23 Facts About Sahara


The Sahara can be divided into several regions, including the western Sahara, the central Ahaggar Mountains, the Tibesti Mountains, the Air Mountains, the Tenere desert, and the Libyan Desert.

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Sahara covers large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.

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Sahara is so large and bright that, in theory, it could be detected from other stars as a surface feature of Earth, with near-current technology.

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Sahara is mainly rocky hamada ; ergs form only a minor part, but many of the sand dunes are over 180 metres high.

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The highest peak in the Sahara is Emi Koussi, a shield volcano in the Tibesti range of northern Chad.

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The southern limit of the Sahara is indicated botanically by the southern limit of Cornulaca monacantha, or northern limit of Cenchrus biflorus, a grass typical of the Sahel.

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Important cities located in the Sahara include Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania; Tamanrasset, Ouargla, Bechar, Hassi Messaoud, Ghardaia, and El Oued in Algeria; Timbuktu in Mali; Agadez in Niger; Ghat in Libya; and Faya-Largeau in Chad.

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The prevailing air mass lying above the Sahara is the continental tropical air mass, which is hot and dry.

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The Sahara High represents the eastern continental extension of the Azores High, centered over the North Atlantic Ocean.

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Indeed, the extreme aridity of the Sahara is not only explained by the subtropical high pressure: the Atlas Mountains of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia help to enhance the aridity of the northern part of the desert.

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Primary source of rain in the Sahara is the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a continuous belt of low-pressure systems near the equator which bring the brief, short and irregular rainy season to the Sahel and southern Sahara.

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The harsh climate of the Sahara is characterized by: extremely low, unreliable, highly erratic rainfall; extremely high sunshine duration values; high temperatures year-round; negligible rates of relative humidity; a significant diurnal temperature variation; and extremely high levels of potential evaporation which are the highest recorded worldwide.

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The frequency of subfreezing winter nights in the Sahara is strongly influenced by the North Atlantic Oscillation, with warmer winter temperatures during negative NAO events and cooler winters with more frosts when the NAO is positive.

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One theory for the formation of the Sahara is that the monsoon in Northern Africa was weakened because of glaciation during the Quaternary period, starting two or three million years ago.

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Climate of the Sahara has undergone enormous variations between wet and dry over the last few hundred thousand years, believed to be caused by long-term changes in the North African climate cycle that alters the path of the North African Monsoon – usually southward.

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Flora of the Sahara is highly diversified based on the bio-geographical characteristics of this vast desert.

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Floristically, the Sahara has three zones based on the amount of rainfall received – the Northern, Central and Southern Zones.

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Central Sahara is estimated to include five hundred species of plants, which is extremely low considering the huge extent of the area.

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Several species of fox live in the Sahara including: the fennec fox, pale fox and Ruppell's fox.

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The modern Sahara, though, is not lush in vegetation, except in the Nile Valley, at a few oases, and in the northern highlands, where Mediterranean plants such as the olive tree are found to grow.

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Between the first century BCE and the fourth century CE, several Roman expeditions into the Sahara were conducted by groups of military and commercial units of Romans.

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The Sahel and southern Sahara regions were home to several independent states or to roaming Tuareg clans.

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Islamist rebels in the Sahara calling themselves al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have stepped up their violence in recent years.

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