WESTERN-SAHARA

Information about travelling to Western-Sahara

Western-Sahara is located in Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco

Facts about Western-Sahara
Population393,831 note: estim
Capitalnone time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Time zone
Location Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco

General info about Western-Sahara
Morocco virtually annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976, and claimed the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front contesting Rabat's sovereignty ended in a 1991 UN-brokered cease-fire; a UN-organized referendum on the territory's final status has been repeatedly postponed. In April 2007, Morocco presented an autonomy plan for the territory to the UN, which the U.S. considers serious and credible. The Polisario also presented a plan to the UN in 2007 that called for independence. Representatives from the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front have met four times since August 2007 to negotiate the status of Western Sahara, but talks have stalled since the UN envoy to the territory stated in April 2008 that independence is unrealistic.
Languages spoken
Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Ethnic division
Arab, Berber
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
NA
Climate
hot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
Resources
phosphates, iron ore
Economy
Western Sahara depends on pastoral nomadism, fishing, and phosphate mining as the principal sources of income for the population. The territory lacks sufficient rainfall for sustainable agricultural production, and most of the food for the urban population must be imported. Incomes in Western Sahara are substantially below the Moroccan level. The Moroccan Government controls all trade and other economic activities in Western Sahara. Morocco and the EU signed a four-year agreement in July 2006 allowing European vessels to fish off the coast of Morocco, including the disputed waters off the coast of Western Sahara. Moroccan energy interests in 2001 signed contracts to explore for oil off the coast of Western Sahara, which has angered the Polisario. However, in 2006 the Polisario awarded similar exploration licenses in the disputed territory, which would come into force if Morocco and the Polisario resolve their dispute over Western Sahara.
Environment
sparse water and lack of arable land

Cities in Western-Sahara




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