The Sahara Desert
PPS file - Sahara People - at bottom.
Images of the Sahara
The Sahara desert divides the African continent into North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Sahara is Arabic for "great desert" or الصحراء الكبرى.
This name fits as it happens to be the world's largest 'hot' desert.
The Sahara covers most of Northern Africa and is almost as large as the United States or the continent of Europe. (Over 9 million square kilometres or 3.5 million square miles)
To the west the Sahara emerges from the Atlantic Ocean. It continues along the Atlas Mountains to the north and includes much of the Mediterranean coastline. To the east is the Suez Canal and down along the Red Sea.
The Sahara can be divided into the western Sahara, the central Ahaggar Mountains, the Tibesti Mountains, the Aïr Mountains, the Ténéré desert and the Libyan desert.
The Aïr Mountains are desert mountains with high plateaus.
The Libyan desert is the most arid region.
To the entire south of the Sahara is the Sahel, which is a belt of semi arid tropical savannah, or the northern regions of central and western Sub-Saharan Africa.
Most of the Sahara consists of rocky Hamada.
The highest peak in the Sahara is Emi Koussi at 3,415 meters or 11200 feet.
Emi Koussi is located in the Tibesti Mountains in northern Chad.
The Sahara ergs, which are large sand dunes, may reach 180 meters, or 600 feet.
Overall, sand dunes in the Sahara are a minor portion of surface area.
People have lived on the edge of the Sahara desert since the last ice age.
Thousands of years ago the Sahara was a wetter place.
Thirty thousand rock engravings or petro-glyphs, many depicting river animals such as crocodiles, give evidence to this.
More then half of the petroglyphs are found in the Tassili n'Ajjer - in southeast Algeria.
Fossils of dinosaurs including Afrovenator, Jobaria and Ouranosaurus have been found in the same region.
With the exception of the Nile River Valley, modern Sahara is not lush in vegetation. However, in the northern highlands, Mediterranean plants such as the olive trees are found.
Two in a half million people live in the Sahara, mostly in Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria.
Dominant ethnicities in the Sahara are Berber groups. They include the various Tuareg tribes and Arab type groups such as the Hassaniya speaking Moors or Sahrawis.
There are also black African ethnic groups who include the Fulani, Hausa, Kanuri, Nuba, Songhai, Tubu and Zaghawa.
Cites in the Sahara include Agadez, Bechar, El Oued, Faya-Largeau, Ghat, Ghardaia, Hassi, Mali; Messaoud, Nouakchott, Ouargla, Tamanrasset and Timbuktu.
The camel or Camelus dromedarius, is the most frequently associated with the Sahara. They were introduced to around 200 AD as part of trade caravans from the Arabian Peninsula.
The images and information that follow are compliments of National Geographic.
Click the tribal woman from Tabelot to watch a PPS presentation of the Sahara people.
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