The 100 most famous and largest deserts in the world

Top 10 largest deserts in the world

When we say “desert” we usually imagine expanses of sand, dunes, camel caravans and an incredibly hot climate. It seems impossible to live in an area with such a climate. But it is not quite right. The desert has its own life, albeit poor. Man has long adapted to the desert, learning to survive even in such harsh conditions. In this article we will tell you about the ten largest deserts in the world.

10. Chihuahua (362,000 km²)


The Chihuahua, located in the state of Mexico of the same name and partially on the territory of some American border states, opens our rating of the largest deserts in the world. The area of the desert is 362,000 sq. km. This allowed it to take tenth place in our list.

An interesting fact is that the sand here was formed from gypsum. This gives the surface of Chihuahua an unusual white sheen.

There are four cities built in this region, the largest of which is Ciudad Juárez. It is home to two million people. The fauna is represented by some species of antelope and lizards. The flora is made up of ubiquitous cacti, creosote bushes and some acacia species.

9. Victoria (423,000 km²)


At number nine on the list is Victoria. It is Australia’s greatest desert, named by the first European to cross it, Giles, after the reigning Queen of England at the time.

This desert covers an area of 423,000 kilometers and stretches from east to west for 700 kilometers. Because of the extremely unfavorable climate, no agricultural work is carried out here.

For centuries the land has been inhabited by Australian Aborigines. The Kogara and Myrning people consider it their homeland.

The Australian government has now established a Biosphere Reserve. Victoria’s animal life consists of kangaroo rats, several species of dingoes and snakes. Parrots are very common. Eucalyptus trees grow here.

8. Patagonian Desert (670,000 km²)

Patagonian desert

In what is now Chile and Argentina, this desert is located. The area of 670,000 square kilometers and a length of more than 1,700 km gives it the right to take the eighth position in our ranking. The Patagonian Plateau, where the desert is located, belongs to the temperate zone. This is the only desert in the world located in such a climate zone. The relief of the Patagonian Desert is made up of characteristic mesas. This is the name given to the stepped plateaus, interspersed with deep canyons.

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Areas of thin air prevail here, so the sparse vegetation is dominated by feather grass, bluegrass, azorella, and mulin. The animal world is more diverse. Armadillos, llamas, cougars, and Argentine foxes are found here.

7. Kalahari (930,000 km²).


In seventh place on our list of the largest deserts in the world is the Kalahari. It covers more than 930,000 sq. km and is growing all the time. Previously located only in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, Kalahari now invades other states.

The area where the Kalahari is located is the hottest in the southern part of the African continent.

The Okavango River flows here, which flows nowhere. The indigenous inhabitants of the Kalahari are the Kalanga Bushmen. The average temperature varies from +28 to +12 degrees. Lions, gazelles, giraffes and zebras represent the animals of the Kalahari.

6. Syrian Desert (1 million km²)

Syrian Desert

In the Arabian Peninsula stretches the Syrian Desert, the sixth largest desert in the world. It covers more than one million square kilometers. These endless steppes and sands are inhabited by Arab Bedouin tribes.

The most famous of the cities in this region are ancient Palmyra and Damascus.

The arid climate is not favorable to the diversity of flora and fauna. Saxaul and biyurgun grow here. Camels, ostriches and muskrats enliven the landscape. The temperature ranges from +7 degrees in January to +29 in July.

5. Gobi (1.3 million km²)


Part of the territory of modern China and Mongolia is occupied by the Gobi Desert, which is located on the fifth position in our rating of the largest deserts. In Mongolian the name means “waterless place”. This desolate region extends over 1500 km and covers an area of around 1,300,000 sq km. With a sharply continental climate, temperatures are fixed at +60 in summer and can drop to -55 in winter.

Gobi is expanding every year, so the Chinese are implementing a global project, which has already been called the Green Wall of China.

Within the Gobi, geographers consider the Mongolian Gobi, Alashan, Gashun Gobi, and Jungaria. Tamarisk and Saxaul grow here. Wildlife includes gazelles, kulans, camels, and a variety of rodents and reptiles.

4. Arabian Desert (2.3 million km²)

Arabian Desert

Russian tourists know this area very well. After all, it is here where the modern Mecca of Egyptian tourism is located – Hurghada. By the Arabian desert geographers mean the complex of territories, the total area of which exceeds 2 000 000 So let’s put it on the fourth place.

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The climate in Arabia is very extreme. During the day the temperature rises to +56 degrees in the shade, and at night the thermometer can show minus 12 degrees below zero.

The mountain ranges of the Arabian Desert are rich in mineral deposits. Gold, silver, lead and molybdenum are mined here on an industrial scale. Recently deposits of uranium and zinc have been discovered.

Of animals, the graceful gazelles and barkhan cats preying on them are worth mentioning.

The Arctic desert (2.6 million km²)

Arctic Desert

The first of the three greatest deserts of the world is the Arctic Desert. It is located in the most northern of natural zones. Its area – about 2.6 million square kilometers. This desert has areas belonging to Russia, the United States, Canada and other countries.

The climate is very harsh. The year-round air temperature does not exceed 0 degrees. And in winter, the thermometer column can show the extreme minus 60. The snow is always there. The polar night determines all the life cycles. Only mosses and lichens grow here. Of big animals only polar bears and polar foxes are known.

2. The Sahara (9.1 million km²).


If not taking into account the Earth’s poles, we could call the Sahara the greatest desert in the world. In our list, however, it is in second place. The Sahara is considered to be the largest desert located in the subtropical belt. The area of its territory, according to various estimates, is close to nine million square kilometers. It stretches about 5 000 km to the east and 1 000 km to the south. The Sahara is located on the territory of 10 states.

The Sahara’s climate varies greatly and depends on the location of the region. Record temperatures in winter – up to minus 20 degrees, and in El Azizia (Libya) in summer the thermometer once rose to +58 degrees.

The fauna of the Sahara consists of four thousand species. Most of them are representatives of the invertebrate class. Of vegetation, only grasses and bushes can be found. Trees can be seen only in the oases.

1. the Antarctic desert (13.8 million km²)

Antarctic desert

And now, finally, the largest desert in the world – the Antarctic Desert. This is the southernmost of the natural areas of the planet, spread over an area of 13,800,000 square kilometers.

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In winter the temperature here drops to an incredible -70 degrees, and in summer does not exceed -20 degrees. To live in such conditions is very difficult. Therefore, of the animals, only penguins have managed to adapt. There are no insects at all. There are no fish in the water, there are only protozoans and lower crustaceans. Of plants, only mosses and lichens can live in this desert.

Top 10 largest deserts on the planet (+ on the map).

The biggest deserts cc0


To us, a desert is some hot place with nothing but sand for miles. You might be surprised to learn about some of the largest deserts in the world. Desert areas receive very little rainfall. A distinction is made between cold deserts and hot deserts. These are barren and desolate places with extreme conditions for humans, animals, and plants. About one-third of the planet’s surface is occupied by deserts and semi-deserts. The living organisms and plants living here adapt to life in these harsh places in different ways. People have also been trying to adapt to life here for centuries. Today, with the help of our partners at, we’re going to introduce you to some of the largest deserts on our planet.

The 10 largest deserts on the planet

The Great Basin Desert (492,000 km²)

Great Basin Desert

It is the largest on the North American continent, located in the western United States. In terms of area it is 492,000 km². To the east its borders are the Rocky Mountains, to the west it borders the Sierra Nevada Range, to the south the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, and to the north the Colombian Plateau.

The climate here is quite harsh. Summers are very hot, and winters are cold. On average, 18 to 30 cm of precipitation falls here per year. Runoff water is almost completely absent. Once there were two large lakes on this territory, but now they have dried up and only salty craters remain.

By the way, you can read about the most interesting places in the United States on our website

The Syrian Desert (518,000 km²)

Syrian Desert

The Syrian Desert is unique in that it combines steppes and sands. Most of it is located in Syria, in the north of the Arabian Peninsula, and covers more than 500,000 km². The landscape is flat, but with many rocks and boulders. The landscape has been greatly influenced by lava flows as a result of volcanic activity in the Jebel Druze region. Part of it is in the territories of the Persian Gulf.

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Patagonian Desert (400,000 km²).

Patagonian desert

Is the largest desert in South America. It covers an area of 400 000 km², most of which is located in Argentina. The borders of the Patagonian Desert run along the coastline in the east and the Andes in the west. The area has a peculiar stepped relief.

The desert begins at 1 500-2 000 meters above sea level, and gradually descends to the coast at 150-300 meters. Vegetation is sparse, although quite diverse fauna. Many different lizards, rodents, snakes. A distinctive feature is the constant dry west wind. The average annual temperature is 3 °C.

The Great Victoria Desert (424 400 km²)

Great Victoria Desert

Victoria is located in Australia and is the largest on the continent. It stretches from the Gowler Ranges in southern Australia to the Goldfields region in the west. The soil is made up of salt marshes and sand. It is always hot here. Snow never falls. The average winter temperature is about 20 ° C, in summer – from 32 ° C to 42 ° C. Thunderstorms are frequent, about 15 to 20 times a year. The amount of rainfall is 20-25 cm per year. It is inhabited by indigenous tribes Mirning and Kogara. Severe climatic conditions do not allow to carry out agricultural activities here.

Kalahari (600 thousand km²)


The Kalahari is a large, arid savannah located in southern Africa. It covers Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. In recent decades there has been an increase in its area, it already touches the land of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Kalahari is a vast arid expanse of red sand with sparse vegetation. Rainfall is seasonal in the summer (April-November). Water tends to collect in natural depressions and lowlands. The only river in the desert is the Okavango River. The interesting fact is that this river does not flow anywhere and is the largest river of its type in the world. Vegetation is represented by desert species (small shrubs, cacti).

Gobi (1,300,000 km²).


The Gobi occupies vast areas of southern Mongolia and parts of China. It is the most extensive desert in Central Asia.

Gobi means “waterless” in Mongolian. All precipitation coming from the Indian Ocean falls in the Himalayan Mountains, does not reach these places, so it is so arid here. The landscape consists of sands, rocks and stones.

Gobi has a very severe climate, sharply continental. This region is characterized by large temperature differences in winter and summer. In summer it is very hot up to +58 ° C, and in winter the temperature can drop to -55 ° C and constant winds. Gobi is also famous for the discovery of many dinosaur remains, including the famous “fighting” dinosaurs (Velociraptor and Protoceratops).

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Arabian Desert (2,330,000 km²)

Arabian Desert

The Arabian Desert covers a vast area and is part of the vast desert region. It is located between the Red Sea and the Nile Valley, and occupies an area of several countries of the Persian Gulf.

The center of its Rub al-Hali is called the “empty region. It is the largest sand massif in the world. Because of the huge area, the climate here and the amount of rainfall can vary. The average is 10 cm per year, but in the driest places only 3-4 cm per year. Many regions are uninhabitable, completely uninhabitable. There are frequent dust and sandstorms that cover entire cities.

Sahara (8,600,000 km²)


The Sahara is the third largest desert in the world and the largest hot desert. It occupies a huge area in northern Africa. Because of the vast area, it is impossible to pinpoint the predominant landscape, but more than 70% is sand, rocks, and cliffs. Constant winds also affect the landscape.

The closer you get to the center of the desert, the drier and more desolate the area becomes. In the driest and hottest areas there is no water, no vegetation and no people. The main artery of the Sahara is the great Nile, which carries water across the desert and gives life.

The Arctic Desert (14,000,000 km²)

Arctic Desert

The Arctic Desert is the second largest desert area, covering a huge area of 14 million km². It is a cold land with harsh climatic conditions. Different parts are controlled by different countries, such as Norway, USA, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada. The average winter temperature is -40 °C, can drop to -60 °C and below.

In summer, when the ice has time to thaw a little, sparse vegetation appears.

The temperature rarely rises above 0 °C. Almost the entire area is covered with snow and ice all year round, rarely there are islands of rocky soil. Constant strong winds lift snow, creating the illusion of snowfall.

In recent years, scientists have been concerned about the shrinking of the Arctic wilderness due to climate change. Perpetual glaciers are shrinking, which could lead to rising water levels in the world’s oceans.

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