- Continental region –North and West Africa
- Currency symbol of Western Sahara – Moroccan dirham, Mauritanian ouguiya, Sahrawi peseta
- Capital City –Laayoune
- Official languages –Arabic Krio is widely spoken
- Population –652,271(2020)
- Country dialling code – (+212 )
- Official website – Western Sahara
- Top 3 biggest industries –Fishing, Phosphate Mining, Tourism
- Google Maps link – Western Sahara
- Where is it? –Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast and in the Maghreb region of North and West Africa.
Western Sahara In Pictures
Western Sahara History
- How did the country get its first name? – Given on the basis of western location of Sahara.
- How did the country get its current name? – Given on the basis of western location of Sahara
- When and by whom the country was first discovered? – The history of Western Sahara can be traced back to the times of Carthaginian explorer Hanno the Navigator in the 5th century BC.
- Who were the first Inhabitants? – Nomadic Berbers, mainly of the Senhaja / Zenaga tribal confederation, inhabited the areas now known as Western Sahara, southern Morocco, Mauritania and southwestern Algeria, before Islam arrived in the 8th century CE.
- When it was first recognized as a country? – It was officially named a non-self governing territory by the U.N. in 1963. Spain relinquished its control in 1975 to a joint administration of Mauritania and Morocco.
- Who was the first leader of the country? – The country is currently a non-self governing territory.
Five Significant Events
- Western Sahara 1975: Spanish Sahara becomes known as Western Sahara. (https://culturesofresistancefilms.com/ws-timeline)
- Bombard Sahrawi 1976: Spain withdraws on February 27th, 1976. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is proclaimed by the Polisario Front in Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara. Moroccan planes bombard Sahrawi civilians fleeing the conflict with napalm and cluster bombs. Tens of thousands of Sahrawis take refuge in Tindouf, located in the south-western part of the Algerian desert. Their descendants remain there to this day. (https://culturesofresistancefilms.com/ws-timeline)
- POLISARIO 1976: The current Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) president, Mohamed Abdelaziz, was elected POLISARIO secretary-general in August 1976. (https://culturesofresistancefilms.com/ws-timeline)
- 1979: When 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 over the whole territory. (https://culturesofresistancefilms.com/ws-timeline)
- 1975 – 1991: Guerrilla warfare between the POLISARIO and the Moroccan Army: By 1982 POLISARIO had liberated nearly eighty-five percent of their country. More than 300 Sahrawi ARE detained and tortured in secret prisons and denied legal counsel. In the early years of the occupation, several Sahrawi civilian camps were bombed. The survivors were rounded up and forced to take residence in highly militarized areas. Families were denied information as to their relatives’ whereabouts or condition and were often subjected to police surveillance. These mass relocations tore apart families and destroyed the Sahrawi’s traditional nomadic lifestyle. (https://culturesofresistancefilms.com/ws-timeline)
Five Places to Visit in Sierra Leone
- El Aaiún (Laayoune): Western Sahara’s largest city, with a population of roughly 195,000, was founded by the Spanish in 1928 and has been under Moroccan control since 1976. The city is small and easily navigable by foot. It is a great place to spend a day or two before you venture out to explore other desert towns and villages. El Aaiún sits right on the coast of the territory in the north, and visitors can spend time on the El Aaiún beach, though they shouldn’t expect perfect white sand and palm trees; this is a desert beach, after all. (https://africa.com/western-sahara-travel-guide/)
- Tarfaya: This small town lies on the coast just over the border between Western Sahara and Morocco, just a few hours’ drive from El Aaiún. During the colonial period in this part of North Africa, Tarfaya was the administrative capital of Spanish South Morocco. Tarfaya can be hard to reach by public transportation and has only one main paved road. Its real claim to fame is literary: this is where Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of the much loved French novella The Little Prince, was stationed in 1929. A small statue of an airplane on the beach commemorates the writer and pilot. Also visit the Castle Dar Mar, a 200-year-old castle that sits in the ocean 45 kilometers from the shore. (https://africa.com/western-sahara-travel-guide/)
- Smara (Semara):With a population of roughly 45,000, Smara is the only large town in Western Sahara that was not founded by the Spanish. Once a trade hub for camel caravans passing through the Sahara, Smara was built with red stone around a fortress known as the Zawiy Maalainin that enclosed a mosque. Ruins of the fortress can still be seen today. In the early 20th century, Smara was the battleground for territorial disputes between Spanish, French, and Sahrawi rebels and is now under Moroccan rule. (https://africa.com/western-sahara-travel-guide/)
- Guelta Zemmour: Located inland and south of El Aaiún, this small town was built around a guelta, or oasis. Sahrawi nomads used the oasis as a camping ground for hundreds of years. The town was at one time under the control of the Polisario Front but is now home to a Moroccan military base. Though this town is a wonderful place to catch a gorgeous desert sunset and a star-spangled night sky, visitors should be very aware of minefields located near the town. (https://africa.com/western-sahara-travel-guide/)
- Moroccan Berm: This Moroccan-built sand wall divides Western Sahara into Moroccan and Polisario territories. Several Moroccan military bases are located along the berm, as well as several minefields, so though the wall is worth seeing from a distance, we advise against going in for a closer look. (https://africa.com/western-sahara-travel-guide/)