29 Most Famous Deserts Around The World You Probably Didn't Know

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 29, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Dec 29, 2021
Knowing famous deserts around the world makes you appreciate our diverse world.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

Deserts are quite intriguing, with vast barren land engulfed with sand or snow, depending on the type we are talking about.

Although the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of a desert is hot sand. When in reality, they are usually found in two types all around the world: hot deserts and cold or polar deserts.

Due to its unfriendly living condition like sunlight, polar opposite temperatures during day and night, lack of water and rainfall, there is not a lot of flora and fauna. This portrays the hostile unprotected surface of the ground of a desert. However, arthropods (insects) have adapted well to the harsh conditions of a desert. Although quite different from wildlife in other places, the life of insects and snakes in deserts is easier as it allows them to hide or catch their predators. Deserts take up to one-fifth of the land surface of Earth and are found on almost every continent.

Browse through the rest of the article to find out more about the most famous deserts around the globe.

Does this article intrigue you? Then also, check out the deserts of the world list as well as the largest deserts in the world.

What is the introduction of the desert?

In simple terms, deserts are large barren land areas with extreme temperatures almost throughout the year. So much so, the risk of death due to dehydration can be high. The place usually lacks water vapor and is mostly low in humidity with irregular to almost no rainfall at all. About one-third of the earth's surface is arid or semi-arid.

Most deserts do not have drainage for all the flash floods and hence form into basins. When these basins evaporate, it turns into playas or salt-surfaced lake beds. There is also a heavy occurrence of sandstorms that bury whatever comes in their ways.

The flora and fauna that have adapted to this severe characteristic of deserts function quite differently than animal and plant life in other parts of the world.

Most plant life that occurs in deserts grow in a way that helps them adapt to the harsh situations of the place, like less need for water, so on and so forth. Some plants have quite one-of-a-kind features like leaves that help them survive in the deserts. Plants like cactuses have leaves modified into thorns to reduce the loss of water. The most interesting part of the flora life in deserts is that all the plants grow very far away from each other, providing enough space for each plant to gather as much water as possible and needed.

Animal life in deserts, on the other hand, is called Xerocoles. There are different types of insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals that have adapted to desert life. This animal life often avoids extreme temperatures by digging up cool burrows. Most of them have kidneys that hold onto enough water from the food they intake and are also often the ones who sleep through the temperature to avoid it and hence are nocturnal.

Some examples of famous deserts around the globe are Thar Desert, Namib Desert, Great Victoria Desert, Tatacoa Desert, Sonoran Desert, Rub'al Khali Desert, Tabernas Desert, Pinnacles Desert, White Desert, Ogaden Desert, Thompson Plateau, Monte Desert, La Guajira Desert and more.

Names And List Of Deserts Around The World

Deserts are formed by the breaking down and eroding of rocks that turn into small pieces which take the shape of sand. This weathering usually happens due to the huge contrast in temperature during the day and the night. Although rain does not take place often, the rocks further become eroded when it occurs. Winds and heavy rain often lead to flash floods, which in turn create more fragmentation of the already broken rocks. The wind further pushes together all these particles and forms dunes. The former also carry any other solid particles in a way that adds to the surface. This composes one type of desert. These types of deserts are called Subtropical deserts and are usually found from near the tropic of Cancer extending over the Equator till the Tropic of Capricorn. Some of the biggest examples of these types of deserts are the largest desert, Sahara, which is among the hottest deserts in the world. The Thar desert or the Great Indian desert, Great Australian desert, Registan Desert, Chihuahuan desert, Iranian desert, Syrian desert as well as the Arabian Desert where the Syrian desert merges, Great Victoria desert are all examples of sub-tropical deserts.

Other than these sand dune elevated deserts, that is the type mentioned above which are caused by the motion of the wind, there are other types of deserts that are flat as well as with various other characteristics. Such includes coastal, rain shadow, interior, and cold deserts (polar). Despite having their differences, they have one thing in common that is they are dry or arid.

Coastal deserts are found on the coasts, as the name itself suggests. Something that led to the formation of this kind of desert is cold ocean currents. The wind that blows near the shore comes in contact with the cold water and gets cooled down, and forms fog. Despite the desert remaining covered with fog and moisture, the deserts remain rainless most of the time. The Atacama Desert, Namib desert are a few examples of coastal deserts.

On the other hand, a rain shadow desert is quite different from the other deserts and forms in a quite unique way. It gets constructed in an area on a mountainous region parallel to a coast facing the other side of the part where it rains. The moisture evaporates and is carried towards the other part of the area, which is hotter and by the time it reaches the slope, there is no moisture left to form in the desert and creates a dry surface. Hence the name "Rain Shadow" as the rain gets blocked or shadowed on the other side and forms a desert. California's Saline Valley, Death Valley, Gobi desert, and Mojave desert (also a xeric desert) are some of the deserts that fall under this type.

Interior deserts also known as inland deserts, as the title itself proposes, are found in the interiors of the continents where moisture does not reach the area. All the air mass that begins from the coastal areas gets lost before reaching the destination. The Gobi desert, despite being a rain shadow desert, is also a great example of an interior desert.

Cold deserts, which are the most different types of deserts, have absolutely different characteristics. Unlike the other deserts that remain hot and dry, a polar desert remains covered with snow during most parts of the year. It contains a huge amount of water but in the form of solid glaciers and ice sheets year-round. Parts of the Arctic desert and the Antarctic desert are two of the greatest examples of a polar desert. Other deserts such as Ladakh Desert, Colorado Plateau Desert, Great Basin Desert, Patagonian desert are also polar deserts.

Some other type of deserts, such as the Kalahari desert is semi-desert while Taklamakan desert is a temperate desert.

Tourist Interests in Deserts have been forever.

Hot Deserts Of The World

If you are thinking of Sahara as the hottest desert in the world, you are wrong. Although it is one of the biggest hot deserts, it is not the hottest. In fact, Lut Desert, also known as the Dasht-e Lut, is the hottest, with temperatures hitting up to 177.4o°F (80o°C), and has been stated the hottest place to exist on earth.

Sahara desert comes as the second hottest, with the highest temperature being 136°F (58°C). It receives about 3 in (7.62 cm) of rain to nothing at all per year.

The Mojave desert takes third place on the hottest desert chart, with temperatures reaching over 134°F (56°C). It is one of the famous tourist spots in the world during the cooler seasons, but during the summers, it is unbearable.

On the verge of the Taklamakan desert of northwest China lies the flaming mountains, which is the fourth hottest with 118o°F (47.8o°C).

The Arabian desert, Atacama desert, Thar desert are also some of the hottest deserts in the world.

Largest Deserts In The World

When you think of the largest desert, the Sahara desert comes to mind. It is most definitely the largest among the hot deserts. But once again it is not the largest. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the largest one, keeping in mind all the types, it is the Antarctic desert taking over almost an area of 5482650.65 sq. mi (14,200,000 sq. km).

The Arctic Desert, similar to the Antarctic desert is a polar ice and tundra desert that is also the second-largest desert around the world, which also comes before the Sahara desert when it comes to size. Its area is about 5366820 sq. mi (13,900,000 sq. km). It covers around 10 countries including Alaska, Greenland, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Svalbard, Jay Mayen, and Iceland.

Right after these two previous comes the most famous desert, the Sahara which is also the largest sub-tropical desert, covering a land area of about 3552139.85 sq. mi (9,200,000 sq. km), is mostly found in regions of Northern Africa.

Great Australian Desert is the fourth-largest, which is also another subtropical desert acquiring about 1042475.82 sq mi (2,700,000 sq km) in Australasia.

The Arabian Desert, Gobi Desert, Kalahari Desert, Patagonian Desert, Syrian Desert, and the Great Basin Desert with a land area of 899618.03 sq mi (2,330,000 sq km), 500002 sq mi (1,295,000 sq km), 347491.94 sq mi (900,000 sq km), 259846.75 sq mi (673,000 sq km), 193051 sq mi (500,000 sq km), and 193051 sq mi (500,000 sq km) respectively which have been mentioned previously, fall in the top 10 largest deserts in the world.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 29 most famous deserts around the world you probably didn't know, then why not take a look at cactus facts or Arabian desert facts?

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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