The Yotvata Salt Flat, in the Arava desert, is located 30 km north of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba within the geologic province of the Syrian-African Rift. It is a level, salty, plant-free plain. Surrounding this sterile plain are microenvironments that depend on the nature of the soil and the rocks. A delicate balance exists between the soil, rocks, water, flora and fauna in this area. We are trying to map and analyze these microenvironments surrounding the salt flat and relate the natural landscape to human activity in the region.
For over 6000 years man has lived around the Yotvata Salt Flat. At present, more than 2000 people live in settlements around the salt flat, the closest neighbors being kibbutzim (communal settlements) of Yotvata and Samar in Israel, and the Jordanian villages of Rahme and El-Katar. These settlements practice agriculture and tourism.
Part of the educational program at Maaleh Shaharut (the regional school at Yotvata) is to build a web site featuring the environmental/physical and human aspects of this region. The web site represents a database of information gathered by students for science projects. Students from many disciplines contribute to this site through classes in biology, earth science, computers, art, and language. Pupils in turn can use the data from this site for other projects.
The web site contains other information including research papers by academics, aerial photographs, maps, and landscape photographs. Also included is a virtual field trip of the region. People interested in desert environments from around the world will find this site useful and informative. This project also serves an educational prototype for active learning in secondary education.
The international border between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan divides the Yotvata Salt Flat.
Since the signing of the peace accord between Israel and Jordan in 1994, the ties between the residents on both sides of the border are developing. Agricultural connections are being established between the residents of the Jordanian villages of Rahme and El-Katar and the kibbutzim of Yotvata, Grofit, and Samar in Israel. During 1999 educational exchanges occurred between students in Maaleh Shaharut and students in Rahme. This site emphasizes the developing and ever-strengthening ties between our two countries by including information on these cultural exchanges. Additionally, students from Israel, Jordan, and the USA are collaborating on building the web site.