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A satellite image of the Kalahari by NASA World Wind
|Country||Botswana Namibia South Africa|
|Landmarks||Botswana's Gemsbok National Park, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Kalahari Basin, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Makgadikgadi Pans|
|Highest point||Brandberg Mountain 8,550 ft (2,610 m)|
|Length||4,000 km (2,485 mi), E/W|
|Area||930,000 km2 (359,075 sq mi)|
The Kalahari Desert (shown in maroon) & Kalahari Basin (orange)
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending 900,000 square kilometres (350,000 sq mi), covering much of Botswana, parts of Namibia (known as South-West Africa from 1884 to 1990), and regions of South Africa.
Derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning "the great thirst", or Kgalagadi, meaning "a waterless place", the Kalahari has vast areas covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. Drainage is by dry valleys, seasonally inundated pans, and the large salt pans of the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana and Etosha Pan in Namibia. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife. Ancient dry riverbeds—called omuramba—traverse the central northern reaches of the Kalahari and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. A semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains, the Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert, such as the Namib Desert to the west. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. The driest areas usually receive 110–200 millimetres (4.3–7.9 in) of rain per year, and the wettest just a little over 500 millimetres (20 in). The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) extending further into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kalahari is home to many migratory birds and animals. Previously havens for wild animals from elephants to giraffes, and for predators such as lions and cheetahs, the riverbeds are now mostly grazing spots, though leopards and cheetahs can still be found. The area is now heavily grazed and cattle fences restrict the movement of wildlife. Among deserts of the Southern Hemisphere, the Kalahari most closely resembles some Australian deserts in its latitude and its mode of formation. The Kalahari Desert came into existence approximately sixty million years ago along with the formation of the African continent.
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