Located in the Central part of North Africa, the Algerian desert is a part of the Sahara. It occupies almost 4/5ths of Algeria. It extends to about 1500 kilometers and very sparsely populated due to its extreme climatic conditions.
The Algerian part of the Sahara displays great diversity of the desert landscape. Only one quarter of the desert is occupied by sand dunes also called erg. These are further classified, the largest among them being called the Grand Erg Oriental or the Great Eastern Erg. Here the sand dunes are as high as 2 to 5 meters and spaced 40 meters apart. Another quarter of the desert in the southeastern part is occupied by the highlands called Ahaggar and Tassili n’Ajjer. Surrounding these highlands are sandstone plateaus. The plateaus are cut into gorges by rivers that once flowed through this land. The western part of the desert is covered with pebbles. The northern part of the desert is cooler and supports some vegetation and has oases. It also has limestone structures called M’zabs.
Berbers were the earliest inhabitants and continue to be dominant in the northern parts of the desert and are called the M’zbaite Berbers. The southern parts of the Algerian desert are occupied by the Tuareg nomads and in recent times by the oil camp workers. Languages of this region are Berber, Arabic and related dialects.
The vegetation of Algerian desert is composed of grassy, mountainous and coastal varieties. The northern region includes Macchia scrubs and some conifers. Palms, acacias and olives are predominant in the rest of the desert.
The animals that inhabit this desert include wild boars, gazelles, fennecs, jerboas and jackals. The larger carnivores such as leopards, cheetah and panther are present but rarely sighted. A wide variety of bird species are also a part of the fauna of this region.
The eco regions are similar to that of the Saharan desert. They are: The Northern and Southern Steppe and woodlands, Western Montane xeric Woodlands and the Central Sahara Eco region.