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Summer of Adventure - Desert Facts!

Deserts aren't just sandy expanses of nothingness. What? Here's a load of essential facts about some of the most barren places on earth!

Beano Team
Last Updated:  August 9th 2021

Like desserts, deserts can be hot and cold. Read on to find out exactly what we mean in this blam collection of sandy and icy trivia!

1. What exactly is a desert?

A land mass can only be described as a desert if it receives less than 25cm of rain in a year. Cardiff, for example, gets 115.2cm of rain a year, which is a bit wetter than Atacama in Chile, which receives 1 – that's ONE – millimetre of rain a year. Since records began, some parts of Atacama have received no rain at all!

A sloth in a desert

2. Where can I find one of these fancy deserts, then?

Deserts aren't just located near the equator. They can be found on all continents and cover a third of the globe's surface. The world’s coldest dry desert is located in Antarctica.

A mammoth in an icy environment

3. Surely no-one lives in the desert, right?

Wrong! Over one billion people live in deserts around the world. That's just under one seventh of the world's population. So, in summary: a lot.

A man preparing a fire in the desert

4. Are most deserts are made of sand?

Not at all. Just 20 per cent of the world's deserts are sandy.

A sandcastle

5. Can plants survive in a hot desert?

Even though they're extremely dry environments, some plants can survive in a desert. Xerophytic plants, like the cactus, have thick leaves to store moisture and are covered in spikes to protect them from animals. The saguaro cactus can grow up to 20 metres high and can be found in Mexico and certain southern states in America.

Cacti in a desert landscape

6. The Sahara Desert is the biggest hottest desert – and it's getting bigger!

It's actually expanding by approximately 30 miles a year, partially due to deforestation. Ṣaḥrā is the Arabic word for desert.

7. Here's a fact about oases!

Oasis aren't just an old rock band your parents enjoy occasionally, or in fact, a soft drink. An oasis – the plural being oases – is a part of the desert where a pool of water appears, rising from a place underground. It's something of a meeting place for animals, who drink the water and relax in the shade of the trees that grow there.

An oasis

8. Hot deserts don't remain hot all day – so bring a jumper.

Even though most deserts are unbearably hot during the day, they can quickly become very cold at night. Either way, it's a very dangerous environment for humans.

A snake hiding in the sand

9. Some deserts are very small, too.

The smallest desert in the world measures 1 square mile. Named the Carcross Desert, it's found in the Yukon, Canada.

Carcross Desert

10. Animals are very sensible when it comes to desert living...

Animals who live in hot deserts are mostly nocturnal. They stay in burrows during the day and go out to explore during the night, when it's much cooler. Smart.

A dog in a hat