The Sea Of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee, Israel's only large freshwater lake, offers holidays and entertainment amidst beautiful scenery. Many historical sites, with significant religious and cultural meaning, are located in the area, as are a wide range of attractions that appeal to various audiences.

The lake – called Kinneret in Hebrew – is approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference. The lake has a total area of about 167 sq km (64.4 sq mi) at its fullest, and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m (141 feet). At levels between 215 metres (705 ft) and 209 metres (686 ft) below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake overall (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). The lake is fed partly by underground springs but its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.

The Kineret has attracted people for thousands of years, offering both a source of water and a livelihood. History has rendered the Kineret area important to both Christians and Jews. Herod Antipas founded the city of Tiberias on the lake's western shore in 17-22 C.E., naming it after his patron, the Roman Emperor Tiberius. In the second through tenth centuries, Tiberias was the largest Jewish city in the Galilee, the Jewish people's political and religious hub, as well as the center of Jewish spiritual creativity.

A few years after its establishment, around 30 C.E., Jesus Christ moved his base of activities to the northern shore of Lake Kineret. The area has now become a major pilgrimage site for many Christians, who flock to the places where Jesus lived, preached and performed miracles. It was here that Jesus walked on the water and the miracle of the loaves and the fishes happened, in nearby Kfar Nakhum (Capernaum). There are many Christian holy sites around the Kineret, including the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Loaves and the Fishes, Kfar Nakhum, Kursi, and "Yardenit​" Baptismal Site. A wooden boat known as "Jesus Boat" – an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century CE (the time of Jesus) discovered on the north-west shore of the lake – is on display at Kibbutz Ginosar.

The lake – called Kinneret in Hebrew – is the major reservoir for a national grid which supplies water for domestic, industrial and agricultural use throughout the entire country. In addition to its crucial role in Israel's water economy, the lake and its cafchmenf area (the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley) are important centres for tourism and pilgrimage, attracting visitors from all over the world to many archaeological and historic sites. Vacationers may choose from a wide range of activities in the region, from lakeside bathing and hot baths, to hill walks, horse riding, river crafting, ice skating or skiing. As in Biblical times, commercial lake fishing is an important activity.

The rapid development of the Kinneret area has brought many environmental pressures on the lake and pollution from a host of human activities. Careful planning and administration by the Kinneret Administration, a governmental organisation established in 1969 to direct and control development along the Kinneret shores and throughout the catchment basin, has proved effective in minimising harmful impacts on the lake's water. Ongoing monitoring and extensive research by scientists at the Kinneret Limnological Laboratory have helped the Kinneret Administration to maintain water quality.

A comprehensive master plan governing future land and lake shore uses, serves as a guideline to preserve and improve the quality of life around the shores of this unique and scenic lake.

The stamp was issued in 2011, part of the 3-stamps Visit Israel 2011 series. Designer: Meir Eshel.

The preceding stamp series featured with the Hebrew article, titled "The Sea of Galilee - source of water and life", was issued in 1992 (design: Ronit Salomon). They represent the 3 major functions that the lake serves: tourism, fishing and water for agriculture.