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The Sahara Desert is the largest in the world with a total land area of 3½ million square miles, 8% of the world's land. Of that, 80,000 square miles surround
oases and can sustain a variety of plant and animal life. The desert is actually made up of three main smaller regions, the Western Sahara,
the Central Plateau, and the Libyan Desert.
The Western Sahara is made up of sandy and rocky land. Almost no rain falls in this region, but in some places underground water makes its way to the
surface, creating oases with date palms and other trees. These water supplies are used for irrigation in areas nearby where a number of crops are
grown. Animals in these areas include gazelle, antelopes, jackals, foxes, badgers, and hyenas.
The Central Plateau, with elevations averaging between 1,900 to 2,500 feet, extends from north-west to south-east across the Sahara. This region includes
many high peaks, some more than 11,000 feet high. Rainfall is very scarce in this region, but many of the area’s mountains are snow-capped at times.
The Libyan Desert is the driest part of the Sahara. Almost no rain falls, and there are few oases. This is the area of high, sandy dunes that are often
photographed as the Sahara. These massive dunes can be as high as 400 feet!
Which number in miles describes the total size of the Sahara?
The MOST IMPORTANT characteristic of an oasis is the presence of
3½ million square miles is to the total land area, as 80,000 square miles is to the
This picture to the right was MOST LIKELY taken in the