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Aqaba (Arabic: العقبة al-ʿAqabah; Standard Hebrew עקבה) is a town in southwest Jordan, its only seaport, bordering Elat, Israel. Aqaba and Elat are at the head (inside) of the Gulf of Aqaba.

It exports phosphate and some shells, and is a diving resort.


Aqaba was known as Elath (אילת ʾ laṯ) in Biblical Hebrew (and presumably Edomite) in ancient times. It was a centre of the Edomites, and then of the Arab Nabataeans. The Ptolemaic Greeks called it Berenice, and the Romans Aila and Aelana. Soon after Muhammad's time, it became part of the new Caliphate, and thereafter passed through the hands of such dynasties as the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and Mamluks; many centuries later, it would be taken by the Ottoman Empire. The Arabs, led by T.E. Lawrence, captured it in 1917 and made it part of the Kingdom of the Hijaz. It was ceded to the British protectorate of Transjordan in 1925. It was occupied by Israel from November 1956 to January 1957.

Aqaba was a major importer of Iraqi goods in the 1980s until the Persian Gulf War.

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Last updated: 11-06-2004 12:01:36