Deserts World Heritage Sites

Satellite Image of Sahara Desert ‘The Great Desert’


GeoEye-1 (0.5m) Satellite Image of Sahara Desert in East Algeria

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(Copyright© DigitalGlobe and Courtesy of Satellite Imaging Corporation. All Rights Reserved)

This GeoEye-1 (0.5m) satellite image of  Eastern Algeria portion of the Sahara is an otherworldly place, a region of great diversity with endless stretches of sand dunes and rocky platforms that can reach more than 2,000 meters. The Tassili n’Ajjer “Plateau of the Rivers” National Park is a vast plateau in southeast Algeria at the borders of Libya, Niger, and Mali, covering 72,000 square kilometers.

The Sahara Desert is located in the northern portion of Africa and covers over 3,500,000 square miles (9,000,000 sq km) or roughly 10% of the continent.  People lived on the edge of the desert thousands of years ago since the last ice age. The Sahara was then a much wetter place than it is today. Over 30,000 petroglyphs of river animals such as crocodiles survive, with half found in the Tassili n’Ajjer in southeast Algeria. Fossils of dinosaurs have also been found here. The modern Sahara, though, is not lush in vegetation, except in the Nile Valley and in the northern highlands, where Mediterranean plants such as the olive tree are found to grow. The region has been this way since about 1600 BC, after shifts in the Earth’s axis increased temperatures and decreased precipitation. Then, due to a climate change, the savannah changed into the sandy desert as we know it now.

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