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The Tell Atlas (Arabic: الاطلس التلي‎) is a mountain chain over 1,500 kilometers in length, belonging to the Atlas mountain ranges in North Africa, stretching from Morocco, through Algeria to Tunisia. It parallels the Mediterranean coast. Together with the Saharian Atlas or Aurès Mountains range to the south it forms the northernmost of two more or less parallel ranges which approach one another towards the east, remaining quite distinct from one another in Western Algeria and merging in Eastern Algeria. At the western end, it ends at the Rif and Middle Atlas ranges in Morocco. The Tell Atlas are also a distinct physiographic section of the larger Atlas Mountains province, which in turn is part of the larger African Alpine System physiographic division.

Map showing the location of the Atlas Mountains across North Africa

Contents

Climate and natural features

The Tell Atlas enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate (warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters with snow at upper elevations). As a consequence, the northern slopes of the Tell Atlas are forested with cedar, pine, and cork oak. In the summer a hot, dry wind, the Sirocco, blows north from the Sahara across the Tell Atlas, causing dusty, dry conditions along the northern coast of Africa.

Despite the arid climate, some agriculture for barley and wheat farming is found in the Tell Atlas region.[1] The Chiffa gorge is situated within the Tell Atlas; this location is one of the few remaining habitats for the endangered primate, the Barbary Macaque, Macaca sylvanus.[2]

Between the Tell Atlas and the Saharan Atlas

It forms a natural barrier between the Mediterranean and the Sahara. Its highest summit lies 2,308 meters over the sea level. Between the two natural barriers (the first against the Mediterranean and the second against the Sahara) lies the valley of the Chelif and various lesser rivers. South of the Tell Atlas is a high plateau (~1000 m in elevation) with level terrain where water collects during the wet season, forming large shallow salt lakes (and as they dry, salt flats). Agriculture includes grazing of sheep and goats on grass in better-watered high plateau areas and some farming; dry-land barley is grown there. Only seasonal streams are found flowing south from the Tell Atlas.

Cities in the Tell Atlas

Several large cities such as the Algerian capital, Algiers, with ~1,500,000 residents (2005) and Oran with ~770,000 residents (2005) lie at the base of the Tell Atlas. The Algerian city Constantine with approximately 505,000 residents (2005) lies 80 km inland and directly in the mountains at 650 meters in elevation. A number of smaller towns and villages are situated within the Tell; for example, Chiffa is nestled within the Chiffa gorge.

Lakes and rivers

The Chelif is a 725 km long river with headwaters in the Tell Atlas to its discharge into the Mediterranean. The Chelif is characterized by an extremely fertile valley.

References

Linenotes

  1. ^ William Adams Hance, 1975
  2. ^ C. Michael Hogan, 2008

Coordinates: 36°00′N 1°00′E / 36°N 1°E / 36; 1

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