Major Deserts of the World: List and the Map

A desert is a vast area of dry or barren land with extremely low precipitation. Deserts covers over 20% of the total land area on Earth and forms one of the major types of ecosystems. There are different types of deserts around the world like hot, cold, subtropical, etc.  At least of one type of desert is present in each continent. In this article, we have prepared a list of all major deserts of the world.

Sahara is the world’s largest Non-Polar desert. It is located in northern Africa and covers 3.5 million sq. miles.

List of Major Deserts of the World
Name Type of Desert Important Facts Location Area (mi²)
Antarctica Cold Polar desert in the southern hemisphere with little precipitation. Also the largest desert in the world. Antarctica 5,500,000 mi²
Arctic Cold Polar desert in the northern hemisphere Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia 5,400,000 mi²
Sahara Hot Largest hot desert covered by mountains, rocky areas, gravel plains, salt flats, huge areas of dunes. Northern Africa 3,500,000 mi²
Arabian Desert Hot Occupies most of the Arabian peninsula and holds very little biodiversity. Arabian Peninsula 900,000 mi²
Deserts of Australia Hot Covers 18% of the Australian mainland. It includes- the Great Victoria Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Tanami Desert, Simpson Desert, Gibson Desert, Little Sandy Desert, Strzelecki Desert, Sturt Stony Desert, Tirari Desert, and Pedirka Desert. Australia 5,900,900 mi²
Gobi Desert Cold Rain-shadow desert formed by Tibetian Plateau which blocks the Indian Ocean triggered precipitation. Historical Silk Road passes through the desert. China and Mongolia 500,000 mi²
Patagonian Desert Cold Came into existence when the Andes rose to the west. Also known as Patagonian Steppe. Argentina 260,000 mi²
Kalahari Desert Hot It is a semi-arid sandy savannah. The term “Kalahari” is derived from Tswana words “Kgala or Kgalagadi” meaning “the great thirst/a waterless place”. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia 220,000 mi²
Syrian Desert Hot summer & cold winter Also known as Badia, the Syrian steppe, or the Jordanian steppe. It includes the region of desert, semi-desert, and steppe of the Middle East. It merges with the Arabian Desert to its south. Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia 190,000 mi²
Great Basin Hot summer & cold winter Lies between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Range. It is a temperate desert. United States 190,000 mi²
Chihuahuan Desert Hot The largest desert in North America. Designated as an ecoregion. Mexico & United States. 175,000 mi²
Karakum Desert Cold This Central Asian desert is also called ” Kara-Kum and Gara-Gum” meaning “black sand” in Turkic language. It occupies 70% of Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan 135,000 mi²
Colorado Plateau Cold Mostly high desert areas with scattered forest areas forming part of the Intermontane Plateaus of the Western United States. United States 130,000 mi²
Sonoran Desert Hot It is an arid-desert region that is home to endemic plants and animals like saguaro and organ pipe cactus. It is the hottest desert in Mexico. United States, Mexico 120,000 mi²
Kyzylkum Desert Hot summer & cold winter The term “Kyzylkum” stands for “red sand” in Turkic language. This Central Asian desert is located in the doab between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan 115,000 mi²
Taklamakan Desert Cold It is located in Southwest Xinjiang (Northwest China). It is bounded by the Pamir Mountains and Tian Shan to the west and north, the Gobi Desert to the east, and the Kunlun Mountains to the south. China 105,000 mi²
Thar Desert Hot Also known as the Great Indian Desert, this desert is a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. India, Pakistan 75,000 mi²
Dasht-e Margo Subtropical Adjacent to the Dasht-e Khash and Registan Desert, Dasht-e Margo is located in the southern provinces of Helmand and Nimruz in Afghanistan. Afghanistan 58000 mi²
Registan Desert Hot summer & cold winter Sandy-arid plateau region located between the Helmand and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan. Afghanistan 56400 mi²
Atacama Desert Cold Driest nonpolar desert on Earth located in Northern Chile. Chile 54,000 mi²
Mojave Desert Hot It is the driest-arid rain-shadow desert in North America. United States 54,000 mi²
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map of the major deserts of the world