The Sahara: Facts About the Largest Hot Desert in the World

Here are some facts about the Sahara Desert:

  • The Sahara Desert, located in the north of Africa, covers an area of about 3,600,000 square miles, making it the third largest desert in the world after the Arctic and Antarctica (and the world’s largest hot desert).

  • Temperatures in the Sahara can often reach 136 F, or about 57 C. The total rainfall is less than three inches per year.
  • Despite being one of the driest and hottest places on earth, the Sahara Desert is home to an estimated 500 species of plants and about 70 species of animals.
  • 40 species of rodent live in the Sahara Desert, including the jerboa, which keeps cool by burrowing deep into the sand.
  • The most famous desert animal is the dromedary camel, which can drink up to 30 gallons of water in several minutes, and uses its heavy eyelashes to protect its eyes from sandstorms.
  • Some of the largest sand dunes in the Sahara actually move several metres every year, as they are constantly blown by the strong winds.
  • Despite its huge size, the population of the Sahara Desert is estimated to be only two million people, including those who are nomadic (move from place to place).
  • People have lived in the Sahara Desert since about 6000 BC.
  • Strong winds can blow fine dust from the surface of the desert, and the dust can be blown hundreds of miles. It is not uncommon for the dust to be seen in the United States.
  • The most widely spoken language in the Sahara is Arabic, which is spoken from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.
  • The Sahara has gone through cycles in the Earth’s history (caused by slight changes in the angle of the tilt of the Earth) and it has alternated between being a dry place and a wet place. It is expected that the desert will be lush and green again in about 15,000 years time.