A desert is an arid land characterized by extreme temperatures and low rainfall supports only sparse vegetation.
The Sahara desert, located in North Africa, is the world’s largest hot desert. With an area of about 8.54 million square kilometres it encompasses 11 countries including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara.
The Sahara landscape besides huge stretches of sand has rocky plains, elevated plateaus, sand dunes and mountains. The longest river in the world, the Nile, flows through the north of the present day Sahara, from Sudan into Egypt making that desert region fertile.
The Sahara desert contains underground water from the rainy mountains around it. This underground water sometimes naturally penetrates the depressions in the sand, to form green, fertile areas called oases. People living in oases grow date palms, and crops like rice, wheat, beans and barley.
Most of the people settled in the Sahara lives in the oasis and the Nile valley as in the other parts of the Sahara, harsh temperatures and sandstorms make living difficult. Similar to restricted vegetation, animal variety is also limited in the Sahara. Animals like camels, hyenas, jackals, scorpions, and varieties of lizards and snakes are the only which can survive in the Sahara.
Despite the harsh conditions, some nomadic tribes such as Bedouins and Tuaregs manage to survive in various parts of the Sahara desert. They rear livestock like sheep, goats, horses and camels for milk, hide and hair. The consistently hot and dry climate of the Sahara might be difficult for the nomads, but it provides favorable conditions for natural preservation of artefacts and fossils.
In addition to the preserves of animal fossils, Sahara has oil and natural gas reserves and some mineral deposits of iron, phosphorus, manganese and uranium. Owing to the found of natural resources in the Sahara, the desert has started its way towards prosperity.