The Gobi Desert

Gobi, a desert in central Asia. It lies in southern Mongolia and the northern Inner Mongolia region of China. Gobimeans “great desert” in Mongolian. The Gobi is about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) long from east to west and 500 miles (800 km) wide. Surrounded by mountains, it lies on a plateau 3,000 to 5,000 feet (910 to 1,520 m) above sea level. The Great Wall of China, built in the third century B.C., runs along its southern border.

The Gobi's sand dunes are mainly in the east. The desert becomes more fertile toward the west. Winter temperatures drop to –40° F. (–40° C.), while rock surfaces may heat to 150° F. (66° C.) in summer. The Gobi receives less than eight inches (200 mm) of rain a year. Nomads pasture sheep, cattle, horses, and camels on the scanty grass.

Marco Polo described his trip to the Gobi in the 13th century. Roy Chapman Andrews and other 20th-century explorers discovered dinosaur eggs and relics of primitive man here. Automobiles travel the ancient caravan routes. Oil has been produced in the eastern Gobi since 1955.