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Western Sahara Western Sahara lies in Northern Africa. It borders the North Atlantic Ocean, Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria. The Spanish occupied this mainly desert land territory until 1976. Once the Spanish left, much of Spanish Sahara, present day Western Sahara, came under under the administration of Morocco. Western Sahara has experienced political problems as a result of the disputes between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which is the sole representative of the Saharan people. Formed in 1973, this Front proclaimed the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976 with a government in exile. Because of these disputes between Morocco and the Polisario, the legal status and the issue of sovereignty of Western
Sahara remains unresolved. Western Sahara is still under the de facto administrative control of Morocco. The people of Western Sahara are known as the Sahrawi people; people of Arab-Berber descent. Most nomads of Western Sahara converted to Islam as a result of the ‘arabisation’ of North Africa. The main towns of Western Sahara are al-Aaiún or Laâyoune, the former capital of Spanish Sahara. Western Sahara remains sparsely populated with few people visiting this region.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag:  

This territory does not have a flag

Nationality: Sahrawi, Sahrawian, Sahraouian

Capital: This territory does not have a Capital City

Population: 273,008 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: N/A
  • 15-64 years: N/A
  • 65 years and over: N/A (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: N/A

Literacy rate:

  • N/A

Major religions: Muslim

Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

Quick Facts
  • total: 266,000 sq km
  • land: 266,000 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: half the size of the Yukon Territory

Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore

Environmental Issues: sparse water and lack of arable land


The main source of income for the population of Western Sahara is fishing, phosphate mining as well as pastoral nomadism. Unfortunately, Western Sahara does not receive enough rainfall and therefore there is no sustainable agricultural production. Because of this, most of the food in the urban region must be imported. The Moroccan government controls all the trade and other economic activities. The living standards and income levels in Western Sahara are lower than those of Morocco. In 2001, Morocco was interested in exploring oil off the coast of Western Sahara. Contracts were signed to allow this, which angered the Polisario. Polisario was established in 1973 and act as the only representative of the Saharan people.

Major industries:

  • phosphate mining
  • handicrafts

Agricultural products:

  • fruits and vegetables (grown in the few oases)
  • camels
  • sheep
  • goats (kept by nomads)
  • fish

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: N/A

Currency: Moroccan dirham


Telephone lines in use: about 2,000 (1999 est.)

Cellular lines in use: 0 (1999)

Television Stations: N/A

Radio Stations: AM 2, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)

Internet users: N/A

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: N/A

People living with HIV/AIDS: N/A

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