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Home > Animals & Nature > Most fascinating desert?

Deserts are part of a wider classification of regions that, on an average annual basis, have a moisture deficit (i.e. they can potentially lose more than is received). Deserts are located where vegetation cover is sparse to almost non-existent.


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1) Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, the world's largest salt desert

The Salar is a massive salt desert in the middle of the Altiplano. It is an expansive, virtually flat desert that reflects the sun in such a way as to create a mirror effect with the sky. There are several lakes in the desert with strange colours from the mineral deposits. It is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt, from which less than 25,000 tons is extracted annually.

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2) Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil - a "desert" with lagoons

Looking like an archetypal desert but it isn't actually a desert. Lying just outside the amazon basin, the region is subject to a regular rainy season when freshwater collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between July and September. It encompasses roughly 1000 square kilometers, and despite the abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation.


3) Antarctica - a brutally cold ice desert

Antarctica is a land of extremes with the world lowest recorded temperature of -89.2C. There is no indigenous population but a number of research stations are manned throughout the year. Antarctica has no government and belongs to no country. Various countries claim areas of it but, while some have mutually recognized each other's claims, no other countries recognize such claims.


4) Gobi Desert

The Gobi is made up of several distinct ecological and geographic regions based on variations in climate and topography. This desert is the fifth largest in the world. Historically part of the great Mongol Empire, and the location of several important cities along the Silk Road. The Gobi is a rain shadow desert formed by the Himalaya range blocking rain-carrying clouds from reaching the Gobi.


5) The Arabian Desert

A vast wilderness stretching from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq, it occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula. Featuring everything from red dunes to deadly quicksand. The climate is extremely dry, and temperatures oscillate between extreme heat and seasonal night time freezes. The area is home to several different people, languages and cultures, with Shi'a and Sunni Islam the predominant faiths.


6) The Namib Desert, Namibia

Stretching about 1000 miles along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. Its east-west width varies from 30 to 100 miles. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 55 million years it has less than 10 mm (0.4 inches) of rain annually and is almost completely barren. The Namib desert is an important location for the mining of tungsten, salt and diamonds.


7) Simpson Desert

The government announced that the Simpson desert, situated in the dry inhospitable heart of Australia, will be off limits in the height of summer when the temperature of the desert sand reaches a blistering 203 Fahrenheit (95C). It's capable of burning through shoes, said Joel Fleming, who has risked his life to rescue stranded tourists from the region.


8) The Sahara

From the Atlantic to the Red Sea dividing the continent of Africa into North and Sub-Saharan Africa. The landforms shaped by wind and occasional rains include sand dunes and sand seas, stone plateaus, gravel plains, dry valleys and salt flats. Berbers are one of the oldest known inhabitants, they are the people that occupied (and still occupy) more than two thirds of the Sahara's total surface.


9) Taklamakan Desert - China

Taklamakan is the paradigm of a cold desert climate and very occasionally experiences snow. Given its relative proximity with Siberia, in the very heartland of Asia and thousands of kilometres from any open body of water, extreme day-time highs and night-time lows are recorded. There is no water on the desert, and it is hazardous to cross. Merchant caravans on the Silk Road would stop for relief at the few thriving oasis towns.

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