Sahara Desert Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Inocente
It is 3.5 million square miles of sand and sun! No we are not talking about laying on a beach at the ocean in the sand, sun, and fun. You will be learning about one of the world's largest deserts and one of the harshest environments on Earth, the great Sahara Desert.

The Sahara Desert

Some people call the thousands of miles of sand dunes and rocky plateaus beautiful, while others call it a hot wasteland. The Sahara Desert is one of the natural wonders on Earth. There are a few cities in the Sahara Desert, like Cairo and Egypt, but compared to other parts of the world not many people live in this desert.

Sand dunes of the Sahara Desert
Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is the world's largest hot desert, but the third largest desert overall behind the Antarctic and the Arctic, which are cold deserts. The Sahara Desert is on the northern part of the continent of Africa and is about 3.5 million square miles. A large part of the Sahara is dry rocky landscape with large rock plateaus. There are mountains in the northern section. The Sahara gets little rain and has hot days and cold nights.

Plants, like the cactus, and some grasses that don't need a lot of water grow here. Palm trees and fig trees grow in the areas of the desert that have water. The Sahara is almost as big as the whole United States! Imagine taking a road trip to all of the states in United States and never leaving the desert.

The Sahara Desert seen in the northern part of the African continent from space
Africa from space

The History

If you could take a time machine back to the Sahara about 7,000-9,000 years ago, you would have stepped out into rain pouring around you and plants growing everywhere. The desert went through a time of heavy rains and green landscape with rivers and lakes, enticing many people and animals to the area. But the rains eventually stopped and the desert returned, forcing these societies to move out of the area back to more livable habitats. The Nile River runs right through the Sahara Desert, which has allowed some cities and villages to remain there.

The Animals

Could you imagine long periods without water in the scorching heat and eating other animals poop? It sounds horrible and gross at the same time, but the animals of the Sahara Desert are able to survive in this climate due to these adaptations. An adaptation is when a species changes over time to become better suited for where it lives. Other adaptations include animals not needing much food and burrowing into the sand for a home. For example, the dung beetle is an interesting creature because it has adapted to this land of little food and water by eating the poop of other animals.

The addax, dung beetle, and dromedary camel of the Sahara Desert
Sahara desert animals

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