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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. However, over four-fifths of its total area is 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 its people’s greatest concentration. Behind the plain lies the High Plateaux’s hills and mountains, 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, reached 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 country’s arid nature and generally poor soils, natural vegetation is limited to areas along the coast, and most of this has been removed through intensive land use. There are a few woodland remnants 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 coastal areas’ climate 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.

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Most of Algeria is unproductive agriculturally, but it possesses one of the largest reserves of natural gas and oil globally. 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 been wracked by civil strife and terrorist attacks, with the various opposing forces unable to agree on peace proposals.

The southern 80 percent of Algeria’s land is in the Sahara Desert and almost completely uninhabited. The northern half of the desert is less arid than the southern half, and most of the region’s oases (any fertile tract in the midst of a wasteland) are found here. The southern zone of the Sahara is almost totally arid and consists mostly of barren rock.

Its most prominent feature is the Ahaggar mountain range, which rises in the southeast.

To the north of the Sahara lies the Tell region, made up of consecutive belts of land extending west to east, roughly parallel to the Mediterranean border. The region consists of a narrow strip of coastal plains and the two Algerian sections of the Atlas Mountains (the Tell Atlas and the Saharan Atlas) and a plateau that separates them. In contrast to the Tell region, the prominent topographic features (mountains, plains, and basins) in Algeria’s northeastern corner do not parallel the coast.

The Mediterranean Sea borders Algeria to the north. The Mediterranean Sea is an almost completely landlocked sea between southern Europe, northern Africa, and southwest Asia. It links to the Atlantic Ocean in the west through the Strait of Gibraltar and the Red Sea in the southeast through the Suez Canal. It also connects to the Black Sea to the northeast through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus.

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Chott Ech Chergui, lying southwest of Algiers near the border with Morocco, is the second-largest chott (or shatt, salt-water lake) in North Africa. (Only Chott Djerid in Tunisia is more considerable.) The chott features marshy, stagnant water, while the region around Chott Ech Chergui is barren. In winter, migrating waterfowl nest around Chott Ech Chergui.

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