The largest deserts worldwide by type

While deserts are usually associated with dry, barren landscapes, or symbolize of things gone horribly wrong, nevertheless they hold an attraction or character to them.  This could be something to do with the harsh climate, the law of the minimalism, and other aspects of living in what you could call a challenging or tough environment.

With that, there are four main types of deserts, going from cold to hot these are Polar, Cold Winter, Cool Coastal, and Subtropical.  Below are the 25 largest deserts worldwide organized by their respective type.


Not all deserts are hot.  Going with the definition of a desert being anywhere that doesn’t have enough vegetation to support humans, the north and south poles are the largest deserts on Earth.

  • Antarctic Desert: 13.8 million sq km or 5.3 million sq miles, the largest of any desert worldwide.
  • Arctic: 13.7 million sq km or 5.3 million sq miles, stretching over Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

Cold Winter

Otherwise known as Semiarid deserts, they’re cooler than subtropical and receive very little rain, where most of the water comes for the early morning dew.

  • Gobi Desert: 1.3 million sq km or 0.5 million sq miles, going across China and Mongolia.
  • Patagonian Desert: 0.7 million sq km or 0.3 million sq miles, including Argentina and Chile.
  • Great Basin Desert: 0.49 million sq km or 0.19 million sq miles, covering most of Nevada and surrounding areas in the US.
  • Karakum Desert: 0.35 million sq km or 0.14 million sq miles, making up much of Turkmenistan.
  • Colorado Plateau: 0.34 million sq km or 0.13 million sq miles, the high plains of Colorado, US.
  • Kyzyl Kum: 0.3 million sq km or 0.12 million sq miles, in parts of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • Takla Makan Desert: 0.27 million sq km or 0.11 million sq miles, in the western parts of China.
  • Dasht-e Kavir: 0.08 million sq km or 0.03 million sq miles, found in the middle of the Iranian plateau.
  • Dasht-e Lut: 0.05 million sq km or 0.02 million sq miles, a large salt desert in southeastern Iran.

Cool Coastal

Usually found on the western sides of continental land masses, such as Baja California, South America, and Africa.

  • Atacama Desert: 0.14 million sq km or 0.05 million sq miles, in parts of Chile and Peru, is known as the driest desert.
  • Namib Desert: 0.08 million sq km or 0.03 million sq miles, in parts of Angola and Namibia.


Where most of the deserts are found, subtropical deserts are those lying in between the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north of the equator) and the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees south of the equator).

  • Sahara: 9.4 million sq km or 3.2 million sq miles, in northern Africa covering Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.
  • Arabian Desert: 2.3 million sq km or 0.9 million sq miles, including areas of Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen.
  • Kalahari Desert: 0.9 million sq km or 0.4 million sq miles, in southern Africa including Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.
  • Great Victoria Desert: 0.65 million sq km or 0.25 million sq miles, in the southern part of Australia.
  • Syrian Desert: 0.52 million sq km or 0.2 million sq miles, going through Iraq, Jordan, and Syria.
  • Chihuahuan Desert: 0.45 million sq km or 0.18 million sq miles, stretching across parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.
  • Great Sandy Desert: 0.4 million sq km or 0.15 million sq miles, in the western side of Australia.
  • Sonoran Desert: 0.31 million sq km or 0.12 million sq miles, in parts of California, Arizona, and Mexico.
  • Thar Desert: 0.2 million sq km or 0.08 million sq miles, in parts of India and Pakistan.
  • Gibson Desert: 0.16 million sq km or 0.06 million sq miles, in the western parts of Australia.
  • Simpson Desert: 0.15 million sq km or 0.06 million sq miles, found in central Australia.
  • Mojave Desert: 0.12 million sq km or 0.05 million sq miles, in parts of southeastern California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

Organize desert trips on your own network

If planning on making your own trip to the desert, you can use your network to help plan and organize it.  Here are few examples for doing so:

  • Adding locations: Add a folder for the desert or sub-folders for different parts or activities you’re planning on, such as tours, caving or hiking.  Within each folder are applications to share content with.
  • Useful websites: Bookmark any useful websites about the desert, this could be a national park website, an organization, a site offering tours, or any hotels or other places to stay while near the area.  If any of these have a blog, you can include it with the news reader.
  • Adding an itinerary: Add a short bullet list to a note of things you’d like to do while there.   Add another note of a general list of supplies to bring, from which you can print for offline reference (a shopping list).
  • Organizing a project: Use the actions application to help organize a project or a more extensive trip, adding actions for things to do, including their priority, owner, and due date.
  • Sharing from the trip: This could be any photos or videos you’ve taken, share with others on your network or store for later reference.

Learn more about having your own network for travel, including application examples, key benefits, and other relevant blog articles.

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Founder and CEO of Odysen, involved with different writing and music freelancing activities, and have previously worked for larger technology businesses in the US, Europe and Asia.