Top 10 Largest Deserts In The World

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Largest Deserts in the World

Want to know what is the largest desert in the world? A large part of the world is desert consisting of polar ice, tundra, subtropical and cold winter deserts. The sandy desert of Saudi Arabia is famous in the world, while the Arctic is spread over a large part of the world. Here we have compiled a list of the top 10 largest deserts in the world. Let’s see!


10. Great Basin – 190,000 sq mi

Great Basin cold winter
By Qfl247 (talk) – Wikimedia

The Great Basin Desert is part of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Range. It is one of the top 10 largest deserts in the world covering an area of ​​190,000 sq mi.

In addition, the desert is a geographic region that overlaps the Great Basin Shrub Steppe, as defined by the World Wildlife Fund, and the U.S. The Central Basin and Range ecoregion as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Geological Survey. It is a temperate desert with hot, dry summers and snowy winters. The desert spans a large part of the state of Nevada, and extends into western Utah, eastern California, and Idaho. In addition to the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, the desert is one of four biologically defined deserts in North America.

Additionally, there are over 33 peaks within the desert that exceed 9,800 feet (3,000 m) in height, but there are also high valleys in the region, most of which exceed 3,900 feet (1,200 m).

  • Type: Cold winter
  • Location: Northern America
  • Country: United States
  • Area: 492,098 km2 (190,000 sq mi)


09. Syrian Desert – 193,051 sq mi

Syrian Desert subtropical
By yeowatzup – Syrian Desert

The Syrian Desert is one of the top 10 largest deserts in the world, covering 500,000 square kilometers (193,051 sq mi) of the Middle East. It includes parts of southeastern Syria, northeastern Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and western Iraq. It accounts for 85% of Jordan’s land area and 55% of Syria’s. In the south it borders and merges into the Arabian Desert. The land is an open, stony or gravelly desert footpath, sometimes cut by wadis.

In addition, the Hamad Plateau, a 700–900 m high (2,300–3,000 ft) region in the middle of the Syrian Desert, is a rather flat, rocky semi-desert. It has a limestone rock covered with chert gravel. The little rain that falls on the plateau flows into the local salt flats. The highest peaks of the plateau are the 1,000-metre+ Khawar um Wul in Saudi Arabia and the 960 metre high Jebel Aniza on the border between Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Along with other deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, the Hamad Desert has been described as one of the driest deserts in the world.

  • Type: Subtropical
  • Location: Western Asia
  • Countries: Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria
  • Area: 500,000 km2 (193,051 sq mi)

08. Patagonian Desert – 259,847 sq mi

Patagonian Desert cold winter
By Jason Hollinger – Patagonian Steppe

The Patagonian Desert (Patagonian Steppe) is the largest desert in Argentina and the 8th largest desert in the world by area. It covers an area of ​​673,000 square kilometers (259,847 sq mi). The Patagonian Desert is located mainly in the region of Patagonia in southern Argentina. To its west are the Andes and to its east are the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition, the central part of the steppe is dominated by shrub and herbaceous plant species, although in the west, where rainfall is high, shrubs are replaced by grasses. Topographically, the desert consists of an alternating tableland and massifs dissected by river valleys and canyons. Also, the more western parts of the steppe host lakes of glacial origin and grade into cold temperate forests with barren mountains or valleys.

  • Type: Cold winter
  • Location: South America
  • Country: Argentina
  • Area: 673,000 km2 (259,847 sq mi)


07. Kalahari Desert – 347,492 sq mi

Kalahari Desert subtropical

The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savanna in southern Africa. It covers 347,492 square miles, which includes parts of Botswana and Namibia and South Africa. Kalahari Desert is one of the top 10 largest deserts in the world.

The Kalahari Desert is home to many migratory birds and animals. Previously a haven for wild animals ranging from elephants to giraffes, and for predators such as lions and cheetahs, the banks of the river are now mostly grazing sites, although leopards and cheetahs can still be found. Also, the area is now heavily grazing and cattle fencing restricts the movement of wildlife. In addition, among the deserts of the Southern Hemisphere, the Kalahari is most similar to some Australian deserts in its latitude and the mode of its formation.

  • Type: Subtropical
  • Location: Southern Africa
  • Countries: Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa
  • Area: 900,000 km2 (347,492 sq mi)

06. Gobi Desert – 500,002 sq mi

top 10 largest deserts in the world cold winter

The Gobi Desert is a large desert in East Asia. With an area of ​​500,002 sq mi, it is one of the top 10 largest deserts in the world. It includes parts of northern and northeastern China and southern Mongolia. Also, the desert valleys of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia to the north, the Taklamakan Desert to the west, the Hexi Corridor and the Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and the North China Plain to the southeast. Gobi is notable in history as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.

In addition, the Gobi is a rain shadow desert, which blocks the rainfall reaching the Gobi region from the Indian Ocean formed by the Tibetan Plateau. It is the sixth largest desert in the world and the second largest desert in Asia after the Arabian Desert.

  • Type: Cold winter
  • Location: Eastern Asia
  • Countries: China and Mongolia
  • Area: 1,295,000 km2 (500,002 sq mi)

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05. Arabian Desert – 899,618 sq mi

top 10 largest deserts in the world subtropical
Image: Aidas U./Wikimedia

The Arabian Desert is a vast desert forest in Western Asia. It extends from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and from Oman to Jordan and Iraq. It covers most of the Arabian Peninsula with an area of ​​899,618 square miles. Also, the Arabian Desert is the fifth largest desert in the world and the largest desert in Asia. At its center is the Ar-Rub’al-Khali, one of the largest continuous bodies of sand in the world.

Furthermore, biodiversity is very low in the desert region of Arabia, although some endemic plants grow here. Many species, such as the striped hyena, jackal and honey badger, have become extinct due to hunting, human encroachment and habitat destruction. Other species have been successfully reintroduced, such as the Arabian sand gazelle, and are protected in many reserves. Overgrazing by animals, off-road driving, and destruction of human habitat are the main threats to this desert region.

  • Type: Subtropical
  • Location: Western Asia
  • Countries: Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen
  • Area: 2,330,000 km2 (899,618 sq mi)

04. Australian Desert – 1,042,476 sq mi

top 10 largest deserts in the world subtropical
By Gabriele Delhey – Wikimedia

The Australian Desert covers 18% of the Australian mainland with 1,371,000 km (529,000 sq mi). About 35% of the Australian continent receives so little rain that it is effectively a desert. Deserts in Australia are mainly distributed throughout the western plateau and the interior lowlands of the country.

Additionally, the deserts of Western Australia are well explained by the slight evaporation of the cold ocean current of the Western Australian Current of polar origin, which prevents significant precipitation in the interior of the continent.

By international standards, Australian deserts receive relatively high rates of rainfall. No meteorological station located in the arid region records less than 100 mm of mean annual rainfall. The deserts of Australia, especially in the interior regions, lack any significant summer rain.

Furthermore, deserts are not necessarily completely devoid of vegetation, but contain large areas where vegetation is very limited in height or extent. The Australian Desert is one of the top 10 largest deserts in the world.

  • Type: Subtropical
  • Location: Australasia
  • Country: Australia
  • Total Area: 2,700,000 km2 (1,042,476 sq mi)


03. Sahara Desert – 3,552,140 sq mi

top 10 largest deserts in the world subtropical

The Sahara is one of the largest deserts on the African continent. It is the largest low-latitude hot desert in the world with an area of ​​9,200,000 square kilometers (3,552,140 sq mi). Sahara is the third largest desert in total area, smaller only than the deserts of Antarctica and the Northern Arctic.

Furthermore, the Sahara Desert covers large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia. Also, it covers 9 million square kilometres, which is 31% of Africa. If all regions with an average annual rainfall of less than 250 mm are included, the Sahara would be 11 million square kilometres. Also, it is one of three distinct geographical provinces of the African Great Geographical Division.

In addition, the Sahara is predominantly rocky hamada (stone plateau). Ergs make up only a small part, but several sand dunes are over 180 meters (590 ft) high.

  • Type: Subtropical
  • Location: Northern Africa
  • Countries: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia
  • Area: 9,200,000 km2 (3,552,140 sq mi)

02. Arctic Desert – 5,366,820 sq mi

top 10 largest deserts in the world polar
Image: Quarkexpeditions.com

The Arctic Desert ecoregion is a terrestrial ecoregion. It covers the island groups of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, Severny Island and Severnaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean above 75 degrees north latitude.  The region is covered with glaciers, ice and bare rock in a harsh cold climate.

Additionally, in summer temperatures rise above freezing for short periods, so some of the ice melts, and the region supports colonies of marine birds and mammals.

Also, the Arctic is the second largest desert in the world after the Antarctic Desert. It covers an area of ​​13,900,000 km2 and is spread over Alaska, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Jan Mayen, Norway, Russia, Svalbard, and Sweden.

  • Type: Polar ice and tundra
  • Location: Northern America – Northern Asia – Northern Europe
  • Countries: Alaska, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Jan Mayen, Norway, Russia, Svalbard, and Sweden
  • Area: 13,900,000 km2 (5,366,820 sq mi)


01. Antarctic Desert – 5,482,651 sq mi 

top 10 largest deserts in the world polar

Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth. It includes the geographic South Pole and is located in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere. Almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,200,000 square kilometers (5,482,651 sq mi), it is the fifth largest continent in the world and almost twice the size of Australia.

Moreover, much of Antarctica is a polar desert, with an annual rainfall of 200 mm (8 in) along the coast and much less inland. Yet 80 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves are stored there, enough to raise global sea levels by nearly 200 feet if it all melts.

In addition, Antarctica is by far the least populated continent, with about 5,000 people in summer and about 1,000 in winter. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, with an average thickness of 1.9 km (1.2 mi – 6,200 ft). This snow extends to all except the McMurdo Dry Valleys and the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Antarctic Desert is the largest desert in the world with an area of ​​14,200,000 km2 (5,482,651 sq mi).

  • Type: Polar ice and tundra
  • Location: Antarctica
  • Area: 14,200,000 km2 (5,482,651 sq mi)

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