Migration patterns

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and its capital Amman in particular, have long been hubs of migration within the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and the greater Middle East regions. Historic and current migration patterns in GAM reflect the regional and international political histories of the last century and, as such, the development of Amman has been highly influenced by migration.

The Circassians and Chechens were the first to seek haven in the city in the 19th century. In the 1950s and 60s the population of Amman more than doubled due to migration. Palestinian refugees fled to Jordan as a result of the Israeli – Palestinian wars. Between 1991 and 2003, 80% of Iraqis who arrived in Jordan settled in Amman.

Events of the Arab Spring have also had a profound impact on migration patterns in the city. Since the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, more than a million people have sought refuge in Jordan, and they have chosen to settle in large urban areas such as Amman. Amman hosts under one third of Syrian refugees in Jordan. There is a concentration of refugee households in certain areas of the city such as Basman in East Amman, Swelieh in North Amman and Bader in central Amman. Smaller numbers of Libyans, Yemenis, Somali and Sudanese nationals have also sought refuge in Amman in recent years.

Economic migrants make up a large share of the population of Amman. Many Egyptian workers have come to Amman since the 1970s to perform unskilled low wage labour. Globalisation has also brought economic migrants from Asia who are primarily employed as domestic workers as well as in low wage textile and factory workers.

Migrant population

As of 2015, 4 million people (42% of the Jordanian population) live in Amman Governorate. The majority of the population is made up of forced migrants, with Palestinians making up the vast majority.

There are over 300 000 Palestinians without national ID numbers and over 435 000 Syrians (among which 40% are registered as refugees).

Disaggregated data about other nationalities residing in Jordan is not available, but it is known that a large majority of the over 130 000 Iraqi, 30 000 Yemeni and 22 700 Libyan refugees registered in Jordan have settled in the Amman area. The biggest group of economic migrants in Jordan are the Egyptians totalling 636 270 (representing 6.7% of the population) followed by Asian domestic workers that do not exceed the few thousand.


This text is retrieved from: ICMPD, MC2CM, (2016). City Migration Profile: Amman; Mediterranean City-to-City Migration; Dialogue, Knowledge and Action. 

Other Sources

Razzaz, O. (1993). Contested Space: Urban Settlement Around Amman; Middle East Report No. 181, Radical Movements: Migrants, Workers and Refugees; pp.10-14.

CARE Jordan (2012). Baseline Assessment of Community Identified Vulnerabilities among Syrian Refugees living in Amman.

Davis, R. and Taylor, A. (2012). Urban Refugees in Amman, Jordan; Institute for the Study of International Migration.

Hawkins, A., Assad, R. and Sullivan, D. (2018). Citizens of Somewhere, Amman, Jordan; A Case Study of Refugees in Towns.

100 Resilient Cities (2017). Amman Resilience Strategy.

Al-Tal, R. and Ghanem, H. (2019). Impact of the Syrian crisis on the socio-spatial transformation of Eastern Amman, Jordan; Frontiers of Architectural Research, 8(4).

Alamoush, H. (2019). Amman, A welcoming city for migrants and refugees; MONOGRAFÍAS-CIDOB, 76.

Kelberer, V. (2015). Seeking Shelter in Jordan’s Cities: Housing Security and Urban Humanitarianism in the Syria Crisis; MERIP.

Ababsa, M. (2011). Citizenship and Urban Issues in Jordan; Cities, Urban Practices and Nation Building in Jordan, pp.39-64.

Rosenberg, J. (2016). “This group is essential to our survival”: urban refugees and community-based protection; FMR, 53, pp.14-16.


MC2CM Publications
City Migration Profile Executive Summary
City Practice Poster
Attachment Size
[EN] City Practice Poster - Amman 3.84 MB
General Overview
Political and Administrative Context

Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is comprised of 22 districts. It is a financially independent national organisation, managed by a Municipal Board of 42 members, including the Mayor (Board Chairman). The Municipal Board is the highest authority in the Municipality Amman governorate level for which census data is provided comprises of GAM plus 5 areas and two villages.

City and Migrant Population Data
Total population 4,007,526
Migrant population 1,442,600 (36.2%)
Year 2015
Source ICMPD
Metadata Total of foreign residents in Amman Governorate including forced and economic migrants (City Migration Profile by MC2CM)
City Migration Profile Executive Summary - Amman
Amman Migration Poster