Eilat (or Elat, אילת), pop. 50,000, is Israel's southernmost city. Adjacent to the Egyptian city of Taba and Jordanian (previously Saudi) port of Aqaba, Eilat is located at the northern tip of the Gulf of Eilat, which is the eastern sleeve of the Red Sea (the western leading to the Suez Canal).
Eilat's weather is very hot and dry due to its proximity to the Negev, Sinai, Arabian and Sahara deserts. Temperatures at summer are often in excess in 35°C, and in winter - of 25°C, both very high even for the relatively hot Israel. However, the relatively cool (22°C-25°C) and clean waters of the Red Sea, which are the habitat of a large number of tropical marine species, and the exotic beauty of the landscape surrounding the city make it a favorite tourist attraction, Israel's most popular.
Eilat is also a port of strategic and economic significance. After the seizure of the Suez Canal by Egypt in 1956, until the 1978 Camp David Accords, which led to peace between Israel and Egypt, Israeli-flagged vessels were denied passage through the canal. This made Eilat crucial to Israel for access to markets in East Africa and Southeast Asia, and for the import of oil. Without recourse to Eilat, vessels sailing from Israel would have to journey through the Mediterranean and around the Cape of Good Hope to reach Southeast Asia.