The Dead Sea is a salt lake between Israel and the West Bank to the west, and Jordan to the east. It is said to be the lowest point on Earth, at 1,378 feet (420 meters) below sea level. It is also the world’s second saltiest body of water, after Lake Asal in Djibouti. With 30 percent salinity, it is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean and 9 times saltier than the Mediterranean Sea. Its salinity prevents the existence of any life forms in the lake, hence the name “Dead Sea”.
Due to the hypersalination of the water, one can float with ease in the Dead Sea and it is in fact nearly impossible to sink. A popular activity by visitors is to have their picture taken while reading a newspaper and floating on the surface of the water. Another popular activity is for visitors to cover their bodies with the dark mud from the shores. The mud of the Dead Sea contain many minerals and is believed to have medicinal and therapeutic benefits.
In recent decades, the Dead Sea has been rapidly shrinking because of diversion of incoming water from the Jordan River to the north. All the shallow waters of the southern end of the sea have been drained and are now salt flats.