The Dead Sea (Yam Hamelakh -- "The Salt Sea") is the lowest place on earth, roughly 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level.
It is 34 miles (55 km.) long and varies between 11 miles (18 km.) and 2 miles (3 km.) in width.
The Sea is 1,400 feet (430 m.) deep.
This unique sea is fed by the Jordan River. There is no outflow; and the exceptionally high rate of evaporation (high temperatures, low humidity) produces large quantities of raw chemicals. These are extracted and exported throughout the world for use in medicine, agriculture and industry.
The Dead Sea is actually shrinking. The southern end is now fed by a canal maintained by the Dead Sea Works, a company that converts the Sea's raw materials, particularly phosphates, into commercial products.
Visitors can float effortlessly on the waters of the Dead Sea due to its concentration of minerals, which is the highest in the world. The air is extremely dry, and temperatures are high throughout the year (max. 86° [30° C]) during winter, and 104° [40° C]) during summer) making the Dead Sea a destination for visitors 365 days a year.
Floating is a novelty that makes visiting the Dead Sea a kick, but most visitors come for the therapeutic value of the mud and salt water. People with skin disorders such as psoriasis and ailments such as arthritis have found relief from treatments using the Sea's natural resources. Oh, and if you have an open cut or sore, be forewarned, the salt water stings.
Archaeological ruins are scattered in the area. Many historical fugitives, such as David, Jesus, Jewish zealots and Christian monks, found peace and refuge around the Dead Sea. The area is best known, however, for being the site of the biblical towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. South of the Sea, on the way to Eilat, is a rock salt formation that tourists are told is Lot's wife. According to the Torah, Lot's wife ignored G-d's admonition not to look back at the cities he was destroying as they left and was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).
Incidentally, all the fun near the Dead Sea is not confined to the mud and water!