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is comparable to the area of China or the United States.The desert comprises much of North Africa, excluding the fertile region on the Mediterranean Sea coast, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan.The northern and southern reaches of the desert, along with the highlands, have areas of sparse grassland and desert 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.It stretches from the Red Sea in the east and the Mediterranean in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, where the landscape gradually changes from desert to coastal plains.To the south, it is bounded by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna around the Niger River valley and the Sudan Region of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Sahara is the world's largest low-latitude hot desert.
Subsiding, diverging, dry air masses associated with subtropical high-pressure systems are extremely unfavorable for the development of convectional showers.
The subtropical ridge is the predominate factor that explains the hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) of this vast region.
Unusual landforms include the Richat 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.