Map of Algeria

Geography and population

Algeria, with a total area of about 2.4 million km², is located in the north-western part of the African continent overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the north. It is bordered by Tunisia and Libya to the east, Niger, Mali and Mauritania to the south and Morocco to the west.

The country can be divided into three physiographic units:

The Atlas Mountains. They consist of two principal mountain chains: the El-Atlas El-Talli Mountains, extending along a narrow coastal strip, and the Desert Atlas Mountains with peaks over 2 300 metres above sea level. The two chains are separated by hills that contain a group of depressions known as El-Shatout.

The South and South-east Hills. They are a group of isolated hills in the north of the Great Desert called El-AhjarHills with a peak of over 3 000 metres above sea level. The Hilly Coastal Depressions. They include the region separating the Atlas Mountains and the ElAhjar Hills. The elevation is 350 metres in the south-west and about 100 metres in the northeast. The minimum elevation is 21 metres below sea level. Sand dunes are scattered all over this region.

The cultivable area is estimated at about 10.74 million ha, which is 3 % of the total area of the country. In 1993, the total area available for agriculture was estimated at about 8.10 million ha, of which 4.73 million ha, or almost 60%, were temporarily fallow. Of the remaining cultivated area of 3.37 million ha, 2.84 million ha consisted of annual crops and 0.53 million ha consisted of permanent crops. Agricultural development is concentrated in the northern part of the country, where the best soils are located and where the climatic conditions are more favourable.

The total population is about 15.6 million (1995), of which 44% is rural. The annual demographic growth rate is estimated at 3.2%. Agriculture employs 25% of the labour force and accounts for 9 to 13 % of GDP, depending on the year.

Climate and water resources


The climate varies from the desert type in the south to Mediterranean in the north. Average annual rainfall is about 68 mm, but varies from 0 mm in the southern desert up to 1 500 mm in the north-eastern coastal area around Skikda. However, even in this region the dry season lasts five months. Precipitation, which mainly occurs in winter and the beginning of spring, is very irregular with considerable variations from year to year.

Water resources

Internal renewable water resources are estimated at 13.9 km³/year. Incoming surface water has been estimated at 0.4 km³/year. of which 0.2 km³ from Morocco and 0.2 km³ from Tunisia. The water resources, that are potentially available for use in the northern part of the country and the high plateaux have been estimated at 8.1 km³/year, of which 6.5 km³ is surface water to be regulated by dams and 1.6 km³ is groundwater. The safe yield of fossil water in the Sahara varies between 2 and 5 km³/year according to different hypotheses. However, the extraction of this fossil water is expensive.

In 1992, 79 dams had been constructed or were under construction with a total dam capacity of 4.3 km³. The total capacity of dams for irrigation under the schemes of the Regional Offices (see below) was estimated at about 1 2 km .

In 1990, total water withdrawal was estimated at 4.5 km³, of which 60% for agricultural purposes, 24.9% for domestic use and 15.1% for industrial use.

Ecological zones

The map below shows the ecological zones, as shown on the FAO global map of ecological zones produced as part of the FRA 2000. Please refer to FRA Working Paper 20 for further information on the Global Ecological Zone map.

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