Deserts of the World

camels-walking-in-the-sahara-desert image
Some deserts are really hot! The Sahara Desert can reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Deserts are dry, barren regions that receive very little rainfall. They cover about one-third of the Earth’s land surface. Despite their harsh conditions, deserts are home to a surprising variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive in extreme environments.

Some deserts, like the Sahara in Africa, are the hottest places on Earth, while others, like the Antarctic Desert, are the coldest. Deserts also play an important role in regulating the Earth’s climate and are valuable sources of natural resources such as oil and minerals.

Desert Facts For Kids

  • Deserts cover about 20% of Earth’s surface.
  • The Sahara is the largest desert.
  • Deserts can be hot or cold.
  • Some deserts like Antarctica are icy.
  • Cacti store water in their stems.
  • Camels survive deserts due to their humps.
  • Desert nights can be very cold.
  • Many deserts have sand dunes.
  • Some desert animals are nocturnal.
  • Rain is rare in deserts, but not impossible.
Camels Walking in the Sahara Desert Image - Science for Kids All About Deserts
The Sahara Desert can reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • All seven continents have deserts. A third of our planet’s land area is desert (or arid) and semi-desert (or semi-arid).
  • Subtropical deserts and polar deserts are the main areas where our deserts are found.
  • Arid areas are deserts. In Latin, arid means dry, so dry that few plants can grow there.
  • There are about one billion people living in deserts. Cairo and Lima in Peru are the largest desert cities.
  • Deserts can be hot or cold, like the Sahara Desert or the Gobi Desert.
  • Deserts receive less than 25 cm/10 inches of rain per year. Deserts and arid areas have little rainfall and moisture. Flash flooding can occur in the desert if rainfall occurs in strong downpours.
  • Deserts experience big temperature differences. During the sunshine hours, the temperature rises rapidly, while at night the heat can easily escape. Temperatures range from 38°C during the day to -3.9°C at night.
  • Desert plants and animals have adapted to their environment. Most animals live in burrows underground, such as the cajole or fennel fox. In coastal deserts, fog supplies water to some animals. Plants in deserts usually have deep roots and waxy leaves where they can store water, and thorns, such as cacti, to deter herbivores.
  • Due to little rainfall and moisture, desert soil is dry. The wind easily moves sand, gravel, minerals, and other soil particles. Climate change and overuse of water cause desertification primarily by increasing temperatures, wildfires, droughts, dust- and sandstorms. Fertile soil becomes barren and dry due to desertification.
  • Plants and animals in deserts face extinction because of habitat loss. In North America, the Joshua tree is one of the most famous plants. The Sahara desert is home to many endangered species of antelopes and cheetahs.
Gobi Desert Image
The Gobi desert in Asia is very cold.

12 Deserts from Around the Globe

Antarctic Desert

The Antarctic Ice Desert is the world’s coldest dry desert and has almost no flora except for algae or mosses.

Aralkum Desert

The Aralkum Desert was formed by the former eastern basin of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. It was created purely by poor environmental management and is seen as one of the worst environmental disasters.

Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world and receives less than 2 mm of precipitation every year.

Gobi Desert

The Great Green Wall project aims to combat desertification by planting 88 billion fast growing trees in northern China.

Mojave Desert

The Mojave Desert is the driest desert on the North American continent and is home to Death Valley, one of the hottest spots in the world.

Namib Desert

The Namib Desert is home to Soussousvlei, a dried up lake, and tall dunes along Walvis Bay.

Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is similar in size to the USA or China and is characterized by huge rolling sand dunes.

Salar de Uyuni

The Salar de Uyuni is a desert in South America that was formed by salt crystallisation through water evaporation.

The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and a breeding ground for pink flamingos.

Tabernas Desert

The Deserto de Tabiernas is Europe’s only desert area and located in Spain. Many Western-style movies have been filmed here.

Thar Desert

The Thar Desert is located in eastern Pakistan and northwestern India and is the world’s most densely populated desert area.

Fun Facts about Deserts for Kids

  • Many animals that live in the desert are nocturnal. They hide out in burrows during the day and come out at night when it’s cooler.
  • Deserts cover over 20.9 million square miles of the planet.
  • Lots of plants and animals live in the desert. In fact, only rain forests have more kinds of life. Over 200 rattlesnakes can live in one square mile of the Sonoran desert.
  • Desert plants have padded leaves that store water during drought.
Rattlesnakes in the Sonoran Desert Image
Over 200 rattlesnakes can live in one square mile of the Sonoran desert.

Desert Vocabulary

  1. Saguaro: large cactus with limbs that look like arms
  2. Desolate: empty, bleak
  3. Scarce: in short supply
  4. Nocturnal: an animal that sleeps during the day and wakes at night
  5. Burrow: hole in the ground

Learn More All About Deserts of the World

Check out this fun video all about deserts:

A video documentary about deserts and semi deserts.

Desert Q&A

What is an oasis?

An oasis is a wet area in the desert where there is a river or pond. Both animals and people gather at these places.

Do hot deserts ever get cold?

The Sonoran desert can be very hot during the day and very cold at night. The temperature can drop up to 59 degrees from day to night.

What Are 5 Fun Interesting Facts About The Desert

  1. Deserts are very dry places: Deserts are like the opposite of rainforests! They get very little rain, so they are usually very dry and dusty.
  2. Deserts can be very hot: Deserts can be like giant ovens! The sun beats down on them all day, and the sand and rocks can get super hot.
  3. Deserts are home to a variety of plants and animals: Even though it might seem like there’s nothing living in the desert, there are actually lots of plants and animals that have adapted to living in these harsh conditions.
  4. Some deserts have sand dunes: Sand dunes are like giant hills made of sand! They can be found in some deserts, and they can be really fun to climb.
  5. Deserts can be found all over the world: Deserts aren’t just in one place! They can be found in lots of different countries and on every continent except Antarctica.

What Is A Desert For Kids

A desert is a type of landscape that is characterized by very little rainfall and a lack of vegetation. Deserts are found in many different parts of the world, and they can vary widely in terms of their size, temperature, and the types of plants and animals that live there.

Some common characteristics of deserts include:

  • Very little rainfall: Deserts are dry places that receive very little rainfall, often less than 25 centimeters per year.
  • High temperatures: Deserts can be very hot, especially during the day when the sun is shining. At night, the temperature can drop dramatically.
  • Lack of vegetation: Because of the lack of water, there is often not much plant life in deserts. However, some desert plants have adapted to these harsh conditions and are able to survive with very little water.
  • Unique animals: Many animals that live in the desert have adapted to the dry conditions and are able to survive without much water. These animals might include camels, snakes, lizards, and rodents.


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