Sahara desert is one of the remarkable features of nature. Almost every avid learner during his attempt to learn about the world comes across certain facts, one of those facts is Sahara desert. There are 10 interesting Sahara desert facts which further promise to help someone know more about it. Facts about Africa are pretty incomplete when someone talks about the world’s second most populated continent.
1. Sahara desert isn’t the world’s largest
It’s a common misconception that Sahara desert is the largest in the world. On the contrary, Antarctic desert is the largest desert in the world. The researchers and scientists have distributed the world into cold and hot desert. Accepting Sahara as the world’s largest desert in hot category would be true. However, cold temperatures in Sahara can’t beat the coldness in Antarctic.
2. Area of Sahara desert faces some expansion and contraction
For a layman it would be pretty strange to think of an expansion or contraction in the area of the Sahara desert, but it’s true. The desert expands and contract as shown by the reset studies. The desert spans around 8.600,000 square kilometres; however, due to the changes in seasons some increment and decrement on a yearly basis has been observed.
3. Sahara desert covers a third of the Africa
The enormity of the desert helps it reach 11 countries, which include Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Wester Sahara, Tunisia and other. Therefore it account for one third size of the entire continent. On the west it faces the the Atlantic ocean, the Red Sea on the east and the Mediterranean sea on the north. Sahara desert is mostly filled with sand dunes.
4. The size of desert has grown 10% over the course of years
Some scientific studies conducted by the researchers claim that the desert has grown 10% as compared to its original size around 100 years ago. The reason behind this growth is a pattern of climate change, the data collected showed how a pattern of changing rainfalls contributed to the growth of the desert. The expansion is reported in the direction of the south, because on the other three sides it’s surrounded by major water bodies. Further it’s suggested that the growth of the Sahara desert would simply continue.
5. Sahara desert name is derived from an Arabic word
In Arabic, Sahara means desert. The name of the world’s largest hot desert has been derived from an Arabic word. This shows that Arabic culture actually found its way into the Northern Africa. Historians say that Sahara desert had been discovered in the age of Mesopotamia. Now, what did they call this desert is not yet known. Definitely, the modern name given to this desert is because of the Arabic culture surrounding the desert in many countries.
6. It has interesting geographical features
Mostly deserts are thought to be consisted in sand dunes and other dry structures. However, Sahara desert has something else to offer to its visitors, in addition to the sand dunes it also has other features like gravel plains, plateaus, salt flats and even mountains. Some reports even suggest that snow had been spotted on the mountains in Sahara. One BBC news report, recorded an icy weather in the town of Ain Sefra in 2018.
7. The desert offers a wide range of wild life
The conditions in Sahara might feel like unliveable; however, many animals have successfully adapted to the adverse conditions. Camels, goats and other desert species like cheetah, gazelles, ostrich, monitor lizard and Fennec fox can be found in it. Further, there are certain venomous species found in the desert, like a deathstalker scorpion and sand viper. Once there were abundant elephants in the Northern Africa, and to be specific, during the Roman period, but today they have become extinct. Antelope also faces a similar fate in the Southern part of the desert.
8. Highest point in desert has an elevation of 3,415 metres
Mount Everest’s height is 8,848 m, while the height of the highest point in Sahara desert is 3,415 m which is also a mountain but it’s volcanic in nature. Mount Koussi in Chad is a volcanic mountain having 3,415 m height. Sand dunes can also reach an average height of over 180 metres.
9. Around 2.5 m people live in Sahara desert
Sahara desert has one of the lowest population densities in the world and it’s not a surprise. Obviously, the climate offers not so good conditions for everyone to adapt. Studies suggest that around 2.5 m people live in the Sahara. These people have adapted their customs and lifestyles in a way to cope with the harsh conditions. Mostly they are from a Berber or Arabic descent.
10. Sahara played an important role in African economy
In the past, Sahara offered a good route for the African trade and economy. Commodities were transferred through the desert using caravans which consisted of traders and camels. One report suggest that the traders used thousands of camels in their heyday. Therefore it’s safe to say that the desert has some of the ancient trade routes. The golden period of this trade happened to be in 9th century CE. The journey took several months but the rewards were generous. Greek historian Herodotus has mentioned such camel caravans in one of his writings.