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A desert is defined as an enormous, extremely dry region of land with scant vegetation.
Food and water are scarce in deserts however, humans, plants, and animals have all adapted to the many ways to survive life in the desert. The lifestyles of desert dwellers, or desert people, are different as their daily life is affected by the harsh desert conditions.
The desert areas are plenty and crops are hard to grow. The desert people are affected by the challenging desert ecosystem. The desert tends to be dry and hot, and the summers are accompanied by scorching heat. Rainfall is scarce and mostly comes in short bursts.
The rapid rate of evaporation in deserts means that it's not rare for rain droplets to evaporate before they can even hit the ground. Because of this, locals know how to use less water in their daily needs. The communities use different techniques to preserve water. Some store seasonal rain, some dig wells, while others make use of the rivers or streams.
Different deserts showcase different weather. Coastal deserts experience cool winters with long warm summers, while icy deserts experience hot summers with cold winters.
Deserts also serve as homes to various species of plants and animals who have evolved to survive in the barren landscapes.
Deserts also serve as an interesting ecosystem for animals such as sturdy desert animals like tortoises, snakes, and camels who can adapt to the harsh conditions of the deserts. Many of these desert animals stay inside their burrows during the day and come out at night when the weather is tolerable.
The Sahara Desert is acknowledged as the largest, hottest desert in the world, and also as the third largest after Antarctica and the Arctic.
The desert is located in North Africa and covers massive parts of the African continent. Its size is around 3,552,139.8 sq mi (9,200,000 sq km)!
According to NASA, the Sahara Desert temperatures drop as soon as the sun sets. The temperatures range from an average of 100°F (38°C) during the day, to an average low of 25°F (-3.9°C) at night.
The desert travels through the countries of Tunisia, Sudan, Western Sahara, Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Libya, Egypt, Chad, Algeria, and Morocco.
The name 'Sahara' was taken from the word "ṣaḥrā", which means 'desert' in Arabic.
The population of the Sahara is around 2.5 million and the natives are mostly nomads. There are also permanent communities located close to water sources.
The population of the Sahara is self-sustained as different communities have different occupations. Some people raise crops on the oasis land, some herd camels, sheep, and goats, while others depend on camels and horses for traveling.
The ethnic group of a particular community or nation are called 'peoples'. Hence, people living in the deserts are called 'desert peoples'.
Arabic is used as the common language despite the regional differences. Many dialects of Arabic are spoken in the region.
Some of the current tribes that can be found in the Sahara Desert are the Fulani, Beja, Songhai, Hausa, Kanuri, Nubians, and Tuareg who settle around desert oases or the naturally occurring River Niger and the River Nile.
The Tuareg and the Bedouin are the two main nomadic tribes of the Sahara Desert. Most of these tribes make use of the 100+ desert oases which are formed by the 18 seasonal lakes.
The Bedouin tribe is the nomadic peoples who travel through the desert when they migrate towards the Middle East and North Africa. These tribes herd throughout the day and sleep in tents at night! Bedouin nomads are also known for their excellence in oral poetry.
The Bedouin tribe use camel or goat skins to make their tents. They wear robes to protect themselves from sand, cold, and heat. These also help to protect the face and prevent sand from going into the mouth.
Horses are used by people in the regions and many even keep sheepdogs like the Canaan to herd their sheep and goats.
However, the most iconic animal is the camel. These animals are famed for their ability to travel long distances without water. The animal can survive for many days without water or food and its hump is full of body fat.
The domestication of camels began by the Arabs who used the animal to transport goods as these animals could go on for days in the heat without food or water, as it's their nature to store body fat.
The wildlife of the Sahara Desert is diverse, and cacti are a great example of life finding a way in the harshest conditions! These desert plants have adapted to survive in the wild, their spine-like formation protects them from being consumed by animals, and the outer covers of the plant help them in retaining moisture.
Most of the other desert plants have padded leaves that lock in moisture in proper conditions for example, whenever it rains in the desert.
The traditional lifestyle of the settlements in deserts have adapted to the harsh weather conditions of the desert.
The nomadic lifestyle of desert dwellers means they keep moving on and do not exhaust the resources of the area they inhabit.
Most of the nomadic people also have domesticated animals like camels who are well-adapted to desert life.
Despite the lack of water, deserts do not lack life! The desert ecosystem is rich with many plants and shrubs evolving to cut down water loss. Some of the reptiles in deserts are also particularly suited to the hot and dry desert conditions.
The extremely dry condition of deserts is considered as its main characteristic. Surviving in the desert can be extremely tough as humans need as much water as they can get. Water is also important for plants, animals, and the other life-forms in deserts.
If you are lost in the desert, then you will follow the survival rule that states that an individual can survive without air for three minutes, shelter for three hours, water for three days, and food for three weeks in a harsh environment.
Life in the desert is also threatened by flash floods, quicksand, and even drowning.
The wildlife is another danger factor as there are many dangerous animals like wild dogs, killer bees, desert horned viper, and cougars, depending on the desert.
Farming is also rough in the deserts since the hot waterless conditioned plants are hard to grow as they need good soil and rain, without which the food sources will be reduced.
The many tribes in the Maghreb and the Middle East have adapted to the ever-challenging life in deserts as they have lived in the desert for centuries. The tribe has evolved in terms of food-seeking and shelter.
The first human congregations in Arabia started around 20,000 years ago as many nomadic tribes moved close to fertile land located at the center of the area.
The hunting-gathering mentality slowly switched to agriculture as many of the nomadic people started farming and domesticating animals.
In the deserts, many people live in permanent houses, and many nomadic peoples, or nomads, can be found moving from one region to the other. Nomads, as they are called, live and work in new regions for most of their lives. Nomadic people rest during the daytime due to the hot nature of the deserts and travel at night when the deserts are cooler.
The houses in deserts usually consist of small windows and thick walls as these measures stop sunlight and heat from entering the homes easily. Another reason for the usage of thick walls is to waterproof the house as deserts experience torrential rain.
Most communities of desert peoples settle near water sources as water in the deserts is hard to come by and makes the daily life of the tribes easier.
The Gobi Desert is the sixth-largest desert in the world and the second-largest desert in Asia.
At over 7.4 mi (12 km) wide, 111.8 mi (180 km) long, and a height of 262.4 ft (80 m) tall the Khongor dune is known as one of the most stunning of dunes!
The Gobi Desert falls among one of the most important regions of ancient Asia as it played a huge role in the Mongol Empire by housing the many cities on the Silk Road.
The Gobi Desert has a small population of inhabitants that have been living the nomadic life for years. These nomads reside in living quarters (yurts) and move around whenever the time comes.
The main population of the Gobi Desert consists of Mongols, as well as small groups of Han Chinese. The Gobi Desert has a scarce population compared to the landmass of the regions because of which the region is scarcely populated. There are an estimated 3 people per sq. mi.
For centuries, the Gobi Desert has seen a tradition called "pastoral nomadism".
The desert is also home to various species of animals such as camels, gazelles, birds, wild donkeys, and lizards. Other domesticated animals, including goats, are also herded in the Gobi Desert.
Among the many animals, horses have had one of the most important roles as they have been domesticated by man for over 5,000 years. The availability of horses allowed the nomads to use them as a transportation mode, as well as nourishing the tribes with their meat for food.
The outfits of the desert population are loosely fitting cotton clothing. The Tuareg people of the Sahara Desert also wear head cloths and long robes. The multiple layers of clothes maintain the body temperature and help in avoiding dehydration by keeping the body cool.
The largest cold desert body in the world is Antarctica, and the largest hot desert body is the Sahara.
Antarctica covers an estimated area of 5.3 sq mi (14 sq km) around the South Pole.
The only people living in the cold deserts of Antarctica are scientists working on the many research centers on the continent.
There is no permanent population in the largest desert of the southern hemisphere. However, over the last 35 years, at least 10 children have been born in the harsh climates of Antarctica.
When the nomadic people traversed through the Arabian desert, the reoccurring oases helped them as they could travel from one oasis to the other.
Following their settlement of the Arabian desert, the Muslim Arabs were the first to win battles in the desert as they were acquainted with the region and the many oases it consisted of, many of which helped in the Muslim Arabs fighting off the Persian and Roman forces between 600 to 700 AD.
The desert, even with its fiery weather and dangerous ecosystem, can be a perfect place to live as seen by the many communities of desert peoples.
The desert has a peaceful nature sound, no noisy neighbors, and it also provides a getaway from the hubbub of city life. Today, many people live in the desert as they look for a solitary life or just want to live a stress-free life.
Because desert areas have a small population, the ecological nature of the region is maintained because of less air pollution. The extremely high quality of air attracts people to deserts.
The air is also pollen-free because desert plants follow different seasonal cycles and tend to keep allergy-causing pollen to stay in them.
Desert peoples earn their living through various means depending on the conditions of the deserts they reside in. People work on desert farms, or desert mines, and some nomadic people move from one place to another in search of livelihood.
The second-largest hot desert on the planet is the Arabian Desert. However, even with its large size and ranks, it is significantly smaller than the Sahara Desert.
The Namib Desert in southern Africa is known for having one of the tallest dunes in the world! Some of the sand dunes are even 984.2 ft (300 m) high. Besides being tall, these sand dunes are also a great nature reserve and protect several unique flora and fauna species.
Today, man-made oases can be found in the deserts of the Middle East, and these oases are created from glass, steel, and concrete. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest man-made structure in the world with a height of 2,722.4 ft (830 m)!
The Al-Ahsa oasis, located in the eastern region of the Saudi Arabian Al-Ahsa Governorate, is the largest oasis on earth. The area is believed to have been one of the most important population centers in the world around 1,000 years ago.
The country of China is experiencing the fastest desertification in the world! The nation has a loss of almost 1,000 sq mi (2,590 sq km) of land over time to a desert. The rate is the highest in the region of the Gobi Desert.
In some parts of the world, the deserts are so hot that rain vanishes right in the air before it can even reach the ground.
Xerocoles, or animals that are habituated to the nature of the desert, are nocturnal, meaning they are active only during the night. These animals avoid the sun by limiting themselves to the desert shade.
Some of these animals stay underground or dig burrows, as the temperatures are sustainable underground. For example, the Sahara Desert's Fennec fox digs shelter burrows and lives in large groups. Even the smallest movements underground can drop the soil temperature.
The Sonoran Desert is known as the wettest desert in the world! This desert, located in the United States, is the only area in the world where the tree-like cactus species Saguaro cactus grows! This cactus can grow up to more than 39.3 ft (12 m) tall.
Q: What do you call a person who lives in the desert?
A: A person living in the desert is called a desert dweller or desert peoples.
Q: Is there life in the desert?
A: Yes, humans, plants, and animals live in the desert.
Q: Do many people live in deserts?
A: Yes, there is an estimated 2.1 billion people living in deserts!
Q: How do humans adapt to live in the desert?
A: Humans have learned to apply the desert's nature to their benefit and have used it for irrigation, herding, and many other types of occupations.
Q: What are the two types of people who live in a desert?
A: Nomadic peoples and permanent settlers are the two types of desert peoples.
Q: Why do nomadic people in deserts often travel at night?
A: They travel at night to keep themselves safe from the scorching heat of the daytime.
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