The World’s Great Deserts

Deserts are incredible. They are vast, seemingly endless pieces of land that stretch out into infinity. They are desolate yet peaceful. They are tranquil and dangerous at the same time. They are devoid of life, and yet they’re home to some of the most epic and weighty biblical (and other) stories. They’re rich and utterly barren at the same time. But what are the world’s greatest deserts? Actually, what exactly is a desert? Often depicted as an expanse of arid, excessively dry land with sparse vegetation, here are some of the world’s most incredible deserts.


Sahara Desert


the sahara desert

Unsplash / Andrzej Kryzpiniuk / kryszpin


The Sahara desert is one of the most iconic deserts n the world, and for good reason. Located on the African continent, the entire desert comprises an area totaling 3,600,000 square miles. It’s the third-largest desert in the world and the largest hot desert. Its name is derived from the Arabic word for ‘desert’, roughly pronounced ‘sahra’ in singular and ‘sahara’ in the plural.


Arctic desert


deer running in greenland

Unsplash / filip gielda / filipovsky


This is where things get interesting. You see, not all deserts are endless expanses of sand. There are, curiously enough, polar deserts too. These polar deserts, also known as ice deserts, are regions of the Earth that fall under an ice cap climate. Much like regular deserts, polar deserts have an extremely low amount of annual rainfall.  What distinguishes them from your run-of-the-mill deserts is their low temperatures and evapotranspiration, i.e. the sum of water evaporation from their surface up to the atmosphere.


Antarctic desert


tent set up in antarctica

Unsplash / Dennis Rochel / Dennisrochel


Boasting a staggering area of approximately 5,482,651 squared miles, Antarctica is the largest desert in the entire world. Not bad for a desert with no sand at all. Antarctica’s terrain is composed of only polar ice and tundra. making it basically an icy field of seemingly endless nothingness. Located in the geographic South Pole, Antarctica is considered to be the coldest, driest, and windiest continent of them all. It also has the highest elevation of all the continents, too!



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