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Corresponding geographically to today's Kingdom of Jordan, the Emirate of Transjordan was an autonomous political subdivision of the British Mandate of Palestine, split off in April 1921. It remained a legal part of Palestine, under the nominal auspices of the League of Nations, until its independence in 1946.

"Transjordan" was a word coined to express the idea that the lands so described were "across the Jordan", i.e. on the far (eastern) side of the Jordan River. On the western side of the Jordan River was Palestine which contained many places of historical and religious signifance to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. "Transjordan" was also known as "Eastern Palestine".

Under the Ottoman empire, Transjordan did not correspond precisely to a political division, though most of it belonged to the Vilayet of Syria and a small southern section came from the Vilayet of Hejaz. The inhabitants of northern Jordan had traditionally associated with Syria, those of southern Jordan with the Arabian Peninsula, and those of western Jordan with the administrative districts west of the Jordan River. Historically the territory had formed part of various empires; among these are the Jewish, Assyrian, Achaemenid, Macedonian (Seleucid), Nabataean, Ptolemaic, Roman, Sassanid, Muslim, Crusader, and Ottoman empires.

The territory covered by Transjordan resulted from a compromise between the competing promises in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence and Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Previously a part of the territory covered by the planned League of Nations mandate for Palestine, Transjordan was created as a separate administrative entity on April 11, 1921 to provide a throne of sorts (albeit one under British control) for the Hashemite Emir Abdullah, elder son of Britain's wartime Arab ally Sharif Hussein of Mecca. The move also excluded the land east of the Jordan from Britain's wartime undertaking in the Balfour Declaration (2 November 1917) to support the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

Britain recognized Transjordan as a state on May 15, 1923 and gradually relinquished control, limiting its oversight to financial, military and foreign policy matters. In March 1946, under the Treaty of London , Transjordan became a kingdom and on May 25, 1946, the parliament of Transjordan proclaimed the emir king, and formally changed the name of the country from the Emirate of Transjordan to the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. In December 1948, Abdullah took the title King of Jordan, and he officially changed the country's name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in April 1949. The following year he annexed the West Bank. With the exception of the French Cisjordanie, the coinage, Cisjordan, meant to apply specifically to the West Bank at that time, has not since caught on, outside Jordanian circles.

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Last updated: 08-16-2005 23:24:35