Map of Algeria highlighting Béchar
|• Wāli||Mr. Mecheri Azzedine|
|• Total||161,400 km2 (62,300 sq mi)|
|Elevation||605 m (1,985 ft)|
|• Density||1.7/km2 (4.4/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+01)|
|Area Code||+213 (0) 29|
|ISO 3166 code||DZ-08|
The greater part of the province is uninhabitable sand dune fields (ergs), in particular the Great Western Erg and the Erg Er Raoui, or dry plains (hamadas) suitable for grazing but with insufficient surface water to support agriculture. Most settlement is therefore concentrated in oases along the Saoura valley and its tributaries. An aquifer under the Erg Er Raoui supports the main exception, Tabelbala. Natural resources include coal deposits in the north around Bechar and Kenadsa and copper in the south in Djebel Ben Tagine.
The oases' traditional economic basis was agriculture, notably growing date palms and grain. The inhabitants of several oases, notably Igli, Ouakda, Lahmar and Boukais, speak Berber languages, while the rest speak Arabic; in one oasis, Tabelbala, a Songhay language, Korandje, continues to be spoken. Many of the oases had significant populations of haratin or shurfa. There are notable zaouias, traditional religious schools, at Kenadsa and Kerzaz. The region also supported a substantial mainly Arab pastoralist nomadic population, notably the Doui-Menia, Ouled Djerir, Ghenanma, Chaamba, and Reguibat; some of these still remain nomadic, but most have settled in the oases.
Trans-Saharan trade routes passing through this region played an important role in its economy in pre-modern times, but have at present been superseded. A small tourism industry exists, focused particularly on Taghit. Bechar, whose growth from a minor village began only in the early 20th century, has become the principal urban and administrative centre.
The region has a distinctive musical scene influenced by sub-Saharan African rhythms, whose best known representative is the Gnawi singer Hasna El Becharia. Another locally well-known group is El Sed, from Kenadsa.
The districts are:
The municipalities are:
- Office National des Statistiques, Recensement General de la Population et de l’Habitat 2008 Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Preliminary results of the 2008 population census. Accessed on 2008-07-02.
- "Dairas Et Communes" (in French). Site Officiel de la Wilaya de Bechar. Retrieved 9 March 2013.