The Gobi Desert () is a large desert or brushland region in East Asia. It covers parts of Northern and Northeastern China and of Southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Taklamakan Desert to the west, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the southwest and by the North China Plain to the southeast.
The Gobi is the 6th-largest desert in the world and the second-largest in Asia after the Arabian Desert. It is notable in history as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.
The Gobi is a rain shadow desert, formed by the Tibetan Plateau, which keeps precipitation from the Indian Ocean from reaching the Gobi territory.
The Gobi had a long history of human habitation, mostly by nomadic peoples. By the early 20th century, the region was under the nominal control of Manchu-China, and inhabited mostly by Mongols, Uyghurs, and Kazakhs. The Gobi Desert as a whole was known only very imperfectly to outsiders, as information was confined to observations by individual travelers engaging in their respective itineraries across the desert. Among the European explorers who contributed to the understanding of the Gobi, the most important were the following: