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The climate is desert like, although the coast does receive rain in the winter.Only 3 percent of the land is arable, this along the Mediterranean.Beyond the plateau are the Saharan Atlas Mountains, which form the boundary of the Algerian Sahara desert.
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.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.At independence, Arabic was declared the official language.The vast expanse contains not only sand dunes and typical desert life such as snakes, lizards, and foxes, but also oases, which grow date and citrus trees. Ethnically it is fairly homogeneous, about 80 percent Arab and 20 percent Berber. The Chaouias live in the Aurès Mountains, the M'zabites in the northern Sahara, and the Tuaregs in the desert. The original language of Algeria was Berber, which has varied dialects throughout the country.There are also striking sandstone rock formations, red sand, and even a mountain, Mount Tahat, the highest point in Algeria, that is sometimes snow-topped. Arabic came to the country early in its history, along with Arab culture and the Muslim religion.