Sahara Desert – Exploring The Exquisite Sand Realm


A herd of elephants standing next to a body of water

The Sahara is one of a kind place. It is a vast desert that still entices people. This covers a major area of the African continent. It is estimated to be 16 times larger than France. The Sahara desert is known for its ruthless conditions. It stretches long and wide. Its name comes from the Arabic Sahara, which translates to the desert. Stretching across the Nile River to the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara is a unique environment.

Geography Of The Sahara Desert

The Sahara is characterized by barren land as far as you can see. The Atlantic borders the west while the Red and Mediterranean Sea on the east and north. This desert covers up 11 countries in Africa. The majority of the land is covered by sand dunes. These iconic dunes are the background of many movies. Some dunes can reach about 600 feet in height. Mountains, plateaus, and oasis are scattered along the desert. Mount Koussi is the highest mountain in this desert. It is located in Chad and is an extinct volcano. The Qattara Depression in Egypt is the deepest point in the Sahara. Water is scarce in this region making survival hard. The condition of the desert climate gives rise to various kinds of plants and shrubs. However, the Sahara has two major sources of water. The Nile and the Niger are present in the Sahara.

Sahara Desert – Exploring The Exquisite Sand Realm
Sahara Desert – Exploring The Exquisite Sand Realm

Sahara Desert Plant And Animal Life

The biodiversity in this region has adapted to this arid climate. The humidity, temperature extremes, and sandstorms make life difficult in this region. There are more than 200 species of animals living in the Sahara. The most iconic animal of the Sahara is, of course, the camel. This mammal is also called the ship of the desert. Used domestically since ancient times, the camel is the ideal animal in desert conditions. The humps store fat which is later utilized for food. Camels can even live up to months without food. They are also the major source of transportation in the Sahara. Other animals include dama gazelle, spotted hyena, ostriches, and baboons. These animals have specially adapted themselves to the conditions here.

Despite these conditions the Sahara houses more than 500 species of plants. But these are sparse and scattered along the oasis regions. Date palms and acacia are a common sight here. These plants drive their roots deep into the ground. The acacia has a large trunk that helps store water. The leaves of plants here converge into spines. This helps to minimize water loss. Some plants quickly sprout and form new plants within a matter of days. A majority of the Sahara is barren without signs of plant life.

Sahara Desert – Exploring The Exquisite Sand Realm
Sahara Desert – Exploring The Exquisite Sand Realm

Climate

The Sahara faces extreme temperatures. More recent studies suggest Sahara alternates between a dry desert and a lush green region every 20,000 years. Dust storms occur frequently and are very dangerous. Rainfall is the bare minimum here with 3 inches every year. Temperatures during the day can soar close to 50 degrees while it freezes at night.

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