If looking for the biggest desert in the world, you might be surprised by the result. You probably first thought that Sahara occupies the top position, but in that case you’re wrong!
Let’s start from precise definition of a desert, which says it is a surface which gets very little rainfall (not more than 260 mm during the whole year). A bit over one third of the Earth’s landscape belongs to desert areas.
The biggest desert in the world is actually Antarctica. It is classified as desert because it does not get more than two inches or 5 centimeters of precipitation a year. This polar desert is 55.4 million square miles or 14 million square kilometers big. The second place when measuring desert surfaces on Earth belongs to another polar desert – Arctic.
It spreads over Russia, Greenland, Alaska, Iceland and Canada. Finally, position number three on the biggest desert list goes to non-polar desert Sahara in northern Africa. Its surface stretches over 9 million square kilometers (or 3.6 million square miles) which is just a bit less than the size of the Unites States of America.
Sahara desert’s territory occupies the area from Mauritania to Egypt and Sudan. Unlike the first two (Antarctic and Arctic), Sahara is subtropical type of desert. Now you may ask: “OK, why do people believe that Sahara is the biggest desert in the world?” Well, you see, not everyone know that polar deserts exist as well. The main difference between polar and tropical deserts is that in tropical deserts the evaporation rate is greater than precipitation rate. At polar deserts it is quite the opposite.
Other deserts falling into the group of the biggest deserts in the world are the
Arabian, Gobi, Kalahari, the Patagonian Desert, Great Victoria, Syrian and many others.
Interesting fact to know is that the biggest known deset in our solar system is the area of planet Venus.