Israel / Geography /
Its area is defined to be 13,000 km², and the population is estimated at between 600,000 and 700,000 (for 2005). Numbers for the Bedouin population in the Negev range between 70,000 and 160,000. Negev has the fastest growing population in Israel, and especially is this the case with the Bedouins. Their numbers are estimated to pass 300,000 around 2020.
Although named desert, the Negev has more precipitation than what is found in many other deserts. At the most, precipition may reach 250 mm, while several areas has precipition at low desert levels. More and more "Desert" is ommitted from the name, reflecting the reclamation projects.
The name appears to come from either, or both, the Hebrew verb for to dry "nigev", and south, "negev".
The region is dominated by limestone and chalk. The landscape has a number of craters surrounded by cliffs, of which the largest is Machtesh Ramon, 37 by 8 km. Most of the Negev is mountainous, the higest peeks passing 1,000 metres (Har Nes is highest at 1,015 metres).
Israel's suceess in making many areas of the Negev fertile, as well as stopping desertification, has been used in many other similar regions around the world.
The largest settlement is the city of Beer Sheva with 190,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate).