Travel to Bechar
The Bechar Province of Algeria consists mostly of uninhabitable landscapes. Dry sand dunes and the well-known Erg Er Raoui and Western Erg are located in this province. Even though there are some areas that can provide some grazing for livestock, the lack of surface water does not allow large scale agriculture. Most of the small towns within the province are located within or around the Saoura Valley, where oases provide water for grain and date palm farming. These towns and villages are supported by the nomadic tribes of the region. In the past Taghit was the main tourism destination of the province, but it has been superseded by Bechar.
The province of Bechar also carries a history of war, as it borders onto Morocco. After Algeria claimed independence, the legendary Sand War took place here, to fight over Tindouf. Bechar has now become the administrative centre and capital of the province, originally established as a French military post in 1905. It was then named Colomb-Bechar, becoming a small village. Coal was discovered here in 1907, and for a while the village became a thriving metropolis. However, after petroleum took over the demand for coal, the village resorted back to its original roots and agricultural traditions. Today, it produces products such as cereals, almonds, dates, figs and vegetables, but is famous for its jewelry and leatherwork that is exported. Small mining operations are still ongoing for iron, copper, magnesium and coal. A new division to Bechar has been constructed, called New Bechar, to house the workers of these mining operations. The town is therefore a fascinating combination of traditional housing and more modern constructions.
Located approximately five hundred kilometers from Oran and a mere fifty-eight kilometers from the border of Morocco, rail is the easiest method to reach this picturesque destination. It did at one stage serve as a SNTF railway station and between the years of 1941 and 1963 it was known as the Mediterranean-Niger Railway, but in 2008 talks began to see the railway upgraded to a standard gauge railway. Bechar is a wonderful location that is a little off the beaten track, but welcomes foreign visitors generously, and has much to offer with its wide variety of products and traditional handicraft.