Near Amman, the capital of Jordan, is the lowest spot on Earth on dry land: the shore of the Dead Sea. This is undeniably among the best known of the tourist attractions in the country. Shared by Israel, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the West Bank, the Dead Sea is also the deepest of all the hypersaline (a term used to describe a state where the water exceeds the salinity levels of even the oceans, which are typically at 3.5% salinity) waters. With a salinity of 33.7%, the Dead Sea is not only over 8 times the salinity of the deep oceans but also among the most saline of all water bodies with verified salinity levels, with only three other bodies surpassing it (Lake Assal in Djibouti, Garabogazkol of Turkmenistan, and the Don Juan Pond in Antarctica). Beyond all of these distinctions, it also has an enduring place in popular imagination, making it the best known of all the hypersaline water bodies of the world.
While there seems to be a persistent tendency to associate the Dead Sea with biblical stories, it is in fact not all that often mentioned in the Bible-at least, not as often as many other bodies of water in the biblical tales, by comparison. That said, part of the enduring recollection of this hypersaline lake (it is landlocked, so it is more properly a lake) is largely due to its singular and identifying characteristic: its salinity. A lake so salty that nothing can live long in it, with fish expiring almost upon entering its waters, does tend to grip your interest.
The salinity of the sea is due in part to the great heat of the area surrounding it. The sea loses a great deal of water through evaporation per annum-so much, in fact, that the rate of loss is greater than the rate of gain. In other words, the sources of the sea are unable to feed it with sufficient freshwater to bring water-to-salt levels closer to equality. This is why the minerals and salts get so concentrated: they are minerals and salts you would find in most other lakes in the world-it simply happens that there are greater amounts of them in each litre of water from this water body than in others.
These same minerals have been a source of income for centuries for the countries owning the shores of the lake. Tourism to the Dead Sea is strong even now because of the health benefits attributed to a soak in the mineral waters, which many western doctors prescribe too for those with certain skin ailments. There are actually countless health clinics and centres set up near the lake for this purpose and there is a thriving industry that harvests the minerals of the waters each year. Materials like potash can be synthesised and collected from the sea as well, which people in the area have been selling for ages. Fertilising minerals have been gathered here since time immemorial as well. To that end, one might well reflect on the name as having some irony in a way: the Dead Sea, after all, has been fuelling life and lifestyles for the peoples of Jordan, Israel and the West Bank for millennia. If you want to try the healing waters yourself, there are many ways to get to the Dead Sea from Amman and vice versa, but the best ones are the shuttles from the hotels and health centres in either location. You may also look for bus routes from Amman to the hypersaline lake.