Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is Israel's largest freshwater lake, approximately 53 kilometers (33 miles) in circumference, about 21 km (13 miles) long, and 13 km (8 miles) wide; it has a total area of 166 sq km, and a maximum depth of approximately 48 meters. At 213 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest point in the world after the Dead Sea. It is not a sea by any normal definition; it is called a sea just because of tradition.
The lake is also known on modern maps as Lake Galilee or Lake Tiberias. The name Galilee refers to the region of Galilee in which it is located. In modern Hebrew it is known as Yam Kinneret. The name may originate from the Hebrew word kinnor ("harp" or "lyre") - which the lake's shape resembles. It has also been called the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1) after the name of a small fruitful plain which lies on its western side. Other names of the Sea of Galilee: Bahr Tubariya (Arabic), Ginnosar, Lake of Gennesar, Sea of Chinnereth (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 13:27), Sea of Chinneroth, Sea of Kinnereth, Sea of Tiberias (Roman), and Waters of Gennesaret.
The Kinneret is fed by underground springs, but its main source is the Jordan River, which flows through it from north to south. The lake is situated deep in the Jordan Great Rift Valley, the valley caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates. Consequently the area is subject to earthquakes and, in the past, volcanic activity. This is evidenced by the abundant basalt and other igneous rock that define the geology of the Sea of Galilee region.
Due to its low-lying position in the rift valley, surrounded by hills, the sea is prone to sudden violent storms; hence the New Testament story about Jesus calming the storm. Indeed, the main feature of the lake seems to be its ever-changing character. It is still noted, as in New Testament times, for its rich fish stocks, and in today's restaurants, "St. Peter's Fish" (tilapia) is very popular.
The Sea of Galilee lies on the ancient Via Maris which linked Egypt with the northern empires. The Greeks, Hasmoneans, Herodians, and Romans founded flourishing towns and settlements here: Gadara, Hippos, Tiberias, and others. The first-century historian Flavius Josephus was so impressed by the area that he wrote, "One may call this place the ambition of Nature." Josephus also reported a thriving fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake.
Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. In those days, there was a continuous ribbon development of settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and ferrying by boat. The gospels of Mark (1:14-20) and Matthew (4:18-22) describe how Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of Lake Galilee; the fishermen Peter and his brother Andrew, and the brothers John and James. One of Jesus' famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, was given on a hill overlooking the lake. Many of his miracles were also recorded to occur here: his walking on water, calming a storm, feeding five thousand people (in Tabgha), and many others.
In 135, the second Jewish revolt against the Romans, called Bar Kokhba's revolt, was put down. The Romans responded by banning all Jews from Jerusalem. The center of Jewish culture and learning shifted to the region of the Kinneret, particularly the city of Tiberias. It was in this region that the so-called "Jerusalem Talmud" was probably compiled.
In the time of the Byzantine Empire, the lake's significance in Jesus' life made it a major destination for Christian pilgrims. This led to the growth of a full-fledged tourist industry, complete with package tours and plenty of comfortable inns.
The lake's importance declined when the Byzantines lost control of it. The area came under the control of the Umayyad Caliphate and subsequent Islamic empires. Except for Tiberias, the major towns and cities were gradually abandoned. In 1187, Saladin defeated the armies of the Crusades at the Battle of Hattin, largely because he was able to cut the Crusaders off from the valuable fresh water of the Sea of Galilee.
In 1909 Jewish pioneers built their first cooperative farming village (kibbutz), Kvutzat Kinneret which trained Jewish immigrants in farming and agriculture. Later, Kinneret pioneers established Kibbutz Degania. Kinneret was the cradle of the Kibbutz culture of early Zionism and was the birthplace of Naomi Shemer and the burial site of Rachel - two of the most prominent Israeli poets.
In 1923 an agreement between Britain and France established the border between the British Mandate of Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria and put the entire lake area, including a 10-meter wide strip along the northeastern shore, within the territory of Palestine. From 1948 to 1967, the lake's northeastern shore was occupied by Syria, which captured it in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The 1947 UN Partition Plan put this territory area inside the Jewish state, but it wasn't until 1967, as a result of the Six Day War, that the entire Sea of Galilee came under Israeli control.
Today, tourism is again the Kinneret's most important economic activity. The entire Sea of Galilee is a popular holiday resort area. The many historical and spiritual sites around the lake, especially its main town Tiberias, are visited by millions of local and foreign tourists annually. Other economic activities include fishing in the lake and agriculture, particularly bananas, in the fertile belt of land surrounding it.
Israel's National Water Carrier, built in 1964, transports water from the lake to the population centers of Israel, and is the source of most of the country's drinking water. Israel also supplies water from the lake to the West Bank and to Jordan (under the terms of the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace). Increasing water demand and some dry winters have resulted in stress on the lake and a decreasing water line, at times to dangerously low levels.
Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights
Israel claims that the Sea of Galilee is entirely within Israel's borders. Syria claims that the northeastern shore of the sea is a part of the Golan Heights that Israel has annexed. In 1923, the British and French, who controlled Palestine and Syria respectively, adjusted their mutual border; the British handed over the southern Golan Heights to the French in return for the northern Jordan Valley. The border was re-drawn so that both sides of the Jordan river and the whole of the Sea of Galilee were within Palestinian territory.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Syrian forces invaded Israel but were repelled by Israeli forces which subsequently won the war. This map illustrates the border lines and the Demilitarized Zones at the time a cease-fire agreement was signed. 
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details