Eilat is a city in southern Israel situated at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba at the southern end of the Negev Desert. It is Israel's chief port to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and has an international airport. Eilat is a popular tourist resort and scuba-diving centre and draws many tourists from Europe. It features a string of top quality hotels along its beachfront, diving or snorkelling at the Coral Beach marine nature reserve and the Underwater Observatory. From here you can also take a 4-wheel drive trip into the Negev desert to see the Red Canyon or Mount Yoash and a panoramic view into four countries.
Eilat was settled around the 10th century BC and became an important port during the Roman Empire. In AD 1116 the city was taken by the Crusaders, but declined after being captured by the Muslim military leader Saladin in the 1160s. Eilat was resettled in 1949 by Israelis, and the city's port was enlarged in the 1960s to accommodate oil tankers. In recent years it has changed from a remote "wildwest" outpost to a small but sophisticated tourist resort.
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