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Sahara desert facts and information

Geography | 8-14 yrs | Interactive

Where is the Sahara desert located?

Sahara is an Arabic word for desert. The Sahara Desert is the most expansive, hot and largest desert on Earth. It is located in Northern Africa nestled between the Mediterranean Sea in the North, the Atlantic Ocean in the West and the Red Sea in the East. To the South of Sahara is the Sahel region, in between the desert and the African Savanna. The Sahara covers a large section of eleven different countries that include Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Chad and Sudan. The Sahara desert is more than 16 times of France!

Climate in the Sahara desert

The climate of the Sahara is consistently hot. The average temperature is 38 to 46 degree Celsius. It is hot, dry and windy throughput the year. However, nights can be cold, even freezing. The Sahara hardly experiences any rains. Regions in Sahara can have almost no drops of water. Thus, it makes it difficult for life forms to exist.

Landscapes of the Sahara desert

The Sahara’s landscape not only includes sand dunes but also mountains, plateaus, extinct volcanoes and oasis depressions. The dunes take varied forms and can be star, crescent or dome shaped. There is sparse grassland in some parts of the desert. Most of the streams and rivers in Sahara are seasonal. The Nile River however is an exception, and crosses the Sahara, then empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

What kind of animals live in the Sahara desert?

The Sahara is home to animal species that can sustain extremely warm conditions. While the most common desert animal, the camel is domesticated in Sahara, other mammals and reptiles found are: spotted hyena, jackal, Barbary sheep, oryx, ostrich, raptor, cobra, chameleon, various lizards, scorpions, numerous ants and beetles.

What plants grow in the Sahara desert?

Plants are also sparse due to lack of water but do grow near oasis and reservoirs. Date palms, tamarisks, acacia whose roots can grow deep down into the earth for water can sustain such a hot climate. Cactus is a common desert plant, though most regions in the Sahara go barren.

3 Interesting facts about Sahara desert

  1. Though the Sahara is spread across 11 countries, it is home to only 2 million people.
  2. Almost 4000 years ago Sahara used to be a fertile land growing millets and grains in many parts. But, due to the change in the tilt of the Earth’s orbit, it began to dry up and became a desert.
  3. Only 30% of the desert is sand and 70% is gravel.

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