GENERAL INFORMATION: Sahara Desert, is a
great desert area, lying in Northern Africa, and the western portion
of the broad belt of arid land, extends from the Atlantic Ocean
eastward past the Red Sea to Iraq.
The boundaries of the
Sahara are the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Atlas Mountains and the
Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Red Sea and Egypt on the east, and
the Sudan and the valley of the Niger River on the south. The
boundaries, however, are not clearly defined and have been shifting
for millennia. Most of the desert's interior averages less than an
inch of rainfall a year.
The Sahara was once a
fertile area, millet was cultivated there over 8000 years ago. As
conditions gradually became drier, however, and desertification set
in, farmers abandoned their land. the Sahara bounds with tales of
larger disasters overtaking even the most seasonal and desertwise
wayfares. In 1805, for example an entire caravan of 2,000 men and
1,800 camels perished of thirst in the desert's south-central wastes,
because water holes along their route had gone dry.
PHYSICAL & GEOGRAPHICAL STRUCTURE:
The entire Sahara Desert
is the largest Desert in the world, Sahara Desert is about 1610 km
(about 1000 miles) wide and about 5150 km (about 3200 miles) long from
east to west. The total area of the Sahara is more than 9,065,000 sq.
km (more than 3,500,000 sq. miles), of which some 207,200 sq. km (some
80,000 sq. miles) consist of partially fertile oasis. Only a tenth of
its total area is in dunes. It is home to over three million people,
has mountains 10,000 ft. high and a lake as big as New Jersey. Sahara
Desert geographically consisted of the following regions: First are
the western Sahara, which is sometimes called the Sahara proper;
second comes the central Ahaggar Mountains about 11,500 ft. high and
the Tibesti massif, a plateau region; and finally the third one is the
Libyan Desert in the east. They are as follows:
The western Sahara is an area of rock-strewn plains and sand deserts
of varying elevation. The land is almost entirely wlthout rainfall or
surface water but possesses a number of underground rivers that flow
from the Atlas and other mountains. Occasionally the waters of these
rivers find their way to the surface; in these naturally irrigated
oasis, plants grow freely. The soil of this region of the Sahara is
fertile and, where irrigation is possible, produces excellent crops.
Road gang and oil-field workers in this Sahara get a daily allotment
of two gallons of water per man for drinking and cooking alone.
The central plateau region of the Sahara runs for approximately 1610
km (approximately 1000 miles) in a northwestern to southeastern
direction. The plateau itself varies in height from about 580 to 760 m
(about 1900 to 2500 ft), and peaks in the several mountain ranges that
rise from the plateau are from about 1830 to more than 3414 m (about
6000 to more than 11,200 ft high). Notable peaks include Emi Koussi
(3415 m/11,204 ft), in the Tibesti massif, and Tahat 3003m/9852 ft, in
the Aliaggar range. Although, rainfall is scanty in the area, a number
of the central Saharan peaks are snowcapped during part of the year.
The Libyan Desert is considered the most arid part of the Sahara.
Moisture is almost totally absent and few oasis exist. The land is
characterized by sandy wastes and large dunes of sand 122 m (400 ft)
or more in height The valley of the Nile River and the mountainous
area of the Nubian Desert to the east of the Nile are, geographically,
a part of the Sahara, but the irrigation afforded by the Nile
transforms the desert into fertile agricultural land throughout much
FACTS ABOUT SAHARA DESERT (VEGETATION, CLIMATE,
The Sahara as a whole is
a tableland with an average elevation from about 400 to 500 m (about
1300 to 1600 ft). Only comparatively small areas are elevated as
little as 150 m (500 ft) above sea level. The climate is uniformly
dry; most areas average less than 127 mm (less than 5 inches) of rain
per year, and some get none at all for years at a time. The
temperature range is extreme, ranging between freezing to more than
54.4° C (130° F) in the western and central portions. Except in the
oasis the desert is almost devoid of vegetation, although some
stunted, thorny shrubs grow in the western Sahara. Artificial oasis
have been created by drilling water wells more than 1000 m (more than
3280 ft) deep. The Saharan climate has probably changed not once but a
number of tunes in recent geologic periods from 60,000 to 6,000 B.C.
It was wet, many of the river beds, now so dust-dry, ran full and some
of the vast plains, now so barren, were covered with forests that
surged with life.
The chief trees of the
oasis are the date palm and a form of acacia.
ANIMALS: (lazelle and antelope are found in many parts of the desert, as are
jackal, fox, badger, and hyena. The Libyan Desert is virtually devoid
of any form of animal or vegetable life.
The northern Sahara has
assumed economic importance with the discovery of extensive petroleum
deposits in Algeria and Libya.
The Countries which fall
in the Sahara Range are mainly Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya,
Egypt, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan.