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Countries with the Most Desert

Can you name the countries of the world that have the most desert or tundra area as classified by the Köppen climate classification?
Quiz idea: nichster
Based on this map. Not including external territories such as Greenland
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: June 17, 2019
First submittedOctober 24, 2016
Times taken28,034
Rating4.93
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sq. km
country
2,500,000
Australia
2,100,000
Algeria
2,100,000
Saudi Arabia
2,000,000
Canada
2,000,000
China
1,900,000
Russia
1,600,000
Libya
sq. km
country
1,500,000
Sudan
1,000,000
Mauritania
900,000
Egypt
800,000
Chad
750,000
Mali
750,000
Niger
500,000
Namibia
sq. km
country
500,000
United States
500,000
Yemen
450,000
Pakistan
450,000
Somalia
400,000
Argentina
400,000
Iran
400,000
Mongolia
+3
level ∞
Oct 24, 2016
First of all, nichster made a similar quiz so check it out.
+2
level ∞
Oct 24, 2016
My methodology was to look at the Köppen climate map, and then estimate the % of the country that was covered by desert or tundra. I think that the list of countries is correct, but the exact values may be inaccurate. I have the most uncertainty about the United States and Canada.
+1
level 82
Oct 24, 2016
Ice is not desert or tundra? What about Denmark (with Greenland)?
+1
level ∞
Oct 24, 2016
Added a caveat
+1
level 43
Oct 27, 2016
I used a similar method and I estimated the amount that was covered by 'Warm desert climate'.
+1
level 28
Oct 30, 2016
First time I've ever heard that Greenland is a desert. And now I learned that Antarctica is a desert as well. Would've never known if I had not taken this quiz.
+2
level 43
Oct 30, 2016
I didn't count tundra as desert though.
+2
level 66
Oct 31, 2017
Mexico seems to have quite a lot of desert too. Have you taken polar distortion into consideration when estimating tundra coverage?
+1
level 69
Oct 24, 2016
Interesting quiz. I've only recently come to appreciate that Australia isn't nearly as dry as I'd always imagined. I've always had the notion that if I were to drive about five hours west from Brisbane it would be nothing, but desert all the way to the Indian Ocean, but a lot of it is actually only semi-arid. Still, almost a third of the continent, according to these figures, is desert, so that's not insubstantial.
+2
level 61
Dec 22, 2016
In Australia, we (Australians) have the least fertile soil in the world. (Thanks a lot, minimal glaciation.) Consequently, the conditions are already pretty tough for plant life, and if they're also facing low rainfall then the effect is amplified, and few plant species can survive. Deserts are defined (primarily, usually) by low rainfall, but they are identified aesthetically by the absence of vegetation; as such, there is a larger part of Australia that 'feels like' desert - anything with sufficiently low rainfall to wipe out most plant life - than the part that is actually desert.
+1
level 57
May 15, 2017
Even areas which are semi-arid go through prolonged periods of little or not enough rain. At the moment 70% of Queensland is still officially declared drought stricken and El Nino coupled with climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of droughts. As the population grows, the management of water resources is going to be a major problem.
+1
level 65
Oct 27, 2016
Woo, 100%. Actually thought I wouldn't get it.
+2
level 52
Dec 22, 2016
Only missed Somalia :/
+13
level 62
Dec 22, 2016
Mmmmhhh... Countries with the most desserts...
+5
level 53
Dec 22, 2016
Now that's a quiz I can get behind.
+3
level 79
Jul 18, 2018
I smell a sequel!
+2
level 59
Dec 18, 2018
Sounds tasty.
+4
level 45
Dec 22, 2016
Could I recommend that someone make a similar quiz but instead of measuring the square kilometers, you would measure the percentage of the country that is taken up by desert. That would be a very interesting quiz. I would make it, but I would have no idea how to go about it! ;) I would be very interested to see how high the United Arab Emirates ranks.
+1
level 63
Dec 23, 2016
djibouti would be the highest on the list, I would imagine. ;)
+1
level 70
Dec 22, 2016
Funny that México didn't make it.
+1
level 44
Dec 22, 2016
Noooooo i got everything but i missed China
+4
level 58
Dec 2, 2019
So you didn't get everything then?
+1
level 44
Dec 22, 2016
I feel really stupid. I entered in Chile, but not Argentina!
+1
level 58
Dec 23, 2016
Canada? Where? Up North? Nunavut? I always had the impression that Canada was a wet country.
+2
level 62
Jan 13, 2017
There's a big part of Canada right next to Greenland with probably the most tundra after Antarctica and Greenland itself.
+1
level 68
Dec 2, 2019
Discrimination against Greenland!
+1
level 67
Dec 2, 2019
generally speaking it is, lots of lakes and such. but it's a big country, so there's room for different climates.
+1
level 63
Dec 23, 2016
one of the only two i missed the first time was the us, which apparently 93% of people somehow got right. shows how desperate people can be.
+2
level 62
Jan 13, 2017
How does it show how desperate people can be? I doubt USA is a wild guess. Ever heard of the Mojave desert with places like Death Valley?
+1
level 76
Feb 12, 2018
Presumably the US figures also incorporate bits of Alaska. (I may be wrong.)
+1
level 63
Sep 19, 2019
I think people know there is desert in the usa though I dont hink it is the first thing they think about. I think it actually might be more likely they first just typed in the big countries, as many do with quizzes of the "country with the most........" format.
+1
level 49
May 14, 2017
Yeah, spending 40 years of my life in those U.S. deserts I was not likely to overlook them.
+1
level 63
Dec 23, 2016
Im also wondering, why is yemen here but oman isnt? google maps shows that more of oman is yellowish than yemen, and theyre about the same size.
+1
level 48
May 14, 2017
Literally with one second left I panicked and typed in Namibia and was surprised to get it right.
+1
level 39
May 14, 2017
Canada? Wow!
+1
level 8
May 15, 2017
Missed Canada and USA :/
+2
level 39
Jan 16, 2018
Forgot Canada, I was thinking sand and heat and general sweating, sun-burning misery lol
+2
level 60
Feb 6, 2018
Am I the only one surprised that India isn't on this?
+1
level 79
Jul 18, 2018
I was a little, but then I looked at the source map.
+1
level 79
Jul 18, 2018
Took me waaaaaaaaay too long to come up with the first answer.
+1
level 39
Nov 8, 2019
missed namibia and mongolia
+1
level 67
Dec 2, 2019
I'm surprised Iraq / Afghanistan / Kazakhstan are not on the list.
+1
level 19
Dec 2, 2019
This was an interesting one. Got 20/21 - darn Yemen!
+1
level 22
Dec 3, 2019
Canada has a desert in it!!!!!!!!!???????????????????
+1
level ∞
Dec 3, 2019
Most of the polar regions of the world are deserts.
+1
level 20
Dec 4, 2019
Doesn't Denmark own Greenland
+1
level 68
Dec 4, 2019
Usually excluding Greenland makes sense because of its semi-independent political status, but on quizzes focused solely on physical geography, it leads to aberrant results. Greenland clearly exists, and would likely make this list whether it is treated as part of Denmark or something else; the current approach erases it from the map, which makes no sense.