What is a desert, and how does it differ from other types of landscapes? Deserts are dry places with fewer than 12 inches of annual precipitation that arise when regional climate change causes long-term dryness. Warm to very hot daytime temperatures with cooler evenings define Africa’s deserts.
It’s widely agreed that Africa has12 distinct deserts, while some of the bigger deserts are occasionally divided into areas, resulting in more desert names. So, here are the ten biggest African deserts.
The Sahara desert is the largest desert in Africa. This is, without a doubt, the most popular dessert on the planet. It is not only Africa’s largest desert but also the world’s largest covering 3.3 million square miles and still growing.
It covers nearly a quarter of the continent and includes Chad, Algeria, Sudan, Niger, Morocco, Mali, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, and Tunisia, among others. Salt flats, parched valleys, dunes, and mountains make up the terrain.
The Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Red Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the transitional Sahel region to the south. all define the Sahara’s limits. The Sahara is made up of several sections, each having its unique rainfall, temperature, flora, and wildlife.
As a result, the Sahara is made up of a diverse landscape, including dunes, volcanic mountains, plains, stony plateaus, and, most importantly, an oasis that allowed for the development of commerce routes between North African ports and people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2. The Kalahari Desert
It had already established a reputation for itself before it was shown in the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” Only the nomadic people, hunters, and gatherers of Botswana who live in the area were portrayed in the film, as well as their traditions and ways of life.
The semi-arid Kalahari Desert spans much of Botswana, as well as sections of Namibia and South Africa, in the heart of southern Africa. Some academics argue that the Kalahari is not a true desert because it receives more than 10 inches of rain each year.
The desert’s annual precipitation ranges from 4 to 20 inches, allowing tough grasses, prickly bushes, and acacia trees to thrive.
3. The Namib Desert
This is a coastal desert in Africa’s southernmost region. Its name refers to a large area. The desert runs over 2000 kilometers along Namibia’s, Angola’s, and South Africa’s coasts. It is the world’s oldest desert.
Its existence may be traced back 55 million years. Gravel plains, scattered mountains, and sand waves along the shore make up the landscape. Although the desert is mostly arid and devoid of flora, succulent plants and lichens can be found along the coast.
Due to interactions between the dry Namib winds and the Atlantic’s Benguela current, the climate is exceedingly arid. These pressures produce dense fogs, which are the primary supply of water for many desert plants and animals.
The Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia’s largest conservation area, is located in the desert.
4. The Nubian Desert
The Nubian Desert is the fourth biggest desert in Africa. It occupies around 400,000km2 of land to the north of Sudan, between the Red Sea and the Nile, in the eastern section of the Sahara desert. It’s mostly a sandstone plateau with no oasis to speak of.
The Nubians are the original occupants. Turtles are known to traverse their course. The River Nile passes through the Nubian Desert, where it encounters the majority of its cataracts. This is just before the Nile’s Great Bend.
In many ways, the Nubian Desert had an impact on ancient Egypt’s civilization. Ancient Egyptian merchants and traders crossed the Nubian Desert to purchase gold, cloth, stone, food, and other goods from Nubia’s ancient civilization.
Another large desert in Africa is the Libyan desert. The Libyan Desert covers an area of around 1,100,000km2 and has a rectangle-shaped form. It has a stony plain, sand, and Hamada, just like the Sahara desert.
There are no rivers that flow into or out of it. The Libyan desert is believed to be one of the world’s most hostile environments. Its climate is remarkably changeable, with typical daytime temperatures of 50 °C (122 °F) or higher in the summer and rapidly dropping at night.
Days are cool in the winter, with temperatures averaging 27 °C (81 °F), while nights can be cold, with temperatures as low as 9 °C (16 °F) reported.
6. The Karoo Desert
The Karoo Desert is located in South Africa and it is among the largest deserts in Africa. It’s a semi-arid region in South Africa. It is divided into two sections: the Great Karoo in the north and the Little Karoo in the south.
The Succulent Karoo is located in the west and receives winter rainfall because of its proximity to the Atlantic coast. It is made up of igneous and sedimentary rocks and covers an area of 400,000 square kilometers.
With an estimated 10,000 succulent species, the Succulent Karoo contains the world’s richest flora of succulent plants. Underground water can be found across the Karoo, which has been tapped by settlers over the years and allows Nama Karoo to be utilized for sheep and goat grazing.
7. Blue Desert
This area of the Sinai desert in Dahab, Egypt, has a large number of blue-colored rocks, and it is known as the “Blue Desert.” In contrast to the Black and White Deserts, the Blue Desert is not a naturally occurring structure.
The artwork was made in 1980, after the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Jean Verame, a Belgian artist, was granted permission by Egyptian President Mohamed Anwar Al Sadat to paint the Sinai desert rocks blue as a message of peace between Egypt and Israel during the period of the Blue Desert.
8. Western Sahara
Formerly known as the Spanish Sahara, it has a land area of 102,700 square miles and is mostly devoid of vegetation, with the bulk of the terrain being arid and desolate.
There are only two ethnic groups that reside in this region: Berbers and Arabs, both of whom are used to the harsh conditions that prevail in the region.
Phosphate deposits may be found in the northern portion of the territory, to the north, and in the southern part of the region.
9. Algerian Desert
In Africa, the Algerian desert is situated in the northern central region, and it is a component of the Saharan region. This desert, which covers more than four-fifths of Algeria, is characterized by large dunes, similar to those seen in the Sahara.
The Tassuli n’Ajjer mountain ranges, which are located in the southwestern portion of the desert, are popular tourist destinations.
10. The Atlas desert
The Atlas desert is normally called the Atlas Mountains and is located in North Africa. Given that it is a mountain range it is reasonable to assume that some of it will be covered with lush green flora.
The side of the mountain that is exposed to the Saharan winds on the other hand is barren. The Atlas Mountain range rises to a height of 4 165 meters (this being its highest peak). It is also one of the biggest deserts in Africa.