Sea of Sand: In
ancient times, Egypt and Kush did very little trade with West
Africa. They had heard that West Africa had wonderful things Ė
gold, salt, ivory. They
knew that West Africa needed iron. They wanted to trade with West
Africa, but the Sahara Desert was in the way.
Sahara Desert is huge! Can
you imagine a desert that stretches all the way from New York to
California? Or one that runs all the way from Maine to Mexico? The
Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the world!
Sahara Desert is hot! It's one of the
hottest places on earth. During the day, the temperature can be 130
Sahara Desert is dry! As miserable as you would be from the heat, itís the
dryness that makes it a desert. There is so little water. It hardly
ever rains. The Sahara perhaps enjoys three inches of rain a year,
and even that is speckled. It might rain in one place and not rain
again in the same place for years. Itís no wonder that the Sahara
Desert is called the Sea of Sand.
An oasis is a wet rest stop.
Itís a small section of desert that is fed by underground streams
of water. In these tiny sections of the desert, there are green
plants and cool water. Even though there are many oases in the
Sahara, the Sahara is so big that you might have to travel a day or
even weeks to reach one. In the meantime, you are exposed to hot,
very hot shifting sand dunes that seem to run forever.
Life: There are many animals and plants in the desert,
including poisonous snakes and poisonous spiders. But the Sahara is
not a geographically friendly place for humans.
You can see why people were a bit reluctant to cross
the Sahara in search of anything, including trading partners.