Top 10 Largest Deserts in the World

Of the many wonders mother nature offers us, deserts are certainly among the most fascinating phenomena on our planet. Desert landscapes are defined by areas that experience an extremely low amount of precipitation all year round. This extreme lack of rain makes life almost impossible, both for animals and plants, but also very hard for humans (albeit modern-day technology helps us somewhat in that regard). There are only a handful of plants and species that are naturally able to survive in these extreme conditions.

If you think these extremely arid land surfaces are rare occurrences on our planet, think again. Around 33% or roughly 1/3 of Earth’s landmass can be classified as desert land. Indeed, every single continent includes a certain amount of desert areas.

When most people think of deserts, they think of hot regions with nothing but sand as far as the eye can see. It is true that most deserts are indeed hot deserts. However, additionally, there are cold deserts or “polar deserts” as they are also known.

These deserts are located around the two polar circles in the Arctic and Antarctica. Cold deserts are in fact even less life-friendly and more uninhabitable than hot deserts. The entire surface can be covered with nothing but ice and snow (which forms from the rare few times it snows in these areas and then just stays on the ground with a very slow melting process). However, cold deserts (non-Polar ones) can also consist of sand dunes and optically resemble hot deserts.

Whether hot deserts or cold deserts, desert areas can be quite huge as you may imagine by now. The 10 largest deserts in the world are in fact bigger than most countries on this planet. The following ranking presents you with the 10 largest deserts in the world and hence, will give you an idea of how powerfully and big these extreme areas are. Just a heads-up: The 4 largest deserts in the world are also generally recognized as the most extreme deserts in the world….

The 10 Largest Deserts in the World

top 10 largest deserts in the world

1. Antarctica

biggest deserts in the world - biggest desert in the world

2. The Arctic

arctic desert - second of the biggest deserts in the world

3. Sahara

largest deserts in the world - sahara - largest hot desert in the world

4. Arabian Desert

arabian desert - deserts in the world

5. Gobi Desert

gobi desert - large deserts

6. Kalahari Desert

7. Patagonian Desert

8. Syrian Desert

9. Great Basin Desert

10. Chihuahuan Desert

The 10 Largest Deserts in the World

Top 10 Largest Deserts in the World:
Area size: ~ 14.2 million square kilometers / ~ 5.5 million square miles
Area size: ~ 13.9 million square kilometers / ~ 5.4 million square miles
Area size: ~ 9.2 million square kilometers / ~ 3.6 million square miles
Area size: ~ 2.3 million square kilometers / ~ 890,000 square miles
Area size: ~ 1.3 million square kilometers / ~ 500,000 square miles
Area size: ~ 900,000 square kilometers / ~ 350,000 square miles
Area size: ~ 670,000 square kilometers / ~ 260,000 square miles
Area size: ~ 520,000 square kilometers / ~ 200,000 square miles
Area size: ~ 490,000 square kilometers / ~ 190,000 square miles
Area size: ~ 360,000 square kilometers / ~ 140,000 square miles

Ranking of the 10 largest deserts on Earth based on the desert sizes by area in square km and miles. Only earthly deserts are counted here, the Martian desert, therefore, does not classify for this ranking.

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