Top Ten Largest Deserts in the World

The map below shows the locations of the ten largest deserts in the world, including the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Desert.

Top Ten Largest Deserts Map
Description: Map shows top ten largest deserts in the world. Disclaimer

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Largest Deserts in the World

RankNameTypeArea (sq km)Area (sq mi)Location
1AntarcticaCold Winter14,000,0005,400,000Antarctica
2SaharaSubtropical9,000,0003,300,000North Africa (Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco,Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara)
3Arabian DesertSubtropical2,330,000900,000Western Asia (Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen)
4Gobi DesertCold Winter1,000,000500,000Central Asia (Mongolia)
5Kalahari DesertSubtropical900,000360,000Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa)
6Great Victoria DesertSubtropical647,000220,000Australia
7Patagonian DesertCold Winter620,000200,000South America (Argentina and Chile)
8Syrian DesertSubtropical520,000200,000Western Asia (Iraq, Jordan, and Syria)
9Great Basin DesertCold Winter492,000190,000United States
10Chihuahuan DesertSubtropical450,000175,000North America (Mexico and United States)
11Great Sandy DesertSubtropical400,000150,000Australia
12Karakum DesertCold Winter350,000135,000Turkmenistan
13Colorado PlateauCold Winter337,000130,000United States
14Sonoran DesertSubtropical310,000120,000North America (Mexico and United States)
15Kyzylkum DesertCold Winter300,000115,000Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan)
16Taklamakan DesertCold Winter270,000105,000China
17Thar DesertSubtropical200,00077,000South Asia (India, Pakistan)
18Gibson DesertSubtropical156,00060,000Australia
19Dasht-e MargoSubtropical150,00058,000Afghanistan
20Registan DesertSubtropical146,00056,400Afghanistan
21Simpson DesertSubtropical145,00056,000Australia
22Atacama DesertCool Coastal140,00054,000South America (Chile and Peru)
23Mojave DesertSubtropical124,00048,000United States
24Namib DesertCool Coastal81,00031,000Southern Africa (Angola and Namibia)
25Dasht-e KavirSubtropical77,00030,000Iran

About Deserts in the World

Deserts are areas that receive little precipitation, classified as an area that receives less that 250 millimeters (10 inches) of annual precipitation on average.
The classification also takes into account the potential evapotranspiration, or the amount of water that could be evaporated in the region. Because of the lack of precipitation, deserts are often dry and barren in landscape, and commonly thought of as having hot climates. However, deserts can be hot or cold, and they exist in regions all across the world. The largest two deserts on Earth are both cold deserts, which are covered in ice and snow.

About Polar Deserts

The largest deserts in the world are polar deserts: the Antarctic Desert and the Arctic Desert. The Antarctic Desert covers an area of 13,829,430 square kilometers over the South Pole. Antarctica is the most extreme continent on Earth, as the coldest, driest and windiest place in the world ,and the highest elevation. The Arctic Desert is the northernmost region of the Earth, covering the North Pole over 12,726,937 square kilometers. The Arctic Desert is partially located in the United States, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia.

Sahara Desert

The third largest desert in the world, and the largest non-polar desert is the Sahara. Situated in North Africa, the Sahara makes up parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara. The Sahara Desert spans over 9,400,000 square kilometers across the continent, and is the world's hottest desert.

The Arabian Desert is the fourth largest desert in the world, with an area of about 2,330,000 square kilometers. The Arabian Desert is situated on the Arabian peninsula, and makes up parts of Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Both the Sahara and Arabian Deserts are known for their sand and sand dunes, which are typical images of desert landscapes.

The fifth largest desert on Earth is Asia's Gobi Desert. Situated in northwestern China and southern Mongolia, the Gobi Desert was created as a rain shadow from the tall Himalayan Mountains, which prevent rain from reaching Gobi.

The Kalahari Desert is a subtropical desert in southern Africa, covering 900,000 square kilometers in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The Kalahari Desert ranks sixth in terms of largest deserts by area in the world.

South America's Patagonian Desert is the seventh largest desert, at 670,000 square kilometers. The Patagonian Desert is located in Argentina and Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Great Victoria Desert is next on the list, ranking eighth. The Great Victoria Desert spans about 647,000 square kilometers of Australia.

The Syrian Desert has an area of about 520,000 square kilometers, and is situated in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria.

The Great Basin Desert in the United States is the tenth largest desert in the world, covering an area of 492,000 square kilometers.

Top Ten Largest Deserts Images

Last Updated on: November 24, 2016