Atlas Mountains

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The Atlas Mountains (Berber: idurar n Watlas, Arabic: جبال الأطلس‎) are a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about 2,500 km (1,500 miles) through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is the Toubkal mountain, with an elevation of 4,167 metres (13,671 ft) in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert. The population of the Atlas Mountains are mainly Berbers. The terms for 'mountain' in some Berber languages are adrar and adras, believed to be cognate with the toponym.

The mountains are or were home to a number of plant and animal species unique in Africa (often more like those of Europe) many of them are endangered and some have already gone extinct. Examples include the Atlas Cedar, the Atlas Bear (Africa's only species of bear, which is now extinct), the Barbary Leopard, the Barbary Macaque, the Atlas mountain viper, the Barbary stag, Barbary Sheep, the Barbary Lion (extinct in the wild), the Atlas mountain Badger, the North African Elephant (extinct), the African Aurochs (extinct), the Northern Bald Ibis, the European Black Pine, the Dippers, the Algerian Oak, and Cuvier's Gazelle.

Contents

Geology

The basement rock of most of Africa was formed in the Precambrian (approximately 4.5 billion years ago) and is much older than the Atlas mountains lying in Africa. The Atlas formed during three subsequent phases of Earth's history.

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