The biggest desert in the world is the continent of Antarctica. It is 14 million square kilometers and classified as a Polar Desert. 98% of Antarctica is covered by an ice sheet that is 1.6 kilometers thick. The biggest hot desert in the world is the Sahara Desert at 9 million square kilometers. Deserts are classified by the amount of rainfall that they receive or if they lose more water through evaporation than they gain – a net loss of water. To be classified as a desert by rainfall, an area must receive less than 25 centimeters of water per year.
Antarctica is a landmass that isn’t owned by any one country, but is governed by the Antarctic Treaty; an agreement signed in 1959 between 12 original member countries to share the space for research. There are 45 member countries now. Each research station owned by a separate country is akin to an embassy in a foreign country.