15 Fascinating Facts About the Dead Sea

As you plan your trip to Jordan, you’ll likely discover some interesting information. Maybe it’s that Petra dates back to 312 BC, or that Wadi Rum is one of the most recognizable film locations in the world. This is the fun of trip planning – discovering facts that you’ll then experience with your own eyes once you arrive.

The Dead Sea is one of those destinations in Jordan that many people want to visit; it was the bucket list reason that brought me to Jordan for my first trip. Unsurprisingly, this unique body of water – and highly-visited tourist destination – has a lot of interesting information you can learn about it.

Whether you’re curious because of an impending trip or need to know facts about the Dead Sea for a project or school assignment, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for 15 of the most interesting Dead Sea facts.

5 Essential Facts about the Dead Sea

1. With an average salinity of 34% – that’s almost 10 times more salt than ordinary seawater – the Dead Sea is the 7th saltiest body of water in the world

(Curious which bodies of water are saltier? Gaet’ale Pond in Ethiopia is the saltiest, followed by Lake Retba in Senegal, two lakes in Antarctica (Lake Vanda and Don Juan Pond), Garabogazköl in Turkmenistan, and Lake Assal in Djibouti.)

2. It may not be the saltiest, but the Dead Sea is the deepest hyper-saline body of water on earth, with its deepest point at 1000 feet. 

3. The Dead Sea is a natural spa. You might already know that Dead Sea mud has many healing properties. Thanks to the high salt and mineral content in the water, the mud has been proven to improve psoriasis, treat arthritis, and reduce inflammation. 

4. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. Its surface measures around 1387 feet below sea level.

5. Forget about swimming, the Dead Sea is all about floating. The high salinity of the Dead Sea makes the water denser than the body, pushing you upward; it is basically impossible to swim in the Dead Sea – but scuba diving is actually possible!

Facts About Dead Sea History & Geology

6. The Dead Sea is pretty young – at least by geological standards. The Dead Sea is just three million years old and was formed due to the movements between the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. 

7. Early in its history millions of years ago, the Dead Sea was connected to the Mediterranean Sea, which supplied water to the Jordan Rift Valley.

8. Jumping forward a few million millennia, the Dead Sea was one of the world’s first health resorts, with famous emperors and kings as regular clients, like Herod the Great. In fact, its healing properties were so popular that Cleopatra would travel from Egypt to soak in the salty waters and exfoliate her skin with the mineral-rich mud. 

9. The Dead Sea appears in the Bible, for those of you who’ve spent time studying that tome. Did you catch how many times it is mentioned? (Sixteen!)

10. What’s in a name? The Dead Sea is literally dead. Due to its high salinity, the Dead Sea is an inhospitable environment where no form of life, except for bacteria, can survive in. Do we count bacteria as life? (Technically yes, but let’s say the name makes sense because nothing else can survive there.)

11. In case you were thinking of delaying your Jordan trip – don’t! The Dead Sea will likely disappear one day. This is one of the most concerning facts about the Dead Sea.

Due to geological, industrial, and climate factors, the Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate, dropping three feet each year. According to researchers, it has receded about 66 feet over the past two decades; my pictures above show the difference in water levels between 2016 and 2022!

Other Dead Sea Facts

12. We may call it the Dead Sea toady, but this famous body of water goes by several names. With over 3 million years of existence, the Dead Sea has received different names throughout history. The most known are the Sea of Death, the Sea of Salt, the Sea of the Arabah, and the Lake of Sodom.  

133 The Dead Sea was instrumental in one of the most important discoveries in modern archaeology: the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In 1947, young Bedouin shepherds were tending their goats and sheep near the ancient settlement of Qumran when they accidentally stumbled upon the first set of Dead Sea Scrolls. These ancient manuscripts date from around 250 BC to 68 AD and have great historical and theological value. 

14. Due to its unique qualities, the Dead Sea was a finalist among 14 candidates in a global Internet poll to choose the Seven World Wonders… it didn’t make the list, but Petra is on the list of the “New Seven World Wonders.” (Okay, this also counts as a Petra fact!)

15. The Dead Sea belongs to two different countries. Its eastern shore belongs to Jordan, and the southern half of its western shore belongs to Israel. If you’re trying to decide between which country to visit, I have a guide about the differences between visiting the Dead Sea in Israel versus Jordan.

Now you’ve got tons of trivia to impress your friends with before your trip – and then you can follow up afterward with photos of floating in the Dead Sea. Have any other questions about the Dead Sea and these facts? Let me know in the comments!

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I fell in love with Jordan after my first visit in 2016; now I love returning to explore more – and writing guides to help you do the same.

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