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Libyan Desert

Libya is a land that boasts some of the most beautiful and unspoiled desert areas of the Sahara. Libyan Desert also known as the Great Sand Sea or Western Desert is a part of the Sahara which covers around 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 km2) in Libya, Egypt, and Sudan. Located in the northern and eastern part of the Sahara, this vast and extremely dry desert consists mainly of gravelly plains, rock outcrops, and vast areas of shifting sand dunes. The elevations in the desert generally vary from 500 to 3,000 feet (150 to 900 m).

This desert is primarily sand and boulder plain and is inhabited by the Senussis, a conservative Islamic group. Rock plateaus and sandy plains extend from eastern Libya into northwestern Sudan. A group of oases enables the cultivation of cereal grains, olives, grapes, and dates. The surface is broken by numerous gorges that were likely caused by erosion linked to cycles of freezing and thawing.

The Libyan Desert often receives no rain for several years at a time, hence it is extremely dry. Nomadic herders pass through the region, but permanent habitation is possible only at scattered oasis. The northern part of the desert was the scene of intense fighting during World War II.

Libya Desert features a striking diversity of landscapes including mountains like Jebel Uweinat (1980m, the Gilf Kebir plateau, and sand seas as detailed below. The Libyan Desert is barely populated apart from the modern settlements in eastern Libya. The indigenous population might be described as Arabic and Berber in the north and Tubu in the south.

The three sand seas, which contain dunes up to 512 meters in height, cover approximately one quarter of the region. They include:
  • Great Sand Sea
  • Calanshio Sand Sea
  • Rebiana Sand Sea