Climate & Agriculture

Hot and cold

Bright sunshine over the northern shores of AlgeriaIn the summer months, temperatures in desert regions of Algeria can hit 50°C. But nights in the Sahara are often cold and in winter, temperatures can dip below freezing.

The north of Algeria is cooler, enjoying a Mediterranean-style climate. Temperatures in Algiers average 26°C in July, though humidity can make the summer heat uncomfortable. In winter, average temperatures are around 12°C, but can drop right down, with snow common in certain highland regions.

Africa isn’t known for its skiing resorts. But in Algeria, skiing is a key winter attraction in a few mountain areas, such as within the Chrea National Park.

Dry and wet

Relying on the rain

Farmers mostly rely on annual rainfall for their crops, though in some places underground water from wells is used.

Though inland areas are dry – villages in some parts of the Sahara may have no rain for 20 years – rainfall is higher along coastal regions of northern Algeria, averaging 1,000mm annually in some parts of the north.

Winter storms can bring heavy and torrential rain, which sometimes causes flash floods. In fact, conditions across the northern regions are generally very variable, with both cold and hot spells, droughts and floods. Locals say it is even possible to experience the weather of four different seasons in one day.

Crops in the north

Farming in AlgeriaCereal crops such as wheat and barley are grown along coastal areas and in some of the mountain valleys where rainfall is plentiful. However, only around 3% of Algeria’s land is suitable for arable farming.

Other common crops in the agricultural regions of the north include potatoes and vegetables, fruits such as oranges and watermelons, olives and grapes.

Much of what’s grown goes to the domestic market. But exports of vegetables and refined products such as sugar, soybean oil and cocoa butter also bring in revenue.

Agriculture in the south

A dates land

Algeria used to be Africa’s second largest producer of dates, behind Egypt. However, with investment in agriculture generally lacking, Tunisia now claims the top spot.

The slopes of Algeria’s northern mountains and plateaus are used for pastoral farming, mainly sheep and cattle, but also goats. Cow’s milk and sheep’s meat are the highest-earning agricultural products for domestic farmers.

Further south and across desert regions, date palms are common in oases. Algeria was the tenth largest exporter of dates by volume in 2010 (according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation).

Droughts and increasing desertification, where the desert is encroaching into semi-arid grasslands, have forced some herders to abandon their traditional farming livelihoods and look for work in the cities.