When the human being was nomadic and subsisted by moving from one place to another, the deserts were an obstacle to survival . However, today we have managed to deploy true metropolises in some of the harshest deserts in the world, such as Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert.
As if that were not enough, we have gone further. Now the deserts become a tourist focus for lovers of nature and photography. From the deserts of Africa to deserts of snow and salt, they have a very special appeal; perhaps because of the tranquility and calm that we do not find in the big cities.
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Keep in mind that there are many more deserts than we think. Everything will depend on how we define the concept of desert and what is the minimum extension that we assign. Below we present the ten largest deserts in the world.
10. Chihuahua Desert (450,000 km²)
Its extension is usually rounded to 450,000 square kilometers, although some researchers consider it to be almost 520,000 square kilometers . Despite being in the tenth position, if we compare it with Portugal, for example, it is almost 5 times larger than this country.
Located in North America, it contains more than 30% of the total desert extension of the continent . Specifically, it is located between the border of the United States and Mexico.
Its name comes from the state of Chihuahua, where the largest amount (and the first) research on this desert is also carried out.
9. Syrian Desert (500,000 km²)
Also known as the Syrian-Arabian desert. It combines steppe and rocky and flat desert. As we have pointed out, it has a little more than 500,000 square kilometers.
At a territorial level, it covers areas of Syria (from which it gets its name), Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
8. Patagonia Desert (670,000 km²)
In our eighth position we find this desert located between the Andes mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest desert in South America , which is often called Eastern Patagonia.
Territorially, it occupies areas of Chile and Argentina; and has gained fame thanks to the celebration of several stages of the famous Dakar Rally.
7. Kalahari Desert (930,000 km²)
We jump to the extension level and return to the African continent to present the Kalahari Desert with almost a million square kilometers. This desert extends through areas of South Africa, Namibia (a country with another desert also famous but small for this list) and Botswana.
The fauna present in the desert that has managed to adapt to the inclemencies of this ecosystem stands out. Among the different animals we find mainly antelopes, different rodents, giraffes and the famous Kalahari lions.
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As a curiosity, comment that various caravans in the nineteenth century tried to cross it but died of thirst in the attempt. In fact, Kalahari (or Kgalagadi) means “great thirst” in Tswano.
6. Gobi Desert (1,300,000 km²)
This desert that very few will know, is located on the Asian continent. Specifically, in China and southern Mongolia. It is surrounded by the Altai mountains and the famous Mongolian steppes.
This desert has been formed over the centuries and millennia as a result of what is known in meteorology as orographic shadow . This phenomenon causes the wind that reaches a territory to be of very low humidity and without precipitation, because it has been discharged in the other part of the mountain ranges that surround said territory.
5. Deserts of Australia (1,371,000 km²)
These impressive deserts have an extension similar to that of the Gobi. Together they make up 18% of the continental territory.
They are called “Deserts of Australia” because it is actually an extension made up of 10 different deserts such as the Great Victoria Desert and the Sand Desert. But despite being one of the largest deserts in the world, it has a large number of aborigines who reside in different areas of it.
4. Arabian Desert (2,300,000 km²)
In reality, the vast majority of the territory that makes up the Arabian Peninsula is a large desert. Countries like Yemen, Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are located in this immense territory.
The desert is usually divided geographically into two large zones. The first is Nafud, to the north, where there are dunes up to 120 meters high. The second large area is called Rub’al-Khali, located to the south.
The southern area is considered the largest dune desert (what we could call the stereotype of desert) in the world. Some of these reaching 250 meters in height .
3. Sahara Desert (9,065,253 km²)
It extends throughout the northern part of the African continent for more than 9 million square kilometers (more than half of Russia, the largest country in the world). Considered the largest sandy/rocky desert in the world and also the hottest.
Due to the great extension, describing its geography and fauna is an almost impossible task, at least speaking in a general way.
2. Arctic Desert (13,726,937 km²) We
inaugurate the top 2 with the second largest desert in the world, which, like number 1, is made of ice . Located north of the globe, it is the largest desert in the northern hemisphere.
Hot on the heels of the king of deserts, the Arctic is present in countries like Greenland, Canada, Iceland and Russia, among other countries.
As a good desert, it hardly has any precipitation and the snowfalls freeze due to the extreme low temperatures .
1. Antarctic Desert (13,829,430 km²)
Now yes, in position number one, we find the largest desert on Earth. Colloquially called “ice continent”, it is even colder than the North Pole because in this area, the water (ice) absorbs less heat from the sun’s rays.
The rains are almost non-existent and 98% of the surface is covered with ice. Although a large number of varieties of bacteria and lichens can be found throughout the territory, mammals and other animals such as seagulls, sea lions and penguins are usually found in coastal areas, although many of these are serious Danger of extinction.
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