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Title: Oasis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Algeria, Twisted Wheel (band), Furnace Creek, California, Rill, Sahara Desert (ecoregion)
Collection: Fluvial Landforms, Oases, Physical Geography
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Oasis in the Libyan part of the Sahara Desert

In geography, an oasis (plural: oases) or cienega (Southwestern United States) is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source. Oases also provide habitat for animals and even humans if the area is big enough. The location of oases has been of critical importance for trade and transportation routes in desert areas; caravans must travel via oases so that supplies of water and food can be replenished. Thus, political or military control of an oasis has in many cases meant control of trade on a particular route. For example, the oases of Awjila, Ghadames, and Kufra, situated in modern-day Libya, have at various times been vital to both North-South and East-West trade in the Sahara Desert.

An oasis in the Negev Desert

Oases are formed from underground rivers or aquifers such as an artesian aquifer, where water can reach the surface naturally by pressure or by man-made wells. Occasional brief thunderstorms provide subterranean water to sustain natural oases, such as the Tuat. Substrata of impermeable rock and stone can trap water and retain it in pockets, or on long faulting subsurface ridges or volcanic dikes water can collect and percolate to the surface. Any incidence of water is then used by migrating birds, which also pass seeds with their droppings which will grow at the water's edge forming an oasis.

The lush Middle Springs, with the barren desert around Fish Springs NWR in Utah


  • Etymology 1
  • Growing plants 2
  • Notable oases 3
    • Africa 3.1
      • Algeria 3.1.1
      • Egypt 3.1.2
      • Libya 3.1.3
      • Morocco 3.1.4
      • Tunisia 3.1.5
    • Asia 3.2
      • Middle East 3.2.1
      • China 3.2.2
    • Australia 3.3
    • North America and South America 3.4
      • Mexico 3.4.1
      • Peru 3.4.2
      • United States 3.4.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7


The word oasis comes into English via Latin: oasis from Ancient Greek: ὄασις óasis, which in turn is a direct borrowing from Demotic Egyptian. The word for oasis in the later attested Coptic language (the descendant of Demotic Egyptian) is wahe or ouahe which means a "dwelling place".[1]

Growing plants

People who live in an oasis must manage land and water use carefully; fields must be irrigated to grow plants like apricots, dates, figs, and olives. The most important plant in an oasis is the date palm, which forms the upper layer. These palm trees provide shade for smaller trees like peach trees, which form the middle layer. By growing plants in different layers, the farmers make best use of the soil and water. Many vegetables are also grown and some cereals, such as barley, millet, and wheat, where there is more moisture.[2]

Notable oases

See also


  1. ^ Douglas Harper. "'"Etymonline - Origin of 'Oasis. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  2. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 
  3. ^ [1],


  • (French) référence: Jardins au désert (Vincent Battesti)|Battesti (Vincent), Jardins au désert, Evolution des pratiques et savoirs oasiens, Jérid tunisien, Paris, Éditions IRD, coll. À travers champs, 2005, 440 p. ISBN 2-7099-1564-2 Open Archives: book in free access / in French

External links

  • The dictionary definition of at Wiktionary
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