JAC Board Class 7 Social Science Notes Geography Chapter 9 Life in the Deserts
→ There are places in the world where people have learned to survive in extreme severe and harsh temperatures some regions are as hot as fire and some as cold as ice and these regions are known as the deserts of the world.
→ Low rainfall, scanty vegetation and extreme temperatures are the features and specifications of deserts.
→ The Hot Desert-Sahara:
- Sahara desert is the world’s largest desert. It has an area of around 8.54 million sq km.
- The Sahara desert covers eleven countries – Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara.
- Sahara desert is covered not only with the enormous stretches of sands, but there are also gravel plains and elevated plateaus with bare rocky surface. At some regions, these surfaces may be more than 2500 m high.
- The climate of the Sahara desert is scorching and unbearably hot and parch dry.
- Rainy season is very short. The sky is cloudless and clear.
- During the day, the temperatures may soar as high as 50°C which heats up the sand and the bare rocks and which in turn radiates heat making everything around very hot.
- During the nights temperatures reach near zero degrees with freezing cold.
→ Flora and Fauna:
- In the Sahara desert, vegetation consists of cactus, date palms and acacia.
- There are oasis in some regions – green islands with date palms surrounding them.
- The animals which are found here include camels, hyenas, jackals, foxes, scorpions, many varieties of snakes and lizards.
- Despite rough and harsh climate, the desert has been inhabited by many groups of people who are engaged in different types of works and activities.
- There are many nomadic tribes and among them are the Bedouins and Tuaregs who are mainly into rearing livestock like goats, sheep, camels and horses.
- These animals provide them with numerous things such as milk, hides from which they make leather for belts, slippers, water bottles, hair is majorly used for mats, carpets, clothes and blankets. These people wear heavy robes as protection against dust storms and hot and fiery winds.
- The oasis in the Sahara and the Nile Valley in Egypt holds up and supports the settled population. The people grow date palms because water is available.
- Crops such as rice, wheat, barley and beans are also grown. In Egypt, Egyptian cotton is famous worldwide which is grown there. The detection and finding out oil which is required by the whole world in Algeria, Libya and Egypt is constantly transforming and changing the Sahara desert.
- Other important minerals that are found here includes iron, phosphorus, manganese and uranium.
- The cultural environment of the Sahara is undergoing a vast change. Highways are made which criss-cross the ancient camel paths. High rise glass cased buildings tower over mosques.
- In the salt trade, trucks and vehicles are replacing camels.
Tuaregs are working as guides to foreign tourists: Most of the nomadic herdsmen are heading to city life finding jobs in oil and gas operations.
→ The Cold Desert-Ladakh:
- A cold desert lying in the Great Himalayas on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir is Ladakh.
- In the north, the Karakoram Range and in the south, the Zanskar mountains enclose it. Through Ladakh, many rivers flow and the most important one is Indus river. The rivers form deep valleys and gorges. In Ladakh, many glaciers are found such as the Gangri glacier.
- The altitude in Ladakh varies from about 3000 m in Kargil to more than 8,000 m in the Karakoram. The climate is extremely cold and dry due to its high altitude.
- In summer, the day temperatures are just above zero degree and the night temperatures below 30°C.
- In the winters, it is freezing cold where the temperatures remain below 40°C for most of the time.
- There is very little rainfall as low as 10 cm every year as it lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. The region encounters freezing winds and burning hot sunlight.
→ Flora and Fauna:
- Due to high deficiency of moisture and barrenness, the vegetation is sparse. There are scanty patches of grasses and shrubs for animals to graze. In the valleys, groves of willows and poplars are seen.
- In the summers, apples, apricots and walnuts the fruit trees bloom.
- In Ladakh, many species of birds are seen such as Robins, redstarts, Tibetan snowcock, raven and hoopoe. Some of these are migratory birds also.
- Wild goats, wild sheep, yak and special kinds of dogs are the animals of Ladakh.
- The animals are reared to provide the milk, meat and hides.
- To make cheese and butter, Yak’s milk is used. The hair of the sheep and goat is used to make woollens.
- People here are either Muslims or Buddhists.
- Many Buddhist monasteries dot the Ladakhi environment with their traditional ‘gompas’. Some of the famous monasteries are Hemis, Thiksey, Shey and Lamayuru.
- People involve themselves in cultivating barley, potatoes, peas, beans and turnip in the summers.
- The climate in winter months is so harsh and unbearable that people keep themselves engaged in different festivities and ceremonies.
- The women not only work in the house and fields but also manage small business and shops. They are very hardworking and laborious.
- The capital of Ladakh is Leh which is well connected by both road and air. The National Highway 1A connects Leh to Kashmir Valley through the Zoji La Pass.
- The major activity is the tourism as many tourists streaming in from within India and abroad. The major and important activities are visiting the gompas, treks to see the meadows and glaciers, witnessing ceremonies and festivities.
- Due to modernization, life of people is undergoing change. Due to scarcity and lack of resources like water and fuel, they are used with reverence, appreciation and care. Nothing is discarded or wasted.