Vol 5 Life in the Desert ... Introduction ... What are deserts?
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What are deserts?

Deserts are areas that get less than 10 inches or rain each year.
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Deserts are the driest places on earth. They are found in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. These deserts and their margins cover over 30 percent of the earth's surface, and the majority of these dry lands are found along two imaginary lines called the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn which lie north and south of the equator respectively. All desert lands have one common characteristic – they receive less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. Although often thought of as enormous empty expanses of sand or vast areas of barren wasteland, the reality is that desert ecosystems are surprisingly rich in their variety of plant and animal life. The harsh and often hostile climatic conditions has meant that many plants and animals have had to adapt their bodies and behaviours in order to survive. Many people have also made deserts their home.

This volume takes a look at the world's deserts and shows how varied these arid landscapes can be. Even the most uninhabitable places for humans can be lively environments for wildlife. This volume also shows that deserts are often areas of unquestioned beauty, some of which are sadly being developed or changed by human activity.