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The northern and southern reaches of the desert, along with the highlands, have areas of sparse grassland and desert shrub, with trees and taller shrubs in wadis, where moisture collects.In the central, hyperarid region, there are many subdivisions of the great desert: Tanezrouft, the Ténéré, the Libyan Desert, the Eastern Desert, the Nubian Desert and others.It is one of three distinct physiographic provinces of the African massive physiographic division.The Sahara is mainly rocky hamada (stone plateaus), Ergs (sand seas - large areas covered with sand dunes) form only a minor part, but many of the sand dunes are over 180 metres (590 ft) high.The area is located in the horse latitudes under the subtropical ridge, a significant belt of semi-permanent subtropical warm-core high pressure where the air from upper levels of the troposphere tends to sink towards the ground.

Hot, dry air masses primarily form over the North-African desert from the heating of the vast continental land area, and it affects the whole desert during most of the year.

is comparable to the area of China or the United States.

The desert comprises much of North Africa, excluding the fertile region on the Mediterranean Sea coast, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan.

The highest peak in the Sahara is Emi Koussi, a shield volcano in the Tibesti range of northern Chad.

The central Sahara is hyperarid, with sparse vegetation.

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