Mapping Jordan

It looks like Jordan will soon have GPS navigation devices, if this article is any indication:

NAVTEQ, the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data for in-vehicle, portable, wireless and enterprise solutions has launched a navigable map of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Offering full coverage stretching from the elegance of Amman in the north to the magnificent landscape of Wadi Rum and the coastal city of Aqaba in the South, the new map includes over 28,000 kilometres of Jordan’s expanding road network and, very importantly, over 13,000 of the Points of Interest (POIs) which are so key to navigation in this country.

With mail delivered to post office boxes, street addresses rarely used and most places of interest (such as government buildings, hotels and restaurants) in Jordanian cities and towns well known, directions are usually given based on nearby landmarks. With its usual attention to local detail, NAVTEQ has therefore included a particularly wide range of POIs which can be used as destinations. The commonly used 1st to 8th Circle names for the central jabal junctions have also been retained but NAVTEQ has also added the alternative official names where they are available.

Here is a screenshot (clickable) of the Jordan map from their website:
amman map

As you can see, my search for “third circle amman jordan” gave me locations in Texas and Hong Kong–not even close–although it recognized my Chicago IP and gave me a good map for a Chicago address I tried. The map though is more fun.  The controls are similar to Google Earth but maybe a little easier to use. The screenshot shows the Roman theater as a semicircle on the right, Jebel Hussein in the center , and the First Circle to the left. The meandering gray line above that is Wadi Sacra, where the weekly Friday intifada demonstrations used to march from the King Hussein mosque until they were moved to the Professional Buildings on Fourth Circle. Above Wadi Sacra is Jebel al-Weibdeh, the traffic circle at the top being the crest of the hill above Luzmila hospital.

It will be interesting to see if this spurs any improvements in the Jordanian mail system.  Anyone who wants to receive mail at all rents a P.O. box, although I had about half of my mail disappear.  And the official names don’t match the local names at all.   For example, one intersection whose landmark is a building with long plants trailing from its sides, Dekolia, is named after a ministry that isn’t there any more, while Medeena circle has some impossibly long name that sounds like it was named for some battle of Egypt’s former President Nasser.  If you are riding the bus, you will get off at “Medina”.   Chicago has its vanity street names of course, sections of streets being named after some celebrity, but our maps (and our street directions) at least are usable.

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