Where The Sahara Desert Located?
Sahara,( from Arabic ṣaḥrāʾ, “ desert ”) largest desert in the world. Filling nearly all of northern Africa, it measures roughly long hauls( km) from east to west and between 800 and long hauls from north to south and has a total area of some square long hauls( square km); the factual area varies as the desert expands and contracts over time. The Sahara is framed in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, in the north by the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, in the east by the Red Sea, and in the south by the Sahel — a semiarid region that forms a transitional zone between the Sahara to the north and the belt of sticky downs to the south.
Sahara Desert Map
The principal topographical features of the Sahara include shallow, seasonally inundated basins (chotts and dayas) and large oasis depressions; extensive gravel-covered plains (serirs or regs); rock-strewn plateaus (hammadas); abrupt mountains; and sand sheets, dunes, and sand seas (ergs). The highest point in the desert is the 11,204-foot (3,415-metre) summit of Mount Koussi in the Tibesti Mountains in Chad. The lowest, 436 feet (133 metres) below sea level, is in the Qattara Depression of Egypt.
The name Sahara derives from the Arabic noun ṣaḥrāʾ, meaning desert, and its plural, ṣaḥārāʾ. It’s also related to the adjective aṣḥar, meaning desertlike and carrying a strong connotation of the sanguine color of the vegetation plains. There are also indigenous names for particular areas — similar to the Tanezrouft region of southwestern Algeria and the Ténéré region of central Niger — which are frequently of Berber origin.
The Sahara sits atop the African Shield, which is composed of heavily folded and scaled Precambrian jewels. Because of the stability of the guard, latterly deposited Paleozoic layouts have remained vertical and fairly unaltered. Over much of the Sahara, these layouts were covered by Mesozoic deposits — including the limestones of Algeria, southern Tunisia, and northern Libya, and the Nubian sandstones of the Libyan Desert — and numerous of the important indigenous aquifers are linked with them.
In the northern Sahara, these layouts are also associated with a series of basins and depressions extending from the oases of western Egypt to the chotts of Algeria. In the southern Sahara, down screwing of the African Shield created large basins enthralled by Cenozoic lakes and swell, similar as the ancientMega-Chad. The serirs and rules differ in character in colorful regions of the desert but are believed to represent Cenozoic depositional shells. A prominent point of the plains is the dark air of ferromanganese composites, called desert shield, that forms on the shells of survived jewels.
The mesas of the Sahara, similar as the Tademaït Plateau of Algeria, are generally covered with angular, weathered gemstone. In the central Sahara, the humdrum of the plains and mesas is broken by prominent stormy massifs — including Mount ʿUwaynat and the Tibesti and Ahaggar mountains. Other noteworthy layouts include the Ennedi Plateau of Chad, the Aïr Massif of Niger, the Iforas Massif of Mali, and the outcroppings of the Mauritanian Adrar region.
Beach wastes and stacks cover roughly 25 percent of the Sahara’s face. The top types of stacks include tied stacks, which form in the foot of hills or other obstacles; parabolic shindig stacks; crescent-shaped barchans and transverse stacks; longitudinal seifs; and the massive, complex forms associated with beach swell. Several pyramidal stacks in the Sahara attain heights of nearly 500 bases, while draa, the mountainous beach crests that dominate the ergs, are said to reach bases. An unusual miracle associated with the desert beaches is their “ singing ” or roaring. colorful suppositions have been advanced to explain the miracle, similar to those grounded upon the piezoelectric property of crystalline quartz, but the riddle remains unsolved.
Sahara Desert- Drainage
Several gutters forming outside the Sahara contribute to both the face water and groundwater administrations of the desert and admit the discharge of its drainage networks. Rivers rising in the tropical mounds to the south are particularly prominent the main feeders of the Nile join in the Sahara, and the swash flows northward along the desert’s eastern periphery to the Mediterranean; several gutters discharge into Lake Chad in the southern Sahara, and a significant volume of water continues northeastward and contributes to the recharge of indigenous aquifers, and the Niger rises in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea and flows through the southwestern Sahara before turning southward to the ocean. Aqueducts and wadis( deciduous aqueducts) flowing from the Atlas Mountains and littoral mounds of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco contribute fresh water.
Prominent among these are the Saoura and Drâa. numerous of the lower wadis discharge into the chotts of the northern Sahara. Within the desert itself, there are expansive networks of wadis some are seasonally active remnants of systems formed during further sticky ages in the history; some, still, have been shaped by the unforeseen discharge of historically proven storms, similar to the flood tide that destroyed Tamanrasset, Algeria, in 1922.
Particularly significant are the complex network of wadis, lakes, and pools associated with the Tibesti Mountains and those associated with the Tassili n’Ajjer region and the Ahaggar Mountains, similar as Wadi Tamanrasset. The beach stacks of the Sahara store considerable amounts of rainwater, and seeps and springs issue from colorful scars in the desert.
Sahara Desert – Soils
The soils of the Sahara are low in organic matter, parade only slightly discerned midairs( strata), and are frequently biologically inactive, although nitrogen-fixing bacteria are present in some areas. The soils in depressions are constantly saline.
At the perimeters of the desert are soils containing lesser attention to organic matter. Weatherable minerals are a prominent element of these soils, and chemically active expanding- chassis tones are common. Free carbonates are frequently present, indicating that little filtering has passed. Compact and indurated layers, or crusts, are largely confined to the northwestern section of the desert in association with calcareous bedrock. Fine accouterments, including deposits of diatomaceous earth, are limited to basins and depressions.
Sahara Desert – Climate
The age of the Sahara has been a matter of some disagreement. Several studies of the jewels in the region indicate that the Sahara came established as a climatic desert roughly 2 – 3 million times agone
, an interval that gauged from the late Pliocene to the early Pleistocene time. The discovery of 7- million- time-old drift deposits throughout northern Chad in 2006, still, suggests that the region came thirsty during the Miocene Epoch( 23 million to5.3 million times agone
). Since the Pliocene the Sahara has been subject to short- and medium- term oscillations of drier and further sticky conditions. mortal exertion seems to have contributed to the stability of the desert by adding face reflectivity and by reducing evapotranspiration. During the once times cattle- grounded beast husbandry in the desert and along its perimeters supposedly has contributed further to the conservation of these conditions, and the climate of the Sahara has been fairly constant for times. A noteworthy departure from being morals passed from the 16th to the 18th century, the period of the so- called Little Ice Age in Europe rush increased significantly along the tropical periphery of the Sahara, in the desert itself, and maybe along the northern periphery as well. By the 19th century, still, a climate analogous to that of the present was reestablished.
The Sahara is dominated by two climatic administrations a dry tropical climate in the north and a dry tropical climate in the south. The dry tropical climate is characterized by surprisingly high periodic and quotidian temperature ranges, cold to cool layoffs and hot summers, and two rush outsides. The dry tropical climate is characterized by a strong periodic temperature cycle following the declination of the sun; mild, dry layoffs; and a hot dry season antedating variable summer rains. A narrow strip of the western littoral zone has a fairly cool, invariant temperature reflecting the influence of the cold Canary Current.
The dry tropical climate of the northern Sahara is caused by stable high- pressure cells centred over the Tropic of Cancer. The periodic range of average diurnal temperatures is about 36 °F( 20 °C). Winters are fairly cold in the northern regions and cool in the central Sahara. For the zone as a whole, average yearly temperatures during the cold season are roughly 55 °F( 13 °C). The summers are hot. diurnal temperature ranges are considerable during both the downtime and summer months. Although rush is largely variable, it pars about 3 elevation( 76 millimetres) per time. utmost rush falls from December through March. Another outside occurs in August, characterized by showers. These storms can beget tremendous flash cataracts that rush into areas where no rush has fallen. Little rush falls in May and June. Snowfall occurs sometimes over the northern mesas. Another point of the dry subtropics are the hot, southerly winds that frequently carry dust from the interior. Although they do at colorful times of the time, they’re especially common during the spring. In Egypt, they’re known as the khamsin, in Libya as the ghibli, and in Tunisia as the chili. The dust- laden haboob winds of Sudan are of shorter duration, primarily do during the summer months, and frequently usher in heavy rains.
Sahara Desert – Plante Life
Saharan vegetation is generally sparse, with scattered concentrations of grasses, shrubs, and trees in the highlands, in oasis depressions, and along the wadis. Various halophytes (salt-tolerant plants) are found in saline depressions. Some heat- and drought-tolerant grasses, herbs, small shrubs, and trees are found on the less well-watered plains and plateaus of the Sahara.
The vegetation of the Sahara is particularly noteworthy for its many unusual adaptations to unreliable precipitation. These are variously seen in morphology—including root structure, a broad range of physiological adaptations, site preferences, dependency and affinity relationships, and reproductive strategies. Many of the herbaceous plants are ephemerals that may germinate within three days of adequate rainfall and sow their seeds within 10 or 15 days of germination. Sheltered in the Saharan massifs are occasional stands of relict vegetation, often with Mediterranean affinities.
Prominent among the relict woody plants of the Saharan highlands are species of olive, cypress, and mastic trees. Other woody plants found in the highlands and elsewhere in the desert include species of Acacia and Artemisia, doum palm, oleander, date palm, and thyme. Halophytes such as Tamarix senegalensis are found along the western coastal zone. Grasses widely distributed in the Sahara include species of Aristida, Eragrostis, and Panicum. Aeluropus littoralis and other salt-tolerant grasses are found along the Atlantic coast. Various combinations of ephemerals form important seasonal pastures called acheb.
In the 21st century, recognition that the Sahara and its border region to the south, the Sahel, were creeping southward owing to desertification led to efforts to stall that movement; most notable was the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative. The idea that led to the initiative—planting a “wall” of trees along the edges of the Sahara that would stretch across the African continent in order to halt further desertification—was first conceived in 2005 and was later further developed with the assistance of the African Union and other international organizations. It involved plans to plant drought-resistant native trees in a 9-mile- (15-kilometre-) wide swath of territory from the western to the eastern edges of the continent, creating a barrier to keep the desert from further encroaching on the lands to its south.
Sahara Desert – Animale Life
Relict tropical fauna of the northern Sahara include tropical catfish and chromides found at Biskra, Algeria, and in isolated oases of the Sahara; cobras and pygmy crocodiles may still exist in remote drainage basins of the Tibesti Mountains. More subtle has been the progressive loss of well-adapted, more mobile species to the advanced firearms and habitat destruction of humans. The North African elephant became extinct during the Roman period, but the lion, ostrich, and other species were established in the desert’s northern margins as late as 1830. The last addax in the northern Sahara was killed in the early 1920s; serious depletion of this antelope has also occurred on the southern margins and in the central massifs.
Among the mammal species still found in the Sahara are the gerbil, jerboa, Cape hare, and desert hedgehog; Barbary sheep and scimitar-horned oryx; dorcas gazelle, dama deer, and Nubian wild ass; anubis baboon; spotted hyena, common jackal, and sand fox; and Libyan striped weasel and slender mongoose. Including resident and migratory populations, the birdlife of the Sahara exceeds 300 species. The coastal zones and interior waterways attract many species of water and shore birds. Among the species encountered in the interior regions are ostriches; various raptors; secretary birds, guinea fowl, and Nubian bustards; desert eagle owls and barn owls; sand larks and pale crag martins; and brown-necked and fan-tailed ravens.
Frogs, toads, and crocodiles live in the lakes and pools of the Sahara. Lizards, chameleons, skinks, and cobras are found among the rocks and dunes. The lakes and pools of the Sahara also contain algae and brine shrimp and other crustaceans. The various snails that inhabit the desert are an important source of food for birds and animals. Desert snails survive through aestivation (dormancy), often remaining inactive for several years before being revived by rainfall.
Sahara Desert – People
Although as large as the United States, the Sahara (excluding the Nile valley) is estimated to contain only some 2.5 million inhabitants—less than 1 person per square mile (0.4 per square kilometre). Huge areas are wholly empty, but wherever meagre vegetation can support grazing animals or reliable water sources occur, scattered clusters of inhabitants have survived in fragile ecological balance with one of the harshest environments on earth.
Long before recorded history, the Sahara was evidently more widely occupied. Stone artifacts, fossils, and rock art, widely scattered through regions now far too dry for occupation, reveal the former human presence, together with that of game animals, including antelopes, buffalo, giraffe, elephant, rhinoceros, and warthog. Bone harpoons, accumulations of shells, and the remains of fish, crocodiles, and hippopotamuses are associated with prehistoric settlements along the shores of ancient Saharan lakes. Among some groups, hunting and fishing were subordinated to nomadic pastoralism, after domesticated livestock appeared in the Sahara almost 7,000 years ago. The cattle-herding groups of the Ténéré region of Niger are believed to have been either ancestral Berbers or ancestral Zaghawa; sheep and goats were apparently introduced by groups associated with the Capsian culture of northeastern Africa. Direct evidence of agriculture first appears about 6,000 years ago with the cultivation of barley and emmer wheat in Egypt; these appear to have been introduced from Asia. Evidence of the domestication of native African plants is first found in pottery from about 1000 BCE discovered in Mauritania. The cultivators have been associated with the Gangara, the ancestors of the modern Soninke.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the Sahara was increasingly inhabited by diverse populations, and plant and animal domestication led to occupational specialization. While the groups lived separately, the proximity of settlements suggests an increasing economic interdependence. External trade also developed. Copper from Mauritania had found its way to the Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean by the 2nd millennium BCE. Trade intensified with the emergence of the Iron Age civilizations of the Sahara during the 1st century BCE, including the civilization centred in Nubia.
The greater mobility of nomads facilitated their involvement in the trans-Saharan trade. Increasing aridity in the Sahara is documented in the transition from cattle and horses to camels. Although camels were used in Egypt by the 6th century BCE, their prominence in the Sahara dates from only the 3rd century CE. Oasis dwellers in the Sahara were increasingly subject to attack by the Sanhaja (a Berber clan) and other camel-mounted nomads—many of whom had entered the desert to avoid the anarchy and warfare of the late Roman period in North Africa. Many of the remaining oasis dwellers, among them the Haratin, were subjugated by the nomads. The expansion of Islam into North Africa between the 7th and 11th centuries prompted additional groups of Berbers, as well as Arab groups wishing to retain traditional beliefs, to move into the Sahara. Islam eventually expanded through the trade routes, becoming the dominant social force in the desert.
Despite considerable cultural diversity, the peoples of the Sahara tend to be categorized as pastoralists, sedentary agriculturalists, or specialists (such as the blacksmiths variously associated with herders and cultivators). Pastoralism, always nomadic to some degree, occurs where sufficient scanty pasturage exists, as in the marginal areas, on the mountain borders, and in the slightly moister west. Cattle appear along the southern borders with the Sahel, but sheep, goats, and camels are the mainstays in the desert. Major pastoral groups include the Regeibat of the northwestern Sahara and the Chaamba of the northern Algerian Sahara. Hierarchical in structure, the larger pastoral groups formerly dominated the desert. Warfare and raids (ghazw) were endemic, and in drought periods wide migrations in search of pasture took place, with heavy loss of animals. The Tuareg (who call themselves Kel Tamasheq) were renowned for their warlike qualities and fierce independence. Although they are Islamic, they retain a matriarchal organization, and the women of the Tuareg have an unusual degree of freedom. The Moorish groups to the west formerly possessed powerful tribal confederations. The Teda, of the Tibesti and its southern borderlands, are chiefly camel herders, renowned for their independence and for their physical endurance.
In the desert proper, sedentary occupation is confined to the oases, where irrigation permits limited cultivation of the date palm, pomegranate, and other fruit trees; such cereals as millet, barley, and wheat; vegetables; and such specialty crops as henna. Cultivation is in small “gardens,” maintained by a great expenditure of hand labour. Irrigation utilizes ephemeral streams in mountain areas, permanent pools (gueltas), foggaras (inclined underground tunnels dug to tap dispersed groundwater in the beds of wadis), springs (ʿayn), and wells (biʾr). Some shallow groundwaters are artesian, but it is often necessary to use water-lifting devices. Ancient methods such as the shadoof (a pivoted pole and bucket) and the animal-driven noria (a Persian wheel with buckets) have been replaced by motorized pumps in more accessible oases. Water availability strictly limits oasis expansion, and, in some, overuse of water has produced a serious fall in the water level. Salinization of the soil by the fierce evaporation and burial by encroaching sand are further dangers.
Sahara Desert – Economic Resource
During the century of colonial dominion over the Sahara Desert, which lasted from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, there was little fundamental change, except for military pacification; colonial powers were little interested in the economic development of what appeared to be an unpromising region. After World War II, however, the discovery of oil, in particular, attracted international interest and investment. Within a few years major discoveries had been made, particularly in mineral resources.
Metallic minerals are of considerable economic importance. Algeria possesses several major deposits of iron ore, and the reserves at Mount Ijill, in western Mauritania, are substantial; less extensive deposits have been found in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Western Sahara, and Niger. Near Akjoujt, in southwestern Mauritania, lie substantial quantities of copper ore; extensive manganese deposits occur south of Béchar, Algeria. Uranium is widely distributed in the Sahara and has been particularly important in Niger. A broad range of other economically significant minerals have been found in the Ahaggar, Aïr, Tibesti, and Eglab regions. Rich phosphate deposits exist in Morocco and Western Sahara, and smaller deposits have been found elsewhere.
Fuel resources include coal, oil, and natural gas. Sources of coal include anthracite seams in Morocco and bituminous fields near Béchar. Following the discovery of oil near I-n-Salah, Algeria, after World War II, major reserves have been found in the Western Desert of Egypt, northeastern Libya, and northeastern Algeria. Minor reserves exist in Tunisia and Morocco, as well as in Chad, Niger, and Sudan in the south. Deposits of oil shale have also been discovered in the Sahara. Major fields of natural gas are exploited in Algeria and Egypt, and minor fields exist in Libya and Tunisia.
As a result of geologic and oil prospecting, vast underground reserves of water have also been found in a number of sedimentary basins, mainly within sandstone formations. Some recoverable water is also present in surface sand formations.
Economic development of the desert, however, offers enormous difficulties and has not changed the traditional Sahara Desert. Oil and ore extraction have brought modern technology and improved communications to scattered locations, but such activities provide limited opportunities for local employment. Although oil revenues offer the means for desert development, the more immediate and attractive returns possible in inhabited coastal regions tend to take priority. The underground water offers possibilities for major developments in both agriculture and industry; but exploitation on a large scale would be expensive. Heavy exploitation would also result in progressive depletion, and hydrological changes might increase the threat of locust plagues, as locusts congregate into swarms when food supplies are restricted, multiply, and then occupy larger areas when conditions improve.
The desert peoples have benefited little from mineral exploitation—perhaps indeed the reverse. The decline in nomadic pastoralism, started by pacification, has been accelerated by changing economic conditions and official settlement policies (for nomads are administratively inconvenient). Widespread environmental degradation further encourages the drift of nomads to oases and towns, with resultant overcrowding and poverty. High wages in the oil fields attract labour but disrupt traditional life, and the jobs are relatively few and impermanent. Of the traditional desert products—animal skins and wool, surplus fruits, salt—only dates (particularly the daglet nour of the northern oases) retain much commercial importance. Industrial occupations to relieve growing unemployment have as yet made little progress.
In the early 21st century, renewable energy projects, particularly those focusing on wind- and solar-generated power, continued to be under development and had the potential to provide enough energy to allow countries in the region to manufacture and process goods locally, which would be a boon to their economies. However, renewable energy projects were hampered by factors such as the harsh desert climate, a lack of water for operating and maintaining equipment, the overall exorbitant costs involved in such an undertaking, and security issues. Tourism has grown considerably since the mid-20th century, although the difficulties of transport and of providing accommodations have largely limited it to the Sahara’s fringes.
Sahara Desert – Transportation
Traditionally, travel in the Sahara Desert was by camel caravan and was slow, arduous, and dangerous. To the hazards of losing the way, excessive heat, stifling sandstorms, and death by starvation—or more probably thirst—were added those of attack by raiders. Despite all this, trans-Saharan trade along caravan routes linking oases has persisted from very early times. Most of the principal routes were west of the Tibesti Mountains and tended to shift somewhat over time, although the easternmost of these—which ran northward from Lake Chad to Bilma (now in Niger) and through the Fezzan region to Tripoli—was used continuously through the centuries. East of the Tibesti Mountains oases are few, but the darb al-arbaʿīn (“road of the forty [days]”), west of the Nile, was a former slave route. Gold, ivory, slaves, and salt were major items of trade in the earlier days, but today camel caravans have almost ceased, except for a residual trade in salt from Mount Ijill, Bilma, and Taoudenni, Mali. The main routes remain in use, however, by specially equipped motor trucks, often traveling in convoys. Modern highways have been extended farther along the ancient trade routes into the desert. Off of the main routes a network of recognized tracks are motorable, with care; but in the open desert four-wheel drive is virtually essential, with at least two vehicles, ample spares, and large emergency supplies of fuel, food, and water—particularly in summer, when special regulations apply to all travelers. In large areas maps are inadequate, and navigational methods may be necessary.
To supplement ground travel, numerous international air services cross the Sahara Desert on scheduled flights, while local services link the main inhabited centres to one another. Development of railways has been limited.
Sahara Desert – Study and Exploration
Classical accounts describe the Sahara much as it is today—a vast and formidable barrier. The Egyptians controlled only their neighbouring oases and, occasionally, lands to the south; the Carthaginians apparently continued the commercial relationships with the interior that had been established during the Bronze Age. Herodotus described a desert crossing by an expedition of Berbers during the 5th century BCE, and Roman interest in the Sahara is documented in a series of expeditions between 19 BCE and 86 CE. The descriptions of the Sahara in the works of Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Ptolemy reflect growing interest in the desert. Geographic exploration, sponsored by the ʿAbbāsids, Fāṭimids, Mamlūks, and other courts in the Middle East, North Africa, and Moorish Spain, was widespread during the medieval period. Descriptions of the Sahara are contained in the works of numerous Arab writers, including al-Yaʿqūbī, ash-Sharīf al-Idrīsī, and Ibn Baṭṭūṭah.
Medieval travelers with religious and commercial motives contributed further to an understanding of the Sahara and its peoples. Abraham Cresque’s Catalan Atlas, published for Charles V of France in about 1375, renewed European interest in the desert. The atlas contained information based upon the knowledge of Jewish traders active in the Sahara. Its publication was followed by a period of intense Portuguese, Venetian, Genoese, and Florentine activity there. Particularly well documented are the travels of such 15th-century explorers as Alvise Ca’ da Mosto, Diogo Gomes, and Pedro de Sintra. Growing interest in the Sahara within northern Europe was reflected in the travels and writings of the 17th-century Dutch geographer Olfert Dapper.
Subsequent European exploration of the Sahara, much of it incidental to interest in the major waterways of interior Africa, began in earnest in the 19th century. Attempts to determine the course of the Niger River took the British explorers Joseph Ritchie and George Francis Lyon to the Fezzan area in 1819, and in 1822 the British explorers Dixon Denham, Hugh Clapperton, and Walter Oudney succeeded in crossing the desert and discovering Lake Chad. The Scottish explorer Alexander Gordon Laing crossed the Sahara and reached the fabled city of Timbuktu in 1826, but he was killed there before he could return. The French explorer René Caillié, disguised as an Arab, returned from his visit to Timbuktu by crossing the Sahara from south to north in 1828. Other notable expeditions were undertaken by the German geographer Heinrich Barth (1849–55), the French explorer Henri Duveyrier in 1859–62, and the German explorers Gustav Nachtigal (1869–75) and Gerhard Rohlfs (1862–78).
After the military occupation of the Sahara by the various European colonial powers, more detailed exploration took place; and by the end of the 19th century the main features of the desert were known. Political, commercial, and scientific activities that began in the 20th century greatly increased knowledge of the Sahara, although vast tracts of the desert remain remote.
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