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Dead Sea Faces Lively Competition as World Wonder

The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, is in a high place in the competition for recognition as a world wonder.
By Avraham Zuroff
First Publish: 7/10/2009, 6:39 AM

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The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, confirmed its place for consideration in the next stage of the international competition to grade the seven natural wonders of the world after the Tourism Ministries of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority individually signed the official supporting papers for its candidacy.

An initiative of the Megillot Dead Sea Regional Council, the Dead Sea was registered as a candidate for the New Seven Wonders of Nature competition about a year ago. Last week, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, Head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, pushed for the approval of the Dead Sea's candidacy within a list of 77 sites.

Voting for the 77 nominees finished at midnight on July 7 and voting for the next round will begin on 22 July. The organizers of the New Seven Wonders of Nature competition have announced that they will increase the number of sites qualifying for the next stage from 21 to 28 (to be selected from the top 77 nominees). The competition's organizers expect over a billion people from around the world to participate in the online voting, which will continue into 2011, when the finalists will be announced by categories.

The Tourism Ministry will lead a two-year campaign for the Dead Sea to be selected as one of the winners in the contest, via its 14 representative offices around the world, its websites in 11 languages and focused marketing activities. In the course of the campaign, the ministry will emphasize the unique attributes of the Dead Sea and promote tourism to the area. With the Dead Sea's qualification for the next stage of the competition on July 22, voting can take place via the Ministry website, www.goisrael.com.

The New Seven Wonders of Nature competition was launched in 2007 with about 440 sites from 220 countries (more than those competing in the Olympics). The Megillot Dead Sea Regional Council proposed the candidacy of the Dead Sea for the competition in order to promote tourism to the region and raise public awareness around the world of the sea's problematic condition, after it lost about one meter in height every year for the past 30 years, mainly from the effects of restricting the flow of the River Jordan at the Degania Dam.

Other contenders for the title of New 7 Wonders of Nature include the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, the Galapagos Islands, Niagara Falls, Kilimanjaro Mountains, the Black Forest, the Maldives Islands and many more in seven different categories.

The Dead Sea’s surface and shores, 422 meters (1,385 ft) below sea level, are the lowest place on Earth. The Dead Sea is 378 m (1,240 ft) deep, the deepest salt lake in the world. It is also one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, with 33.7 percent salinity, 8.6 times as salty as ocean water. Due to its high salinity, bathers float on the water's surface. The Dead Sea is 67 kilometers (42 mi) long and 18 kilometers (11 mi) wide at its widest point.