Sahara is Arabic for “Great Desert”, and that name is pretty accurate. Comprising most of North Africa, the Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert, and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. With an area of 3,600,000 sq mi, it is comparable in size to China or the United States, and it is one of the harshest environments on the planet.
A common misconception is that the Sahara Desert is covered by sand dunes, but that is not really the case. Most of the desert is made up of rocky, hard, barren plateaus with little vegetation and few rivers and streams. Winds in the Sahara can reach hurricane levels, and with little rain, large sandstorms and dust devils are common.
This climate makes it incredibly hard to sustain life, but throughout history, humans and animals alike have found ways to survive in this inhospitable place.
Sahara Desert Countries
While desert boundaries can often be hard to define, the following are typically considered to be the Sahara Desert countries:
What Countries Are Not Included
To the south of the Sahara Desert is the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna around the Niger River valley and the Sudan Region of Sub-Saharan Africa. This makes up the southern border of the Sahara. Some people include the Sahel as a sub-region of the Sahara Desert.
If included, then arguments could be made for the following to also be listed as Sahara Desert countries (keeping in mind, geographic definitions of the Sahel region also vary):
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- South Sudan
Many, however, consider the Sahel and it’s semi-arid climate to be a distinct region, separate from the Sahara. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara Desert to the north and the region of humid savannas to the south. Hence, the above nations are typically not included as Sahara Desert countries.
Okay, now that we cleared that up, how about testing your knowledge of Sahara Desert countries in the quiz below?