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While the majority of the population who are Arab (or mixed Arab and Berber) identify with the common Algerian culture, the Berber tribes, particularly in the more isolated southern mountainous and desert regions, retain more of the indigenous Berber culture and identity. It covers a total of 919,595 square miles (2,381,751 square kilometers), making it the second largest country in Africa (after Sudan), and the eleventh largest in the world.Almost nine-tenths of this area is composed of the six Saharan provinces in the south of the country; however, 90 percent of the population, and most of the cities, are located along the fertile coastal area known as the Tell, or hill.Inland from the coast is the High Plateau region, with an elevation of 1,300 to 4,300 feet (396 to 1,311 meters).This is mostly rocky and dry, dotted with vegetation on which cattle, sheep, and goats graze. The name Algeria is derived from the name of the country's oldest continuous settlement and modern capital, Algiers, a strategically located port city with access to both Europe and the Middle East.Most of the population of the country is in the north. It borders Tunisia and Libya to the east; Niger, Mali, and Mauritania to the south; Morocco and Western Sahara to the west; and the Mediterranean Sea to the north.When the French came, they attempted to get rid of native culture, and one of the ways they did this was to impose their language on the people.
Beyond the plateau are the Saharan Atlas Mountains, which form the boundary of the Algerian Sahara desert.Despite efforts by the government to contain the desert by planting rows of pine trees, it continues to expand northward. The largest of these are the Kabyles, who live in the Kabylia Mountains east of Algiers.