Is There Anywhere in the Sahara Desert without Sand?

Contrary to popular belief, the Sahara Desert of northern Africa does not consist entirely of towering sand dunes. In fact, only about 15 percent of the desert is covered in sand dunes. Instead, most of the desert is full of scrubby vegetation. The Sahara also contains many plateaus of bare rock, along with areas of gravel. The Sahara Desert stretches across parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sudan.

People have lived in the areas surrounding the Sahara for millennia. There is evidence of groups living in Nubia during the Neolithic Era, beginning around 10,000 BC. Throughout recorded history, the area has contained trade routes and it was the center of the slave trade in the fourth and fifth centuries AD.

More about the Sahara Desert:

  • The surface area of the Sahara -- about 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square km) — is comparable to the land mass of China or the United States.

  • The Nile and Niger Rivers are the only two permanent rivers in the Sahara. Both are fed by rainfall outside the desert’s boundaries.

  • The Sahara Desert usually sees more than 3.600 hours of sunshine every year.

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