The Dead Sea is a salt lake lying about 30km southwest of Amman in the Great Rift Valley and extending for about 70km from north to south. Its total surface is currently 810 sq km but keeps shrinking every year, because large amounts of water are being diverted from the river Jordan and other tributaries. The shores of the Dead Sea lie at 422 metres below sea level, making the Dead Sea the lowest elevation on earth on dry land. The Dead Sea itself is 378m deep. Its name comes from the fact that salinity levels are so high (33.7%, i.e. its water is 8.6 times more salty than the ocean), that no animals of plants can live in it and all life is immediately killed. The major attraction of the Dead Sea is that its high salinity makes the water so buoyant that it is impossible to sink in it. Many visitors come to the Dead Sea for therapeutic tourism, because both the Dead Sea mud and its waters have medically proven benefits.
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