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Atlas Mountains,system of ranges and plateaus in NW Africa, extending c.1,500 mi (2,410 km) from SW Morocco, through N Algeria, to N Tunisia; Jebel Toubkal (13,671 ft/4,167 m), in SW Morocco, is the highest peak. The Atlas Mts., predominantly folded mountains of sedimentary rock, were uplifted during the late Jurassic period. Geologically related to the Alpine system of Europe, they are separated from the Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada
, chief mountain range of S Spain, in Granada prov., running from east to west for c.60 mi (100 km), parallel to the Mediterranean Sea. The range's highest peak is Mulhacén (11,411 ft/3,478 m).
..... Click the link for more information. of Spain by the Strait of Gibraltar and from Sicily and the ApenninesApennines
, Ital. Appennino, mountain system, running the entire length of the Italian peninsula. It extends south c.840 mi (1,350 km) from the Cadibona Pass in Liguria, NW Italy, where the Apennines join with the Ligurian Alps, to the Strait of Messina; the mountains of
..... Click the link for more information. of Italy by the Mediterranean Sea; the Canary IslandsCanary Islands,
Span. Islas Canarias, group of seven islands (1990 pop. 1,589,403), 2,808 sq mi (7,273 sq km), autonomous community of Spain, in the Atlantic Ocean off Western Sahara. They constitute two provinces of Spain. Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1990 pop.
..... Click the link for more information. are a westward extension. The Atlas system is most rugged in Morocco, where, from north to south, the Rif (or Rif Atlas), Middle Atlas, High or Grand Atlas (the highest part of the system), and Anti-Atlas are found; fertile lowlands separate the ranges. In Algeria the system becomes a series of plateaus, with the Tell Atlas and the Saharan Atlas rimming the extensive Plateau of the Chotts before converging in Tunisia.
The Atlas Mts. are a climatic barrier between the Mediterranean basin and the SaharaSahara
[Arab.,=desert], world's largest desert, c.3,500,000 sq mi (9,065,000 sq km), N Africa; the western part of a great arid zone that continues into SW Asia. Extending more than 3,000 mi (4,830 km), from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, the Sahara is bounded on the N by
..... Click the link for more information. Desert. The slopes facing north are generally well watered and have important farmland and forests; on these slopes are the headwaters of many streams used for irrigation. The slopes facing south and the drier areas of the system are generally covered with shrub and grasses and have salt lakes and salt flats; sheep grazing is important there. The Atlas Mts. are rich in minerals, especially phosphates, coal, iron, and oil.