Top 10 Biggest Deserts In The World
Deserts are among the most captivating and diverse landscapes on Earth. From barren, icy expanses to scorching, sandy terrains, deserts cover approximately 33% of our planet’s landmass. These vast regions can be found on every continent and are characterized by their extremely low precipitation levels. In this article, we will explore the top Top 10 Biggest Deserts In The World, delving into their unique features, locations, and the incredible wildlife that inhabit these extreme environments.
Here is the top 10 deserts of the world list.
|Antarctic Desert||14,000,000 km²||Antarctica|
|Arctic Desert||13,985,000 km²||Arctic Ocean islands north of Norway and Russia|
|Sahara Desert||9,200,000 km²||North Africa|
|Australian Desert||2,700,000 km²||Australia|
|Arabian Desert||2,330,000 km²||Middle East|
|Gobi Desert||1,295,000 km²||Eastern Asia|
|Kalahari Desert||900,000 km²||Southern Africa|
|Patagonian Desert||620,000 km²||Argentina|
|Syrian Desert||520,000 km²||Middle East|
|Great Basin Desert||492,000 km²||United States of America|
1. Antarctic Desert
Area: 14,000,000 km²
Surprisingly, the world’s largest desert is not a hot, sandy expanse but rather the frozen continent of Antarctica. Covering an area of 14 million square kilometers, the Antarctic Desert is a polar desert characterized by its extreme cold, dry, and windy conditions. With average annual precipitation of just 20 mm, Antarctica is the driest continent on Earth.
Due to its harsh climate, very little life can survive in the interior of Antarctica. However, the coastal regions support a variety of marine life, including seals, sea lions, sea birds, and penguins. While visiting Antarctica may be a challenge for most people, there are specialized cruises and tours available for those who wish to explore the icy wilderness of this vast desert.
2. Arctic Desert
Area: 13,985,000 km²
Location: Arctic Ocean islands north of Norway and Russia
The second largest desert in the world is the cold Arctic Desert, located in the northern polar region of Earth. Covering an area of 13.9 million square kilometers, the Arctic Desert encompasses numerous island groups within the Arctic Ocean. Similar to the Antarctic Desert, the Arctic Desert is characterized by its cold temperatures, low precipitation, and strong winds.
Despite its inhospitable climate, the Arctic Desert is home to a variety of wildlife, including polar bears, walruses, Arctic foxes, and snowy owls. Additionally, the region is inhabited by indigenous peoples such as the Saami and Inuit, who have adapted to the harsh environment over centuries. To experience the Arctic Desert, travelers can visit destinations like Greenland, Canada, or the northernmost regions of Scandinavia and Russia.
3. Sahara Desert
Area: 9,200,000 km²
Location: North Africa
The Sahara Desert, often referred to as ‘the Greatest Desert,’ is the third-largest desert on Earth and the largest hot desert. Spanning 9.2 million square kilometers, the Sahara covers parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, and Tunisia, accounting for 25% of Africa’s landmass.
The Sahara is known for its extreme temperatures, with daytime highs regularly exceeding 50°C (122°F) and nighttime lows dropping to near freezing. Despite these harsh conditions, a variety of wildlife, such as camels, reptiles, and insects, have adapted to life in this vast desert. To explore the Sahara, travelers can embark on desert safaris, camel treks, or engage in cultural experiences with the region’s nomadic tribes.
4. Australian Desert
Area: 2,700,000 km²
The Australian Desert, which includes the Great Victoria Desert, is the fourth largest desert in the world. Covering approximately 18% of Australia’s landmass, this desert consists of several smaller deserts spread across the continent. Despite being the driest continent after Antarctica, Australia’s deserts receive uneven rainfall distribution, with some years exceeding the threshold for classification as a desert.
The Australian Desert is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna, including kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and the iconic spinifex grass. Visitors to Australia can explore the country’s deserts through a variety of tours and experiences, such as visiting the renowned Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park or embarking on a four-wheel-drive adventure through the vast outback.
5. Arabian Desert
Area: 2,330,000 km²
Location: Middle East
The Arabian Desert, situated in far Western Eurasia, is the fifth-largest desert in the world and the largest in Eurasia. Encompassing the Arabian Peninsula, this desert has a diverse landscape that includes vast sand dunes, rocky plains, and the striking Rub’ al Khali, or ‘Empty Quarter,’ which is one of the largest continuous sand bodies on Earth.
With scorching summer temperatures often exceeding 50°C (122°F), the Arabian Desert is an extremely harsh environment. Nevertheless, various species of animals and plants have adapted to this arid landscape, and the region is also rich in natural resources such as oil and sulfur. For those seeking to explore the Arabian Desert, numerous desert safaris, camel treks, and cultural experiences are available in the Middle Eastern countries that share this vast desert.
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6. Gobi Desert
Area: 1,295,000 km²
Location: Eastern Asia
The Gobi Desert, situated in East Asia and covering large parts of Northern China and Southern Mongolia, is the sixth largest desert in the world and the second-largest in Asia. Unlike many other deserts, the Gobi is primarily comprised of rocky terrain and hard-packed earth rather than sand. This rain shadow desert is formed due to the Himalayas blocking rainy weather, resulting in a unique and striking landscape.
Despite its harsh conditions, the Gobi Desert is home to a variety of rare animals, such as snow leopards and Bactrian camels. For those interested in exploring this vast and diverse desert, numerous tours and experiences are available, including visits to the Flaming Cliffs, known for their rich dinosaur fossil history, and the breathtaking sand dunes of Khongoryn Els.
7. Kalahari Desert
Area: 900,000 km²
Location: Southern Africa
The Kalahari Desert, located in Southern Africa, is the seventh largest desert in the world. Covering most of Botswana, as well as parts of Namibia and South Africa, this desert is characterized by its red sand dunes, vast grasslands, and the occasional acacia tree. The name ‘Kalahari’ is derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning “the great thirst,” aptly reflecting the region’s arid conditions.
Despite its harsh environment, the Kalahari Desert supports a diverse array of wildlife, including antelopes, elephants, giraffes, meerkats, hyenas, and wildebeest. Visitors to the region can explore the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which offers unique opportunities for wildlife viewing and experiencing the stark beauty of this vast desert.
8. Patagonian Desert
Area: 620,000 km²
The Patagonian Desert, also known as the Patagonian Steppe, is the eighth largest desert in the world and the largest in South America. This cold desert scrub steppe is located in Argentina and is characterized by its rocky shrublands, thorn thickets, and constant frost and wind. Despite its harsh conditions, Patagonia is home to an array of wildlife, including foxes, llamas, armadillos, and numerous bird species.
For those interested in exploring the Patagonian Desert, a visit to the stunning Los Glaciares National Park offers the opportunity to witness vast glaciers, rugged mountains, and unique wildlife. Additionally, the region is popular for activities such as hiking, wildlife spotting, and photography.
9. Syrian Desert
Area: 520,000 km²
Location: Middle East
The Syrian Desert, also known as the Syrian Steppe or Jordanian Steppe, is the ninth largest desert in the world. This subtropical desert spans several Middle Eastern countries, including Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The desert’s landscape is primarily composed of bare, rocky terrain and scattered dry riverbeds, known as wadis.
Although the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq have made travel to these regions difficult, the Jordanian portion of the Syrian Desert is relatively safe to visit. Here, travelers can explore the stunning desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, which have served as the backdrop for numerous films, and visit the ancient city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site carved into the region’s red sandstone cliffs.
10. Great Basin Desert
Area: 492,000 km²
Location: United States of America
The Great Basin Desert, located in the central-western United States, is the tenth-largest desert in the world. This cold desert is characterized by its sagebrush-covered valleys, mountain ranges, and unique geological features, such as playas and salt flats. The Great Basin Desert is also home to the Great Basin National Park, which offers visitors the opportunity to explore its diverse landscapes and ecosystems, including ancient bristlecone pine forests, alpine lakes, and limestone caves.
Whether you’re an adventurer seeking the thrill of exploring vast sand dunes or a nature enthusiast eager to witness the unique flora and fauna that thrive in these extreme environments, the world’s largest deserts offer an array of unforgettable experiences. From the icy expanses of the Antarctic and Arctic to the scorching sands of the Sahara and Arabian deserts, these remarkable landscapes are a testament to the incredible diversity and resilience of life on our planet.
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Top 10 Biggest Deserts In The World: FAQs
The Antarctic Desert takes the crown as the largest desert in the world, covering an astonishing area of approximately 14 million square kilometers.
The Arabian Desert spans across the Arabian Peninsula, encompassing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Gobi Desert is renowned for its extreme temperature variations, ranging from scorching summers to freezing winters, and its diverse landscapes, which include sand dunes, rocky mountains, and vast grasslands.
The Kalahari Desert is home to a variety of unique wildlife, including meerkats, black-maned lions, gemsbok, and the iconic Kalahari desert-adapted elephants.
The Great Basin Desert is notable for its vast network of interconnected basins and mountain ranges, as well as its numerous ancient Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.
The 2nd largest desert in the world is the Arctic Desert, spanning over 13.9 million square kilometers.
The largest hot desert in the world is the Sahara Desert, covering approximately 9.2 million square kilometers across northern Africa.
The largest desert in the world is Antarctica, which is classified as a polar desert due to its extremely low precipitation. The Sahara Desert, although vast and arid, is not as extensive as Antarctica in terms of its desert classification.
The 17th largest desert in the world is the Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, spanning across India and Pakistan. It covers an area of approximately 200,000 square kilometers
As we conclude our journey through the Top 10 Biggest Deserts In The World, we hope you’ve gained a newfound appreciation for these mesmerizing landscapes. From the endless dunes of the Sahara to the rugged beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert, these arid wonders hold secrets waiting to be explored. So, pack your sense of adventure and set off on an unforgettable quest to discover the hidden treasures of these awe-inspiring deserts.