North Africa is home to the Sahara Desert.
It is the largest hot desert on Earth – there is also such a thing as a cold desert!
The Sahara covers a big area of North Africa and goes from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Red Sea.
It is such a huge desert that if it was a country it would be the 5th largest in the whole world! Since it’s one of the most consistently hot places on the planet, you can expect to experience temperatures anywhere between 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) and 46 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit).
The language that is most commonly spoken in the Sahara Desert is Arabic. Nomads from the majority of the people who live in the Sahara Desert and belong to the ethnic groups: Tuareg, Toubou, and Moor.
Sahara Desert Facts for Kids
- The name Sahara is taken from the Arabic word for ‘desert’.
- The Sahara cover an area of 9.2 million km²
- The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world
- It covers eleven countries: Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Mali, Morocco, Chad, Eritrea, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Sudan, and Tunisia
- There are approximately 500 species of plants and animals in the Sahara
Landforms of the Sahara Desert
Sand dune – These are hills in the desert. They are created by the winds, which help blow them across the desert. When the wind is powerful, the sand particles can easily fly into the air and move long distances. These particles create wave-shaped ripples in the sand.
Erg – Also known as Sand Sea, these are extensive areas of actively shifting dunes. The sand can be really difficult to cross
Regs – These are Stony plains that are covered by sand and gravel. They cover many areas in the desert
Hamadas – are hard rocky plateaus produced when the wind removes the fine sand. It’s leaves behind a rocky landscape of boulders, gravel, and bare rock.
Salt Flats – These are a flat area covered with sand, gravel, and salt.
Sahara Desert Animals
You will come across many different animals in the desert who have adapted to the environment.
Kangaroo Rat – it has adapted perfectly to desert life. It can survive with very little drinking water and gets most of its water from the seeds that it eats.
Camels – The Dromedary (one-humped) camels have been working in the Sahara since 200AD. They were used to transport goods like tea, salt, cotton, and many other products. They were also used in the transportation of people for a very long time.
Fennec fox – Also known as “Desert Fox.” are nocturnal. They avoid coming out in the daytime to keep out of the heat of the desert. They eat plants. Small rodents, reptiles, and insects.
Sandstorms happen regularly in this Sahara desert. During a storm, the wind will lift the top layer of sand into the air in all different directions. They are sometimes referred to as “haboob,” which is the Arabic word for wind.
The sand in the dust storm can reach heights from 10 feet to 50 feet. But, this all depends on the wind strength, which can push dust particles as high as 5000 feet.
The Sahara Desert’s climate makes it a harsh environment for life to exist because it is hot, dry, and windy! In the evening, temperatures in this desert can drop to below freezing – talk about hot and cold!
Did you know that the Sahara desert covers sections of 11 countries? These countries are Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan.
You may think that a desert is made completely from sand, but in the Sahara, sand actually only covers 30% of the area! The remaining 70% is covered by gravel and stone. There are also underground rivers that help create many areas of oases!
4000 years ago, the Sahara was a lush area and then began to dry up! It is believed that this happened because of a gradual change in the tilt of the Earth’s orbit. This period is known as the African Humid Period.
The Sahara Desert has many different landforms that make up this huge area! Dunes are hills made from sand and in the Sahara Desert, these dunes can be a whopping 150m high! Large areas of sand are known as Ergs or Sand Seas. Flat plains, covered with sand and gravel, are called regs. Hamadas are the plateaus in the Sahara Desert that are hard, barren, and rocky! There are even areas that are called salt flats that are made up of sand, gravel, and of course – salt!
Even though the conditions may be harsh in this part of the world, there are still animals that live there. These animals are Cape hares, deer, foxes, hyenas, lizards, chameleons, gazelle, and cobras.
There is even a volcano in the Sahara Desert! This can be found in Chad and is called Emi Koussi, it is also the highest point in the desert.
The Sahara Desert served as an important part of the trade routes and helped the economies of ancient Africa. The goods that were transported across the desert were gold, slaves, cloth, and ivory. The transportation was long trains of camels and this was known as ‘caravans’.
There is an ultra marathon that takes place in the Sahara Desert called Marathon des Sables. It is known as one of the toughest footraces on earth and takes six days to complete.
Question: How many countries have a portion of the Sahara Desert?
Question: What percentage of the Sahara Desert is made up of sand?
Question: Name the different landforms that can be found in this desert.
Answer: You could have: Dunes, Ergs, or even Regs
Question: How long ago did the Sahara Desert dry up?
Answer: 4,000 years ago
Question: What were the long trains of camels used for transport on the trade routes called?