Deserts are found all over the world. In fact, they cover almost one-third of the whole surface area of Earth, about 50,000,000 sq km! The hot and semi-arid deserts are usually found in subtropical belts centered roughly on the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The Tropic of Cancer is located at 23.5° North of the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn is located at 23.5° South of the equator. Other deserts occur in the rain shadow of mountains, such as the Himalayas and Andes, and others are found near and in the polar regions.
Dry areas created by global circulation patterns contain most of the deserts on the Earth. The deserts of our world are not restricted by latitude, longitude, or elevation. They occur from areas close to the poles down to areas near the Equator. The People's Republic of China has both the highest desert, the Qaidam Depression that is 2,600 meters above sea level, and one of the lowest deserts, the Turpan Depression that is 150 meters below sea level.