Bir el Ater is a city of approximately 100 000 inhabitants located in extreme eastern Algeria towards the south, near the Tunisian borders and just beyond theSahara, about 87 kilometers south of Tébessa.
Bir El Ater was the cradle of the Aterian civilization (the term Aterian derives from el-Ater) which was around 40000 - 20000 years BC.
It is now a mining city, located 15 km south of Bir El-Ater. There are deposits of Djebel Onk Phosphates, the largest in Algeria which are extracted and shipped by train to Annaba a port, 300 km north on the Mediterranean or are used locally..
North of Bir el-Ater is a plain. Agriculture flourished in Roman times. Nowadays, the soil is dry and infertile. The vegetation is mainly composed of tufts of alfa . South lies the Djebel Onk, oriented north-east to south-west, it contains mines phosphates.
The landscape becomes more rugged with several peaks and wadis dry digging numerous canyons yellow ocher Continuing towards Negrine , the vegetation becomes more scarce and the ground is made of white clay and pebbles