Danakil, desert region, NE Ethiopia and neighboring portions of Djibouti and Eritrea, c.350 mi (560 km) long and 50–250 mi (80–400 km) wide, between the gulfs of Zula and Tadjoura. It is bordered by the Red Sea (N and E) and escarpments of the Great Rift Valley (S and W). A series of mountain ranges containing active and extinct volcanoes, sometimes called the Danakil Alps, runs parallel to the Red Sea coast N of Djibouti, rising to more than 6,980 ft (2,128 m) high at Ramlu peak. Between the ranges and the Ethiopian Highlands is a large depression, a section of the Great Rift Valley, which descends to c.380 ft (116 m) below sea level and contains salt lakes. Small rivers, mostly seasonal, flow from the highlands and end in the desert. Large areas of the W Danakil are covered by volcanic rocks; in the frontier zone with Djibouti, which is watered by the Awash River, are several lakes as well as marshes, hot springs, and volcanoes. One of the hottest and driest places on earth, the Danakil is inhabited by the nomadic Afar, or Danakil, who tend camels, sheep, goats, mules, and cattle. Salt extraction is widespread, and potash is mined at Dallol.
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