Bechar Province

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Béchar Province

ولاية بشار
Map of Algeria highlighting Béchar
Map of Algeria highlighting Béchar
Coordinates: 31°37′N 2°13′W / 31.617°N 2.217°W / 31.617; -2.217Coordinates: 31°37′N 2°13′W / 31.617°N 2.217°W / 31.617; -2.217
Country Algeria
CapitalBéchar
Government
 • WāliMr. Mecheri Azzedine
Area
 • Total161,400 km2 (62,300 sq mi)
Elevation
605 m (1,985 ft)
Population
 (2008)[1]
 • Total274,866
 • Density1.7/km2 (4.4/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01 (CET)
Area Code+213 (0) 29
ISO 3166 codeDZ-08
Districts12
Municipalities21

Béchar (Arabic: ولاية بشار‎) is a province (wilaya) in Algeria, named after its capital Béchar.

History[edit]

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 settlements are 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.[2]

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passing through this region played an important role in its economy in pre-modern times, but have at present been superseded.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. Béchar, 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.

Disagreements between Morocco and Algeria over their mutual border in this province and Tindouf led to conflict after Algeria's independence, the so-called Sand War.

Administrative divisions[edit]

The province is made up of 12 districts and 21 municipalities.[3]

The districts are:

The municipalities are:

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-09-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Dairas Et Communes" (in French). Site Officiel de la Wilaya de Bechar. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.