|• 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||UTC+01 (CET)|
|Area Code||+213 (0) 29|
|ISO 3166 code||DZ-08|
The greater part of the province is 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. Natural resources include coal deposits in the north around Bechar and Kenadsa.
The oases' traditional economic basis was agriculture, notably growing date palms and grain. The inhabitants of several oases, notably Ouakda, Lahmar and Boukais, speak Berber languages, while the rest speak Arabic. Many of the oases had significant populations of haratin or shurfa. There is a notable zaouia (traditional religious school) at Kenadsa. The region also supported a substantial mainly Arab pastoralist nomadic population, notably the Doui-Menia and Ouled Djerir; most or all 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passing through this region played an important role in its economy in pre-modern times, but have at present been superseded.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.
The province was created from the Saoura department in 1974.
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.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-09-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Dairas Et Communes" (in French). Site Officiel de la Wilaya de Bechar. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.