Eilat ( ) is Israel's southernmost city, a busy port as well as a
popular resort, located at the northern tip
of the Red
Sea, on the Gulf of Eilat. Home to 65,000 people, the city is part of
the Southern Negev Desert, at
the southern end of the Arava.
is adjacent to the Egyptian village of
Taba to the
south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east,
and within sight of Saudi
Arabia to the south-east, across the gulf.
Eilat's arid desert climate
is moderated by
proximity to a warm sea. Temperatures often exceed in summer, and
in winter, while water temperatures range between . The city's
beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular
destination for domestic and international tourism.
Archaeology and history
Despite harsh conditions, the region supported large populations as
far back as 8,000 BCE.
Beginning in 1861 ancient sites have been recorded throughout the
region, but to date only around 7% of the area has undergone a
with around 1500 ancient sites recorded in a area. In
contrast to the gaps found in settlement periods in the
neighbouring Negev Highlands and Sinai, these sites show continuous
settlement for the past 10,000 years.
The geology and landscape are varied: igneous and metamorphic rocks
, sandstone and limestone;
mountains up to above sea
; broad valleys such as the Arava, and seashore on the
Gulf of Aqaba. With an annual average rainfall of and summer
temperatures of and higher, water
and vegetation are limited.
"The main elements that influenced the region's history were the
copper resources and other minerals, the ancient international
roads that crossed the area, and its geopolitical and strategic
position. These resulted in a settlement density that defies the
The original settlement was probably Eilat at the northern tip of
the Gulf of Aqaba.
impressive prehistoric tombs dating to the 7th millennium BCE
at the western edge of
Eilat, while nearby copper workings and mining operations at
are the oldest on
earth. Ancient Egyptian
document the extensive and lucrative mining operations and trade
across the Red Sea with Egypt starting as early as the Fourth dynasty of
Eilat is mentioned in antiquity as a major trading partner with
' Red Sea Port, as early
as the Twelfth dynasty of
. Trade between Elim and Eilat furnished
Frankincense and Myrrh, brought up from Ethiopia and Punt; Bitumen and Natron, from the
Sea; finely woven Linen, from
Byblos; and copper amulets, from Timnah; all
mentioned in the Periplus
of the Erythraean Sea.
In antiquity Eilat bordered the states of Edom
and the tribal territory of the
, the indigenous inhabitants of the
Eilat is first mentioned in the Bible
Book of Exodus
in the stations
. The first six stations of the Exodus
are in Egypt. The 7th is the
crossing of the Red Sea
and The 9th-13th are in and around
Eilat after they have left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. Station
12 refers to a dozen campsites in and around Timna in Modern Israel
When King David
, which up to then had been a common border of Edom
and Midian, he took over Eilat, the border city shared by them as
commercial port city and copper based industrial center were
maintained by Egypt until reportedly rebuilt by Solomon at a location known as Ezion-Geber (I Kings 9:26).
In 2 Kings
14:21-22: "And all the
people of Judah
took Azariah, who
was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father
. He built Elath
and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept among his
fathers." And again in 2 Kings 16:6: "At that time Rezin king of
Aram, and drove the Jews from Elath
; and the Edomites
came to Elath
, and dwelt there, unto
Roman and Muslim periods
Roman period a road was built to link the area with the Nabataean city of Petra (modern-day
Jordan). The remains of a large copper smelting and trading
community which flourished during the Ummayad Period (700-900 CE) were also
found between what is now Eilat's industrial zone and nearby
Darb el Hajj or "Pilgrim's Road", from
Africa through Egypt to Mecca, passed out
of Sinai from the west at Eilat before skirting the sea and
continuing south into Arabia.
The area of Eilat was designated as part of the Jewish state in the
. During the 1948 Arabâ€“Israeli War an old
Ottoman police station, called Umm Rashrash
in Arabic, was taken without a fight on March 10, 1949 as part of
Operation Uvda, in which both the
Negev and Golani Brigades participated.
of Umm Rashrash 's mud-brick
buildings remains standing, in a tiny park.) Having forgotten to
bring an Israeli flag with them, the
Brigade soldiers improvised and raised the "Ink Flag" in order to claim for Israel the area
upon which Eilat would be constructed. The Timna Copper
Mines near Timna
valley were opened, a port was constructed, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline
laid, and tourists began visiting.
Eilat became vital to the fledgling country's
After the 1948 Arabâ€“Israeli War
countries maintained a state of hostility with Israel, blocking all
land routes; Israel's access to and trade with the rest of the
world was by air and sea alone. Further, Egypt denied passage through the
Canal to Israeli-registered ships or to any ship carrying
cargo to or from Israeli ports.
This made Eilat and its sea
port crucial to Israel's communications, commerce and trade with
, and for
oil imports. Without recourse to a port on the Red Sea
Israel would have been unable to develop its diplomatic, cultural
and trade ties beyond the Mediterranean basin and Europe. This happened in 1956
and again in 1967, when Egypt's closure of the Straits of
Tiran to Israeli shipping effectively blockaded the port
In 1956, this led to Israel's participation
alongside the U.K. and France in the war against Egypt sparked by
the Suez Crisis
, while in 1967 it was
cited by Israel as an additional casus
leading to the outbreak of the Six-Day War
Following peace treaties
Egypt in 1979
and Jordan in
, Eilat's borders with its neighbors were finally opened.
In 2007, over 200 Sudanese
refugees from Egypt
who arrived in Israel illegally on foot
were given work and allowed to stay in Eilat. Eilat's population
includes a large number of foreign workers, estimated at over
10,000, working as caregivers, hotel workers and in the
Eilat is connected to the rest of Israel and internationally by
air, road and sea.
Eilat has two main roads connecting it with the center of Israel.
Eilat and Eilat Marina allow travel by sea.
plans also call for a rail link to substantially decrease travel
times from Eilat to Tel
Aviv and Jerusalem, via the existing line at Beer Sheba; planning is underway.
In the 1970s tourism became increasingly important to the city's
economy as other industries shut down or were drastically reduced.
Today tourism is the city's major source of income, although Eilat
became a free trade zone
Eilat offers a wide range of accommodations - from hostels to
luxury hotels - as well as many unique attractions and recreational
options within a 50 kilometer (31 mile) radius.
- Bedouin hospitality.
- Birdwatching and ringing station:
Eilat is located on the main migration route between Africa and
- Camel tours.
- Coral Beach Nature Reserve, an underwater marine reserve of tropical marine
flora and fauna.
- Coral World Underwater Observatory - allows visitors to view
marine life in its own habitat. The
park, located at the southern tip of Coral Beach, has aquariums, a museum, simulation rides, and shark, turtle and stingray tanks.
- Diving: Skin and SCUBA diving, with equipment for hire on or
near all major beaches. Scuba diving equipment rental and compressed air are available from a number of
diving clubs and schools open all year round.
- Dolphin Reef, offering visitors an
opportunity to swim and interact with dolphins, is also a marine biology and research station.
- Freefall parachuting.
- Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve, established in the 1960s to
conserve endangered species,
including Biblical animals, from this and similar regions. The
reserve has a Visitors Center, care and treatment enclosures, and
large open area where desert animals are acclimated before
re-introduction into the wild. Hai-Bar efforts have successfully
re-introduced the Asian Wild Ass, or Onager, into the Negev. The
Hai-Bar Nature Reserve and animal re-introduction program were
described in Bill Clark's book "High Hills and Wild Goats: Life
Among the Animals of the Hai-Bar Wildlife Refuge". The book also
describes life in Eilat and the surrounding area.
- IMAX theatre.
City, a biblical theme
park located in the hotel area next to the Stella Maris
- Marina with some 250 yacht berths.
- Timna Valley Park - the oldest
copper mines in the world. Egyptian temple of Hathor, King
Solomon's Pillars sandstone formation, ancient pit mines and
- "What's Up" the Observatory in
Eilat, a portable Astronomical Observatory with programs in the
desert and on the promenade.
Twin towns â€” Sister cities
Eilat is twinned
streets named after Durban, Kamen, Kampen and Los
Angeles as well as a Canada
- Antibes, France
- Juan-les-Pins, France
- Arica, Chile
- Durban, South Africa
- Smolyan, Bulgaria
- Kamen, Germany
- Kampen, Netherlands
- Toronto, Canada
- Los Angeles, United
- Ushuaia, Argentina
- PieÅ¡Å¥any, Slovakia
- Sopron, Hungary
trees also grow in
various parts of the city.
File:EilatSunset01 ST 07.JPG|A winter's twilight.File:Ink
flag.jpg|Raising the Ink Flag.File:AmramColumns.jpg|Amram's
Pillars.File:Gulf of Eilat.jpg|At Coral Beach.File:North Beach
Eilat new.jpg|Eilat North Beach hotel area
- Folksinger Pete Seeger recorded
The Road to Eilat in Hebrew ("Hey Daroma" - ×”×™×™
- Avner, U. 2008. Eilat Region. In, A. Stern (ed.). The New
Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavation in the Holy Land, Volume 5
(Supplementary). Jerusalem. 1704-1711.
- Nelson Glueck(1959). Rivers in the Desert. HUC. ISBN
- Dr. Muhammed Abdul Nayeem, (1990). Prehistory and Protohistory
of the Arabian Peninsula. Hyderabad. ISBN.
- Michael Rice(1990). Egypt's Making. Routledge. ISBN
- "What's Up" Observatory in Eilat