- 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 . It is bounded in the east by the Red Sea and it stretches west to the Atlantic Ocean. To the north, the Sahara Desert's northern boundary is the Mediterranean Sea, while in the south it ends at the Sahel, an area where the desert landscape transforms into a semi-arid tropical savanna.
- In addition to being extremely dry, the Sahara is also one of the hottest regions in the world. The average annual temperature for the desert is 86°F (30°C) but during the hottest months temperatures can exceed 122°F (50°C), with the highest temperature ever recorded at 136°F (58°C). Half of the Sahara receives less than an inch of rain per year, and the rest receives up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) per year. The infrequent rain is usually torrential.
Due to the high temperatures and arid conditions of the Sahara Desert, the plant life in the Sahara Desert is sparse and includes only around 500 species. These consist mainly of drought and heat resistant varieties and those adapted to salty conditions (halophytes) where there is sufficient moisture.The harsh conditions found in the Sahara Desert have also played a role in the presence of animal life in the Sahara Desert. In the central and driest part of the desert there are around 70 different animal species, 20 of which are large mammals like the spotted hyena. Other mammals include the gerbil, sand fox and Cape hare. Reptiles like the sand viper and the monitor lizard are present in the Sahara as well.
There are also several mountain ranges within the Sahara and many are volcanic. The highest peak found in these mountains is Emi Koussi, a shield volcano that rises to 11,204 ft (3,415 m). It is a part of the Tibesti Range in northern Chad. The lowest point in the Sahara Desert is in Egypt's Qattera Depression at -436 ft (-133 m) below sea level.