These central uplands of Tunisia in an uncultivated state are covered with alfa or esparto grass; but they also grow considerable amounts of cereals - wheat in the north, barley in the south.
The alfa and cork industries employ large numbers of persons, as do also the sardine, anchovy and tunny fisheries.
It is indigenous to the south of Spain and the north of Africa (where it is known as Halfa or Alfa), and is especially abundant in the sterile and rugged parts of Murcia and Valencia, and in Algeria, flourishing best in sandy, ferruginous soils, in dry, sunny situations on the sea coast.
The flora of the high plateaus consists chiefly of grasses, notably various kinds of alfa or esparto, and aromatic herbs.
In the Sud Oranais an insurrection, fomented by a marabout named Bu-Amama, broke out in 1881, and the insurgents massacred the European labourers engaged in the collection of alfa (or esparto) grass.