submitted by 1976_Beth 616 days ago (via sahara.com.linkdaddy.org)
The Sahara is the largest subtropical hot desert and third largest desert after Antarctica and the Arctic. At over 9,400,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi), it covers most of North Africa, making it almost as large as China or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea to the east, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts to the Atlantic Ocean to the west. To the south, it is delimited by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna that composes the northern region of central and western Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the sand dunes can reach 180 metres (590 ft) in height. The name comes from the plural Arabic language word for desert. The Sahara was originally occupied by the Amazi? people whose name for the region was Tinariwen, meaning deserts, a reference to the fact that they differentiated between the different ecoregions of the desert (i.e. erg, oasis, xeric shrublands etc.) The Saharas boundaries are the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean on the north, the Red Sea on the east, and the Sudan and the valley of the Niger River on the south.