biggest deserts in the world

Biggest Deserts in the World

Where Are the 25 Biggest Deserts in the World? And What is Officially a Desert?

A desert isn’t simply a desert: geologists differentiate between sandy, rocky and salt deserts as well as icy wastes (including the two largest in our list of all biggest deserts on earth). However the definition is the same for all of them: a desert only earns the title if less than 5% of its area is covered with vegetation. Together with all the “semi-deserts” around 10% of the earth’s surface is classed as desert.

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Biggest Deserts in the World Location Area (sq km) Area (sq miles) Notable Characteristics
Antarctic desert Antarctic 14,000,000 5,405,430 Ice desert with an average ice thickness of about 2.2 km. Low-temperature record of -89.2 degrees (measured at Vostok research station).
Arctic desert Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Finland 13,400,000 5,173,769 Ice desert with temperatures as low as -60°.
Sahara Egypt, Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Tunisia, Mauritania 9,400,000 3,629, 360 Of course, Sahara in Africa is not just one of the biggest deserts in the world. It’s the largest sandy desert on Earth. And ca. 37 times bigger than the UK. Located in 11 countries, about 45 mm of rain p.a., extreme temperature fluctuations between 60° to minus 10° C.
Rub al Khali (Arabian Desert) Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen 2,330,000 899,618 About 9 times as large as the UK, lies to the east of the Sahara on the Arabian Peninsula. With about 10 mm of rainfall a year, the 2nd biggest deserts in the world is one of the driest.
Gobi Mongolia, PR China 1,290,000 498,071 Extremely dry, sandy desert with temperatures between 30° (daytime) and -65° C at night. 33 mm of rain p.a., extends south to within 70 km of Beijing.
Kalahari Botswana, Namibia, South Africa 930,000 359,075 Mostly (red) sand desert. In the north (Botswana) it borders on the animal rich Okavango Delta.
Patagonian Desert Argentina 640,000 247,105 Rock and gravel desert. Ideal backdrop for Westerns, average rainfall 100 mm / year.
Syrian Desert Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia 500,000 193,051 Covers about 65% of the Syrian land area.
Great Basin Desert USA (Colorado, Utah) 492,000 189,962 Located in the Sierra Nevada Ranch. Considered one of the so-called “cold deserts”, to the east are the Rocky Mountains.
Chihuahua Mexico & USA 362,600 140,000 Pronounced “She-wow-wah”, the famous White Sands dunes are found here.
Karakum Turkmenistan 350,000 135,135 Very sparse but rich in mineral resources such as petroleum.
Great Victoria Desert Australia 650,000 25,097 Situated in the middle of the continent and about three times larger than the UK. 150-220 mm rain annually, particularly worth seeing: the crescent-shaped dunes of clay.
Taklamakan PR China 337,000 130,116 In English: “no return”. Silk Road desert with Kara Buran sandstorms.
Kyzylkum Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan 298,000 115,058 Its name means red sand. Rich in natural resources and fossils.
Great Sandy Desert Western Australia 285,000 110,039 So hot and dry that it is uninhabitable in many parts.
Sonora USA (California) & Mexico 260,000 100,386 Home of the famous “Saguaro Cacti” which grow up to 15 m high.
Thar Indo-Pakistan. Border 260,000 100,386 About the size of Great Britain.
Simpson Central Australia, Queensland 176,500 68,147 Largest sand dune desert in the world. With daily high temperatures of up to 58º Celsius, guaranteed to help you work up a sweat. Even if you just want to take a quick look at the “Big Red” dune. It wasn’t until 1936 that a “white man” (Edmund Colson) succeeded in crossing the desert.
Lut Iran 166,000 64,093 Biggest desert in Iran, salt desert.
Gibson Western Australia 156,000 60,232 Named after Alfred Gibson who died during the first crossing in 1873.
Atacama Northern Chile 105,000 40,541 Geologists consider it to be the driest desert in the world. It only rains about every 30 years. Since the cold Humboldt stream of the Pacific rarely develops rain clouds. Up to 6,000 meters high in places.
An Nafud (aka Al-Nefud or The Nefud) Saudi Arabia 103,600 40,000 The desert with red sand in the northern Arabian Peninsula is known for its sudden trade winds. And high dunes (up to 180 meters). To the south it borders the larger Rub al-Chali. An up to 80 km wide, natural pebble and sand strip (Wadi Adhanah) forms its boundary
Danakil Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti 100,000 38,610 Hot! Daytime temperatures over 50°C on a nice day! Dry! About 2cm (1 inch) of rainfall a year. Plenty of volcanoes.
Namib Namibia 81,000 31,274 Extremely arid desert. Home only to plant life – the welwitschia, which can survive for up to 1000 years.
Mojave USA 65,000 25,097 Home to the famous Death Valley. The hottest place on earth (heat record: 57° C).
Negev Israel 12,000 4,633 Accounts for more than half (about 58%) of the State of Israel.

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