The Jordanian resort city of Aqaba has a long and illustrious history that covers various facets of human endeavor. It is believed that Aqaba has been inhabited since 4,000 BCE, nestled at the base of an exquisite range of Desert Mountains. For Millennia Aqaba has served as a trading nexus for Africa, Asia and Europe.
Aqaba is Jordan’s only port city, and besides serving as an exquisite resort site for domestic as well as international tourists on the Eastern Shore of the Red Sea, it also is the home to various industries such as shipping and phosphate production. This coastal resort is a recommended destination for divers and beach lovers, and anyone who would like to explore the splendid contrasts between a stark desert landscape and the pleasures of lounging by and bathing in the Red Sea. You can sunbathe, snorkel, scuba dive, windsurf and enjoy all of the water sports in Aqaba.
Aqaba was a small fishing village and site of an Ottoman fort when it became officially incorporated into the Emirate of Transjordan in 1924, giving Jordan its only outlet to the sea. In 1959, Aqaba's port became operational, and in 1976, a free trade zone was opened. The port experienced substantial development as a result of aid from Iraq, which needed safe access to a seaport during its war with Iran. Iraqi aid
also helped develop the country's roads and overland transportation systems. Cargo handled through Aqaba increased steadily throughout the 1980s, peaking in 1988 at 20 million tons, and fell sharply to 10 million tons after the United Nations embargo of Iraq in 1990. In 1999 Aqaba handled 12.8 million tons of cargo. Port facilities will require modernization to increase handling potential once the embargo is lifted. In addition to the port, Aqaba, with a population of 40,500 (1998), is a popular tourist resort known for its beaches, water sports, and spectacular coral reefs.
T. E. Lawrence also played a significant role in Jordan’s modern history in Aqaba.He succeeded in the battle of Aqaba in 1917 when he forced the Ottoman occupying forces to retreat, and abandon Aqaba. This victory opened supply lines and thwarted a suspected Turkish offensive against the Suez Canal which would have been disastrous.