The Dead Sea


The Dead Sea forms part of the 50 million year old Great Rift Valley that stretches from Syria to Mozambique. Bounded on the west by Israel and the West Bank and on the east by Jordan, the Dead Sea forms part of the Israeli-Jordanian border. The surface of the Dead Sea, 408 m (1,340 ft) below sea level as of 1996, is the lowest water surface on earth.

The Dead Sea is the saltiest and most mineral-laden body of water in the world. Here, every litre of water contains 2.5lb worth of salt and minerals - 10 times more than the Mediterranean Sea.

The 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 years.

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.

Read about the therapeutic effects of the Dead Sea

Other useful Information: Dead Sea Guide