The Dead Sea

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is unlike anywhere else you have ever been! Its shore and surface are 1388 feet (423 meters) below sea level, which makes it the lowest elevation on the earth’s surface on dry land. It is also called the Salt Sea (in fact, its Hebrew name is Yam HaMelah, Sea of Salt). It is about one-third salt, and is over 8 ½ times saltier than the ocean. Because of this, animals cannot live in the Dead Sea, which is what gives it its name in English.

It is 42 miles (67 km) long and at its widest point, it is 11 miles (18 km) wide. Its main tributary is the Jordan River, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is to the east. The Dead Sea is in the Jordan Rift Valley.

The Dead Sea is the earth’s only lake in which one cannot drown. The Dead Sea area has 330 days a year of sunshine; total rainfall for the northern half is about 4 inches a year (100 mm) and for the south it’s about half of that.

Highly unusual conditions make the Dead Sea and the surrounding area a treasure trove of minerals, in turn making it into an unbelievable spa. The air is dry, unpolluted and pollen-free. Many Israelis and visitors alike come to the area for treatments for everything from skin conditions (such as psoriasis) to respiratory problems to joint diseases. And then there is the multitude of available spa treatments! Mud, thermal baths, massages, solariums, beaches – it’s all available.

There are many places of interest in the area; these are just a few:
• Ein Gedi – The desert oasis where David took refuge as he was pursued by King Saul. It’s a lovely shaded place for a hike.
• Mt. Sodom – This mountain is made almost entirely of salt, and thus splits quite easily. One of the pillars that split off is known as “Lot’s Wife” from the Biblical Sodom and Gemorrah.
• Metzole Dragot (at Kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem) – Arguably the best view of the Dead Sea, bar none.
Qumran – Right near the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between the years 1947 and 1956.
Masada – The famous mountain fortress.

Christians have been making pilgrimages to the northwestern region of the Dead Sea for many centuries, especially around Easter. There are amazing and beautiful monasteries, some of which are built on cliff walls and some are operating even now. Many Christians believe that Kasr el Yahud, north of the Dead Sea, is the spot at which Jesus was baptized by John.

The Dead Sea and environs is not to be missed!
The Dead Sea is one of 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature, an international online competition to choose the seven natural wonders of the world) To reach the shortlist, the Dead Sea was voted one of the top 28 sites out of about 440 sites in 220 countries. It will compete through 2011 for the votes of over a billion people from around the world, against 27 other sites. Think of what this could mean for tourism to the area of the Dead Sea, and to Israel in general!

You may also find the following places interesting:

Puzzle map of Israel

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