Jordan

From my visit to Petra in 2010.

From my visit to Petra in 2010.

Jordan is really an interesting place. A monarchy of the Middle East with crazy looking borders, completely surrounded by conflict on all sides, developing a national identity, a constant partner of the West, with a huge population of refugees (particularly Palestinian, Iraqi, and now Syrian), and internal economic and legitimacy issues. Aside from Petra, you never really hear it discussed as a tourist destination despite the deep history, food culture, and some gorgeous sites, including Roman ruins, access to the Dead Sea, and beach resorts. We've driven around the country a few times and the ruins and scenery are really quite something, and that's even before Petra blows your mind. I think that for all of these places that are so misunderstood from the outside, it is important to remember that there is beauty and life everywhere. The NYT recently did a piece about Amman from the tourist perspective that I thought was a valuable addition. Check it out here.