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The Gobi Desert

The Gobi desert is the unique place seems like visiting Mars. There is almost no vegetation, different colors, no ground water, and clear blue sky. Also Gobi Desert has various natural resources such as copper, gold, coal, natural gas and other common mining. "The Gobi Desert, known as 'Говь' (ᠭᠣᠪᠢ) in Mongolia and '戈壁' (gēbì) in China, is the world's sixth-largest desert, spanning northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi Desert, Asia’s largest desert, covers roughly 1,300,000 square kilometers across southern Mongolia and northern China. One of the world’s most iconic deserts, the Gobi is a functioning, healthy ecosystem home to spectacular landscapes that support an impressive variety of biological diversity, including many rare and endangered species. Human activity in the Gobi has existed for at least 5,000 years and several culturally and historically significant archeological sites have been documented in the region; the Gobi continues to support an ancient and enduring nomadic lifestyle. Prehistoric traces of ancient life are also widespread, making the Gobi a hotspot for fossil discoveries. Despite a wealth of natural and cultural heritage the Gobi Desert in Mongolia lacks any recognition as UNESCO World Heritage. This article explores the natural and cultural heritage of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and using UNESCO’s framework for “Outstanding Universal Value,” identifies several sites with exceptional geological, ecological, and ethnological features that we believe meet the criteria for World Heritage status. In the face of looming threats from human interference and climate change, increased recognition and appreciation of Gobi Desert landscapes is crucial to ensure the long-term protection of these irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.

Climate in the Gobi Desert

Mongolian Gobi Desert Tours

The Gobi Desert has a distinct and often extreme climate, classified as a cold desert due to its northern latitude and the influence of the surrounding geography.

Here's an overview of the Gobi Desert's climate:

  • Temperature Extremes: Due to its continental location far from any sea, the Gobi Desert experiences significant temperature fluctuations, both diurnally (between day and night) and seasonally.

  • Winter: Temperatures can plummet to as low as -40°C (-40°F) during the coldest months.

  • Summer: The desert can see temperatures soaring up to 38°C (100°F) in the hottest months.

  • Precipitation: The Gobi is one of the driest regions in the world. It receives an average of only 194 mm (7.6 inches) of rainfall per year, with some parts getting even less. The precipitation is highly variable and can come in the form of rain or snow.

  • Wind: The desert experiences strong winds, especially in the spring. These winds can cause sandstorms, which can be particularly fierce, covering vast areas and affecting visibility and living conditions.

  • Sparse Vegetation: Due to the low precipitation levels, vegetation is sparse and mainly consists of hardy shrubs and grasses that can tolerate the dry conditions.

  • Cold Winters: Winters in the Gobi are long and severe, influenced by the Siberian cold air masses that push down from the north. This makes the Gobi one of the few deserts in the world to experience snowfall.

  • Evaporation: Due to the high temperatures in summer and the strong winds, the rate of evaporation often exceeds the rate of precipitation, leading to extremely dry conditions.

In summary, the Gobi Desert's climate is characterized by its temperature extremes, low precipitation, strong winds, and its unique distinction of being a cold desert with both hot summers and freezing winters.

A map of Gobi Desert

A map of the Gobi Desert provides a visual representation of this vast and significant desert region in Asia. Located primarily between northern China and southern Mongolia, the Gobi spans a vast territory. Here's what you might expect to find on such a map:

  • Geographical Extent: The desert stretches over 1,295,000 square kilometers (or about 500,000 square miles). On the map, it would be bordered to the north by the Mongolian steppes, to the east and south by the North China Plain, and to the west by the Taklamakan Desert.

  • Topographical Features: The Gobi isn't just a flat expanse of sand. It's filled with varied terrains like the dunes of Khongoryn Els, the rocky landscapes of the Bayanzag red cliffs, and the mountains of Gurvansaikhan National Park.

  • Roads and Settlements: A detailed map would show the few major roads traversing the desert, connecting cities and settlements such as Dalanzadgad in Mongolia and Jiayuguan in China. These roads are lifelines for the nomadic populations and are also historically significant as they form part of the ancient Silk Road.

  • Rivers and Water Sources: While it's a desert, the Gobi isn't devoid of water. The map would depict intermittent rivers like the Edzin Gol and occasional oases which are vital for both human and animal life.

  • Archaeological Sites: The Gobi is known for its dinosaur fossil sites, especially in the Flaming Cliffs (Bayanzag). A specialized map might mark these sites of paleontological interest.

  • Protected Areas: Regions like the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, a protected nature reserve in Mongolia, might be highlighted, showcasing the efforts to preserve the unique biodiversity of the desert.

  • Political Boundaries: As the desert spans two countries, a map would delineate the international boundary between Mongolia and China, providing context to its geopolitical significance.

In summary, a map of the Gobi Desert is not just a depiction of a barren landscape but a tapestry of history, culture, geology, and ecology that captures the essence of this unique region in Asia.

Gobi Desert Map

Danger in the Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert, with its vast expanses and extreme conditions, presents a variety of challenges and dangers for those who venture into its depths. Here are some of the primary dangers one might encounter:


  • Extreme Temperatures: The Gobi's temperatures can swing dramatically. Freezing cold conditions in winter can lead to frostbite and hypothermia, while intense summer heat can result in dehydration and heatstroke.

  • Sandstorms: These are a frequent occurrence, especially in the spring. Sandstorms reduce visibility, making travel treacherous. They can also result in respiratory problems if one is exposed without protection.

  • Scarcity of Water: Given its arid nature, finding reliable water sources in the Gobi can be challenging. Dehydration is a constant threat, and consuming contaminated or brackish water can lead to illness.

  • Challenging Terrain: The desert isn't just sand. It's a mix of rocky outcrops, cliffs, dunes, and flat expanses, making navigation and travel challenging, especially without the right equipment or transportation.

  • Wildlife: While not abundant, the Gobi is home to some potentially dangerous wildlife, like the venomous pit vipers or predators like wolves.

  • Isolation: The vastness of the Gobi means that travelers can quickly become isolated. Without communication equipment, getting stranded or lost can become life-threatening, especially given the scarcity of resources.

  • Health Issues: Due to the extreme conditions and challenges in obtaining clean water and food, there's a risk of various health issues, from dehydration-related illnesses to foodborne diseases.

  • Cultural Awareness: The Gobi is home to nomadic tribes who have their customs and ways of life. Misunderstandings or unintentional cultural offenses can lead to difficult situations.

  • Historical Hazards: The Gobi has been a site of past military activity and tests, especially in certain parts of the Mongolian and Chinese regions. There may be unexploded ordnances or other remnants posing risks.


Preparation and awareness are vital for anyone planning to venture into the Gobi. With its beauty and allure comes a raw, challenging environment that demands respect and caution.

Snake in the Gobi Desert
Wolf in the Gobi Desert
Emptyness in the Gobi Desert

Plants of Gobi Desert

Despite its harsh environment, the Gobi Desert hosts a variety of plant species adapted to its extreme conditions. These plants play a crucial role in the desert ecosystem, providing food and shelter for many animals. Here's an overview:


  • Saxaul Tree (Haloxylon ammodendron): This is one of the most recognizable plants of the Gobi. It's a small tree or shrub with a deep root system that helps it tap into underground water sources. The tree's bark retains moisture, which is vital in the arid desert.

  • Wild Onions: Various wild onion species can be found throughout the Gobi. These hardy plants grow in clumps and are recognizable by their spherical flower heads.

  • Gobi Feather Grass (Stipa gobica): This is a dominant species in some parts of the desert, characterized by its feather-like appearance. It plays a crucial role in preventing soil erosion.

  • Caragana Bushes: Often referred to as "pea shrubs," these plants are found in the desert's more elevated regions. They are drought-tolerant and provide essential shade and shelter for many small animals.

  • Desert Globe-Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua): This perennial herb can grow up to a meter tall and has orange-red flowers. It's often found in sandy areas of the desert.

  • Reaumuria soongorica: This is a small shrub species found throughout the Gobi. It's adapted to the desert's saline soils and is a crucial food source for livestock.

  • Ephedra: Found in various parts of the Gobi, ephedra is a shrubby plant known for its medicinal properties. Its stems have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine.

  • Cistanche Deserticola: Another plant used in traditional medicine, it's a parasitic herb that draws nutrients from the roots of other plants.

  • Allium Polyrrhizum: This is a type of wild garlic found in the Gobi, recognized by its purple flowers and onion-like bulbs.

  • Achnatherum splendens: This is a type of grass commonly found in the desert, which provides food for many of the Gobi's herbivorous inhabitants.


The plants of the Gobi Desert have evolved unique adaptations to survive in one of the world's harshest environments. Their presence is a testament to the resilience and diversity of life even in the most challenging conditions.

Saxual Tree in the Gobi Desert
Bayanzag Gobi Desert

Nomadic people in the Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert, spanning across parts of Mongolia and China, has been home to nomadic people for thousands of years. These nomads have developed unique ways of life tailored to the desert's harsh environment. Here's a glimpse into the lives of the nomadic people of the Gobi:


  • Mongolian Nomads: The most prominent group of nomads in the Gobi are the Mongolians. Historically, these nomads relied heavily on livestock herding, particularly of goats, camels, and horses. Their mobility allowed them to find fresh pastures for their animals, ensuring their survival in the tough desert conditions.

  • Ger (Yurt) Living: The traditional dwelling of the Mongolian nomads is the "ger" (known as "yurt" in other regions). This portable, circular tent made from wooden frames and felt coverings can be quickly assembled and disassembled, making it ideal for a nomadic lifestyle.

  • Diet: The nomadic diet in the Gobi is heavily reliant on animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and yogurt. Given the scarcity of vegetation, plant-based foods are limited.

  • Camel Herding: The Bactrian camel, with its two humps, is a staple of Gobi nomadic life. These camels are perfectly adapted to the desert environment and provide transportation, milk, wool, and meat.

  • Traditional Clothing: Nomads wear traditional clothing made from animal hides and wool. The "deel," a long robe-like outfit, is common and offers protection from the elements.

  • Cultural Practices: Despite modern influences, many nomads still maintain traditional practices, including throat singing, horse racing, and the Naadam Festival – a celebration of the "Three Manly Skills" of Mongolian culture: wrestling, horse racing, and archery.

  • Challenges: Modern challenges confront the nomadic lifestyle. Desertification, mining activities, and changing climate conditions are impacting traditional grazing lands. Additionally, urbanization and economic pressures are drawing more nomads to settle in urban areas.

  • Preservation of Traditions: As the modern world encroaches upon the Gobi and its inhabitants, there's a concerted effort by various groups to preserve the unique nomadic traditions, languages, and ways of life.


The nomadic people of the Gobi Desert have endured and thrived in one of the planet's most challenging environments. Their resilience, adaptability, and deep connection to the land make them a fascinating and integral part of the desert's rich tapestry.

Desertification in the Gobi Desert

Desertification refers to the process where fertile land becomes increasingly arid, typically as a result of various factors such as prolonged drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agricultural practices. In the Gobi Desert, desertification is a pressing concern, exacerbated by both natural and human-induced activities. Here's an insight into the issue:

  • Accelerating Expansion: The Gobi Desert is expanding at an alarming rate. Bordering areas, particularly in China, have witnessed the desert encroach upon once-fertile lands, affecting agricultural productivity and displacing communities.

  • Overgrazing: One of the main contributors to desertification in the Gobi is overgrazing. As nomadic herders seek pasture for their growing livestock numbers, the vegetation is stripped faster than it can regenerate. This destabilizes the soil, making it more susceptible to erosion.

  • Deforestation: The removal of trees and shrubs for firewood and construction contributes to soil erosion. Trees and shrubs play a critical role in holding the soil together and maintaining its fertility.

  • Water Scarcity: The Gobi Desert is naturally dry, but excessive use of available water sources for agriculture and domestic purposes has further depleted groundwater reserves. This scarcity has reduced the viability of certain vegetation, leading to barren patches that augment desertification.

  • Climate Change: Global climate change is exacerbating desertification in the Gobi. Rising temperatures lead to increased evaporation rates and unpredictable rainfall patterns, further stressing the fragile ecosystem.

  • Mining Activities: The Gobi Desert is rich in minerals. However, excessive mining has led to habitat disruption. Moreover, the use of water in mining processes puts additional pressure on the already scarce water resources.

  • Economic and Social Impact: As desertification progresses, agricultural yields drop, and herders find fewer pastures. This has economic implications for local communities and can lead to migrations, as areas become uninhabitable.

  • Mitigation Efforts: Various strategies have been employed to combat desertification in the Gobi. These include reforestation projects, sustainable grazing practices, and water conservation techniques. The Green Wall project in China, for instance, aims to plant a vast belt of trees to halt the desert's expansion.

Desertification in the Gobi Desert presents a profound ecological and socio-economic challenge. Addressing it requires a combination of local efforts, scientific research, and international collaboration to ensure the preservation of this unique environment and the livelihoods of those who call it home.

Animals in Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert, stretching across parts of Mongolia and China, is one of the world's great deserts. Despite its harsh climate and conditions, a variety of animals have adapted to survive and thrive in this region. Here's a look at some of the notable animals that inhabit the Gobi Desert:

  • Bactrian Camel: One of the most iconic animals of the Gobi Desert, the Bactrian camel has two humps and is well adapted to the extreme temperatures of the desert, capable of drinking up to 40 gallons of water at a time.

  • Gobi bear: A subspecies of the brown bear, the Gobi bear is critically endangered, with only a few individuals remaining. These bears are smaller than other brown bears and have a diet that consists of roots, berries, and small animals.

  • Snow Leopard: While often associated with mountainous regions, the snow leopard also inhabits parts of the Gobi Desert. It's an elusive predator, hunting blue sheep, marmots, and other small mammals.

  • Mongolian Wild Ass (Khulan): This herbivore roams the Gobi in search of grasses and shrubs to eat. They are well adapted to the desert and can travel long distances in search of water.

  • Gobi jerboa: This small, nocturnal rodent has long hind legs, which it uses to jump quickly across the sand. Jerboas primarily eat plants and insects.

  • Pallas's Cat: Also known as the manul, this small wild cat has a stocky build and long, dense fur. They prey on small mammals, birds, and insects.

  • Black-tailed Gazelle: These gazelles are native to the Gobi and are known for their speed and agility. They mostly eat grass and shrubs.

  • Gobi Viper: This venomous snake is well camouflaged to blend into the desert sands. It preys on small animals, and its bite can be deadly.

  • Tarbagan Marmot: Large, burrowing rodents, tarbagan marmots live in colonies and hibernate during the winter months. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem by aerating the soil with their burrowing activity.

  • Houbara Bustard: A large bird known for its impressive courtship display, the houbara bustard is found in parts of the Gobi. It feeds on seeds, insects, and small animals.

These animals have developed various adaptations to cope with the challenges of desert life, such as extreme temperatures, limited water, and sparse vegetation. Their survival in such a demanding environment is a testament to the resilience of nature.

Camel in the Gobi Desert
Gobi bear in the Gobi desert
Wild ass in the Gobi Desert
Marmot in the Gobi Desert

Interesting Facts About Mongolian Gobi Desert

The Mongolian Gobi Desert is a vast and intriguing expanse that stretches across parts of southern Mongolia and northern China. This desert landscape is full of surprises and has a rich history and diverse ecology. Here are some interesting facts about the Mongolian Gobi Desert:

  • Size and Terrain: The Gobi Desert is the fifth-largest desert in the world and covers an area of approximately 1,295,000 square kilometers. Contrary to popular belief, much of the Gobi is not sandy dunes but rocky terrain.

  • Flaming Cliffs: Also known as Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs are red cliffs where many significant dinosaur fossils have been discovered, including the first discovery of dinosaur eggs in the 1920s.

  • Temperature Extremes: The Gobi can experience some of the most extreme temperature fluctuations, ranging from -40°C in winter to 40°C in summer.

  • Historical Significance: The Gobi Desert played a crucial role in history as part of the great Mongol Empire and as a segment of the ancient Silk Road, facilitating trade and cultural exchange between the East and West.

  • Oasis Towns: Despite being a desert, the Gobi has several oases. One famous oasis town is Dunhuang in China, known for the Mogao Caves – a collection of Buddhist art.

  • Rare Wildlife: The Gobi is home to several unique species, such as the wild Bactrian camel, Gobi bear, and snow leopard, all of which are endangered and adapted to the harsh desert environment.

  • Sand Dunes: The Khongoryn Els, or the Singing Sand Dunes, are among the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia. They are named for the eerie, humming sound they produce when the wind blows.

  • Cultural Festivals: The Gobi hosts several traditional Mongolian events. The annual Thousand Camel Festival celebrates the Bactrian camel's cultural and economic importance to the region.

  • Ancient Petroglyphs: Across the Gobi, travelers can find ancient rock art or petroglyphs, some dating back thousands of years, showcasing the life and beliefs of prehistoric people.

  • Diverse Ecology: Despite its arid conditions, the Gobi supports a diverse range of plant species, with over 400 identified varieties. Some plants, like the saxaul tree, are uniquely adapted to the desert's challenges.

  • Gurvan Saikhan National Park: Located in the Gobi, this park contains many of the desert's unique landscapes, from deep canyons like Yolyn Am (Vulture's Mouth) to sand dunes and rocky terrains.

  • Astronaut Training: Due to its barren, moon-like landscape, the Gobi has been used as a training site for space missions, simulating the conditions astronauts might face on other celestial bodies.

  • The Mongolian Gobi Desert's vastness and beauty, combined with its rich history and ecological importance, make it one of the world's most fascinating natural wonders.

Frequent asking question (FAQ) about Gobi Desert

Where is the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert is located in southern Mongolia and northern China.

How big is the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert covers approximately 1,295,000 square kilometers.

What is the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert is a vast arid region in Asia.

What country is the Gobi Desert in?

The Gobi Desert is in Mongolia and China.

What animals live in the Gobi Desert?

Animals such as the Bactrian camel, Gobi bear, and snow leopard live in the Gobi Desert.

How is the Gobi Desert different from the Sahara Desert?

The Gobi Desert is rockier and colder than the Sahara Desert.

How is the Sahara Desert different from the Gobi Desert?

The Sahara Desert is sandier and hotter than the Gobi Desert.

What type of desert is the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert is a cold desert.

How hot is the Gobi Desert?

Temperatures in the Gobi Desert can reach up to 40°C in summer.

What is unique about the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert is unique for its Flaming Cliffs and historical significance in the Silk Road.

Why is the Gobi Desert important?

The Gobi Desert is important for its biodiversity and historical trade routes.

Which climate is found on the edge of the Gobi Desert?

Semi-arid and steppe climates are found on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

What continent is the Gobi Desert in?

The Gobi Desert is in Asia.

How long is the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert spans approximately 1,600 kilometers from southwest to northeast.

What was life like for the Mongols north of the Gobi Desert?

Life for the Mongols north of the Gobi Desert involved nomadic herding and warfare.

What is the Gobi Desert known for?

The Gobi Desert is known for its dinosaur fossils and Flaming Cliffs.

What does Gobi Desert mean?

"Gobi" means "waterless place" in Mongolian.

How cold is the Gobi Desert?

The Gobi Desert can reach temperatures as low as -40°C in winter.

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