Béchar (bāshärˈ) [key], formerly Colomb-Béchar kôlôNˈ–, town (1998 pop. 131,010), capital of Béchar prov., W Algeria. It is an important administrative center in a mining (coal, copper, magnesium, iron) and industrial region. Béchar also serves as a major shipping point for coal. It is noted for its jewelry and leatherwork. The town was established in 1905 as a French military post to control the then-turbulent Algerian-Moroccan border.