The Western Desert or Libyan Desert covers an area of approximately 1,100,000 km2, it extends approximately 1100 km from east to west, and 1,000 km from north to south, in about the shape of a rectangle. Like most of the Sahara, this desert is primarily sand and hamada or stony plain.
Sand plains, dunes, ridges and some depressions (basins) typify the endorheic region, with no rivers draining into or out of the desert. The Gilf Kebir plateau reaches an altitude of just over 1000 m, and along with the nearby massif of Jebel Uweinat is an exception to the uninterrupted territory of basement rocks covered by layers of horizontally bedded sediments, forming a massive sand plain, low plateaus and dunes.
The desert features a striking diversity of landscapes including mountains such as Jebel Uweinat (1980 m), the Gilf Kebir plateau, and sand seas (see below). The Libyan Desert is barely populated apart from the modern settlements at oases of the lower Cyrenaica region in southeastern Libya. The indigenous population is Berber. In most of Upper Egypt, the desert is close to the Nile River, with a seasonal flood plain only a few kilometers wide between river and desert.
North of the Gilf Kebir plateau, among the shallow peripheral dunes of the southern Great Sand Sea, is a field of Libyan desert glass. A specimen of the desert glass was used in a piece of Tutankhamen’s ancient jewelry.