List of Top 10 Largest/ Biggest Deserts in the World

Desert are the barren patches of land, loaded with sand dunes and are marked extreme dry weather climate. Such places face extreme conditions of hot climate, and life forms are usually deprived of water. But they still play a significant role in maintaining our ecosystem.

Though they look barren from the outside, beneath this hard surface is a land rich in minerals and hydrocarbons. Years and even centuries pass by that accounts for the transformation of a land into a deserts. Deforestation, destruction of natural habitats and other environmental factor causes such change. Now there are plenty of deserts that have surfaced on the face of the earth but of these, few are enormous ones which cover the wide span of the area stretching from one end to another.


Following are the top ten largest deserts present in the world. The article provides you full depth analysis over their area, location, climatic conditions and life forms inhabiting them.


175,000 square miles (282,000 square km)

Larger than the entire state of California, Chihuahuan Desert is located at the US-Mexico border touching the areas of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The annual rainfall is as low as 9 inches a year. It is ranked at tenth position in the list of top ten world biggest deserts. It covers the area of 282000 square kilometers. There are as many as 300 caves underneath this humongous deserts and the mountain ranges of New Mexico Guadalupe; these caves are the rich source of Sulphur and limestone.


190,000 square miles (492,000 square km)

The Great Basin desert of America is highly distinctive and unique, unlike many other deserts it is Cold Desert, and here there is minimal rainfall whereas the it also experiences snowfall at times. It is ranked at ninth position in the list of top ten world largest deserts. It stretches across the state of Nevada, part of Utah and other surrounding states. The average rainfall a year ranges from 6 inches to 12 inches.


200,000 square miles (518,000 sq km)

The Syrian Desert is also termed as the “arid wasteland” It covers the huge area of Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the larger part of Syria. It is ranked at eight number in the list of top ten world biggest deserts. This region faces lava eruption and flows hence it was impenetrable until recent years. New Highways and oil pipelines are constructed in this area. It receives almost 5 inches of rain each year. The excavation of this desert back in 2009 revealed that it was inhabited by the people of Syria’s Stonehenge.


250,000 square miles (647,000 sq km)

Covering a huge part of Australia, the Great Victoria Desert consist of multiple sand dunes running parallel to one another. It is ranked at seventh position in the list of top ten world biggest deserts. It is famous for its red sand which came from the parts of Western Australian Shield. Whereas the color of sand changes to white if you move towards the south. It has shown great variation in rainfall patterns over the years. But by an average of last few decades, the average rainfall turned out to be 6.4 inches per year.


260,000 square miles (673,000 square km)

The desert of Patagonia is located across the land of Argentina. It is ranked at sxth position in the list of top ten world biggest deserts. It starts from the coasts of Atlantic Ocean and reaches to The Andes. This desert lies in the “rain shadow” of mountain ranges of Patagonia. Some part of the desert annually receives about 6 to 8 inches of rainfall. The environment is extremely arid as the rate of evaporation is much faster than the precipitation.


360,000 square miles (930,000 square km)

Situated in the midst of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana is the Kalahari Desert. It is considered to be the the fifth world most largest deserts in the world. It tends to receive even less than 500mm of rainfall a year, which is approximately around 20 inches. About 12 thousand years ago the desert was formed by the accumulation of layers of sand sheers. And since then these layers stayed the same. Excavation at Kalahari proved that it was once inhabited by human civilization.


800,000 square miles (1.3 million square km)

Gobi desert is ranked at fourth position in the list of top ten world largest deserts. covers he huge portions of China and Mongolia. It experiences arid climate in most of its regions whereas it has the monsoon-like season. The average rainfall ranges from 2 to 8 inches which differ from region to region. During summer, it receives more rainfall in some parts. Gobi deserts seems like the great place for dinosaur hunting and excavation of their old fossils. Back in 2012, a rare Tyrannosaurus skeleton was found buried under its dunes.


900,000 square miles (2.3 million square km)

The desert experiences the scorching high temperature of 129F. It is located in Saudi Arabia, parts of Oman, Iraq, and surrounding countries. It is placed at 3rd number in the list of top ten world largest deserts. The central region of this desert faces extreme high temperature whereas the regions near the coastlines and highlands experiences comparatively moderate temperatures. The annual rainfall on average is about 4 inches, but it varies from area to area, it can vary from 0 inches to even up to 20 inches a year.


3.3 million square miles (8.6 million sq km)

Perhaps the most famous desert by its size and harsh climate is the Sahara desert. It is placed at 2nd position in the list of top ten world largest deserts. It is located in the midst of Africa, touching the high volcano of Emi Koussi located in Chad. It receives about .9 inches of rainfall annually which could get as low as 0.2 inches. Nights are comparatively cold, and little precipitation can be seen.


5.5 million square miles (14.2 million sq km)

Located around the South Pole, the icy Antarctica world largest desert which is cold. The average precipitation fall is about 2 inches per year. Vast glaciers of ice cover the entire desert. No vegetation and live forms can be seen in most of its barren regions. The highest temperature remains around 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit.


o.DesertContinent/CountryArea (km2)
1Antarctic DesertAntarctica13829430
2Sahara DesertAfrica9100000
3Arabian DesertArabian Peninsula2330000
4Gobi DesertChina and Mongolia1300000
5Kalahari DesertSouth Africa, Botswana, Namibia900000
6Patagonian DesertArgentina670000
7Great Victoria DesertAustralia647000
8Syrian DesertNorth Arabian Peninsula520000
9Great Basin DesertUnited States492000
10Chihuahuan DesertUnited States492,000

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