Top 10 Largest Deserts in the World

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 these hot deserts. However, additionally, there are also 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 the 10 largest deserts in the world and hence, will give you an idea of how powerfully 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….

1. Antarctic Desert

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Area size: ~ 14.2 million square kilometers / ~ 5.5 million square miles

Location: Antarctica
Desert type: Polar cold desert

2. Arctic Desert

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Area size: ~ 13.9 million square kilometers / ~ 5.4 million square miles

Location: Arctic Circle (part of Greenland/Denmark, Russia, Canada, USA, Finland, Sweden, Norway & Iceland)
Desert type: Polar cold desert

3. Sahara Desert

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Area size: ~ 9.1 million square kilometers / ~ 3.5 million square miles

Location: Northern Africa (part of Algeria, Libya, Chad, Egypt, Mauritania, Mali, Western Sahara/Morocco, Sudan & Tunisia)
Desert type: Arid hot desert

4. Arabian Desert

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Area size: ~ 2.3 million square kilometers / ~ 890,000 square miles

Location: the Middle East / Western Asia (part of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Iraq, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain & Qatar)
Desert type: Arid hot desert

5. Gobi Desert

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Area size: ~ 1.3 million square kilometers / ~ 500,000 square miles

Location: Eastern Asia (part of China & Mongolia)
Desert type: Cold desert

6. Kalahari Desert

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Area size: ~ 930,000 square kilometers / ~ 360,000 square miles

Location: Southern Africa (part of Botswana, Namibia South Africa)
Desert type: Semi-arid hot desert

7. Patagonian Desert

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Area size: ~ 670,000 square kilometers / ~ 260,000 square miles

Location: South America (part of Argentina & Chile)
Desert type: Cold desert

8. Syrian Desert

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Area size: ~ 520,000 square kilometers / ~ 200,000 square miles

Location: Middle East (part of Syria, Jordan & Iraq)
Desert type: Semi-arid hot desert

9. Great Basin Desert

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Area size: ~ 490,000 square kilometers / ~ 190,000 square miles

Location: USA (part of the U.S. states of Nevada & Utah)
Desert type: Cold desert

10. Chihuahuan Desert

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Area size: ~ 360,000 square kilometers / ~ 140,000 square miles

Location: North America (part of Mexico & USA)
Desert type: Semi-arid hot desert


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