Algeria's Geography - From the Blue Mediterranean to the Sands of the Sahara
Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, and the tenth largest country in the world. Covering such an immense stretch of landscape, Algeria is also a country of diversity. It extends from the Mediterranean coastline to the sandy dunes of the Sahara Desert. Algeria's geography is fascinating and traveling through the country is a unique experience. Join us as we consider Algeria's geographical features.
Situated in North Africa, Algeria is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the north, Tunisia and Libya toward the east, Mauritania, Niger and Mali in the south, and Morocco in the west. Algeria's climatic regions and landscapes can be divided into four sections that run parallel to each other down the length of the country. The northern-most division, the Tell, incorporates all 1200 kilometers of Algeria's coastline. It is described as a hilly, sub-coastal zone and forms a small percentage of Algeria's land area. Despite its small size, the Tell is inhabited by more than ninety percent of Algeria's population. This is mainly because it is the most fertile region in the country. Major cities, including the capital Algiers, are scattered along or near the coastline.
South of this section you will come across the Tell Atlas mountain range with its impressive peaks and lovely valleys. The mountain range extends into the High Plateaus, a massive area of mostly barren plains. The next landscape band is made up of further mountain ranges that are part of Algeria's Saharan Atlas range.
The last section, which is also the biggest section, is the Sahara Desert. This expanse covers over 80 percent of Algeria's land area to the south of the Saharan Atlas range. An area of extremes, the Sahara Desert presents some stunning scenery.
Algeria's territory can be described as being arid and semiarid - depending on which part of the country you are in. Rainfall in the northern areas of Algeria measures around 1000 mm annually. The coastal areas experience mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Certain sections of the Sahara Desert may not receive rain for periods of up to 20 years. Temperatures in the Sahara can push the mercury past 55ºC. During Algeria's summers, a hot Sirocco wind blows bringing with it dust and sand.
Natural resources in Algeria include petroleum, iron ore, zinc, lead, natural gas and uranium. Algeria's chief crops, which are grown in the more fertile regions, are sorghum, barley, maize, wheat and oats. Vineyards as well as tobacco plantations in the country export their products. Other goods grown are dates, figs, fruits, olives and vegetables. Algeria also exports large quantities of cork.
From the relatively fertile, mountainous areas of the north to the expansive Sahara Desert in the south, Algeria's geography is wonderfully diverse.