A desert is a type of landscape which is barren and devoid of water or has very little rainfall.
The word is thought to be derived from the verb ’to desert’ which means to abandon, friendless. In popular culture also, a desert is portrayed to be a cruel, friendless place, probably justifiably so.
A desert has typical flora and fauna. Since there is little or no water, there is very little vegetation, the plants and trees, adapt to the relief by storing some water within and having a thorny exterior to keep herbivorous animals away, e.g. cacti.
The animals too have bodies adapted to going without water for very long periods of time. A camel can store large amounts of water in its body. Jerboa or the desert rat and the desert lizard are also some animals here.
Deserts can be hot or cold. The polar deserts like the Antarctica are very cold and cannot support human life. The hot deserts like Sahara are very hot and cannot support water, all of which evaporates faster.
The landscape of deserts, usually hot deserts is often marked by sand dunes made by the wind blowing the sand in particular directions.
Sand contains large amounts of minerals. Consequently the deserts have rich minerals and mining is a common activity.
A large part of the Earth’s surface is made up of deserts.