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Algeria

Driving Directions Algeria

ALGERIA is a large country in northern Africa with a Mediterranean Sea coastline in the north. The Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria is the second largest country in Africa although over four-fifths of its total area covered by the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert. The most fertile area is a narrow coastal plain, the Tell, containing most of the country’s cultivatable land and the greatest concentration of its people. Behind the plain, lies the hills and mountains of the High Plateaux, Atlas Mountains (Tell Atlas) and the Saharan Atlas Mountains. Beyond these, lies the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert, interrupted in the southeast by the dramatic massif of the Hoggar and Tassil-n-Ajer Mountains which reach a height of 3,003 meters or 9,852 feet. The Chelif, at 724 kilometers or 450 miles long, is the country’s main river, rising in the Tell Atlas and flowing to the Mediterranean.

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Due to the arid nature of the country and generally poor soils, natural vegetation limited to areas along the coast, and most of this has removed through intensive land use. There are a few remnants of woodland and scrub vegetation, but plant life in the desert is mainly limited to oases. Wildlife species are relatively few but include snakes, lizards, gazelles, antelope, hyenas, jackals, and vultures.

The climate in the coastal areas is warm and temperate with most of the rain falling in winter. The summers are dry and hot with temperatures rising to over 32°C or 89°F. Inland beyond the Atlas Mountains conditions become arider, and temperatures range from 49°C or 120°F during the day to 10°C or 50°F at night. A hot, dry wind, the Sirocco, blows northwards from the Sahara during the summer, generating sand and dust storms.

Most of Algeria is unproductive agriculturally, but it does possess one of the largest reserves of natural gas and oil in the world. Algeria’s main exports are oil-based products, fruit, vegetables, tobacco, phosphates, and cork. Its imports include textiles, foodstuffs, machinery, iron, and steel. In recent years, the country has wracked by civil strife and terrorist attacks with the various opposing forces unable to agree on peace proposals.

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