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(sähĕl`), name applied to the semiarid region of Africa between the SaharaSahara
[Arab.,=desert], world's largest desert, c.3,500,000 sq mi (9,065,000 sq km), N Africa; the western part of a great arid zone that continues into SW Asia. Extending more than 3,000 mi (4,830 km), from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, the Sahara is bounded on the N by
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 to the north and the savannassavanna
or savannah
, tropical or subtropical grassland lying on the margin of the trade wind belts. The climate of a savanna is characterized by a rainy period during the summer when the area is covered by grasses, and by a dry winter when the grasses wither.
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 to the south, extending from Senegal and Mauritania on the west, through Mali, N Burkina Faso, Niger, N Nigeria, and Chad, to Sudan and Eritrea on the east. It has more rainfall (8–16 in./20–40 cm) and better grazing lands than the Sahara, but it is periodically afflicted by droughts that reduce its normally meager water supply and shatter its grazing and agricultural economy. A particularly prolonged and devastating drought from 1967 to 1974 contributed to the starvation of of hundreds of thousands of people, and forced the mass migration southward of many others.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the narrow (320–480 km) band of semideserts and desert savannas in Africa that are transitional between the deserts of the Sahara and the characteristic topography of the Sudan. The Sahel stretches for more than 4 million sq km from Mauritania and Senegal in the west through Mali, Upper Volta, and Niger to Chad and the borders of the Sudan. The area of the Sahel varies from year to year, depending on the amount of annual precipitation (100–350 mm) in the north to 300–600 mm in the south). Rain falls in the summer for a period ranging from two or three weeks to three months, but 80 or 90 percent of the moisture evaporates. The Sahel is periodically subject to disastrous droughts, when virtually the entire area becomes uninhabitable desert; this was the case in 1941 and 1942 and from 1972 to 1975.

The northern Sahel has mostly sparse semidesert vegetation, such as turf grasses, shrubs, and low-growing trees, especially acacias. This region is inhabited by nomadic herders who raise cattle, sheep, and goats. In the southern Sahel, sparse thorn forests, groves of palms (doom and palmyra), and baobabs predominate. Nomads and communities of settled land cultivators live in the area, and millet and peanuts are grown.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A region having characteristics of a savanna or a steppe and bordering on a desert.
A strong dust-bearing desert wind in Morocco.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
These figures are low even by Sahelian standards, with neighbouring Mali achieving a national electrification rate of 35% last year, including a rural rate of 18%.
We have worked together to realise the dream of bringing an extinct-in-the wild species back to the Sahelian heartland of Chad."
One explanation is that it is easy: many spokesmen for Saharan and Sahelian jihadi groups are Mauritanian like Abdallah el-Chinguetti and Jouleilib; regional jihadi groups have been using Mauritanian media outlets for more than a decade and that breeds a sense of trust and familiarity; regional jihadi groups know that their messages will reach both Francophone and Arabic-speaking audiences because Mauritanian media is typically bilingual French and Arabic; and lastly, Mauritanian news outlets have historically not edited or censored jihadi communiques and have redistributed them as is.
Invoking terrorism to close the Niger border is merely ajiretext for furthering Algeria's' grand design" of extending control over its Sahelian neighbours.
President Adesina also mulled the possibility seeking support from partners to finance a robust programme for Sahelian countries beset by a wide range of problems related to security, unemployment and environmental degradation.
His most popular masterpieces include Sohni Mahiwal, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Dharti, Talism-e-Hosh Ruba, (The Spell that Steals the Senses), A Typical Village Day Starter, Rural Women in Daily Routine, Old Man, Sahelian and many other festivities and rural scenes of Punjab.
The conference was organized in response to the food crises of the early 1970s that primarily affected the Sahelian countries of Africa.
Among the topics are Gambian fictions, themes and styles in the poetry of Sallah, Kora Land, his ecopoetics, his "Sahelian Earth," exile and return, African economics as a short story, poetry as therapy, and the amphibian's dilemma.
Like most of its fellow Sahelian states, although historically, geographically and culturally fascinating, Niger remains largely ignored by outsiders.
The vast majority of feed consumed by ruminants in Sahelian region is still formed by natural pastures.
says new approaches are needed to make vulnerable people in the nine Sahelian countries able to cope with the humanitarian emergencies that keep them in poverty and dependent on the international community for aid.
Wise makes strong cases for resonances between Derrida's writing and the Sahelian culture of Africa, as well as the Abrahamic religious traditions.