Western Sahara

territory in North and West Africa

Western Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الغربية; Amazigh: Tanẓṛuft Tutrimt; Spanish: Sahara Occidental) is a territory in north Africa. To the north is Morocco, to the east is Algeria, to the south is Mauritania, and to the west is the Atlantic Ocean. Its surface is 266,000 square kilometres (103,000 sq mi). It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world. Most of the territory is made of desert flatlands. The largest city is Laâyoune. More than half the population live there. The territory has a population estimated at just more than 500,000.[5]

Western Sahara
الصحراء الغربية (in Arabic)
Sahara Occidental (in Spanish)
Location of Western Sahara
CapitalEl Aaiún (Al âyoune)[1][2][3][4]
Largest cityEl Aaiún (Al âyoune)
Official languagessee respective claimants
Spoken languagesBerber and Hassaniya Arabic are locally spoken.

Spanish and French are widely used.
Demonym(s)Western Saharan
Disputed sovereignty1
• Relinquished by Spain
14 November 1975
• Total
266,000 km2 (103,000 sq mi) (76th)
• Water (%)
• 2009 estimate
513,000[5] (168th)
• Density
1.9/km2 (4.9/sq mi) (237th)
CurrencyMoroccan Dirham (in the Morocco-controlled zone) Algerian Dinar with the Sahrawi Peseta being commemorative and not circulating (in the SADR-controlled zone)[6] (MAD)
Time zoneUTC+0
Calling code+212 (Tied with Morocco)
ISO 3166 codeEH
Internet TLDNone. .eh reserved, not officially assigned.
1 Mostly under administration of Morocco as its Southern Provinces. The Polisario Front controls border areas behind the border wall as the Free Zone, on behalf of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since the 1960s when it was a Spanish colony.[7] The Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, with its Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) government, both claim control over the territory.

Since 1975, most of the territory has been part of Morocco. In 1973, some Sahrawis claimed the Moroccans and Mauritanians were occupying their land and started a movement. The movement turned violent, and the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991. Many Polisario members and their families became refugees in camps in Algeria.[8] The rest of Western Sahara is controlled by the Polisario/SADR, backed by Algeria.[9] Many important countries have pressed both parties to agree to a peaceful solution. Both Morocco and Polisario have tried to get recognition from other countries. Polisario has won formal recognition for SADR from 81 states, and was extended membership in the African Union, while Morocco has won recognition for its position from the Arab League.[10][11] In both instances, recognitions have over the past two decades been extended and withdrawn according to changing international trends.

Some countries (such as the United States) recognizes Morocco's sovereignty on Western Sahara, others claim that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic are the legitimate government in Western Sahara. Most nations remain neutral on the subject. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was made by the Polisario Front an armed militia fighting under Sahrawi nationalism.

References change

  1. "Regions and territories: Western Sahara". BBC. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  2. "Q&A: Western Sahara clashes". BBC. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  3. Jensen, Erik (2005). Western Sahara: Anatomy Of A Stalemate. International Peace Academy Occasional Paper Series. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 48. ISBN 1588263053.
  4. "Western Sahara". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009). "World Population Prospects, Table A.1" (PDF). 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 12 March 2009. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. Ahmed R. Benchemsi and Mehdi Sekkouri Alaoui. "Au cœur du polisario". Telquel. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2011. "Tout cela se paie en dinars algériens"
  7. Whitfield, Teresa. Friends Indeed?: The United Nations, Groups of Friends, and the Resolution of Conflict. 2007, page 191.
  8. Conor Gaffey (March 9, 2016). "Western Sahara: What is the 40-Year Dispute All About?". Newsweek. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  9. Baehr, Peter R. The United Nations at the End of the 1990s. 1999, page 129.
  10. Arab League supports Morocco's Territorial Integrity Archived 2012-09-07 at the Wayback Machine, Arabic News, Morocco-Regional, Politics, January 8, 1999. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  11. Arab League Withdraws Inaccurate Moroccan maps Archived 2013-10-22 at the Wayback Machine, Arabic News, Regional-Morocco, Politics, December 17, 1998. Retrieved August 24, 2006.

Other websites change

  Media related to Western Sahara at Wikimedia Commons