The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert on earth measuring 9,4 million square kilometres engulfing most of Northern Africa – including large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia – and is the third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic.
Being home to one of the harshest environments in the world, it’s hard to believe it attracts so many tourists – who take day trips from nearby beach resorts – and that there are animals who thrive in such extreme temperatures. In this article we are going to look at some facts about this African beauty.
With north-easterly winds that can reach hurricane level, they often result in huge sand storms and dust devils. Half of this gigantic desert only receives less than one inch of rain each year, with the rest receiving just four inches each year. And although the rain is infrequent, it is usually torrential. The average annual temperature for the desert is 30 degrees Celsius, but in its hottest months can reach 50 degrees Celsius, if not more. According the About Education, the highest temperature ever recorded was 58 degrees Celsius in Aziziyah, Libya.
The Sahara Dessert’s landscape includes sand dunes and ergs, but is mostly characterised as rocky hamada. The highest peak to call the Sahara Desert its home is the volcano Emi Koussi, it is also home to the Tibesti Mountains, Air Mountains, Hoggar Mountains, Saharan Atlas, Adrar des Iforas and the Red Sea Hills. The Sahara Desert is also home to a few irregular rivers and streams (which are seasonal) and the Nile River which runs through this hot landscape all the way to the Mediterranean. When it comes to vegetation, as you can imagine, there is very little. The northern and southern areas, as well as the highlands, include sparse grassland and desert shrubs, as well as some trees and taller shrubs, all of which are drought resistant and need little water to survive.
In the central and driest parts of the Sahara Desert lives around 70 different animal species. These consist of 20 large mammals like the spotted hyena for example. Other mammals include the likes of the gerbil, sand fox and the Cape hare. Reptiles are also present in the Sahara Desert and include the sand viper and monitor lizard.