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Largest Desert in the World, List of Top 10

Antarctica, a frigid expanse primarily comprising polar ice and tundra, is recognized as the largest desert in the world, covering a vast territory of approximately 14,200,000 square kilometers.

Deserts are characterized by their meager precipitation, usually receiving less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of annual rainfall. This lack of water gives rise to arid, desolate landscapes.

 Types of deserts:

There are four main types of deserts:

  1. Hot & dry deserts
  2. Cold deserts
  3. Coastal deserts
  4. Semi-arid deserts

Top 10 Largest Desert in the World

The largest desert in the world is the Antarctica Desert located in Antarctica and covers an area of about 14,200,000 (sq.km), followed by Arctic Desert, Sahara Desert and Great Australian.

Here is the list of top 10 largest Desert in the world:

S. No. Name Type Location Area (in sq.km) Area (in sq.mi)
1. Antarctica Desert Polar ice and Tundra Antarctica 14,200,000 5,482,651
2. Arctic Desert Polar ice and Tundra Eastern Europe

Northern America

Northern Asia

Northern Europe

13,900,000 5,366,820
3. Sahara Desert Subtropical Eastern Africa

Middle Africa

Northern Africa

Western Africa

9,200,000 3,552,140
4. Great Australian Subtropical Australia 2,700,000 1,042,476
5. Arabian Desert Subtropical Western Asia 2,330,000 899,618
6. Gobi Desert Cold winter Eastern Asia 1,295,000 500,002
7. Kalahari Desert Subtropical Southern Africa 900,000 347,492
8. Patagonian Desert Cold winter South America 673,000 259,847
9. Syrian Desert Subtropical Western Asia 500,000 193,051
10. Great Basin Cold winter North America 492,098 190,000

1. Largest Desert in the World: Antarctica Desert

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Some of the key points related to Antarctica Desert, World’s largest desert are as follows:

  • The largest desert in the world is the Antarctica Desert which covers about 14,200,000 sq.km area.
  • It is located in Antarctica and surrounding oceanic areas, with freezing temperatures and a thick ice sheet.
  • The Antarctica Desert holds nearly 70% of the Earth’s freshwater in the form of ice.
  • Despite being cold and icy, the Antarctica Desert experiences extremely low precipitation.
  • It surpasses other renowned desert like the Sahara in North Africa in terms of size.
  • The Antarctica Desert is classified as a polar desert due to its frigid conditions.
  • This desert is home to unique wildlife including penguins, seals and various seabird species.
  • The desert’s ice sheet contains valuable records of Earth’s climate history.
  • The ice sheet in the Antarctica Desert can reach depths of over two miles in some areas.

2. Second Largest Desert of the World: Arctic Desert

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Area: 13,900,000 sq. km

Location: Artic Ocean Islands north of Norway and Russia

The Arctic Desert is the second largest desert in the world, located in the northern polar region of Earth. The desert stretches across an area of the Arctic Ocean 2,000 km from east to west and 1,000 km from north to south, covering a number of island groups of the north coast of Norway and Russia.

3. Third Largest Desert in the World: Sahara Desert

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Area: 9.1 million sq. km

Location: North Africa

Sahara Desert is the biggest hot desert and third biggest desert in the world, covering an area of 3.5 million sq. miles (9.1 million sq. km) of dry and windy landscapes.

The Sahara Desert takes up much of the Northern Africa, reaching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and even the Red Sea. Close to these oceans, the Sahara gets a little bit of rain, around 4 to 10 inches every year.

4. Great Australian Desert

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Area: 2,700,000 sq. km

Location: Australia

The Great Australian Desert is the fourth largest desert in the world, covering an area of about 18% of the landmass of the Australian mainland.

Australia is the driest continent in the world. Around 35% of the continent receives so little rain, it is close to being classed as a desert. The Australian Desert receives uneven rainfall.

5. The Arabian Desert

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Area: 2,330,000 sq. km

Location: Middle East

The Arabian Desert is one of the largest deserts in the world. It is not same as the Syrian or North Arabian Deserts. It’s the second biggest subtropical desert, covering a huge space of 2.3 million sq. km all over the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Desert is also home to 102 endemic species of mammals and 310 various species of birds.

6. Gobi Desert

 

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Area: 1,295,000 sq. km

Location: Eastern Asia

The Gobi Desert, spanning northern China and southern Mongolia, is a vast cold desert and grassland area, ranking as the world’s sixth-largest desert. Its name, “Gobi,” originates from the Mongolian term denoting all arid regions on the Mongolian Plateau. In Chinese, “Gobi” specially signifies rocky, semi-arid landscapes like the Gobi, rather than sandy deserts.

Kalahari Desert

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Area: 900,000 sq. kilometers

Location: South Africa

The Kalahari Desert, spanning 900,000 sq. kilometers in Southern Africa, is a vast semi-arid sandy savanna. It stretches across Bostwana and reaches into parts of Namibia and South Africa. It is distinct from the Namib coastal desert in Angola, Namibia and South Africa, which is known as a “vast place” in the Khoekhoegowab language.

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FAQs

Which is the largest desert in the world?

The largest area in the world is Antarctica Desert which is polar ice and tundra located in Antarctica, covers an area of about 14,200,000 (sq.km).

Which type of climate does Antarctica Desert have?

The Antarctica Desert has an cold climate, with temperatures regularly dropping well below freezing.