The Atlas Mountains, Morocco (April 1994). Portions of the Atlas Mountains of
central Morocco are captured in this low-oblique, southwest-looking photograph.
Snow covers the higher peaks of the mountains, which have an average elevation
of approximately 3050 meters. The northern and western flanks are
covered with oak, walnut, pine, and cedar forests.
agricultural regions (dark green) are apparent west and northwest of the
mountains. West of the irrigated areas, the Oum er Rbia River Reservoir (dark
blue) can be seen. The Moulouya River Valley lies between the high and the
middle Atlas ranges (northeast portion of the photograph). South of the
snow-covered peaks of the high ranges are the folded ranges of the barren, rocky
Anti-Atlas Mountains that have an average elevation of 1070 m
and numerous small gullies and canyons. Many irrigated river valleys between the
two ranges are visible—among them, a small turquoise reservoir in the Ziz River
Because the Atlas Mountains were born of the same global convulsions
that formed the Alps and the Himalayas, geologically they are more European than
African. Atlas, the European name for the mountains, reflects the ancient
Greeks’ belief that this was the home of the god Atlas. In Arabic, the system is
called the "Island of the West" because it is an "island" of relative fertility
in a desert region.
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