What Is the Largest Desert in the World?

Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. Although it is the fifth-largest continent in the world, it is considered a desert as a result of receiving less than 2 inches, or about 51 millimeters, of precipitation annually. Antarctica, the southernmost continent, is 5.5 million square miles in area.

More than 98 percent of Antarctica is covered by ice. This is the driest and coldest desert in the world. There are no permanent human residents in Antarctica; however, the continent receives thousands of researchers annually. The Sahara is considered the largest hot-weather desert in the world. The Sahara covers more than 3.5 million square miles.