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Land and Resources, Rivers, Lakes, and Coastline
Gulf of Aqaba, natural harbor, Nahr, Sea of Galilee, Ashdod
The unnavigable Jordan River forms the northern portion of the borders between Israel and Jordan and between the West Bank and Jordan. The river flows through the Sea of Galilee (166 sq km/64 sq mi), which provides many species of fish and supplies more than half of Israel’s fresh water. The Jordan empties into the Dead Sea (1,020 sq km/394 sq mi), a highly saline lake supplying many important minerals. Parts of the Dead Sea lie in Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea lie below sea level; the shore of the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the Earth’s surface. Projects by Israel and Jordan to divert water from the Jordan River for irrigation and other uses have caused the level of the Dead Sea to drop. In 1996 the level was 408 m (1,339 ft) below sea level. Other principal rivers are the Yarqon, which runs through Tel Aviv-Yafo, and the Qishon River (Nahr al Muqatta‘), which reaches the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa.
The coastline of Israel, including the country’s western edge on the Mediterranean Sea and its southern tip on the Red Sea, stretches for 273 km (170 mi). Apart from limited sections of cliffs rising 10 to 40 m (30 to 120 ft), the coast has few headlands or indentations; much of it is low-lying and backed by sand dunes. Haifa, a natural harbor in the northern part of the country, and Ashdod, an artificial deepwater port to the south, serve as the main seaports on the Mediterranean. The port of Elat on the Gulf of Aqaba provides Israel’s only access to the Red Sea, making it extremely important to the country’s shipping interests.
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