Sahara Desert

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  • Topic: Sahara, Africa, Egypt
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  • Published : May 10, 2013
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The Sahara Desert is located in the northern portion of Africa and covers over 3,500,000 square miles (9,000,000 sq km) or roughly 10% of the continent (image). It is bounded in the east by the Red Sea and it stretches west to the Atlantic Ocean. To the north, the Sahara Desert's northern boundary is the Mediterranean Sea, while in the south it ends at the Sahel, an area where the desert landscape transforms into a semi-arid tropical savanna. Since the Sahara Desert makes up nearly 10% of the African continent, the Sahara is often cited as the world's largest desert. This is not entirely true, however, as it is only the world's largest hot desert. Based on the definition of a desert as an area receiving less than 10 inches (250 mm) of precipitation per year, the world's largest desert is actually the continent of Antarctica at 5,339,573 sq mi (13,829,430 sq km).

Geography of the Sahara Desert

The Sahara covers parts of several African nations including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. Most of the Sahara Desert is undeveloped and features a varied topography. Most of its landscape has been shaped over time by wind and includes sand dunes, sand seas called ergs, barren stone plateaus, gravel plains, dry valleys and salt flats. Around 25% of the desert is sand dunes, some of which reach over 500 ft (152 m) in height. There are also several mountain ranges within the Sahara and many are volcanic. The highest peak found in these mountains is Emi Koussi, a shield volcano that rises to 11,204 ft (3,415 m). It is a part of the Tibesti Range in northern Chad. The lowest point in the Sahara Desert is in Egypt's Qattera Depression at -436 ft (-133 m) below sea level.

Most of the water found in the Sahara today is in the form of seasonal or intermittent streams. The only permanent river in the desert is the Nile River that flows from Central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. Other water in the Sahara is found in...
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