The most dazzling deserts in the world

When many of us think of deserts, we think of hot, dry, desolate places filled with sand and maybe some cacti. But not all deserts are hot or even filled with sand.

In fact, there are six categories of deserts according to the U.S. Geological Survey: trade wind, midlatitude, rain shadow, coastal, monsoon, and polar. The only thing all deserts have in common is that they are dry.

The Namib desert, Namibia

The petrified Acacia trees in the Deadvlei area of the Namib desert are famous for their eery, almost haunted appearance. At 700 years old, they stand in stark contrast to living Acacia trees nearby.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, also known as the Uyuni salt flat, lies in the Andes Mountains in southwest Bolivia, and is the world’s largest salt flat.

The Highlands of Iceland

The Highlands of Iceland are volcanic in nature, meaning these fields of ash, lava and even volcanic glass usually end up being gray, brown or black.

Thar desert, India

The Thar, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is in northwestern India. At roughly 77,000 square miles, it is the world’s 17th largest desert and the 9th largest hot, subtropical desert.

All the deserts of Australia

Nearly 20% of Australia is classified as desert, with the Great Victoria Desert being the largest. That’s more than 850,000 square miles of desert — an area bigger than the entire country of Mexico.

The Gobi Desert, China

The Gobi Desert spans roughly 500,000 miles along the border of Northern China and Southern Mongolia and is the sixth largest desert in the world.


Most people think of ice and snow (and penguins!) when they think of Antarctica. But 5.4 million square miles of Antarctica (roughly 98%) is designated as desert, making it the largest desert in the world.

The Sahara, North Africa

The Sahara desert is the world’s largest hot desert, but is still smaller than both the Antarctic and Arctic deserts. It covers nearly a third of the African continent and 11 different countries can claim a portion of it as theirs.

The Mojave Desert, California

The Mojave Desert stretches from Southeastern California into Arizona, Utah and Nevada, taking up nearly 25,000 square miles.

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