Uncover The World’s Largest Desert

Sahara Desert information: get the lowdown on one among Earth’s most outstanding locations.

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You’ll find out extra about deserts on this web page: Deserts

You possibly can see extra wonderful locations on this web page: Wonderful Locations

You possibly can see extra deserts on this web page: Deserts Of The World

Uncover wonderful animals that dwell in deserts on this web page: Desert Animals

Uncover wonderful North American deserts on this web page: North American Deserts

Sahara Desert Information: Introduction

The Sahara Desert covers an space of 9.2 million sq. kilometers / 3.5 million sq. miles, and is the largest scorching desert on the earth.

The Sahara desert is roughly the identical dimension as the USA. (The world of the USA is 9.834 milllion km2 / 3.797 sq mi together with water, and 9.148 million km2 / 3.53 sq mi with out.)

The one deserts which can be greater than the Sahara are Antarctica and the Arctic, that are chilly deserts.

The Sahara desert’s title is derived from the Arabic for “desert”.

Camels in the Sahara Desert
The camel is a conventional technique of transport within the Sahara Desert.

The place is the Sahara Desert Positioned?

The Sahara Desert is positioned in North Africa. It covers components of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.

The map beneath exhibits the situation of the Sahara Desert. You possibly can’t miss it: it’s the massive expanse of yellow that covers many of the prime of Africa!

Sahara Desert Borders

The Sahara Desert is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlas Mountains to the north, and by the Sahel (a belt of scorching, semi-arid savannas and grasslands surrounding the Niger River valley) and the Sudan Area to the south.

To the west, the desert is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the east by the Crimson Sea.

Was The Sahara Desert All the time A Desert?

giraffe face close up
Prior to now, animals equivalent to giraffes lived within the area now lined by the Sahara Desert.

The area lined by the Sahara Desert has not at all times been a desert, and has undergone important climatic shifts all through its geological historical past.

Round 7 million years in the past, throughout the late Miocene period, the Sahara was a savannah-like surroundings. From about 5.5 million to five.3 million years in the past, it reworked right into a desert because of a shift within the Earth’s axes, which altered world climate patterns.

Nonetheless, it was not a everlasting shift. Over the following a number of million years, the Sahara oscillated between desert and grassland states, in sync with the Earth’s precession (the sluggish wobble of the planet’s rotational axis), which adjustments the situation of the North African monsoon.

Throughout humid durations, often called “Inexperienced Sahara” or “African Humid Intervals“, the desert was dotted with lakes, rivers, and various ecosystems with quite a lot of wildlife.

The latest of those durations occurred roughly between 14,000 and 5,500 years in the past, throughout the Holocene epoch.

Rock work from the time, discovered by explorers within the mid-1800s, depict people searching giant recreation equivalent to elephants, giraffes and hippos – species now not capable of inhabit the inhospitable desert.

Sahara Desert Rock Art
Saharan rock artwork. Photograph: ruba_ch/Rudolf Baumann, CC BY 2.0, through Wikimedia Commons

Round 5,500 years in the past, the Sahara entered its present dry part because of one other shift in Earth’s orbit, which decreased the quantity of monsoon rainfall. This shift led to a gradual desiccation of the Sahara, with human societies that after thrived there migrating to the Nile Valley and different fertile areas.

Sahara Desert Local weather

The local weather of the Sahara Desert is without doubt one of the most excessive on Earth, characterised by aridity, excessive temperatures, sturdy winds, dramatic temperature swings, and minimal rainfall.


Temperatures within the Sahara will be excessive, various considerably between day and night time.

Through the day, temperatures can exceed 50 levels Celsius (122 levels Fahrenheit) within the hottest months, usually from Could to September.

At night time, the desert can grow to be surprisingly chilly, with temperatures steadily dropping beneath freezing throughout the winter months, particularly within the northern and southern edges of the desert.


Precipitation is sparse and irregular within the Sahara, with giant areas typically receiving lower than 25 millimeters (1 inch) of rain per yr. Some components of the desert might not see rain for a number of years. When it does rain, the water rapidly evaporates or is absorbed by the sand because of the intense warmth.


Wind is one other essential issue within the Sahara’s local weather. The desert is steadily swept by sturdy winds, that are able to forming huge dune fields and inflicting sand storms and mud devils.

Essentially the most prevalent wind, the harmattan, blows from the northeast and might carry mud so far as the Atlantic Ocean.

Sahara Desert Panorama

Sahara Desert Dunes

The Sahara Desert presents a stark but various panorama characterised by huge, sandy dunes, rocky plateaus, scattered oases, and sparse vegetation, all underneath a relentless, blazing solar.

Though the Sahara Desert is usually depicted as an enormous sea of rolling sand dunes, in actuality, sandy deserts comprise nearly 20-25% of the Sahara.

Sahara Desert Scenery
The dry, inhospitable local weather of the Sahara Desert creates spectacular surroundings.

The remainder of the panorama is made up of naked, rocky plateaus, mountains, gravel plains, dry valleys, and salt flats.

The massive sandy areas are often called ergs. These areas of desert are lined with wind-swept sand and dunes, making a sea-like expanse of undulating, shifting sands. Right here, dunes rising as much as 180 meters (590 toes) tall will be discovered.

One of many largest areas of sand desert within the Sahara is the Grand Erg Oriental, which spans components of Algeria and Tunisia.

Sahara Desert Crops

You possibly can see extra examples of vegetation that develop in deserts on this web page: Desert Crops

Date Palm Trees
The date palm is one among few plant species capable of develop within the Sahara area.

Regardless of its repute as a barren wasteland, the Sahara Desert is residence to a spread of vegetation well-adapted to the tough arid situations.

Over 500 species of vegetation have been recorded within the central Sahara Desert, although their distribution is extraordinarily sparse and largely confined to areas the place water is extra available, equivalent to oases or alongside river beds.

The desert’s flora contains sorts of grasses, shrubs, and bushes which have developed particular variations to deal with the desert’s arid situations, equivalent to deep root methods to faucet into underground water reserves, small or waxy leaves to scale back water loss, and the flexibility to stay dormant throughout the driest durations.

An iconic Sahara plant is the date palm, present in oases the place water is offered. Different vegetation discovered within the Sahara Desert embody the acacia tree, the doum palm, the desert gourd, and the camel thorn.

Many of those vegetation additionally play essential roles within the ecosystem, offering meals and shelter for the desert’s fauna and serving to to stabilize the sand dunes with their roots.

Sahara Desert Animals

You possibly can see extra desert animals on this web page: Desert Animals

addax desert antelope
The addax is a critically endangered antelope discovered within the Sahara Desert area. Photograph: Haytem93, CC BY-SA 4.0, through Wikimedia Commons

The Sahara Desert, regardless of its harsh and inhospitable situations, is residence to a spread of resilient animals, a lot of which have adaptions for dealing with the intense local weather.

Giant mammals discovered within the Sahara embody the addax, a big, critically endangered white antelope, dorcas, rhim and dama gazelles, the Saharan cheetah (a uncommon cheetah subspecies) and a small variety of African wild canine.

Smaller mammals embody the fennec fox, jerboas, North African gerbil, and the desert hedgehog.

Fennec Fox
Fennec Fox. Click on the photograph to search out out extra about this outstanding desert fox.

Reptiles discovered within the Sahara area embody the desert monitor lizard, skinks, and snakes such because the horned viper and the Sahara sand viper.

Birds just like the Namaqua dove, African silverbill, lappet-faced vulture, ostrich, and African silverbill can be discovered.

Notably, many of those animals are nocturnal, venturing out throughout the cooler nights to forage or hunt, after which taking shelter throughout the warmth of the day.

Crocodiles, frogs and toads are discovered within the few areas of the desert through which water is current.

The video beneath exhibits how swallows migrate over the Sahara.

Individuals Of The Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is residence to varied cultures and individuals who have tailored to its harsh situations over hundreds of years. In 2015, it was estimated that round 2.5 million folks lived within the desert.

Notable teams embody the nomadic Tuareg, often called the “blue folks” because of their indigo-dyed clothes; the Berber folks, who reside within the mountainous areas of the Sahara and interact in pastoralism, farming, and buying and selling; and the Bedouin, discovered primarily within the japanese Sahara, recognized for his or her nomadic way of life, animal husbandry, and steering of caravans.

Altering environmental and financial situations, equivalent to the invention of oil and mineral assets, have led to a extra sedentary way of life for a lot of beforehand nomadic folks, with rising cities and cities in areas with entry to water reserves.

Regardless of these shifts, the folks of the Sahara preserve a powerful connection to their historic cultures and traditions.

UTA Flight 772 Memorial

On September 19, 1989, UTA Flight 772 crashed within the Sahara Desert, killing all 170 passengers and crew members on board. The French court docket would ultimately discover six Libyans responsible of blowing up the aircraft.

Relations of the victims commissioned a memorial that sits within the Sahara Desert and is seen from house. The memorial consists of a life-sized silhouette of a aircraft dealing with towards Paris that’s surrounded by darkish stones and a 170 mirrors, representing the 170 passengers. The correct wing of the crashed aircraft additionally stands proud of the bottom as a part of the memorial.

Marathon des Sables

Labeled because the “hardest footrace on the earth” by the Discovery Channel, the Marathon des Sables takes place within the Sahara within the nation of Morocco each April. The ultramarathon covers round 150 miles, and takes place over six days. Runners should carry all the pieces they want for the race on their backs and spend the nights in tents.

Sahara Desert Information: Uncover Extra With Lively Wild

Uncover the wonderful rivers of Africa: Main Rivers of Africa

You’ll find out extra about deserts on this web page: Deserts

You possibly can see extra wonderful locations on this web page: Wonderful Locations

You possibly can see extra deserts on this web page: Deserts Of The World

Uncover wonderful animals that dwell in deserts on this web page: Desert Animals

Uncover wonderful North American deserts on this web page: North American Deserts

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