Many of Algeria's key towns and cities lie along the northern coastal region, where places such as Annaba and Constantine have long histories dating back to Roman times and before. There are also ancient urban centres located at oases in the interior of the country, such as Timimoun and Ghardaia in the M'zab Valley. For the most adventurous, the desert south offers unique landscapes and environments, such as the Hoggar Mountains and Tassili N'Ajjer.


Tlemcen’s Grand Mosque is said to be one of North Africa’s most important Islamic buildings. Begun by the Almoravids – see Morocco History & Politics – in the 11th century (though added to over the many centuries), the mosque symbolises how strong and economically vital this region was during Moorish times. Today, Tlemcen is best known as a university city and centre for agricultural trade, which is why it’s sometimes called ‘the town of cherries’.


Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Morocco Map

Explore Morocco

Find out a little more about some of Morocco’s most popular destinations, including the ancient cities of Fez and Marrakesh and the coastal cities of Casablanca and Tangier.

Assekrem, Hoggar Mountains

Assekrem means ‘the end of the world’ in the language of the Tuareg people. It’s easy to see why the region has this name, with its dry earth and dark mountains, which rise up from a rocky black plateau. The heights of Assekrem can be reached by 4x4 or camels and afford stupendous views over the desert mountains. With spectacular sunrises and sunsets, it’s a landscape photographer’s dream.


Called ‘the white one’ by the French, the capital of Algeria is known for its distinctive white-washed buildings around a wide natural harbour. Used as a pirate base in the 16th century – see History & Politics – the city is now a respectable centre for Algeria’s commercial, political and economic life and home to an estimated 2.8 million people.


The city of Oran has a rich heritage involving periods of Turkish, Spanish and French control. This explains the Spanish and Turkish feel of some districts, while other parts of the city contain the buildings of the French colonists. Today, Oran is a lively port and sometimes referred to as the ‘party capital’. The rai music movement – see People & Culture – stems from here.

Sétif, Djémila

Situated 50km northeast of Sétif (founded by the Romans as Sitifis), Djémila was another flourishing Roman colony from the 1st century AD. Called Cuicul in Roman times, its Roman architecture (e.g. the temple, market and basilica) was cleverly adapted to fit into this mountainous area. The site has a particularly impressive collection of mosaic pavings.


This ancient city is one of the oldest in Algeria. From the 1st century BC, it became an important Roman town in the Numidia region of the empire – see History & Politics. Today, Constantine's major sights are the deep natural gorge and cliffs around which the city is built and its dramatic bridges.

Tassili N’Ajjer

Tassili N’Ajjer (‘Plateau of chasms') is a vast plateau region with chasms, canyons and stone faces, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage park covering an area more than 72,000 square kilometres. Over 15,000 prehistoric engravings and paintings, dating from 6000BC to the first centuries of the present-day era, depict life in the Sahara. The earliest art shows this area was once green and fertile, with men hunting lions, elephants and buffalo. The site represents one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world.

Niger map

Explore Niger

Click on the map points in Niger to find out more about some of its key cities and geographical features.


The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.


Situated on the edge of an escarpment, Timimoun is one of the most picturesque of Algeria’s oases towns. Visitors come to see its traditional buildings of red mud construction with wooden spikes and the town is sometimes referred to as the ‘Red Oasis’. The dramatic desert scenery around includes a vast salt lake.

Ghardaia, M’zab Valley

Five ksour (traditional fortified towns) are found in the M’Zab, a deep narrow valley with an oasis which supports palm groves. The towns were founded from the 10th century by the Ibadis, a group who broke away from mainstream Islam at the time. All five ancient citadels are built on hills, their pastel-coloured small buildings rising up to a mosque at the centre, where the minaret also functioned as a watchtower. Ghardaia is the main town and the administrative centre of the M'Zab.

Mali map

Explore Mali

Learn more about some of the most important places and features of Mali.


Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.


Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.


‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.


A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.


Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.


Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?


This city was in earlier times known as Hippo Regius. During the Roman period, it became a key centre of Christianity and St Augustine was bishop here. Thanks to the many jujube trees in the region, it was called Annaba (‘the city of jujube trees’ in Arabic) from the 16th century. Today, Annaba’s port is a busy one, but the city retains its colonial-era charm. Its beaches and Roman remains prove attractive to visitors.

Algeria map Algiers Tassili N’Ajjer Oran Ghardaia, M’zab Valley Constantine Sétif, Djémila Tlemcen Annaba Timimoun Morocco Map Mali map Assekrem, Hoggar Mountains Niger map