Western Sahara Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Western Sahara > Map Economy

Background: Morocco virtually annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976, and 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 cease-fire; a referendum on final status has been repeatedly postponed and is not expected to occur until at least 2002.
Government type: legal status of territory and question of sovereignty unresolved; territory contested by Morocco and Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro), which in February 1976 formally proclaimed a government-in-exile of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR); territory partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in April 1976, with Morocco acquiring northern two-thirds; Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979; Morocco moved to occupy that sector shortly thereafter and has since asserted administrative control; the Polisario's government-in-exile was seated as an OAU member in 1984; guerrilla activities continued sporadically, until a UN-monitored cease-fire was implemented 6 September 1991.
Capital: none
Currency: 1 Moroccan dirham (DH) = 100 centimes

Geography of Western Sahara

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco
Geographic coordinates: 24 30 N, 13 00 W
Area:
total: 266,000 sq km
land: 266,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 2,046 km
border countries: Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km
Coastline: 1,110 km
Maritime claims: contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue
Climate: hot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
Terrain: mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sebjet Tah -55 m
highest point: unnamed location 463 m
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 19%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 81%
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility
Environment - current issues: sparse water and lack of arable land
Environment - international agreements:
party to: none of the selected agreements
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: the waters off the coast are particularly rich fishing areas

People of Western Sahara

Population: 273,008 (July 2005 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.29% 
Birth rate: 45.07 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 16.11 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -6.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 133.59 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.81 years
male: 48.65 years
female: 51.33 years 
Total fertility rate: 6.64 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s)
adjective: Sahrawian, Sahraouian
Ethnic groups: Arab, Berber
Religions: Muslim
Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

SOURCE: The World Factbook

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Western Sahara > Map Economy