low altitude, hot temperatures and unique atmospheric conditions in the
region combine to promote the healing and relief of many complaints
including Psoriasis, Eczema, Asthma, Arthritis and Rheumatism.
The lake is 80 km (50 mi) long and has a maximum width of 18 km
(11 mi); its area is 1,020 sq km (394 sq mi). The Dead Sea occupies a
north portion of the Great Rift Valley. On the east the high plateau of
Moab rises about 1,340 m (about 4,400 ft) above the sea; on the west the
plateau of Judea rises to half that height. From the eastern shore a
peninsula juts out into the lake. To the south of this peninsula the lake
is shallow, less than 6 m (less than 20 ft) deep; in the north it reaches
its greatest depth of 399 m (about 1,309 ft) below surface level, and 799
m (about 2,621 ft) below sea level.
The Dead Sea is fed mainly by the Jordan River, which
enters the lake from the north. Several smaller streams also enter the
sea, chiefly from the east. The lake has no outlet, and the heavy inflow
of fresh water is carried off solely by evaporation, which is rapid in the
hot desert climate. Due to large-scale projects by Israel and Jordan to
divert water from the Jordan River for irrigation and other water needs,
the surface of the Dead Sea has been dropping for at least the past 50
Nearly seven times as salty as the ocean, the Dead Sea
contains at a depth of 305 m (1,000 ft) some 27 percent solid substances:
sodium chloride (common salt), magnesium chloride, calcium chloride,
potassium chloride, magnesium bromide, and many other substances. Because
of the density of solids in the water, the human body easily floats on the
surface. The lake contains no life of any sort except for a few kinds of
microbes; sea fish put into its waters soon die.
The Dead Sea is economically important as a source of
potash, bromine, gypsum, salt, and other chemical products, which are
extracted inexpensively. The shores of the Dead Sea are of growing
importance as a winter health resort. The lake is closely associated with
biblical history; the sites of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are
believed to lie beneath the lake.