Mitzpe Ramon
Mitzpe Ramon is a town in the Negev
The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 of southern
South District (Israel)
The Southern District is one of Israel's six administrative districts, and is the largest in terms of land area as well as the most sparsely populated. It covers most of the Negev desert, as well as the Arabah valley. The population of the Southern District is 1,002,400. It is 86% Jewish and 14%...

The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. It is situated on the northern ridge at an elevation of 860 meters (2,800 feet) overlooking a sizable erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater.


Mitzpe Ramon was founded in 1951 as a camp for the workers building the road to Eilat. The town's first permanent residents, immigrants from North Africa and Romania, settled there in the 1960s, and it became the southernmost of the Negev's development town
Development town
Development town is a term used to refer to the new settlements that were built in Israel during the 1950s in order to provide permanent housing to a large influx of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Holocaust survivors from Europe and new immigrants , who arrived to the newly established State...

s. As of 2008, Mitzpe Ramon has a population of 5,500 residents. The mayor is Flora Shoshan, sister of former Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz
Amir Peretz
Amir Peretz is an Israeli politician and member of the Knesset for the Labour Party. He is a former Defense Minister of Israel and former leader of the Labour Party, having left those positions in June 2007....

 and wife of the former mayor, Sami Shoshan.

Geology and climate

Ramon Crater, known as a makhtesh
A makhtesh is a geological landform considered unique to the Negev desert of Israel and the Sinai Peninsula. Although commonly known as "craters" , these formations are more accurately described as erosion cirques...

is 38 km long, 6 km wide and 450 meters deep. Mitzpe Ramon experiences hot, dry summers and cold winters. There are moderate to strong winds all year long, caused by its location above the crater, which make Mitzpe Ramon feel much colder than it really is. Snowfall occurs on average once in a couple of years.


The development of Mitzpe Ramon was adversely affected by the opening of Route 90
Route 90 (Israel)
Route 90 is the longest Israeli road, at about 480 km, and stretches from Metula and the northern border with Lebanon, along the western side of the Sea of Galilee, through the Jordan River Valley, along the western bank of the Dead Sea , through the Arabah valley, and until Eilat and the...

 in the late 1960s. After the inauguration of this highway, traffic to and from Eilat bypassed Mitzpe Ramon almost entirely. However, growing interest in ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

, Jeep trekking (access to Nabatean ruins), mountain biking and hiking, and the upgrading of Route 40, which is considered a more scenic route to Eilat, have improved the economy.

A hotel opened in Mitzpe Ramon in the late 1990s with an indoor swimming pool. Another hotel with similar accommodations opened in 2011. There is a Visitors Centre overlooking the Ramon Crater and the physically fit can hike down into the crater for a 4 to 5 hour trek without any shade. Among other attractions there is a llama
The llama is a South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since pre-Hispanic times....

 and alpaca
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of to above sea level, throughout the year...


Jerusalem Marble, a major supplier and overseas exporter of Jerusalem stone
Jerusalem stone
Jerusalem stone is a name applied to various types of pale limestone, dolomite and dolomitic limestone, common in and around Jerusalem that have been used in building since ancient times...

 established in 1923, inaugurated a new, state-of-the-art factory in Mitzpe Ramon in January 2000.


Several large military bases (with over 10,000 soldiers) surround the town, including the large Ramon Airbase
Ramon Airbase
Ramon Airbase is an Israeli Air Force base southwest of Beersheba, near the town of Mitzpe Ramon. Also titled Kanaf 25 , it was formerly known as Matred. It was built as the result of joint Israeli and US government funding as part of the IAF's redeployment out of its bases in the Sinai after the...

. The Wise Astronomy Observatory
Wise Observatory
The Florence and George Wise Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Tel-Aviv University. It is located 5 km west of the city of Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert near the edge of the Ramon Crater, and it is the only professional astronomical observatory in...

is located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the west.

External links

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