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Largest Countries Without Deserts

Can you name the largest countries by area that don't have regions with a desert climate?
Based on the Köppen climate classification scheme
Includes hot deserts (BWh), cold deserts (BWk), and polar deserts (EF)
Source: this map
Quiz by georgekotz
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Last updated: June 28, 2023
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First submittedFebruary 16, 2018
Times taken44,885
Average score75.0%
Rating4.55
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Area (km²)
Continent
Country
8,515,767
Americas
Brazil
2,344,858
Africa
D. R. Congo
1,910,931
Asia
Indonesia
945,087
Africa
Tanzania
752,612
Africa
Zambia
676,578
Asia
Myanmar
640,679
Europe
France
622,984
Africa
Central African Republic
619,745
Africa
South Sudan
603,500
Europe
Ukraine
Area (km²)
Continent
Country
513,120
Asia
Thailand
462,840
Oceania
Papua New Guinea
450,295
Europe
Sweden
406,752
Americas
Paraguay
377,930
Asia
Japan
357,114
Europe
Germany
342,000
Africa
Rep. of the Congo
338,424
Europe
Finland
331,212
Asia
Vietnam
330,803
Asia
Malaysia
62 Comments
+19
Level ∞
Jun 28, 2023
Colombia and Venezuela have very small desert areas near the Caribbean coast.
+13
Level 70
Feb 23, 2018
interesting!
+12
Level 73
Feb 23, 2018
Agreed, I didn't get Paraguay until the last minute.

There were some real surprises to me as far as larger countries that did NOT make this list.

+5
Level 75
Jun 25, 2018
I can't believe that no part of the Paraguayan Chaco qualifies! I thought of it, but it's so dry that I thought there was no way it was worth putting in.
+4
Level 45
Feb 8, 2021
its because the technical definiton of a desert is not warm, it is based on wether a place gets less than a specific amount of rain. Canada, russia having such cold areas rain wouldn't be in the form of rain just snow and ice. Antartica is actually the worlds largest desert
+2
Level 38
Jun 26, 2018
your telling me Canada has desert?
+11
Level 73
Jun 27, 2018
Okanagan Desert in BC.
+4
Level 85
Jun 28, 2023
The Wikipedia page for "Okanagan Desert" seems to say that it is not technically a desert. This seems to be confirmed by the map here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada#/media/File:Canada_Köppen.svg

The Wikipedia webpage for "desert" says: "In the Köppen climate classification system, deserts are classed as BWh (hot desert) or BWk (temperate desert)." It doesn't look like there's any BWh or BWk in Canada.

+1
Level 60
Jun 29, 2023
Canada is disqualified only by Mount Logan.
+20
Level 62
Aug 4, 2018
The arctic tundra is also classed as a cold desert.
+2
Level 85
Jun 28, 2023
Certainly by some classifications, but it doesn't look to me like the Koppen classification being used here calls the artic tundra a desert.
+3
Level 63
Jun 28, 2022
Desert in The Badlands around Drumheller, AB as well.
+1
Level 60
Jun 29, 2023
Not according to Koppen, I believe.
+2
Level 76
Jun 28, 2023
Because of a rain shadow effect from the surrounding mountains, parts of the Thompson River valley near Ashcroft, BC are arid enough to be classified as having a desert microclimate. Initially the quiz didn't count polar deserts and Canada was nevertheless not an answer because of that.
+2
Level 69
Feb 24, 2018
Actually, Japan has a very tiny desert: Tottori sand dunes.
+23
Level 85
Feb 24, 2018
"Technically, it's not a desert (far too much rain)" http://japan.apike.ca/japan_tottori_sand_dunes.html
+3
Level 38
Jun 25, 2018
Norway???
+3
Level 76
Jun 25, 2018
The Wikipedia page listing all countries of the world by area gives a figure of 323,802 square km for Norway, but I just noticed they list Svalbard separately for some reason. This figure is used in other featured quizzes too though, so I'll leave it up to the Quizmaster.
+1
Level 49
Jun 25, 2018
Wow. That's a really interesting quiz. Love it.
+1
Level 87
Jun 25, 2018
I am just picturing the camel caravan crossing the sweltering Great Canadian Desert...
+11
Level 67
Jun 25, 2018
Deserts are defined by dryness, not by heat. Antarctica is a desert. I would guess that parts of the far north of Canada qualify as desert as well.
+4
Level 75
Jun 28, 2023
Some jokes are characterised by dryness as well, they tend not to work too well on the internet...
+1
Level 73
Jun 26, 2018
What about Turkey?
+6
Level 76
Jul 2, 2018
There seems to be a desert area at the border with Iran, near Mt. Ararat.
+2
Level 22
Jul 2, 2018
France is not bigger than Ukraine
+6
Level 76
Jul 2, 2018
Metropolitan France isn't, but, considering all its territories, it is.
+3
Level 68
May 21, 2022
In that case, parts of western Réunion are semi-arid due to rain shadow, such as city of Le Port.
+7
Level 64
Jan 25, 2023
That doesn't make it a desert, though
+2
Level 65
Sep 20, 2019
Specify if you are including territories - the island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia is treelessly dry in the north and well below the level you qualify as desert, making it so that France does not count.
+6
Level 76
Sep 21, 2019
It seems that, according to Wikipedia, the "desert" part of Nuku-Hiva gets 510 mm of rain per year. I don't know how the rain is distributed throughout the year, but even in the most "desert-like" scenario the annual rainfall would have to be below 420 mm for it to classify by the criteria used here.
+1
Level 72
Oct 5, 2020
The extreme northern horn of Scandinavia, including part of Sweden and a tiny part of Finland, gets less than 400 mm of rainfall a year, so, I think this logic is then inconsistent to include Finland and Sweden but to omit other northern countries like Russia and Canada. No?
+9
Level 76
Oct 5, 2020
@bostjan: The Koppen classification for a desert climate that is used here depends on three variables: precipitation, its yearly distribution and average annual temperature. Low temperatures in polar regions counteract low rainfall, which is why the bitterly cold arctic Russian town of Verkhoyansk is surrounded by forest in spite of only 180 mm of annual precipitation. Russia and Canada are not excluded because of their polar regions, but because of dry areas near their southern borders.
+1
Level 62
Mar 26, 2020
Ive seen pictures from the CAR and it looked like a desert country.
+1
Level 85
Oct 3, 2020
Yeah, satellite images of the far northeastern part of the CAR sure look like desert.
+7
Level ∞
Jun 28, 2023
Most of it is tropical savanna with a very small part hot semi-arid climate (still not a desert)
+1
Level 38
Oct 3, 2020
The only i knew was Paraguay? :)
+1
Level 68
Oct 3, 2020
Very cool quiz, lots of surprises!
+1
Level 67
Oct 3, 2020
Typical for my mind. I know almost all of the top half of the list (list of how often guessed), knew barely half of the 2nd part....but had Paraguay the first try. Sometimes i don't get my own logic. :P
+1
Level 51
Oct 3, 2020
I didnt realise Monaco had a desert... same with nauru and many other countries alike...??
+13
Level 71
Oct 4, 2020
TIl monaco and nauru are bigger than 300k square km
+5
Level 60
May 26, 2022
Someone didn't read the title...
+1
Level 59
Oct 3, 2020
Madagascar has a desert?
+2
Level 76
Oct 4, 2020
There is a small area with desert conditions on the southwest coast.
+1
Level 81
Oct 5, 2020
I have absolutely no idea what tactics to use for this one...
+6
Level 71
Mar 20, 2021
No Saudi Arabia?

(Haha, I'm just kidding, please don't kill me...)

+2
Level 48
May 1, 2023
Wait, there is no desert in Central African Republic? What is it´s climate then? And why it is technically inhabitable?
+12
Level 67
May 18, 2023
the climate is bullets
+1
Level 48
Nov 10, 2023
Second time taking this quiz. Second time CAR being the one I missed. Second time surprised, it has no deserts. Maybe I will remember for my next attempt.

BryceBelhumeur - that's a really good one, but generally speaking such a fierce and unsolvable internal conflicts tends to happen in desert or mountainous areas, where it is not geographically possible to form a strong government (Yemen, Afghanistan, Saharan countries like Mali or Niger etc.), so that is, why I assumed.

+7
Level 74
Jun 28, 2023
Would not have expected South Sudan
+2
Level 87
Jun 28, 2023
Same. I imagined it to be entirely sand and deserts. Only one I missed.
+2
Level 72
Oct 11, 2023
Regular Sudan is the arid one, except for the southern bits. South Sudan has a load of swamps and tropical forests.

...Except for a few tiny pixels in the south-easternmost extreme of the country, near Ethiopia and Kenya. It's in disputed territory, so I'll leave this to Quizmaster/georgekotz to decide.

+1
Level 74
Jun 29, 2023
Germany should not be on this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servicew%C3%BCste
+2
Level 49
Oct 11, 2023
It is very surprising that both Congos don't have deserts but Canada, United Kingdom, and Iceland do. Great Quiz
+2
Level 72
Oct 11, 2023
Iceland isn't large enough to be on the quiz.
+2
Level 75
Oct 11, 2023
...and neither is the UK.
+1
Level 72
Oct 12, 2023
True. I always seem to think that we're a bit bigger than we really are.
+1
Level 67
Oct 12, 2023
After I tried Sudan I was like "no way it could be South Sudan"
+1
Level 44
Oct 13, 2023
Isn't there a desert on Maranhao coast some small desert in brazil?
+1
Level 76
Oct 13, 2023
There used to be a small patch of desert depicted on the Wikipedia map near the northeast corner of Brazil (not on the coast though), in the so-called Sertão area, so Brazil was not in the initial version of the quiz, but apparently it's gone now. It's probably marginal, as for example the city of Petrolândia gets a yearly average of 430 mm of rain against a limit of around 380 mm for desert classification. I haven't found data for a specific place or city that would qualify though, so the current version is probably more accurate after all.
+1
Level 87
Jan 3, 2024
Hmm, Sweden and Finland are on here, but not... Ah, I can recall trekking across the great Norwegian desert on my trusty camel, sand blowing everywhere...
+1
Level 46
Feb 28, 2024
Great quiz. I needed more time today
+1
Level 67
Mar 19, 2024
No Australia? Wow, that's surprising.