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Algeria: spectacular deserts and ancient Roman cities

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Algeria (Al-Jumhūrīya al-Jazā’irīya ad-dīmūqrātīya ash-sha’bīya/People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria) is a semipresidential republic in Northwest Africa. It has an area of more than 2,381,000 sq km and is thus the country with the largest area in Africa. Its capital is Algiers and the country is divided into 48 provinces.

Till 1962 Algeria was partly a French colony and the northern part used to be an integral part of France. It is limited to the north by the Mediterranean Sea and bordered to the east by Tunisia and Libya, to the south by Niger, Mali and Mauritania and to the west by Morocco. Towards the north Algeria offers a coast section called coastal Tell, measuring in length 1,000 km and in width 100 km. It is home to most cities and to the majority of the agriculturally used area of the country.


To the south of this fertile region are the Atlas Mountains. The Tellian Atlas is stretching parallel to the coast, reaching the maximum elevation by Lalla Khedidja with 2,308 meters. Here the main river of the country has its source: the Cheliff river with 725 km in length, flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

Beyond the Tellian Atlas extends a vast arid plateau, rich in desert depressions and salt lakes called chotts, including Chott Melrhir, the lowest depression of the country with 40 meters below sea level. Further south are the mountains of the Saharan Atlas, which reach 2,328 meters by the Djebel Chélia.


Beyond the Saharan Atlas is the Sahara Desert, which covers about 80% of the territory of Algeria. The desert contains the sandy regions of the Great Eastern Erg and the Great Western Erg, while further south exists the rocky desert, bounded in the extreme south by the Hoggar (Ahaggar) Massif, where Mount Tahat with 2,918 m, the highest peak of the country, is situated.

In the east towards the border with Libya lie the Mountains of Tassili n’Ajjer, which stretch for about 500 kilometers in a northwest-southeast direction, reaching 2,158 meters by Mount Adrar Afao.

The country is rich in raw materials. In particular there are huge reserves of oil and natural gas, plus manganese, uranium, iron, phosphate, zinc and copper deposits. Agriculture produces wine, olive oil, citrus fruits, wheat, barley, dates and figs. The breeding is mainly aimed at sheep and goats. Roman archaeological sites along the coast, the various charming landscapes of the Sahara desert and the cave paintings of Tassili n’Ajjer are significant tourist attractions of the country.

The climate of Algeria.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster.

  • Area: 2,381,741 sq km: arable land 3,4%, pastures 13,3%, forests and bushland 1,7%, uncultivated and unproductive land 81,6%
  • Population: 42,200,000 (as for 2018): Arabs 99,5%, Europeans 0,5%.
  • State Capital: Algiers.
  • Languages: The official language is Arabic. French and Berber dialects are also spoken.
  • Religion: Muslims 99,5%, Christians and Jews 0,5%.
  • Currency: Algerian dinar (DZD)
  • Time Zone: UTC+1 hour.

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