The Sahara covers large parts
of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Western
Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia. It covers 9 million square
kilometres (3,500,000 sq mi), amounting to 31% of Africa.
The Sahara is mainly
rocky hamada (stone plateaus); ergs (sand seas – large areas
covered with sand dunes) form only a minor part, but many of the sand dunes are over 180 metres
(590 ft) high. Wind or rare rainfall shape the desert features: sand dunes, dune fields, sand seas, stone
plateaus, gravel plains (reg), dry valleys (wadi), dry riverbeds (oued), natural water reservoirs (guelta), and salt
flats (shatt or chott). Unusual landforms include the Guelb el Richat (the Eye of
Africa) Structure in Mauritania.
Several deeply dissected mountains, many
volcanic, rise from the desert, including the Aïr Mountains, Ahaggar Mountains, Saharan Atlas, Tibesti Mountains, Adrar des Iforas, and the Red Sea Hills. The highest peak in the
Sahara is Emi
Koussi, a shield volcano in the Tibesti range of northern Chad.
The central Sahara
is hyperarid, with sparse vegetation. The northern and southern reaches of the desert, along with the highlands, have areas of sparse grassland
shrub, with trees and taller shrubs in wadis, where moisture collects. In the central,
hyperarid region, there are many subdivisions of the great desert: Tanezrouft, the Ténéré, the Libyan Desert, the Eastern
Desert, the Nubian Desert and others. These extremely arid areas often receive no rain for years.
Important cities located in the Sahara include Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania; Tamanrasset, Ouargla, Béchar, Hassi Messaoud, Ghardaïa, and El Oued in Algeria; Timbuktu in Mali; Agadez in Niger; Ghat in Libya; and Faya-Largeau in Chad.
The People of the Sahara are of various origins. Among them there are the Amazigh (Berbers) including the Tamashek (Tuaregs), various
Arabized Amazigh groups like Hassaniya speaking Sahrawis, whose population include the Znaga tribe, whose name is a remnant of the prehistoric Zenaga language. Other major groups of people include
the Toubou, Nubians, Zaghawa, Kanuri, Hausa, Songhai, Beja nad Fula.