1902 Encyclopedia > Algeria > Algeria - Natural Divisions

(Part 4)

Algeria: Natural Divisions

Algeria is divided by a line running nearly east and west into two distinct zones, called by the natives the Tell and Sahara.

The Tell constitutes the zone bordering upon the Mediterranean, and is the cultivated land - the land of corn. It consists of a series of fertile basins, yielding almost exclusively corn of different kinds, especially wheat and barley. Some parts of it are extremely fertile, but at the same time flat and uniform. The claims separating the basins are clothed with timber, and peopled by the Kabyles.

The Sahara lies to the south of the Tell, and is the region of pastures and of fruits. Hence, while the inhabitants of the Tell are agriculturists, those of the Sahara are shepherds and gardeners.

Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert on border of Algeria and Morocco
(photo taken early in the morning)

The Sahara is sometimes spoken of as a desert, at other times as the country of dates. It may properly be divided into two regions; the northern is mountainous, but at the same time more fertile, better watered, and more populous than the other, which, bordering on the Great Desert, consists chiefly of oases of greater or less extent.

The villages of the Sahara are surrounded by belts of fruit trees, of which the palm is the chief, though there are also pomegranate, fig, apricot, peach, and other trees, and vines.

On the mountain ranges near the coast are extensive forests of various species of oak, pine, cedar, elm, ash, maple, olive, &c. The cork tree is also very common. The trees, especially the cedars and oaks, are frequently of gigantic size. Great injury is often done to the forests by the people annually burning up the grass of their fields. In this way extensive forests are sometimes consumed.

The want of roads and navigable rivers has prevented the French from deriving much benefit as yet from the forests. Besides wheat and barley, the cotton plant, sugar-cane, and tobacco are extensively cultivated .

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