Relief

The Moroccan Sahara includes Saguiet el Hamra to the north and Oued el Dahab (Rio de Oro) to the south. The total land area of the Sahara is 266 000 km square, crossed by the Tropic between the 20th and 30th parallel. It is bordered to the north by Massa Darâa, to the east by Algeria, to the south by Mauritania and to the west by the Atlantic. Most of the reliefs are plains and some table lands which rarely reach 400 metres height.
Generally, we can divide the Sahara into three different zones: north-eastern part, from Al Atlas ranges to Zemmour hills, which is a rocky desert (hmada) with steep mountains and hilly relief. Water is rare except for some wells which makes life very difficult. The second zone or river zone is located between Oued Draa to the north and Jat to the west. Rivers tend to be depressions where water flows during the short rainy seasons (mainly in fall). These waters evaporated because of the hot weather and never reach the sea.
The region is named after Saguiet el Hamra river, one of the most important rivers in this zone. At the river’s banks and bed there is enough vegetation for cattle breeding. The third zone is Rio de Oro at the center of the Sahara. It is made of table lands and monotonies called “ergs” and sand dunes. The land is so permeable and flat that it cannot keep rainfall nor allow water streaming. Water is accumulated underground; therefore, the region contains many wells.
The landscape is quite monotonous inside and towards the coast. This monotony ends at Dakhla and Guera peninsulas (ex-Villa Cisneros), which have a continental climate, arid inside with very cold, hard winters and hot summers (temperature may reach 60° Celsius).
It is humid at the coast where we find fog, mist and dew. Rain is scarce both at the coast and inside. Only 45 millimetres per year fall on Dakhla. Coast humidity generates abundant and rich flora. Inside we find flora typical for steppes and desert: acacias throughout rivers, bushes in sandy depressions. Large territories are completely deprived of vegetation and water.