The Sahara Desert: formation, inhabitants, interesting facts

Posted on Apr 19, 2022      201

The Sahara Desert, the largest desert in the world, overtakes Brazil in size and is gradually being compared to the United States.

The Sahara is the largest desert not only in Africa but also in the world. Its name comes from Arabic and literally translates as “desert”. When you think of it, many people imagine endless red-hot sand, but in fact the Sahara is much more diverse. Here’s why it was formed, how it has changed over its history and who inhabits it now.

Why it formed

In January 2019, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study showing that the Sahara Desert and North Africa as a complete change from a wet climate to a dry climate every 20,000 years. Scientists came to this conclusion by analyzing the dust deposited off the coast of West Africa over the past 240 thousand years.

According to the researchers, this climatic pendulum is because of a change in the Earth’s axis during its rotation around the Sun. The axis change affects the distribution of sunlight between the seasons - every 20,000 years, the Earth goes from more sunlight in summer to less.

In North Africa, when the amount of sunlight is high, monsoon activity increases, and the desert climate becomes wetter. Conversely, when there is little light coming in, monsoon activity wanes, and this causes the Sahara Desert to become arid and harsh - as it is now.


Where is it located?

The Sahara Desert is in northern Africa, across over ten states (in part): Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia.


8 600 000 km²

Average temperature?

At the height of summer, the average daytime temperature in the middle of the desert is 35 ° C (with a maximum of 56 ° C), while the night temperature is 10-15 ° C. In winter, the temperature does not drop below 10 ° C during the day. At night, the temperature can drop below 0 ° C.

Flora and fauna

Plants: fern, ficus, cypress, xerophytes, cereals, ziziphus, cacti, dereza, feather grass, date palm.

Animals: muskrats, hamsters, gerbils, antelopes, grizzly rams, jackals, pheneks, mongooses, barch cats, camels, varans, horned gluttons.

Interesting Facts

1. The desert has grown by 16% in the last hundred years, partly because of global warming and partly because of a shift in the natural climate cycle.

2. The Sahara is at least 4.6 million years old.

3. Between 50 and 100 million years, the area where the desert now stands was covered by a vast, shallow sea of sea giants.

4. Fish was the mainstay of the diet of the people who inhabited the Sahara Desert 10,000 years ago. After all, back at the beginning of the modern geological era, the Holocene, the Sahara Desert, was a humid savanna with many lakes and diverse fauna.

5. In January 2018, the city of Ain Sefra in Algeria, which is called the “gateway to the desert” because it lies between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara, was covered in snow.

6. Seven thousand years ago, Lake Mega Chad stretched across the Sahara for 390,000 square kilometers. It would have been the largest lake on Earth if it had survived to this day. All that remains of it is today’s Lake Chad, which is only 355 square kilometers in size.