Sahara- The Sahara takes up most of the northern portion of Africa at 3.5 million square miles. It’s the biggest desert in the world, but is unique because it’s only 10% sand; the rest is desert pavement, mountains, and barren rock. The Sahara winters are colder up north, but a little bit milder in the south. The Nile River runs through the eastern part of the Sahara providing water and fertile land on its banks. Because of this, people are able to live in the Sahara. There are also oases in this desert. Due to harsh conditions, there are 70 different animal species living in the Sahara. 20 of those are large mammals, such as the hyena and other mammals like the gerbil, sand fox, and cape hare. There are also reptiles such as lizards. There are around 500 species of plants, most those that have adapted to the weather and salty conditions of the water.


Rub’ al-Khali- Also known as the Empty Quarter, the Rub’ al-Khali has the most sand out of all the deserts in the region and covers almost the entire southern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula. The people living there live in the villages, towns, and cities that are in the desert. They have access to water through oases, and since it lies on the Arabian Peninsula, it is surrounded by the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and Persian Gulf.. The people own nomadic herds of sheep, goats, and camels. Cacti and drought-resistant shrubs are able to survive in this desert, despite the lack of water.


Kara-Kum- The Kara-Kum is located in Central Asia. It is mostly sand, and covers most of Turkmenistan. There are many oases for water, and supports small-scale farming. And obviously since there is farming there are farmers and people. People have adapted to the humid, spring climate and farm during that season. Also, there are more animals living there than in many other deserts and are many grasses, shrubs, bushes, and trees.


Kyzyl Kum- The Kyzyl Kum, found in Central Asia, has extensive plains and many highlands and valleys. It is also the home to thousands of sand dunes. Oases are found in this area, and along with the Amu Dar’ya and the Syr Dar’ya rivers, they support agricultural settlements. Lizards and tortoises are a few of the animals found in this region.

somethin kum

Nile River- The Nile, located in Egypt, is the longest river at 4,160 miles. The Nile Delta and the fertile land along its banks provided land for the earliest civilizations. This river had an impact on early history, and is still important to the Egyptians today. It only takes up 3% of Egypt’s land, but more than 90% of the population lives in the delta and along the river. The Aswan-High Dam (as well as other minor ones) helps control the rivers flow, water for agriculture, and hydroelectricity. Agriculture is a main part of Egyptian economy because the Nile provides fertile soil for farming.


Tigris and Euphrates River- These rivers, flowing through Iraq, provided land for some of the earliest successful civilizations. They originate 50 miles for each other in Eastern Turkey, but they join in southern Iraq, forming the Shatt al’Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf. It was known as the Mesopotamia (land between two rivers) by the ancient people. Its complex irrigation network has provided water to support agriculture for a very long time. These rivers still help irrigate water to Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The Euphrates River is 2,335 miles long, while the Tigris extends 1,180 miles.

Tigris and E

Syr Dar’ya and Amu Dar’ya Rivers- These two rivers run through the Kyzyl Kum desert. They are important because they provide fertile banks to farm on, and therefore support human economy and life. The majority of Tajikistan people live in their river valleys because they flow through Tajikistan. People probably would not be able to live in this dry region if the rivers did not support agriculture.

Syr and Amu

G. Boehm, Richard . World Geography and Cultures . Columbus, OH : Glencoe , 2012. Print.

Category. “Sahara Desert – The Sahara Desert in Africa.” Geography Home Page – Geography at About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://geography.about.com/od/locateplacesworldwide/a/saharadesert.htm>.

“KaraKum.” Wikipedia . N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Karakum_Desert.jpg>.

“Kyzyl Kum .” Flickr . N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <farm4.staticflickr.com/3118/3144738214_2d161502c6_z.jpg>.

“Nile River .” Nasa. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/46000/46820/ISS025-E-09858_lrg.jpg>.

“Rub al’ Khali .” WordPress . N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <delhi4cats.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/rub-al-khali-1.jpg>.

“The Sahara .” 123RF. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/muha/muha1205/muha120500017/13454357-sand-dunes-and-rocks-sahara-desert-algeria.jpg>

“The Syr Dar’ya and the Amu Dar’ya Rivers.” Columbia Blog . N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <blogs.ei.columbia.edu/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ca_map111.jpg>.

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3 thoughts on “Deserts of the Middle East

  1. Great job! I like these pictures. I think this region’s life is really tightly connected with these deserts and rivers. And because rivers and deserts the balance in this region won’t be broken.

  2. Good job! You did a very good job explaining the significance and the impact that the deserts have on the region. Are there any other waterways in the area that help the area thrive besides what you mentioned?

  3. Nice job! Your article has a lot of great information and summarizes the most important geographical features of the Middle East. It also does a great job of outlining the fact that people in this region are only able to live there because of the vital rivers and oases.

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