What Are Some Facts About the Sahel Desert?

The Sahel Desert is a semiarid region that separates tropical forest from the Sahara Desert. Because the tropical and dry areas of Africa meet here, this area has become known as a place where contrasting ideas and religions can gather in peace.

The Sahel Desert is a strip of land stretching from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It covers over 1 million square miles and several countries, including Sudan, Senegal and Mauritania. The topography of the Sahel Desert is mostly flat, with some mountainous regions.

The climate of the area is tropical and seasonal with average temperatures ranging from 64-97 degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation is minimal, with 8-23 inches of rain per year, although at one time this area was much wetter. For instance, Lake Chad was part of a larger body of water a few thousand years ago, but it is slowly drying out. Smaller lakes have disappeared, leading to desertification of the area. The Sahara Desert to the north is spreading southward into the Sahel area.

The Sahel Desert has a low density and poor population, due in part to the 1970s drought and famine that killed 200,000 people. Electricity and running water are lacking, and conflict is rife over the decreasing water and land.