Deserts of the World

The table below compares the sizes of the world's largest deserts. See Types of Deserts for more information about individual deserts throughout the world.

World's Largest Deserts
Desert Location Square
Sahara North Africa 3,500,000 9,065,000
Gobi Mongolia-China 500,000 1,295,000
Kalahari Southern Africa 225,000 582,000
Great Victoria Australia 150,000 338,500
Great Sandy Australia 150,000 338,500

Deserts of North America

Map of Deserts of North America
Deserts of North America
Size Physical 
Some Plants & Animals Special Facts
North Central Mexico and Southwestern United States (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas)
175,000 mi2
455,000 km2
High plateau covered by stony areas and sandy soil. Many mountains and mesas. cacti, chihuahuan flax, creosote bush, lechuguilla, mesquite, mexican gold poppy

coyote, diamondback rattlesnake, javelina, kangaroo rat, roadrunner

Largest North American desert. Big Bend National Park located here; more species of birds seen in Big Bend than in any other National Park in the U.S.
Great Basin
Western United States (Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah)
158,000 mi2
411,000 km2
Covered by sand, gravel, and clay.

Many moutains ranges, basins, and large expanses of salt flats.

greasewood, sagebrush, shadscale

bighorn sheep, jackrabbit, pocket mouse, poor-will, pronghorn antelope, sage thrasher, side-blotched lizard

Great Salt Lake located here.
Southwestern United States (Arizona, California, Nevada)
25,000 mi2
65,000 km2
Covered by sandy soil, gravelly pavement, and salt flats. creosote bush, desert sand verbena, joshua tree, mesquite

bighorn sheep, chuckwalla, coyote, jackrabbit, sidewinder, zebra-tailed lizard

Death Valley located in this desert.
Southwestern United States (Arizona, California) and parts of Mexico (Baja Peninsula, Sonora)
120,000 mi2
312,000 km2
Covered by sand, soil, and gravelly pavement. Gets more rain than any other North American desert. agave, coulter's globemallow, creosote bush, desert mariposa lily, mesquite, ocotillo, paloverde, saguaro

coati, elf owl, gila monster, kangaroo rat, pack rat, roadrunner, sidewinder, tarantula

Most complex animal-plant community of any desert.
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