[Short Notes] NCERT class VII : Our Environment – Life in the Desserts – Chapter 10 – Part 1
Deserts are characterised by low rainfall scanty vegetation and extreme temperatures.
Depending on the temperatures there can be hot deserts or cold deserts.
The people inhabit these lands wherever little water is available to practise agriculture.
THE HOT DESERT – SAHARA
Sahara desert covering a large part of North Africa is the world’s largest desert.
It has an area of around 8.54 million sq. km.
The Sahara desert touches eleven countries.
Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali,Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan,Tunisia and Western Sahara.
Besides the vast stretches of sands, that Sahara desert is covered with, there are also gravel plains and elevated plateaus with bare rocky surface. These rocky surfaces may be more than 2500m high at some places.
The climate of the Sahara desert is scorching hot and parch dry. It has a short rainy season.
The sky is cloudless and clear. Here, the moisture evaporates faster than it accumulates.
Days are unbelievably hot. The temperatures during the day may soar as high as 50°C, heating up the sand and the bare rocks, which in turn radiates heat making everything around hot.
The nights may be freezing cold with temperatures nearing zero degrees.
Flora and Fauna
Vegetation in the Sahara desert includes cactus, date palms and acacia.
In some places there are oasis – green islands with date palms surrounding them. Camels, hyenas, jackals, foxes, scorpions, many varieties of snakes and lizards are the prominent animal species living there.
Inhabited by various groups of people.
Among them are the Bedouins andTuaregs.
These groups are nomadic tribes rearing livestock such as goats, sheep, camels and horses.
These animals provide them with milk, hides from which they make leather for belts, slippers, water bottles; hair is used for mats, carpets, clothes and blankets. They wear heavy robes as protection against dust storms and hot winds.
The oasis in the Sahara and the Nile Valley in Egypt supports settled population. Since water is available, the people grow date palms.
Crops such as rice, wheat, barley and beans are also grown.
Egyptian cotton, famous worldwide is grown in Egypt.
The discovery of oil – a product in great demand throughout the world, in Algeria, Libya and Egypt is constantly transforming the Sahara desert.
Other minerals of importance that are found in the area include iron, phosphorus, manganese and uranium.
The cultural landscape of the Sahara is undergoing change.
Gleaming glass cased office buildings tower over mosques and superhighways crisscross the ancient camel
Trucks are replacing camels in the salt trade.
Tuaregs are seen acting as guides to foreign tourists.
More and more nomadic herdsmen are taking to city life finding jobs in oil and gas operations.