Let yourself be amazed by the beauty of these landscapes by discovering our selection of the ten largest deserts in the world.
When we think of the desert, thoughts immediately turn to the endless dunes of the great Sahara, its burning sand, and its almost unbearable heat. Then we imagine that we have been lost among the Tuaregs who cross this monster, accompanied by their camels, in the hope of finding an oasis where fresh water would come to save us from this suffocating climate.
But to think that deserts are only made of dunes would be a mistake … Of ice, rock or salt, there are so many of them on Earth that we could not count them. Today, Generation Voyage invites you to discover the 10 largest desert areas around the world.
Antarctica is THE largest desert in the world with an area of 14 million km². This makes it possible to be the fifth largest continent in the world ahead of Europe and Oceania … Just that!
Its location and temperatures also make it the coldest, driest and windiest desert on the planet. The near total absence of precipitation in this area – less than 200 mm of annual precipitation – explains its place as number 1 in our ranking of the largest deserts in the world.
- 💡 Did you know ? an area of Antarctica – called “McMurdo’s Dry Valleys” – has not received any rainfall for about 2 million years!
2. The Arctic
The Arctic, on the other hand, is one of the largest cold deserts on the planet with an area close to Antarctica: 13.7 million km²! This region is the site of an almost permanent anticyclone that is the cause of a climatic phenomenon involving low rainfall.
In fact, the Arctic receives less than 250 mm of annual rainfall on average, most of the time in the form of snow, which explains why this area is considered a true frozen desert!
- 💡 Did you know ? due to the geographical location of the Arctic, the sun never appears in winter!
The Sahara Desert stretches for almost 9 million km² and therefore occupies a third place in this ranking. It is obviously the largest sand desert in the world, but also one of the most majestic! It stretches over a dozen countries: from Tunisia to Morocco, via Algeria or even Egypt, but its borders are not properly defined because it harvests several kilometers a year.
Its impressive temperatures, which fluctuate between 20 ° C in winter and up to 50 ° C in summer, explain its small population. In fact, large areas of this region are completely empty!
- 💡 Did you know ? the sand desert covers only 20% of the Sahara’s surface!
4. Arabian desert
The Arabian Desert, which stretches from Yemen to Jordan’s borders via Iraq, is also a true marvel. With more than 2.3 million km², it is the second largest sand desert in the world.
It is also the largest continuous stretch of sand on Earth, and some of its dunes can reach more than 250 meters in height. Its sand, with a much more ocher color than the Sahara, makes it one of the splendor of our planet!
- 💡 Did you know ? Depending on the season, temperatures can vary by almost 70 ° C in a single day!
5. The Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert ranks fifth among the largest deserts in the world and is also the largest continental desert in Asia. From China to Mongolia it spreads and disappears over more than 1.3 million km².
If some imagine the Gobi Desert as a large sand surface, this is not the case: only 5% of the latter are covered by it. The vast majority of it oscillates between dry steppes, cliffs and mountains. The rare rainfall it witnesses makes it sometimes … green!
- 💡 Did you know ? Many travelers admit that they experienced a sense of horizontal dizziness as they walked through the Gobi Desert!
The Kalahari Desert
Spread over nearly 900,000 km², across Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the Kalahari Desert seems to have come out of children’s accounts. The term “desert” is also inappropriate to denote the latter. Although there are no permanent bodies of water there, it nevertheless hosts a large vegetation.
The “desert” of the Kalahari is still home to the San people (formerly called bushmen), who are the first inhabitants of southern Africa.
- 💡 Did you know ? “Khalahari” is a derivation of the word Kgalagadi or of Kalagar in tswana, which means “great thirst” or “place without water”, respectively.
Patagonia is located in Argentina and Chile and covers 787,291 km², more than one and a half times the size of France. Strictly speaking, if it is not a desert, it is still considered a human desert because of its small population.
But above all, it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful regions in the world, endowed with unforgettable landscapes. With thousands of mountainous kilometers throughout the Andes Cordillera, some of its peaks rise to more than 3,000 meters above sea level. Glaciers and lakes make this region one of the most incredible on our planet.
- 💡 Did you know ? Patagonia is a land of sheep. Some of these sheep live on more than one acre each!
8. Syrian desert
The Syrian desert, also called Chamiyé, is in 8th place in our ranking of the largest deserts in the world, with an area of 520,000 km². Rocky, dry and dry, it’s one of the most hostile in our range.
It is also the gateway to the Arabian desert, 4th on this ranking.
- 💡 Did you know ? A few Bedouin tribes still live in this desert, as close as possible to the few oases in the region.
9. Great Basin
The Great Basin is a desert in the western United States, home to mountains and high plateaus. Although it may seem very dry and wild, it is nonetheless home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. You can even find Grand Bassin National Park in it.
- 💡 Did you know ? The Great Basin covers more than 10% of US territory and is the driest part of the country!
10. The Chihuahua Desert
With about 450,000 km², the Chihuahua Desert is the last desert in our range! But it is without a doubt the richest desert from a biological point of view. It actually offers sublime natural decorations, made from a set of colors that are hard to match.
Present from the southern United States to the Mexican highlands, the desert is home to more than 130 mammals, 3,000 plant species and 500 bird species.
- 💡 Did you know ? Although the Chihuahua Desert is considered a dry zone, it is home to 110 species of freshwater fish.