Deserts of the world
The Desert Biome
Deserts are places on earth that are characterized by little vegetation and rain. They are made up of sand or rocks and gravel. Deserts cover about one-fifth of all the land in the world. Most deserts lie along the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, imaginary lines that lie north and south of the equator.
The Middle East and North Africa make up the driest region of the earth. Nearly two thirds of the region is desert. A desert is land that receives an average of less than ten inches of rain per year. The Sahara of northern Africa is the largest desert in the world.
World's Largest Deserts
Factmonster: Principal Deserts of the World
North American Deserts
North American Deserts
The Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona and Northwestern Mexico is well known for its beauty and many spectacular and grand cacti. The abundant cacti and other succulents simply defy the harsh climate with exuberant biodiversity.
A traveler crossing overland from Los Angeles to Big Bend National Park in West Texas encounters three of North America's four great deserts, each ecologically distinct and strikingly beautiful.
Great Basin Desert
The Great Basin Desert, the largest U. S. desert, covers an arid expanse of about 190,000 square miles and is bordered by the Sierra Nevada Range on the west and the Rocky Mountains on the east, the Columbia Plateau to the north and the Mojave and Sonoran deserts to the south.
The transition from the hot Sonoran Desert to the cooler and higher Great Basin is called the Mojave Desert. This arid region of southeastern California and portions of Nevada, Arizona and Utah, occupies more than 25,000 square miles.
The Chihuahuan Desert
Most of the Chihuahuan Desert -- the largest desert in North America covering more than 200,000 square miles -- lies south of the international border. In the U.S. it extends into parts of New Mexico, Texas and sections of southeastern Arizona. Its minimum elevation is above 1,000 feet, but the vast majority of this desert lies at elevations between 3,500 and 5,000 feet.
The Chihuahuan Desert Region
A desert region can be defined many ways. To a physical scientist such as a meteorologist, a desert can be defined as an area receiving an average annual rainfall of 10" or less.
Welcome to the Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert is the easternmost and southernmost of the four North American deserts: the Great Basin Desert, the Sonoran Desert, the Mojave Desert, and the Chihuahuan Desert.
The Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert is the easternmost, southernmost, and largest North American desert. Most of it is located in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila in Mexico, but fingers of the Chihuahuan reach up into eastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and Texas, and down to the states of Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi in Mexico. This desert is quite large - about 175,000 square miles - making it bigger than the entire state of California.
White Sands Desert of New mexico
At the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies a mountain ringed valley called the Tularosa Basin. Rising from the heart of this basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico.
Although Death Valley is in California, it's right on the California-Nevada border, closer to Las Vegas than to Los Angeles. Apart from the unexpected snowcapped mountains of winter, it's a lonely and arid place pockmarked with suspicious looking mounds and crackling salt flats, crisscrossed by crevassed earth and powdered with relentless sand dunes.
Death Valley National Park
Many first time visitors to Death Valley are surprised it is not covered with an endless sea of sand. Less than one percent of the desert is covered with dunes, yet the shadowed ripples and stark, graceful curves define "desert" in our imaginations.
OneWorld Magazine: Deserts of Our World
OneWorld Magazine would like you to experience the diversity and cultural richness of the world's deserts, if only virtually. Over the next 4 weeks we will bring you a selection of articles, paintings, sculptures, poems and photographs of men and women who have been challenged by the uniqueness of a desert, defeated by its dimensions, rewarded by its remoteness. Our delivery is by no means comprehensive -- for every grain of sand there is a desert word, a desert painting, a desert thought.
Middle Eastern/African Deserts
The Sahara Desert
Sahara Desert, is a great desert area, lying in Northern Africa, and the western portion of the broad belt of arid land ,extends from the Atlantic Ocean eastward past the Red Sea to Iraq.
Here's a fact to challenge popular imagination: more people drown in the Sahara than die from exposure or thirst. It may not rain often and it may not rain long but, in the capricious ways of this vast inland plain, when it does rain, it rains with devastating ferocity.
Wadi Rum: Jordan
Catch a camel into the Wadi Rum desert and you'll find yourself in 'Heroic and Biblical Adventure' country. You'd be forgiven for thinking that, at any moment, you'll stumble across a bearded and besandalled Charlton Heston looking square-jawed and self-righteous. It was, after all, in this neck of the woods that seas got parted and the tribes of Israel did some serious wandering.
South American Deserts
The Atacama desert in Chile is as parched as a parson's Sunday sermon. In fact, it's the driest desert in the world. There are parts of it where rain has never been recorded and the precious little precipitation (1cm/0.3in per year) that does fall comes from fog.
Ultima Thule, Greenland
There's nothing in the law books that says a desert has to be hot, sandy and unpleasant; it's equally legitimate for a desert to be cold, icy and unpleasant. As long as it's uncultivated and uninhabitable it makes the grade, desertwise, and Ultima Thule is a shoo-in.
Think Siberia and think cold. Think hoarfrosted faces, howling wolves, frozen mountains, salt mines, human chain gangs and exile. Maxim Gorky once called it a 'land of chains and ice' and, until recently, the description still held good. Tsars and Party apparatchiks might have had opposing political ideologies but they were of one mind when it came to Siberia.