Hebrew transcription(s)
 – Hebrew About this sound אֵילַת
Arabic transcription(s)
 – Arabic ايلات

Eilat is located in Israel
Coordinates: 29°33′N 34°57′E / 29.55°N 34.95°E / 29.55; 34.95Coordinates: 29°33′N 34°57′E / 29.55°N 34.95°E / 29.55; 34.95
District South
Founded 1951
 – Type City (from 1959)
 – Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi
 – Total 84,789 dunams (84.8 km2 / 32.7 sq mi)
Population (2008)[1]
 – Total 46,600

Eilat (Hebrew: אֵילַת‎‎, Arabic: إيلاتAbout this sound (audio) ) 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 (or Gulf of Aqaba). Home to 46,600 people,[1] the city is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava. The city 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 40 °C (104 °F) in summer, and 21 °C (70 °F) in winter, while water temperatures range between 20 and 26 °C (68 and 79 °F). The city's beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism.



Amram pillars

The geology and landscape are varied: igneous and metamorphic rocks, sandstone and limestone; mountains up to 892 metres (2,927 ft) above sea level; broad valleys such as the Arava, and seashore on the Gulf of Aqaba. With an annual average rainfall of 28 millimetres (1.1 in) and summer temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) and higher, water resources 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 environmental conditions."[2]



The original settlement was probably at the northern tip of the Gulf of Eilat.[3] Archaeological excavations uncovered impressive prehistoric tombs dating to the 7th millennium BC at the western edge of Eilat, while nearby copper workings and mining operations at Timna Valley are the oldest on earth. Ancient Egyptian records also document the extensive and lucrative mining operations and trade across the Red Sea with Egypt starting as early as the Fourth dynasty of Egypt. Eilat is mentioned in antiquity as a major trading partner with Elim, Thebes' Red Sea Port, as early as the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt.[4] Trade between Elim and Eilat furnished Frankincense and Myrrh, brought up from Ethiopia and Punt; Bitumen and Natron, from the Dead 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, Midian and the tribal territory of the Rephidim, the indigenous inhabitants of the Sinai.

Israelite period

Eilat is first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Exodus. 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 the exodus from Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. Station 12 refers to a dozen campsites in and around Timna in Modern Israel near Eilat. When King David conquered Edom,[5] which up to then had been a common border of Edom and Midian, he took over Eilat, the border city shared by them as well. The 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 Amaziah. 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 recovered Elath to Aram, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Edomites came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day".

A glimpse of blue waters from Ovda

Roman and Muslim periods

During the 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 Kibbutz Eilot. The Darb el Hajj or "Pilgrim's Road", from Africa through Egypt to Mecca, passed out of Sinai from the west at Umm Al-Rashrash, Arabic name for Eilat, before skirting the sea and continuing south into Arabia.

After the establishment of the State of Israel

The area was designated as part of the Jewish state in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. An Ottoman decree of 1906 states that the territory belonged to Egypt. This is confirmed by the fact that a British police post was established in 1906 to defend British claims against the Ottomans.[6]. The Arab village of Umm Al-Rashrash was supposedly taken without a fight on March 10, 1949, as part of Operation Uvda, but a mass grave discovered in 2008 contained remains of Egyptian soldiers, suggesting otherwise.[7]

The Timna Copper Mines[8] near Timna valley were opened, a port was constructed, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline laid, and tourism began. Construction of the city and the Port of Eilat began shortly after the end of the war. The port became vital to the fledgling country's development. After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War Arab 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 Suez 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 Africa and Asia, 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 of Eilat. 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 belli leading to the outbreak of the Six-Day War. Following peace treaties signed with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, Eilat's borders with its neighbors were finally opened.


Eilat has a Desert climate with hot, dry summers and warm and almost rainless winters (BWh in Köppen climate classification). Winters are usually between 11 °C (52 °F) to 23 °C (73 °F). Summers are usually between 26 °C (79 °F) to 40 °C (100 °F). There are relatively small coral reefs near Eilat; however, 50 years ago they were much larger: the corals have been dying as a result of water pollution.

Climate data for Eilat
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.2
Average high °C (°F) 20.8
Average low °C (°F) 9.6
Record low °C (°F) 2.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 3.5
humidity 32 28 25 19 16 15 17 18 23 27 29 33 23.5
Avg. precipitation days 2.1 1.8 1.6 0.9 0.7 0 0 0 0.1 0.7 0.8 1.9 10.6
Sunshine hours 229.4 237.3 251.1 273.0 319.3 324.0 347.2 347.2 291.0 282.1 246.0 217.0 3,364.6
Source no. 1: Israel Meteorological Service[9][10]
Source no. 2: climatetemp.info,[11]


In 2007, over 200 Sudanese refugees from Egypt who arrived in Israel illegally on foot were given work and allowed to stay in Eilat.[12][13][14] Eilat's population includes a large number of foreign workers, estimated at over 10,000 (about 30% of the city's population) working as caregivers, hotel workers and in the construction trades.


Eilat, Eilat mountains and Eilat (Aqaba) bay.

The educational system of Eilat accommodates more than 9,000 youngsters in eight day-care centers, 67 pre-kindergartens and kindergartens, 10 elementary schools, and four high schools.[15] Ben Gurion University of the Negev maintains a campus in Eilat. The Eilat branch has 1,100 students, about 75 percent from outside the city. In 2010, a new student dormitory was funded and built by the Jewish Federation of Toronto, the Rashi Foundation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the municipality of Eilat.[16] The Eilat Field School on the outskirts of Eilat offers special hiking tours that focus on desert ecology, the Red Sea, bird migration and other aspects of Eilat's flora and fauna.[17]


Yoseftal Hospital, established in 1968, now part of the Yoseftal Medical Center, is Israel’s southernmost hospital. Special services geared to the Red Sea region are a hyperbaric chamber to treat victims of diving accidents and kidney dialysis facilities open to vacationing tourists.[18]


Eilat is connected to the rest of Israel and internationally by air, road and sea.

  • Eilat Airport is located in the city centre and is used largely for domestic flights[19] (IATA: ETH, ICAO: LLET).
  • International flights often use Ovda International Airport some 50 kilometres (31 mi) northwest of the city[20] (IATA: VDA, ICAO: LLOV).

Eilat has two main roads connecting it with the center of Israel.

  • Egged, the national bus company, provides regular service to points north on an almost hourly basis as well as in-city on a half-hourly basis during daylight hours.
  • There are two main border crossings: the Taba Border Crossing to Taba, Egypt and Wadi Araba Crossing to Aqaba, Jordan, re-named the Yitzhak Rabin Border Crossing on the Israeli side. The Port of Eilat and Eilat Marina allow travel by sea. Near-term plans also call for a rail link to decrease travel times substantially from Eilat to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, via the existing line at Beer Sheba; planning is underway.


Eilat's Harbor

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 in 1985.[21]


Kings City Amusement park
Coral World Underwater Observatory

Eilat offers a wide range of accommodations, from hostels and luxury hotels to Bedouin hospitality. In recent years Eilat has been the target of millitants from Egypt and Gaza causing a reduced tourist inflow to the region. Attractions include:

  • Birdwatching and ringing station: Eilat is located on the main migration route between Africa and Europe. International Birding & Research Center in Eilat.[22]
  • Camel tours.
  • Coral Beach Nature Reserve, an underwater marine reserve of tropical marine flora and fauna.
  • Coral World Underwater Observatory – Located at the southern tip of Coral Beach, the observatory has aquaria, a museum, simulation rides, and shark, turtle and stingray tanks.[23]
  • Dolphin Reef – A marine biology and research station where visitors can swim and interact with dolphins.[24]
  • 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.[25] 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.[25]
  • IMAX, Three dimensional graphics films
  • Kings City, a biblical theme park located in the hotel area next to the Stella Maris Lagoon.[26]
  • 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 rock art.[27]
  • "What's Up" the Observatory in Eilat, a portable Astronomical Observatory with programs in the desert and on the promenade.[28]
  • Ice Park – Park of ice and snow, is expected to be opened on: 15/01/2012.

Dive tourism

Skin and SCUBA diving, with equipment for hire on or near all major beaches. Scuba diving equipment rental and compressed air are available from diving clubs and schools all year round. Eilat is located in the Gulf of Aquaba, one of the most popular diving destinations in the world. The coral reefs along Eilat's coast remain relatively pristine and the area is recognized as one of the prime diving locations in the world.[29] About 250,000 dives are performed annually in Eilat's 11 km (6.84 mi) coastline, and diving represents 10% of the tourism income of this area.[30] In addition, given the proximity of many of these reefs to the shore, non-divers can encounter the Red Sea's reefs with relative ease.[29] Water conditions for SCUBA divers are good all year round, with water temperatures around 21–25 C°, with little or no currents and clear waters with an average of 20–30 meters visibility.


Despite harsh conditions, the region has supported large populations as far back as 8,000 BCE. Exploration of ancient sites began in 1861, but only 7% of the area has undergone serious archaeological excavation. Some 1,500 ancient sites are located in a 1,200-square-kilometre (460 sq mi) 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..

Notable persons

Israeli-Arab conflict

Eilat has been spared large-scale terrorist attacks, though it was targeted four times in as many years:[31]

Attack Type Date
Multiple Bomb and Gun Attacks August 2011
Rockets August 2010
Rockets April 2010
Suicide Bomber January 2007

The last attack resulted in eight casualties and many more injuries.


Eilat beach

Eilat has 15 neighborhoods:

  • Arava
  • Ganim A
  • Ganim B
  • Hadekel
  • Ha'eshel
  • Mizpe Yam
  • Maar'av Sheva also known as West7
  • Neve Midbar
  • Ophir
  • Shahamon
  • Tse'elim
  • Urim
  • Ye'elim
  • Zofit Elite
  • Zofit Tachtit

Sister cities and twin towns

Eilat shoreline at night

Eilat has streets named after Durban, Kamen, Kampen and Los Angeles as well as a Canada Park.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Table 3 – Population of Localities Numbering Above 1,000 Residents and Other Rural Population" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. June 30, 2008. http://www.cbs.gov.il/population/new_2009/table3.pdf. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Dr. Muhammed Abdul Nayeem, (1990). Prehistory and Protohistory of the Arabian Peninsula. Hyderabad. ISBN.
  4. ^ Michael Rice(1990). Egypt's Making. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-06454-6.
  5. ^ "ישראל המקדשית". Gideon.022.co.il. http://www.gideon.022.co.il. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  6. ^ Gabriel Warburg (1979). "The Sinai Peninsula borders 1906–1947". Journal of Contemporary History 14: 677–692. 
  7. ^ "Mass Grave in Umm al-Rashrash Includes Remains of Muslims in Military Uniform Unearthed". http://www.almasry-alyoum.com/article2.aspx?ArticleID=88985. 
  8. ^ "Timna Copper Mines homepage". 
  9. ^ "Averages and Records for Eilat (Precipitation, Temperature and Records [Excluding February, July and August written in the page)"]. Israel Meteorological Service. http://ims.gov.il/IMS/CLIMATE/LongTermInfo. 
  10. ^ "Records Data for Israel (Data used only for February, July and August)". Israel Meteorological Service. http://ims.gov.il/IMS/CLIMATE/TopClimetIsrael. 
  11. ^ "Eilat Weather Averages". http://www.climatetemp.info/israel/eilat.html. 
  12. ^ Jonathan Saul, Elana Ringler for Reuters (2007). "Sudanese refugees in Israel face uncertainty". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2006/06/01/enemy_sudanese_refugees_in_israel_face_uncertainty/. Retrieved October 29, 2007. [dead link]
  13. ^ Joshua Mitnick (2006). "Sudan's "Genocide" Lands at Israel's Door". The Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0602/p04s01-wome.html. Retrieved October 29, 2007. 
  14. ^ Neta Sela (2007). "Israel must reject Darfur refugees, rabbi says". Ynet News – Jewish World. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3401140,00.html. Retrieved October 29, 2007. 
  15. ^ Daniel Horowitz. "UJA Federation of Greater Toronto". Jewishtoronto.net. http://www.jewishtoronto.net/page.aspx?id=58842. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  16. ^ New Student Dormitories Dedicated in Eilat Campus[dead link]
  17. ^ SPNI field schools[dead link]
  18. ^ "Clalit Health Services". Clalit.org.il. http://www.clalit.org.il/he-il/english. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  19. ^ Israel Airports Authority (2007). "Eilat Airport". Israel Airports Authority. http://www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/en-US/Airports/Eilat. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  20. ^ Israel Airports Authority (2007). "Ovda Airport". Israel Airports Authority. http://www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/en-US/Airports/Ovda. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  21. ^ Maltz, Judy (January 12, 1989). "Eilat turns to industry to complement tourism trade". The Jerusalem Post. p. 9. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/jpost/access/99154829.html?dids=99154829:99154829&FMT=ABS. Retrieved October 30, 2007. 
  22. ^ "birdsofeilat.com". birdsofeilat.com. http://www.birdsofeilat.com/about%20us.htm. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  23. ^ Coral World (2005). "The Underwater Observatory Marine Park, Eilat". Coral World. http://www.coralworld.com/eilat/eng/. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  24. ^ The Dolphin Reef Eilat (2007). "The Freedom To Choose". The Dolphin Reef Eilat. http://www.dolphinreef.co.il/Default.aspx?tabid=1. Retrieved October 29, 2007. 
  25. ^ a b The Red Sea Desert (2007). "Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve". The Red Sea Desert. http://redseadesert.com/html/060haibar.html. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  26. ^ Kings City (2007). "Kings City, Eilat". Kings City. http://www.kingscity.co.il/en/index.asp. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  27. ^ BiblePlaces.com (2007). "Timna Valley". BiblePlaces.com. http://www.bibleplaces.com/timnavalley.htm. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  28. ^ ""What's Up" Observatory in Eilat". Whatsup.eilatnature.com. http://whatsup.eilatnature.com/. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  29. ^ a b "MFA, Gulf of Aqaba- Tourism, 30 Sep 1997". Mfa.gov.il. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Regional%20Projects/Gulf%20of%20Aqaba-%20Tourism. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  30. ^ Artificial Reefs and Dive Tourism in Eilat, Israel Dan Wilhelmsson, Marcus C. Öhman , Henrik Ståhl and Yechiam Shlesinger Ambio, Vol. 27, No. 8, Building Capacity for Coastal Management (Dec., 1998), pp. 764–766 Published by: Allen Press on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences [1]
  31. ^ Wyre Davies (August 2, 2010). "BBC News". Bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10807166. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  32. ^ a b c d "Eilat Sister Cities". Israel-Times.com. November 7, 2007. http://www.israel-times.com/business/2007/11/israel-coral-beach-scuba-diving-in-eilat-3271/. Retrieved December 16, 2007. [dead link]
  33. ^ "What we do: Humanitarian Aid". Israel MFA. http://mashav.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/document.asp?SubjectID=43850&MissionID=16210&LanguageID=0&StatusID=0&DocumentID=-1. Retrieved December 16, 2007. 
  34. ^ "Facts about Durban". September 7, 2003. http://www.fad.co.za/Diary/diary007/diary007.asp. Retrieved December 16, 2007. 
  35. ^ "Municipal Smolyan". http://www.smolyan.com/index_en.aspx?v=1. Retrieved December 16, 2007. 
  36. ^ "Weiterführende Informationen: Städtepartnerschaften". Israel MFA. http://berlin.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/document.asp?SubjectID=9030&MissionID=88&LanguageID=190&StatusID=0&DocumentID=-1. Retrieved December 16, 2007. 
  37. ^ "Eilat, Israel - Sister Cities of Los Angeles". http://sistercities.lacity.org/html/16.htm. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 
  38. ^ "The anniversary of our sister city, Eilat". http://www.piestany.sk/index.php?id=127&L=1&tx_ttnews%5Bpointer%5D=3&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=2505&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=126&cHash=9f6bcbec6e. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 

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