10 of the Largest Deserts in the World

June 23,2023

By Sonakshi Kandhari 

An aerial view of the Earth looks all blue, but did you know that 20% of the Earth is made of deserts? A desert is a large, arid land mass that receives as little as 10 mm of rainwater a year. There is one on every continent. Let's learn about 10 of the largest deserts in the world in this web story.

Image Source: Pexels

Sahara Desert 

The world’s third-largest was blue 5000 years ago, but the tilt of the Earth’s surface has resulted in its present form. It stretches over a staggering 9.2 million square kilometres, which makes it as big as China. One can find 20 lakes in the area, of which only one is a freshwater one–Lake Chad.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Arabian Desert 

This one, the world’s second-largest hot desert, is home to the world’s largest continuous sand body, Rub' al Khali–the Empty Quarter. Sprawled across the Arabian Peninsula, this desert stretches across 11 countries. Not many animals and plants can survive this climate; it has a mere 900 species of plants.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gobi Desert 

Asia’s largest desert seems lifeless but has many surprises; only a bare 5% of this desert is covered with sand dunes. The remainder of it has steppes, mountains and sands. It also has unrivalled archaeological importance because it is the spot where dinosaurs laid eggs. It even has historical significance since the Great Mongolian Dynasty flourished alongside it.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kalahari Desert 

It will surprise you to know that the Kalahari Desert receives more rainfall than any other desert in the world; hence, it is called a semi-arid desert. Another contrast with other deserts is that its sand dunes remain stationary even when strong winds blow. Yet another rarity is the language in which the desert inhabitants converse; it is known to a mere 5,000 people.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Great Victoria Desert 

Inarguably the world’s most fascinating desert, which was named after Queen Victoria just like how Africa’s Lake Victoria and Victoria Falls were named after her. Alternating between scorching heat and thunderstorms, very few plants can sustain this climate; the Eucalyptus tree being one of them. Moving on to animals, many lizards inhabit the area and beat the heat by burying themselves in the sand.

Image source: Flickr

Syrian Desert 

Even though 85% of this desert spreads across Jordan and 55% in Syria, this desert is called the Syrian Desert. One of the marvels of this desert is its Syrian hamster, which is not found anywhere else in the world. This desert is no ordinary one. When the Roman Empire flourished, its most significant city, Palmyra, was situated in this desert.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Patagonian Desert  

This is a cold desert, and it's the eighth largest one in the world. The one thing that you would have never witnessed elsewhere is the fossils of a forest that has been in existence for a million years. It's called the ‘petrified forest’. The central portion of this desert is a steppe within which shrubs, bushes and grasslands grow.

Image source: Pxfuel

Great Basin Desert

In 1986, it was converted into a National park, and it stretches across an expanse of 5,92,000 square kilometres. The bristlecone pines found in the area have existed since the times of Alexander, The Great. A few of the rare animal species that are found include bighorn sheep, mule deer and bald eagles.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Arctic Desert 

Located at the north pole, it is home to numerous islands, animals and human beings. Be greeted not by one but three kinds of landforms: mountains, glaciers and flat plateaus. The desert enjoys a rather pleasant summer and a harsh winter. This iconic desert has even been featured in the Game of Thrones.

Image source: Pxfuel

Antarctic Desert  

Located at the South Pole, this is the world's  largest and coldest desert. The desert's freezing temperatures can be attributed to the low degree of solar energy. This desert covers an expanse of 13.8 million square kilometres, and its perception level is as low as 51 millimetre.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons