscape found in Jordan is usually only found only in large countries. It is primarily land-locked other than a small access to the sea through the port of Aqaba in the very south of the country. Its major neighbor is Saudi Arabia.
Jordan’s population is about 10.2 million (2020) and it is a country of high human development according to the 2020 Human Development Report.
More than 75% of Jordan is considered desert as it receives less than 200 millimeters of rain annually; however, there are three main geographic and climatic areas: the Jordan Valley, the Mountain Heights Plateau, and the Eastern Desert, or Badia Region.
The Jordan Valley, in the northwestern area, is the nation’s most fertile region where there is arable land and forests. It contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea which, at 407 meters / 1335 feet below sea level, is the lowest place on the earth’s surface. The Dead Sea is called such due to its high salt levels (about eight times higher than that of the world’s ocean). The highlands of Jordan separate the Jordan Valley from the plains of the eastern desert. This region extends the entire length of the western part of the country, and hosts most of Jordan’s main population centers, including Amman, Zarqa, Irbid and Karak.
Jordan, which once captivated ancient travellers, continues to enthral a whole new generation as a modern, vibrant nation. From the starkness of Wadi Rum, to the teeming centre of urban Amman, the majestic ruins of bygone civilizations and the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea.
Jordan in September (considered the end of summer and beginning of autumn / fall) is hot and sunny. The temperatures are expected to be 25°C / 77°F at night with highs of up to 40°C / 104°F during the day – however they may not reach these extremes or could go beyond them. The normal weather conditions are hot and dry but there can be strong winds, rain, and extreme cold, especially in the desert. The equipment list prepares for all these possibilities but please note them when making your personal choice of each item and whether to bring any of the optional items.
The ancient city of Petra is hidden amid the dramatic rose-colored sandstone mountains on the eastern edge of the Wadi Araba Desert. It is a World Heritage Site recognized and described by UNESCO 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 and it prospered for many years, 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 as many buildings were never rebuilt. This, 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 re-discovery by Swiss explorer Burckhardt. Today, Petra is Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction.
The final finish line of RacingThePlanet: The 20-Year Race is in front of the Treasury at Petra, Jordan.
Jordan has a fascinating and deep history. What is now present day Jordan was previously part of the richly historical Fertile Crescent. Following the settling of Semitiec Amorites in the area around the Jordan River in around 2000 B.C., parts of the country were invaded, settled and laid under the control of different regional powers through time, including the Hittites, Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arab Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Mameluks, Ottoman Turks, and lastly the British.
Following World War I, the League of Nations awarded the territory now comprising Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem to the United Kingdom as the mandate for Palestine and Transjordan. The British divided the mandate by establishing the semiautonomous Emirate of Transjordan, ruled by the Hashemite Prince Abdullah, while continuing the administration of Palestine under a British High Commissioner. In 1946, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan joined the League of Nations as an independent sovereign state.