The Sahara Desert
Animals| Plants | People & Cultures | History and Map
The term refers to the large area that receives small amounts of rain. Most deserts are arid lands with dry conditions. that make them unsuitable for most types of Desert animal and Desert plants life. Some deserts are extremely hot, and temperatures during the day reach 54 degrees Celsius. but some deserts characterized by cold winters and some that remain cold throughout the year. It is worth noting that some types of plants and animals that live there have special characteristics that help them survive. In this harsh environment, some deserts are home to a variety of plants, animals, and other living creatures, and although many deserts are covered with sand, the dunes cover only about 10% of the world’s deserts, some deserts are mountainous, others are a phrase About dry areas From rocks or sand.
The Sahara is the world’s largest warm desert, and the third-largest after the Antarctic and the Arctic, both of which are cold deserts. The Sahara is one of the harshest environments on Earth, covering 9 million square kilometers, or nearly a third of the African continent. The name comes from the Arabic word ṣaḥrāʾ, which means “desert”.
Archaeologists believe that the climate of the Sahara Desert was not as arid as it is now. And that the Sahara inhabited more than 20 thousand years ago. Fossils, rock writings, stone tools, hunting equipment, and other things were found in places considered today very dry and very hot. And the remains of some animals such as giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, and unicorns, as well as remains of fish, crocodiles, hippopotamus, and aquatic animals Others. and this indicates that the desert contained lakes and swamps. Harsh conditions returned .and many areas in the Sahara became empty of the population between twenty thousand and twelve thousand years ago. Except for places where water springs and surface water fed by groundwater are available. Ten thousand years ago, fishers and some groups inhabited areas that returned Water is used to fill them with lakes, swamps, and streams. And traces of agriculture were found eight thousand years ago. And evidence of livestock was found in the mountains seven thousand years ago, then the population left again three to four thousand years ago with deteriorating conditions. But spots remained populated And for the oases, they worked with trade, except for the always-prosperous Nile Valley region.
Sahara Desert Map and Geography
The Sahara desert Map bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Red Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Sahel savannah to the south. The immense desert extends over 11 countries: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, Chad, and Tunisia.
The Sahara Desert map has a wide variety of land features but is best known for the sand dune fields that often depicted in films. The dunes can reach almost 183 meters in height, but they cover only about 15% of the total desert area. Other topographical features are mountains, plateaus, sand and gravel plains, salt marshes, basins, and depressions. Mount Koussi, an extinct volcano in Chad, is the highest point in the Sahara, at 3,415 meters, and the Qattara Depression in Egypt is the deepest point in the Saraha, at 133 meters below sea level.
Although water is scarce throughout the region, the Sahara Desert Map contains two permanent rivers (the Nile and the Niger), at least 20 seasonal lakes and huge aquifers, which are the main sources of water in the more than 90 major oases. Water management authorities once feared that aquifers in the Sahara would soon dry up due to overuse, but a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in 2013 found that the “fossil” (non-renewable) aquifers were still being replenished by rainfall and runoff.
Flora and fauna
Despite the arid and harsh desert conditions, many Desert plants and Desert animals live there. According to the World Wildlife Fund, about 500 species of plants, 70 known species of mammals, 90 species of birds and 100 species of reptiles live in the Sahara, as well as several species of spiders, scorpions, and other small arthropods.
Like all deserts, the Sahara is home to a relatively sparse wild plant community, with the highest concentrations found along the northern and southern margins and near oases and drains. It has imposed adaptations to the plants. For example, near wadis and oases, Desert plants such as date palms, tamarisk trees, and acacias lay down long roots to reach the water necessary for life. In more arid areas, the seeds of flowering plants germinate quickly after a rain, depositing shallow roots, and complete their growth cycle and produce seeds in a few days, before the soil dries out. New seeds can lie dormant in dry soil for years, waiting for the next rain to repeat the cycle.
In the most difficult areas, such as the Tanezrouft basin in southern Algeria, a formidable mosaic of salt marshes, sandstone, and sand dunes known as the “Land of Terror”, plants have only been able to establish themselves very precariously, leaving much of the landscape virtually barren.
The Desert plant species have adapted to arid conditions, with roots that dig deep into the soil to find underground water sources and leaves that shaped into spines that minimize moisture loss. The driest parts of the desert are completely devoid of vegetation, but oasis areas, such as the Nile Valley, are home to a wide variety of plants, including olive trees, date palms, and various shrubs and herbs.
The camel is one of the most emblematic Desert animals of the Sahara. These large mammals originated in North America and eventually crossed the Bering Isthmus between 3 and 5 million years ago, according to a study published in the Research Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Management in 2015. Camels have domesticated about 3,000 years ago in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula for use as a means of transport in the desert, according to the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.
Camels, also known as “ships of the Desert”, are well adapted to the hot and arid environment, according to the San Diego Zoo. The bumps on the camel’s back store fat, which can be used for energy and hydration between meals. Camels store energy so efficiently that they can go more than a week without water and several months without food.
Other Desert animals include a variety of gazelles, addax (a type of antelope), cheetahs, caracals, foxes, and wild dogs, according to the Sahara Conservation Fund.
Many species of reptiles also thrive in the desert environment, including several species of snakes, lizards, and even crocodiles where there is sufficient water.
Several species of arthropods also make their home in the Sahara, including dung beetles, beetles, deathstalker scorpions, and many ants.
Sahara Desert Weather
The Sahara Desert Weather alternates between a dry, inhospitable desert and a lush green oasis every 20,000 years or so, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances in 2019. The authors of the study examined marine sediments containing dust deposits from the Sahara over the past 240,000 years. The team found that the cycle between a dry Sahara and a green Sahara corresponds to slight changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which also drives monsoon activity. When the Earth’s axis tilted the northern hemisphere by just one degree towards the sun (about 24.5 degrees instead of the current 23.5 degrees), it received more sunlight, which increased monsoon rains and thus supported a lush green landscape in the Sahara.
Archaeologists have discovered prehistoric caves, cave paintings, and other archaeological remains that have helped to understand what life was like in the once-green Sahara. Pieces of pottery suggest that about 7,000 years ago, ancient shepherds raised cattle and harvested plants in what is now an arid area.
But for about 2,000 years, the Sahara Desert weather has been fairly stable. Northeast winds dry up the air over the desert and push the warm winds towards the equator. These winds can reach exceptional speeds and cause violent dust storms that can reduce local visibility to zero. Dust from the Sahara travels with the trade winds to the other side of the globe.
Rainfall in the Sahara varies from zero to about 5 cm per year, with some places experiencing no rain for several years. Sometimes snowfalls at higher altitudes. In summer, daytime temperatures often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and can drop to near-freezing temperatures at night.
People and Cultures
According to estimates, the total population of the Sahara is probably equivalent to less than two million people, including those who live in permanent communities near water sources, those who move from place to place over the seasons, and those who follow the ancient trade routes as permanent nomads. Most of them have Berber and/or Arab roots. The Berbers, who speak several dialects of the Berber language, appeared at the dawn of the history of the Sahara.
The Arabs, speaking Arabic, a Semitic language native to Arabia, appeared on the scene thousands of years ago. The majority of the population of the Sahara follows the Islamic religion, introduced in the 7th century AD.
The history of the Sahara written in terms of primitive hunting and gathering, nomadic trade, agricultural development, early communities, conquest, sophisticated civilizations, monumental architecture, dynasty, exploration, colonization, and war. It bears the imprint not only of the Berbers and the early Arabs but also of the Egyptians, Nubians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. In more recent centuries it has been marked by Ottoman, Spanish, Italian, French and English colonialism. In the 19th century, it heard the murmur of Roman Catholicism. During the Second World War, it suffered fierce and destructive battles between the Germans and the Allies. In the middle of the last century, her countries freed themselves from their colonial yokes and found freedom.