Southern Mongolia is famous for its widely known Gobi Desert. This region of the planet is famous for its unique ecosystems and natural formations, as well as various types of endemic flora and fauna.
This vast desert is hence well-known as the fifth largest desert in the world, covering an area of 500,000 square miles. However, this desert is not only full of orange sands but there are also some other interesting features of this desert. So, in this article, we will explore some really amazing facts about the Gobi Desert.
Interesting Gobi Desert Facts
It is a rain shadow desert:
This desert is located on the dry side of a mountain range. Mountains block the clouds from releasing their water and force them to rain on the other side, called the windward side. This dry side is known as the leeward side.
For this Gobi Desert, the mountain range that mainly blocks the wind is the plateau, known as the Tibetan Plateau to the south. Just like the Gobi Desert, another rain shadow desert is the Atacama Desert in Chile. Also, the Mongolian word “gobi” means “waterless place,” which perfectly depicts its natural feature.
It is Asia’s largest desert and the world’s sixth-largest:
It is almost 1300,000 square kilometers in area, and hence the Gobi Desert is the sixth-largest desert in the World.
Gobi Desert has beaten several other famous deserts, like Patagonia, Kalahari, and Sonoran deserts. The area of the Gobi Desert is a lot larger in size than Peru. Moreover, this desert is the largest in Asia.
There are many fossils throughout this amazing desert:
You can see numerous fossils throughout the Gobi Desert. Some of them are like 100,000 years old. One of the first individuals to discover them was Roy Chapman Andrews, an American paleontologist.
He found the first known fossil of dinosaur eggs in 1923; twenty-six of those eggs were 9 inches in length on average. Also, he is the alleged inspiration for Indiana Jones.
Moreover, other types of fossils were discovered in this desert, such as the fossils of early mammals and even some prehistoric stone implements.
The cold in the Gobi Desert:
The Gobi Desert is so cold that in winter, it snows, and even sometimes, frost covers the dunes. The reason behind this coldness is its northern proximity and also that it lies about 910- 1520 meters above sea level.
However, it is not the coldest desert on the planet. Though here you may see low temperatures like minus 32.8 degrees Celsius, still the coldest place is Antarctica, as it reaches a temperature of minus 89.2 degrees Celsius.
It is also a very hot place:
Just because the Gobi Desert has cold winter, it does not indicate that it is not a hot desert. This world region may reach temperatures like 37 degrees Celsius in the summer. Also, this place gets less than 100 mm of rainfall every year.
However, despite its huge size, this desert only crosses two countries, China and Mongolia. Also, this famous desert covers just three provinces in China and three in Mongolia.
The eco-regions of the Gobi Desert:
The Gobi Desert of Mongolia can be divided into five different ecoregions, including the Alashan Plateau semi-desert, the Eastern Gobi Desert steppe, the Gobi Lakes Valley desert steppe, the Tian Shan range, and the Dzungarian Basin semi-desert.
Also, this famous desert is home to the Khongor sand dune, which is 180 km in length, 12 km in width, and 80 meters in height. It is one of the most fascinating and biggest sand dunes in the world. However, many areas of the Gobi Desert are not sandy but rather resemble exposed bare rock.
The historical importance of the Gobi Desert:
The Gobi Desert region first became known in the 13th century through Marco Polo, who described this vast desert vividly.
This dessert is historically important as it played a vital role in history as a significant part of the great Mongol Empire. This region served as the location of multiple vital cities along the famous Silk Road.
The Trade routes:
The Gobi Desert was a vital crossroads for important trade routes between Central Asia, China, and Europe. This famous Silk Route served as a historical network of trade routes that connected the country of China with the Mediterranean region and passed through the Gobi Desert.
Also, this desert is characterized by rocky mountains, vast areas of sand dunes, and dry riverbeds. Also, in this desert, you will see multiple oases where vegetation can grow due to water availability.
The camels in the Gobi Desert:
Though the Gobi Desert has an inhospitable environment, it is still home to various types of animal species.
Much like another famous desert, the Sahara Desert, camels are perfectly suited to life here, and among them, the wild Bactrian camels are really special.
These camels can tolerate drought, cold, and high altitudes really well. They are a lot different from the domesticated camel species.
However, only 1400 of them are left in the wild. The camels of the Gobi Desert are one of those few animals that can eat snow for liquid in the winter.
Other animals in the Gobi Desert:
Besides camels, you will find some animals in this region, such as marbled polecats, black-tailed gazelles, sand plovers, and Mongolian wild ass. Moreover, other animals occasionally visit this desert, like Gobi bears, snow leopards, and even wolves.
Lizards are those animals that are especially well-adapted to the harsh climate of this desert, with almost 30 species located across its Southern Mongolian border. Also, here you can see a few species of birds, including the endangered great bustard.
The flora in the Gobi Desert:
The most common flora in the Gobi Desert includes almost 30 species distributed across this desert’s southern Mongolian border.
The most common vegetation in this desert is specific types of shrubs adapted to drought. These particular shrubs include gray sagebrush, gray sparrow’s saltwort, and some low grasses such as bridle-grass and needle grass.
However, the number of shrubs in this desert has decreased to a great extent due to livestock grazing. Thus, some nature reserves have been established in the Gobi, such as Great Gobi A and Great Gobi B, that are strictly protected.
The history of human habitation in the Gobi Desert:
Many nomadic people used the Gobi Desert as their main habitat. During the early 20th century, this part of the world was under the nominal control of Qing China.
Also, at that time, this place was inhabited mostly by Uyghurs, Mongols, and Kazakhs. Most people of these tribes depended on trading and herding for their livelihoods.
Chinese control and conflict in the Gobi Desert:
In the late 1800s, this place was mainly under Chinese control, although it was also home to some other independent tribes. The government of China maintained a military presence in the region to enforce its authority.
Also, this dessert was the site of multiple conflicts in the 1800s because the Chinese Government sought to maintain control over this place. In 1865, a rebellion led by the Muslim leader Yakub Beg gained control of some parts of the Gobi Desert briefly.
Silk production in the Gobi Desert:
Silk production was a significant industry in the Gobi Desert in the 1800s. At that time, many tribes used to raise silkworms and produced silk textiles as their livelihood.
However, silk production declined greatly in the late 1800s when new materials, like wool and cotton, became more popular.
Natural resources in the Gobi Desert:
The Gobi Desert is rich in different types of natural resources, such as oil, coal, and minerals like gold, copper, and silver. In the late 1800s, China’s government started to develop this region’s mineral resources.
Hunting and military campaigns:
Hunting was a very popular activity among the tribes of the Gobi Desert in the 1800s. Foxes, wolves, and gazelles were among the most commonly hunted animals. Hunting was also popular as a means of controlling the population of predators, which posed a threat to the livestock of the tribes.
Moreover, in the late 1800s, the Government of China launched military campaigns to maintain control and suppress rebellion over the Gobi Desert. These military campaigns were often brutal, and many civilians were caught in the crossfire.
The Gobi Desert was home to different types of cultures and languages in the 1800s. The nomadic tribes who inhabited this region had distinct customs and traditions shaped by their way of life and environment.
Tourism in the Gobi Desert:
The Gobi Desert has become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years, with visitors drawn to its rich cultural heritage and rugged beauty.
However, the growth of tourism has also brought several challenges, like cultural conflicts and environmental impact.
Water scarcity and environmental degradation in the Gobi Desert:
Water is really scarce in the Gobi Desert. Many tribes who live here rely on underground springs or wells for their water supply.
Also, this desert has been subject to environmental degradation in recent decades because of several factors, such as overgrazing, climate change, and mining. All these factors have contributed to the loss of biodiversity and desertification of this famous world region.
Hence, the Gobi Desert is one of our planet’s fascinating and interesting deserts, which can attract many historians, scientists, adventurers, and tourists.
At the end of this article, we learned about 19 really amazing facts about this fascinating world region. These facts offer us a clear picture of this famous desert of our planet, known as the Gobi Desert. To know more, you may visit our website.
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.