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Negev >> Travel Guide 

The Negev is a large desert that covers the entire southern half of Israel. The origin of the word Negev is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'. In the Bible the word Negev is also used for the direction 'south'.
 
It is the least populated area in Israel, and home to some 379,000 Jews and some 175,000 Bedouins (the nomadic desert people, ‘Bedouin’ is an ancient word reffering to the term Desert Man) who have discontinuously inhabited the desert for more than 7,000 years. The Negev has seen its share of history. Abraham built his home in Be'er Sheva, the Nabateans passed through here on caravans of camels laden with precious trade goods. For these and other reasons, the Negev has become one of Israel’s popular tourism sites.
 
The Negev offers some truly breathtaking scenery and is home to some fascinating sites and places. It has a number of interesting cultural and geological features. Among the latter are three enormous, craterlike erosion cirques or makhteshim, which are unique to the region: the Ramon Crater, haMakhtesh haGadol ("The Large Makhtesh"), and haMakhtesh haKatan ("The Small Makhtesh"). Although the Negev is barren most days of the year with dry river beds, nature here is very surprising. In the winter, despite the small quantities of rain, the Negev is covered with amazing flowers, including luscious red anemones that you would never expect to see in a desert.
 
 Aside from the natural wonders, the Negev plays host to a great number of ancient sites, displaying the rich history of these crossroads of trade established by the Nabateans between Asia, Africa, and Europe known as the “Spice Road.” Caravans of camels traversed this route carrying spices, perfumes and salt from Yemen in the East to the port city of Gaza. Rest stops were built along the route and their remains still beautify the Negev expanses today (Ovdat, Mamashit and others).
 
In the past the Negev was largely undeveloped and sparsely populated, now Israel has succeeded in becoming a world leader in combating the desert and preventing desertification of fertile lands. Through responsible water and soil conservation programs, Israeli techniques have given the potential of the Negev and actively promotes desert agricultural so that not only will the region become economically viable, but also be attractive for settlement in the future.
 
Tourism in the desert is a developing industry and many tourists explore its expanses on foot, on bicycle and in all-terrain vehicles.  It offers charming nature corners, historical and archaeological sites, springs and the remains of agricultural compounds. If you have time, take an adventure in the Negev, you wont be disappointed.
 


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