The Jordanian Kingdom is a hybrid of modern and ancient, from the new capital, Amman, developed from a small desert village, to the ancient city of Petra. Proud of its rich history and culture, Jordan has become one of the most visited countries in the Middle East with various tourist attractions including the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum as well as treks and climbs through the mountains of Ajloun. Before the British mandate began after World War I, Jordan was part of the Ottoman province of the Levant. The British divided the area, controlling what was known as Transjordan - modern Palestine, Israel and Jordan. Today, Jordan is ruled by the Hashemite family, a constitutional monarchy which has been in power since the founding of the modern state in 1921.
Popular culture takes various forms in Jordan whilst cultural traditions such as communal songs, ballads, and storytelling remain popular. Villagers have specific traditional songs for births, weddings, funerals, planting crops and harvesting. The country's most famous poet, Mustafa Wahbi al-Tal, is among the major Arab poets of the 20th Century. Other prominent authors include Abd al-Rahman Munif, Ibrahim Nasrallah and Fadia Faqir. European and American music, movies, fashion and other forms of entertainment are popular among Jordanians, which in turn have influenced the country's pop culture.
Jordan is also home to the Middle East's first major international research center: the International Centre for Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) in Allaan. Similarly to CERN in Switzerland, this centre conducts research into the applications of synchrotron light.