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Image by Yeo Khee

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world, covering over 8.5 million square kilometres of Northern Africa. In fact the Sahara covers 11 countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan). 

The Sahara is a hot desert with extreme high temperatures of 50C in the summer months, however in winter temperatures can get below freezing in the north. As well as the heat you might imagine there's a lot of sand however only a quarter of the Sahara Desert is actually sand plains and sand dunes, the rest is made up of soil and rock. In fact there are even shallow mountains (extinct volcanoes), the tallest of which stands in Chad called Mount Koussi (3,445m).

Even though it's one of the driest and hottest places in the world lots of animals call the Sahara Desert home including the Dromedary Camel, Gerbils, Horned Vipers, Ostrich, Desert Foxes and surprisingly Crocodiles in the Nile river. Many of the mammals call the Sahara home because of the natural springs from underground water. These springs are called Oases and allow animals to drink clean refreshing water. There are also many towns and cities that grew up around these Oases such as the famed Timbuktu in Mali and the capital of Mauritania, Nouakchott. Many people live in the Sahara Desert itself and you can learn more about the intrepid Tuareg people here.


Another key source of water are the two main rivers, the Niger and the Nile. The Nile is the longest river in the world and home to the ancient city of Cairo, Egypt. This great city is also where you'll find the Great Pyramids of Giza, right in the heart of the Sahara Desert.

Where is the Sahara Desert?

Where is the Sahara Desert

Facts about the Sahara Desert

  • At over 9 million km² the Sahara desert is bigger than the entire country of Brazil!

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza in the north east of the Sahara are the only ancient wonder of the world still standing.

  • Sandstorms can be so bad in the desert that the sand can actually be blown into Europe!

  • In Algeria in 2018 up to 40cm of snow fell in the Sahara Desert. Very rare as usually there isn't enough water to freeze.

  •  Sand dunes can reach heights of nearly 600ft! That's twice the height of the USAs Statue of Liberty.

Images of the Sahara Desert

Sahara sand dunes by Savvas Kalimeris

Saharan Sand Dunes

Dromedary Came by Daniela Castro

Dromedary Camel

Great Pyramids of Giza by Simon Matzinger

Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt


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