Aqaba (English: /ˈækəbə/,[2] also US: /ˈɑːk-/;[3] Arabic: العقبة, romanized: al-ʿAqaba, al-ʿAgaba, pronounced [æl ˈʕæqaba, alˈʕagaba]) is the only coastal city in Jordan and the largest and most populous city on the Gulf of Aqaba.[4] Situated in southernmost Jordan, Aqaba is the administrative centre of the Aqaba Governorate.[5] The city had a population of 148,398 in 2015 and a land area of 375 square kilometres (144.8 sq mi).[6] Today, Aqaba plays a major role in the development of the Jordanian economy, through the vibrant trade and tourism sectors. The Port of Aqaba also serves other countries in the region.[7]

Clockwise from the left top: Aqaba's skyline, Aqaba Fort and Aqaba Fields, Al-Hammamat Al-Tunisyya Street in Down Town, Resort in Aqaba, Ayla old City, Aqaba Port, Aqaba Flagpole.
The Bride of the Red Sea
Coordinates: 29°31′55″N 35°00′20″E
Country Jordan
GovernorateAqaba Governorate
Founded4000 BC
  Total375 km2 (145 sq mi)
6 m (20 ft)
  Density502/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Time zone+2 Eastern European Standard Time
  Summer (DST)+3 Arabia Standard Time
Postal code
Area code(s)+(962)3
WebsiteAqaba Special Economic Zone Authority
Aqaba Tourism Official Website

Aqaba's strategic location at the northeastern tip of the Red Sea between the continents of Asia and Africa, has made its port important over the course of thousands of years.[7]

The ancient city was called Elath, adopted in Latin as Aela and in Arabic as Ayla. Its strategic location and proximity to copper mines made it a regional hub for copper production and trade in the Chalcolithic period.[8] Aela became a bishopric under Byzantine rule and later became a Latin Catholic titular see after Islamic conquest around AD 650, when it became known as Ayla; the name Aqaba is late medieval.[9] The Great Arab Revolt's Battle of Aqaba, depicted in the film Lawrence of Arabia,[10] resulted in victory for Arab forces over the Ottoman defenders.[11]

Aqaba's location next to Wadi Rum and Petra has placed it in Jordan's golden triangle of tourism, which strengthened the city's location on the world map and made it one of the major tourist attractions in Jordan.[12] The city is administered by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, which has turned Aqaba into a low-tax, duty-free city, attracting several mega projects like Ayla Oasis, Saraya Aqaba, Marsa Zayed and expansion of the Port of Aqaba.[13] They are expected to turn the city into a major tourism hub in the region.[14] However, industrial and commercial activities remain important, due to the strategic location of the city as the country's only seaport.[15] The city sits right across the border from Eilat, likewise Israel's only port on the Red Sea. After the 1994 Israel Jordan Peace Treaty there were plans and hopes of establishing a trans-border tourism and economic area, but few of those plans have come to fruition.[16][17][18]

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