The Dead Sea is also known as the "Sea of Death" or the "Salt Sea". It has its borders formed in the eastern side of Jordan and the western regions of the West Bank and Israel. It is some 304 meters deep, and carries a salinity level of around 34.2%, which makes it one of the most saline water bodies in the whole world. The Dead Sea is located in the Syro-African Rift, which is seen to be a fault line measuring around 4,000 miles in length across the earth’s crust. Along the Dead Sea one can find the lowest exposed point of dry land on earth, which is ever-changing its elevation and specific location as the water evaporates from the area. In so doing, salt is often seen left remaining along these shores afterwards.
It has been estimated that some 3.7 million years ago the Dead Sea and the Wadi Arabah were actually inundated by the sea waters of the Mediterranean Sea. With the regular flooding in the Dead Sea, it was observed that up until the present time the receding water processes that took place were said to have exposed the land in what is now Israel, and a great separation was caused between the Dead Sea and eastern element of the Mediterranean Sea known as the Levantine Sea. It was also observed that around 26,000 years ago the Lake Lisan arose at a higher level, which resulted in the wetter climate experienced in the Near East region.
The region near the Dead Sea has now emerged as a modern tourist and health seekers' destination as it is seen that, because of the Dead Sea's high salinity levels, visitors there can be seen floating on the water's surface, and they may even apply local mud on their bodies which is rich in "healing" minerals. The salty water is also thought to help in the treatment of such diseases as rhinosinusitus, osteoarthritis, and even psoriasis. As it is based at a very low altitude, the harmful ultraviolet rays do not cause as much harm to the sunbathers here. Several industrial factories, tourist hotels, and health spas can be found in the immediately adjacent areas. The Dead Sea's shores also carry a wealth of mineral deposits, which are especially rich in potash, an important component in agricultural fertilizers.
Habitat and Biodiversity
The Dead Sea is one of the most hyper-saline bodies of water in the world, so one cannot find many fishes or other species in the water areas save for the bacteria and certain fungi which are present there. The microorganisms found in the area are inclusive of Halobacterium volcanii, sodomense, and Dunaliella, the latter being a kind of algae, and many other microscopic species which are found in the saline sea's waters. One can also see native Middle Eastern animals in its neighboring mountain ranges, including jackals, foxes, and hares.
Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes
The sea water is facing shrinkage due to the exploitation of the area for the minerals which are deposited along its shore. Even the water from the Jordan River is being diverted away from this area due to human use. Numerous sinkholes are also to be found in the area, which is further causing the sea waters to drain the saline layers as the freshwater moves towards the area. The two nations of of Israel and Jordan, however, are each working towards the restoration of the water levels of the Dead Sea.