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Sahara Desert Oasis - Life in Arid Region

The word "oasis" is believed to come from an ancient Egyptian word, "wah," meaning “fertile place in the desert”. The land in Sahara Desert has almost no rainfall or surface water; however, there are a number of underground rivers, which flow from the Atlas and other mountains. Where the rivers break the surface you will find oasis.

The irrigated areas and the area around the oasis are fertile and grow excellent crops. For centuries travelers have traveled through the Sahara desert. Even though there are many oasis in the Sahara, the desert is so immense that travelers may go for days to reach them. Oasis makes trade possible between the ports of North Africa and savanna markets further south. Without these wet rest stops for humans and animals, crossing the desert would be almost impossible.

An oasis can vary in size from about 2.5 acres for a tiny village to larger farmlands. At its hub is water, often in the form of natural springs, artesian wells or entire irrigation systems. About 75 percent of the Sahara's population lives in oasis, which make up only a tiny 800 square miles of the desert's vast sea of sand and gravel. The date palm is most characteristic of the vegetation that flourishes there. Other typical food sources grown in Saharan oasis include figs, peaches, citrus fruits, wheat and barley.