The Peoples Democratic Republic of Algeria is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea; on the east by Tunisia and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; on the south by Niger, Mali, and Mauritania; and on the west by Morocco. It has a total area of 2 381 741 km2.
Algeria has three major land regions. The northernmost region, the Tell, extends about 1,200 km along the Mediterranean coast and is from about 130 to 320 km wide. It consists chiefly of coastal plains and gently rolling hills, although rugged mountains cover most of the eastern Tell. The Tell Atlas Mountains rise along the regions southern edge. The country's principal river, the Chelif (725 km long), rises in the Tell Atlas and flows to the Mediterranean Sea; no permanent streams are found south of the Tell.
The Tell region has a typical Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Near the sea, temperatures average 25° C in summer and 11° C in winter. Annual rainfall averages 400 mm in the west and 700 mm in the east.
The High Plateau lies south of the Tell Atlas Mountains and ranges from about 400 to 1 300 m above sea level. During rainy periods, large shallow salt lakes called chotts or shotts form on the plateaus, drying to form salt flats. On the southern edge of the Plateau lie the mountains of the Saharan Atlas.
Average temperatures on the High Plateaus range from 27° C in summer to 5° C in winter and rainfall seldom exceeds 400 mm per year.
The Saharan Atlas Mountains are the northern border of the Sahara Desert in Algeria, which comprises more than 90 per cent of the country. Vast areas of sand dunes cover much of the north, while other regions consist of bare rock, boulders, and stones. In the south-east, however, the Ahaggar Mountains tower above the desert floor, cumulating in Mount Tahat, Algerias highest point at 3 003 m above sea level.
Daytime temperatures in the Algerian Sahara sometimes soar above 49° C, with annual rainfall less than 130 mm. During the summer, a very hot, dusty wind called the sirocco (also known as the Chehili) blows northward across the region. The desiccating sirocco affects the High Plateau about 40 days each summer and the Tell about 20 days.
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.