Erg Chigaga, Sahara Desert, Morocco
The Sahara is the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its area of 3,600,000 square miles is comparable to the area of China or the United States. The name “Sahara” is derived from an Arabic word for desert. The desert comprises much of North Africa, excluding the fertile region on the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. It stretches from the Red Sea in the east and the Mediterranean in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, where the landscape gradually changes from desert to coastal plains.