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Travel topics > Natural attractions > Biomes and ecosystems > Deserts


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Deserts are defined by dry weather conditions and low precipitation. They can be found throughout the world, and often represent some of the last remaining wilderness areas.


Deserts are generally considered to be regions that receive less than 10 in (250 mm) of rain per year. Therefore, trees are rarely found in deserts (although there are exceptions, like the Joshua trees of Joshua Tree National Park). Grasses can be found in some deserts, especially high-elevation deserts, but are not common in low-lying deserts.

The stereotypical desert is hot, but not all deserts are. Polar regions, despite the snow that covers these areas, are often very dry; the same is the case with Mongolia and China's desert regions. Mountain deserts are often cold too. Even stereotypical hot deserts can get cold at night due to the lack of moisture in the air.


Map of Deserts


  • 1 Kalahari Desert. It's in the southern part of the continent. Kalahari Desert on Wikipedia Kalahari Desert (Q47700) on Wikidata
  • 2 Sahara. Dominates the northern part of Africa. Sahara on Wikipedia Sahara (Q6583) on Wikidata


The continent is considered a desert, with minimal rainfall along coastal regions and even less in the interior.



Australia as a landmass is mostly made up of deserts or semi-deserts, with relatively narrow fertile areas along coastal areas and the south west region. The largest individual desert is the 7 Great Victoria Desert.


The closest thing to deserts on the European mainland is likely the semiarid regions in inner and southern Spain. The interior of Iceland, a cold, barren area, is characterized as desert.

North America[edit]

  • 8 Chihuahuan Desert (includes the White Sands) (Southwestern United States). Chihuahuan Desert (Q855658) on Wikidata
  • 9 Death Valley National Park (Southeastern California). This national park is the location of North America's lowest point, Badwater. Death Valley is also among the hottest locations on Earth. Death Valley National Park on Wikipedia Death Valley National Park (Q242111) on Wikidata
  • The 10 Mojave Desert merges into the Baja Californian desert at its southern extent.
  • 11 Sonoran Desert (Southwestern United States). Sonoran Desert on Wikipedia Sonoran Desert (Q189429) on Wikidata
  • 12 White Sands National Monument (Southwestern United States). White Sands National Monument on Wikipedia White Sands National Monument (Q1200164) on Wikidata

South America[edit]

Stay healthy[edit]

Even if water is not a severe threat to your life, you can still get dehydrated. Only go hiking in deserts during the wintertime unless you're in a cold desert like the Gobi, since dehydration (especially severe cases) may not kill you, but they are not healthy either.

Stay safe[edit]

Main article: Arid region safety

The most obvious risk is not getting enough water—always bring extra. Another problem is getting lost or stuck, as deserts are sparsely populated and help may be hard to find. See Arid region safety for details.

Despite the inhospitable environment, deserts are home to many types of dangerous animals, including venomous snakes and scorpions.

Deserts are rarely well-policed, and can be home to criminal or terrorist groups. Always check the relevant travel advisories.

In the heat of the day, travelers can experience mirages that give the illusion of water (or other things). These can be dangerous if the traveler pursue the mirage, wasting precious energy and remaining water.

Even the hottest of deserts can become extremely cold at night. Hyperthermia is a real risk without warm clothing.

See also[edit]

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