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The Dead Sea is 75 kilometers long and from 6 to 16 kilometers wide. It is fed by the Jordan River, but it has no outlet. As its name suggests, the Dead Sea is entirely devoid of plant and animal life. This is due to an extremely high content of salt and other minerals. This concentration is caused by a rapid rate of evaporation. These natural elements give the waters of the Dead Sea certain curative properties, recognized since the days of Herod the Great over 2000 years ago.
The Dead Sea is also famous geographically as "the lowest point on earth," lying some 400 meters below sea level. In addition to the historical significance of the "Salt Sea," as it was referred to in the Bible, the Dead Sea is today an important and rich source of minerals essential for agricultural and industrial development, as well as for the treatment of various medical conditions such as psoriasis. Visitors to the Dead Sea come away with an unforgettable swimming experience, as the high density of the water makes sinking virtually impossible. Indeed, swimming is also difficult, as one is lifted too high in the water to be able to stroke properly. More appropriate is the often-photographed pose showing a visitor reclining in the water, leisurely reading a perfectly dry newspaper.
In addition to being an attraction for leisure and medicinal tourism, the Dead Sea was the location for a number of significant biblical events. The Bible refers to it as the Sea of the Araba, the Salt Sea, and the Eastern Sea (Deuteronomy 3: 17; Joshua 3: 16; Numbers 34: 12; Ezekiel 47: 18). The Arabah desert, or "wilderness", of the Bible is the arid basin between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba today known as Wadi Araba.