Sahara Territory


Libya map.

Total area: +/- 1760000 km2.
Saharan area: +/- 1710000 km2 (97%).
Lowest point: -47 meters (Sabkhat Ghuzayyil depression, in Marsa al-Burayqah).
Highest point: 2266 meters (Peak Bette).

Similarly as Egypt, an immense majority of Libya is desert barren land while only little coastal areas in Tripoli, Misratah, Bengasi and El Beida possesse a mediterranean climate. On the eastern part of Libya extends the Libyan Desert, an area of clear sands, hammadas and small mountainous massifs. In the south-western part of Libya are located the reddish sands of Awbari and Marzuq, along with some mountain ranges. Hammadas and regs spread along the libyan territory, while volcanic areas are present in the center and the highest elevations of the country emerge on the southern border.

Hammada al-Hamra is a plateau that occupies an area of about 60000 km2 in the western Tripolitania region, being its altitude above sea level between 600 and 700 meters. The majority of this plateau is covered by calcareous gravels and stones while little grass grows in some depressions.

The flat landscape of Hammada al-Hamra. A sunset beyond the infinite plain of Hammada al-Hamra.

The southern area of Hammada al-Hamra plateau.

Al-Haruj al-Aswad is a large flood basalt field located in the geographical center of Libya, covering an area of about 30000 km2 with an average altitude of 800 meters. The boundaries of al-Haruj al-Aswad are covered with volcanic black stones while in the central area numerous volcanoes are present, reaching the highest of them 1200 meters of altitude.

Satellite detail view of the volcanic area of Al-Haruj al-Aswad. Satellite view of a volcanic caldera in Al-Haruj al-Aswad.

The volcanic landscape of Al-Haruj al-Aswad. The volcanic landscape of Al-Haruj al-Aswad.

About 200 km south of al-Haruj al-Aswad, lies isolated in the desert sands the Waw an-Namus volcano. The caldera of this volcano contains an oasis with three swampy lakes that support some flora and fauna especies. However, the numerous mosquitoes make this oasis uncomfortable for people.

Satellite view of the Waw an-Namus volcano. The Waw an-Namus volcano.

In the Fezzan region are located the western ergs of Libya, the Erg Awbari and the Erg Marzuq. These two ergs would be actually the same erg if they weren't divided by a low plateau.

Left image: an oued with water in the Erg Awbari.

Right image: dunes of the Erg Marzuq, a sea of sand that covers almost 80000 km2 in south-western Libya.

An oued in the Erg Awbari. Sand dunes in the Erg Marzuq.

Tadrart Akakus is a mountainous range located in the Ghat district, next to Tassili-n-Ajjer plateau. It is in fact a prolongation of Tassili-n-Ajjer in libyan territory, having similar natural and archaeological features.

Panoramic view in Tadrart Akakus.

The ladscape in Tadrart Akakus. The ladscape in Tadrart Akakus.

The ladscape in Tadrart Akakus. The ladscape in Tadrart Akakus.

In southern Libya have flourished in recent times a range of oasis towns and hundreds of unsightly circular crops. These new settlements are using the water that come from underground water deposits. These deposits are not resupplied by another water sources; they are isolated in cavities whose walls are composed of non permeable materials. This kind of non renewable water is called fossile water and it is mostly suitable for human consumption. The Sahara posseses many of these aquifers, and it is believed that the biggest aquifer in the world is the one named as Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System and located in the south-western corner of Libya, extending as well in Egypt, Sudan and Chad. The amount of water contained in the aquifer is actually not known, and it could be depleted suddenly, without previous notice. Just because of geographical proximity, the oasis of al-Kufrah is the main user of this aquifer, but this water is also being conducted towards the mediterranean cities of Libya through a system of pipes that run under the desert. In the image, a satellite view of the al-Jawf oasis.

Satellite view of the al-Jawf oasis.

The northern end of the Tibesti massif belongs to Libya, and there lies Peak Bette (2266 meters), the highest point in Libya. The left image shows a satellite view of this peak, located just next to the chadian border by a mere kilometer. The Tibesti massif contains wonderful rock formations, as seen in the right image, that have nothing to envy to other picturesque places of the Sahara.

Satellite view of Peak Bette. The landscape of libyan Tibesti.

The Uwaynat mountains are located in the south-eastern libyan border. While the major part of these mountains belongs to Libya, some smaller areas belong to Egypt and Sudan. The libyan part of the Uwaynat mountains consists in two crater structures composed of intrusive granite rocks. In the north-western crater lies the Jebel Arkenu while in the south-eastern crater lies the Jebel Uwaynat (1934 meters), the highest point in these mountains. Also a permanent guelta and samples of prehistoric art can be found in these mountains.

Satellite view of the Uwaynat mountains. The granitic rocks of the Uwaynat mountains.

Libya Ethnography


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