Sahara desert is among the world’s most expansive deserts and located in northern Africa. Between Mediterranean to the north and the red sea to the east, a huge chunk of the area has been swallowed by the Sahara desert. One interesting thing is that Sahara is an Arabic word that means a desert. There are lots of misconceptions about Sahara desert that needs to be clarified to so many people. Here are 10 lesser known Sahara desert facts.
1. It is not always hot
Most people consider Sahara to be a hot oven, but between December and February, temperatures plunge due to lack of humidity. Some sand dunes in the Sahara desert may even be covered with snow! but there is no skating. However, Sahara is in history for generating the highest temperature in the world of 136 degrees in 1993.
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2. Sahara is not the world’s biggest desert!
What most people learn in elementary school is that Sahara is indeed the world’s biggest desert. However, this is not the case. Antarctica remains the biggest desert in the world. However, by all standards, it still remains one of the biggest deserts the world has and it’s growing bigger everyday. It now covers about 3.8 million square-miles. The area covered by Sahara is 8% the total surface area covered by the world and eleven countries which are part of it include: Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Chad, Niger, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Sudan and Mali.
3. Sahara has a small population
The number of people who call the Sahara home is just 2 million people, regardless of the fact that it is spread across eleven countries.
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4. It used to be a very fertile farmland
Many years ago, Sahara was a fertile farmland with reasonable population. It wasn’t also as big as it is today. At around 6000 BC, millet and grains were grown in most parts of the desert. In some parts of Sahara, prehistoric paintings have been discovered which shows that green flora was thriving in the area.
5. Even now, some parts of Sahara desert are very fertile
There are several oases that are available in many parts of the Sahara and which the area residents use for irrigation. About 80,000 square miles are available in the entire Sahara. There are several spots that are pretty fertile and productive, thanks to irrigation. In Egypt, places that border the Sahara desert have been transformed into green havens, thanks to irrigation.
6. Sahara desert is home to many tree species
What comes to the minds of many people when the name Sahara is mentioned is a completely dry patch of land that cannot support any vegetation. However, this is far from the truth as more than a thousand tree species are available there. But very few of these plant species are found in the driest parts of the country. Many of the plant species are located in places that have oasis.
7. Only 30% of its soil is sandy
Although quite a huge chunk of the desert is composed of sand, the truth is that the amount of sand there is less than 50 percent. But in most of the places, sand just comprise the thin outer layer of the soil surface because it’s mainly carried away by the whirl winds which are mostly seen there. But as a matter of fact, the composition is 30% sand and 70% gravel.
8. Dung beetles are a common occurrence
The Sahara has enough of dung beetles who get attracted by the smell of dung and who make rolls out of any cow dung they come across. However, it is said that most of the beetles that are located in the Sahara lack the power of smell.
9. Its home to the toughest marathon ever!
Most people don’t imagine running a marathon in a desert, but the truth is that a marathon by the name Marathon Des Sables is run in the southern parts of morocco every year. It’s a race for the most courageous as well as for the masochistic. This race is run on several stages and runners are supposed to carry all the supplies that they need for the race.
10. Sahara has various climatic conditions
There are various climatic conditions which are experienced in various parts of the Sahara. The Northern part has subtropical climate while the southern area has a complete tropical climate. However, over the years, the desert has undergone tremendous changes.
For those who didn’t know much about Sahara, the above 10 lesser known Sahara desert facts can help provide some information about the vast desert that spreads across eleven countries in northern Africa.