25 Things You Didn’t Know About Deserts

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1Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert

At its center, a place climatologists call absolute desert, the Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth. There are sterile, intimidating stretches where rain has never been recorded, at least as long as humans have measured it

2. The “Desert of Maine” is a 40-acre tract of sand dunes caused by soil erosion from poor farming techniques. The area resembles a desert and has become a tourist attraction.

3. The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest non-polar desert in the world. A team of researchers in 2003 published a report where they replicated the tests used by the Viking Mars Landers to detect life on the soil of the Atacama Desert. They were unable to detect any signs of life in the soil.

4. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in caves in the Judaean Desert from 1945-1956 in 11 caves contain 981 different manuscripts having great historical and religious significance as they include the 2nd oldest manuscripts included in the Hebrew Bible along with extra-biblical manuscripts.

5. A 30-mile giant eye in the Sahara Desert once served as a geographical landmark for astronauts.

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6Desert Drowning

Desert Drowning

More people die in the desert due to drowning than due to the heat. This is because people do not prepare for flash floods, which can be very extreme in the desert.

7. In 2014, a swimming pool was built in the middle of the Mojave Desert, as an art installation, the location to which was not released to public. Users had to get the keys to the pool from MAK center in West Hollywood, who would provide the GPS coordinates to the pool.

8. The furthest point anyone can be from any sea on Earth is the Gurbantünggüt Desert in China which is over 1600 miles from the nearest coastline.

9. The Gates of Hell is a fiery crater that has been burning in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan since 1971.

10. The world’s first astronomical site, Nabta Playa, was built in Africa. It is 2,000 years older than Stonehenge. Located in the Sahara desert, the 7,000-year-old stone circle was used to track the summer solstice and the arrival of the annual monsoon season.

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11Singing Sands

Singing Sands

An unusual phenomenon associated with desert sands is their ‘singing’ or booming. Various hypotheses have been given to explain the phenomenon, such as those based upon the piezoelectric property of crystalline quartz, but the mystery remains unsolved."

12. Iran's Dasht-e Kavir desert is almost uninhabited and knows little exploitation. For irrigation, Iranians developed a sophisticated system of water-wells known as qanats. These are still in use, and modern globally used water-revenue systems are based on their techniques.

13. 100 million years ago, the Sahara Desert was inhabited by galloping crocodiles. These crocodile relatives were nicknamed BoarCroc, DuckCroc, RatCroc, DogCroc, and PancakeCroc.

14. The Carcross Desert is the smallest desert in the world that is located in the Yukon is actually the lake bed from a dried-up glacial lake. Officials wanted to protect it but locals use the dunes for sandboarding and other recreational activities.

15. The Rub' al Khali ("Empty Quarter") of the Arabian Peninsula is the largest sand desert in the world. It has an average daily temperature of 47°C (117°F) and sand dunes as tall as 250 meters (820 feet). The Eiffel Tower, for comparison, is 300 meters.

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16Sahara Desert Size

Sahara Desert Size

The Sahara desert is about the size of the United States of America (3.6 million sq. miles vs 3.8 million sq. miles).

17. The hottest place on Earth is the Lut desert of Iran, topping Death Valley, USA and and El Azizia, Libya. Over a 70-year study, the hottest recorded temperature here was 70.7°C (159.3°F).

18. There is a section of desert in Libya which has scattered naturally occurring yellow glass. It is probably the result of a 29 million year old meteor strike. Glass found here was used by ancient Egyptians to create King Tutankhamun’s scarab adornment.

19. It's just “The Sahara,” not “The Sahara Desert.” “Sahara” means “desert,” so to say “The Sahara Desert” is redundant.

20. The Gobi Desert exists because the Himalayas prevent rain clouds from reaching the region.

21Thar Desert

Thar Desert

The Thar Desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan is the most densely populated desert on Earth, with 83 people per square kilometer.

22. There is a mini "desert", called the Athabasca Sand Dunes, near the northern border of Saskatchewan. It is the most northerly active sand dunes on the Earth.

23. Deserts are defined by the amount of precipitation the region receives yearly, so some parts of the Arctic and the Antarctic are classified as deserts.

24. Mukurob was a unique rock formation in the Namib Desert that fell in 1988. Indigineous oral tradition told that the power of the “white man” would end when this geological structure collapsed. South Africa finally relinquished control of Namibia a few weeks after it collapsed on the night of 7 December 1988.

25. There is a shrimp farm in the middle of the Negev Desert in Israel.


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