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Dunes in Sahara

The Sahara[1] in North Africa, is the one of the largest deserts in the world. Antarctica is also a desert, and is larger.[2]

It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Atlas Mountains, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Sahel region. Inside it are parts of many countries, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and The Sudan. Most parts are uninhabited, but some people manage to survive in places where there is water.[3]

The Sahara Desert is about 9,065,000 square kilometers in size. It has been both larger and smaller at different times. Ater the last ice age it became more fertile, then dried up again. It is the hottest place on the Earth, but not the driest. The driest is the Atacama Desert in South America. The Sahara has about the same size as the whole United States.

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The Sahara is the largest desert on the African continent. The southern border of the Sahara is marked by a band of semiarid savanna called the Sahel; south of the Sahel lies the lusher Sudan and the Congo River Basin. Most of the Sahara consists of rocky hamada; ergs (large sand dunes) form only a minor part.

People lived on the edge of the desert thousands of years ago[4] 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 [5] survive, with half found in the Tassili n'Ajjer in southeast Algeria. Fossils of dinosaurs, including Afrovenator, Jobaria and Ouranosaurus, have also been found here.

The modern Sahara, though, is not lush in vegetation, except in the Nile Valley, at a few oases, 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 4200 years ago. Then, due to a climate change,the savannah changed into the sandy desert as we know it now. Dominant ethnicities in the Sahara are various Berber groups including Tuareg tribes, various Arabized Berber groups such as the Hassaniya-speaking Maure (Moors, also known as Sahrawis), including Toubou, Nubians, Zaghawa, Kanuri, Hausa, Songhai, and Fula/Fulani (French: Peul; Fula: Fulɓe). Important cities located in the Sahara include Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania; Tamanrasset, Ouargla, Bechar, Hassi Messaoud, Ghardaia, and El Oued in Algeria; Timbuktu in Mali; Agadez in Niger; Ghat in Libya; and Faya-Largeau in Chad.