What is the terrain and geography like in Algeria?
Algeria, the second-largest Arab/African country after Sudan, is nearly one-third the size of the continental U.S. It is situated on the Mediterranean coast of Africa about midway between Tangier and Tunis, opposite Majorca.
Its geography is a contrast with the mountainous, fertile terrain of the north and the great expanse of arid desert in the south. Ninety percent of the population lives on the fertile coastal strip that extends about 50 miles inland and stretches about 950 miles from Morocco in the west to Tunisia in the east. Algiers, Oran, and Annaba are located in this area along the coast.
South of this coastal plain rises the beautifully rugged hills and mountains of the Kabylie and the Aures. Behind the mountains lies the high plateau, a semiarid rangeland. Beyond, about 200 miles inland, is the vast Sahara Desert, which comprises 90% of the country.
From the sea, Algiers is a spectacular sight, rising sharply from the port area and business district to the residential areas along tree-covered hills. In sunlight, the white buildings of "Alger la Blanche" gleam against the blue Mediterranean below and the green pines above.
Architecturally, the city is European with a strong Mediterranean flavor. The Casbah, an ancient, congested quarter in the heart of the city, contains most of what remains of the Turkish city of the 16th-18th centuries.
Geography - note
The largest country in Africa
In Algeria, the climate varies. Coastal areas, including Algiers, are hot in summer and chilly and rainy for several months in winter. Inland mountain regions between the coast and the desert have cooler weather; temperatures are below freezing for long periods of winter. Spring and fall in the "Tell" (a part of northern Algeria in which the average annual rainfall is 16 inches or more, making it usable for agriculture), are mild and enjoyable. The Tell and the Sahara have climate extremes, although in different ways. The Tell is very cold in winter and very hot in summer. The Sahara's extremes are between daytime (warm in winter; hot in late spring, summer, early fall) and nighttime (cold year-round).
Algiers has four distinct seasons, with temperature variations ranging normally between 40-110°F. It tends to be extremely hot during the month of August, and some winters can be cold and rainy. In general, however, the weather is quite pleasant, but mold and mildew can be a real problem.
Despite its warm summer, Algiers has what is often described as a "cold climate with a hot sun." Winter temperatures rarely fall below freezing. Cool-weather generally begins in November and lasts into March. The rainy season spans about five months.