The Dead Sea: The World's Deepest Hypersaline Lake With Great Long History

The Dead Sea (Arabic: البحر الميت (al-Bahr al-Mayyit), Hebrew: יָם הַ‏‏מֶּ‏‏לַ‏ח‎‎, Yām Ha-Melaḥ, "Sea of Salt"), also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are 423 metres (1,388 ft) below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface on dry land. The Dead Sea is 377 m (1,237 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.  It is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name. 

The Dead Sea lies between the hills of Judaea to the west and the Transjordanian plateaus to the east. The Jordan River flows from the north into the Dead Sea, which is 50 miles (80 km) long and attains a width of 11 miles (18 km). Its surface area is about 394 square miles (1,020 square km). The peninsula of Al-Lisān (Arabic: “The Tongue”) divides the lake on its eastern side into two unequal basins: the northern basin encompasses about three-fourths of the lake’s total surface area and reaches a depth of 1,300 feet (400 metres); the southern basin is smaller and shallower (less than 10 feet [3 metres] on average). During biblical times and up to the 8th century ce, only the area around the northern basin was inhabited, and the lake was about 115 feet (35 metres) below its level of the late 20th century. It rose to its highest level (1,275 feet [389 metres] below sea level) in 1896 but receded again after 1935.

The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Biblically, it was a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets. In 2009, 1.2 million foreign tourists visited on the Israeli side.

There are several nearby attractions that are worth attention. In Israel and the West Bank side there are Massada National Park (It is a mountaintop fortress which King Herod transformed in 35 BC into a 3 tiered winter home, located 18 km south of Ein Gedi, or 12 km from Ein Bokek to the cable train on the east (Dead Sea)), Ein Gedi Oasis and Kibbutz (Ein Gedi is a real oasis with lush vegetation, nestled between two streams, amidst the arid landscape. visitors have access to the adjacent nature reserve for viewing bird sanctuaries and wildlife of the desert, including the Nubian ibex. Hikers have the choice of following two riverbeds and can follow trails past waterfalls, springs, caves, canyons and an early Bronze Age temple), and  Qumran National Park (It's located off of Route 90 near Kibbutz Kalia, north of the Dead SeaThe ancient caves and settlement at Qumran on the northern shores of the Dead Sea where the oldest biblical documents ever found trace the history and daily lives of the mystical Essenes, a Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem 2000 years ago).

In Jordan side there are Mount Nebo (this historic mount provides a panorama of the Holy Land, and to the north, a more limited one of the Jordan River valley. The excavated remains of a church and a monument commemorating the biblical story of Moses and the bronze serpent stand atop the mountain),  The Town of Madaba (known as the 'City of Mosaics' is famous for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of Palestine and the Nile delta at St. George Church), The Baptism Site at the Jordan River (the location archaeologists are claiming is the baptism site of Jesus by John the Baptist), The Dead Sea Panoramaic Complex/Dead Sea Museum (a new complex of regional museum about the Dead Sea, panorama lookout, restaurant and conference hall on a steep cliff high above the Dead Sea near Hammamet Ma'in. The museum is run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and has some fascinating information about the geology, ecology (animal and plant), archaeology, history and industry of the Dead Sea and surrounding area. It has also information about the environmental problem concerning the Dead Sea, such as decreasing of the Dead Sea water level and sinkhole in the Dead Sea coast. As the name suggests it has a magnificent view of the Dead Sea and the hills beyond it. Watching the sunset from here is a wonderful experience.), The Mujib Reserve of Wadi Mujib (the lowest nature reserve in the world, located in the mountainous landscape to the east of the Dead Sea, approximately 90km south of Amman. The Mujib valley is being developed for adventure tourism, and a number of facilities have been established including a Visitors' Centre and a beach area on the Dead Sea. Experiencing Jordan’s Grand Canyon involves swimming, jumping, abseiling and floating. Its red walls are filled with running water that plunges through a 15 m waterfall.), and Hammamat Ma'in (a remarkable series of natural hot springs and waterfalls, some of which have been channeled into pools and baths. A spa resort is located in the vicinity of the waterfalls).

#taken from The Dead Sea
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