Western Sahara

Western Sahara
الصحراء الغربية (Arabic)
Taneẓroft Tutrimt (Berber)
Sahara Occidental (Spanish)
Disputed Territory
Map of Western Sahara
Map of Western Sahara
Coordinates: 25°N 13°W / 25°N 13°W / 25; -13
Largest cityLaayoune
 • Total266,000 km2 (103,000 sq mi)
 • Total538,755[1]
 • Density2.03/km2 (5.3/sq mi)
Time zoneGMT (UTC±00:00)
ISO 3166 codeEH

Western Sahara (ə/ (About this sound listen);[2] Arabic: الصحراء الغربية‎‎ aṣ-Ṣaḥrā’ al-Gharbīyah, Berber languages: Taneẓroft Tutrimt, Spanish and French: Sahara Occidental) is a disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially Moroccan-occupied, bordered by Morocco proper to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to 266,000 square kilometres (103,000 sq mi). It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly consisting of desert flatlands. The population is estimated at just over 500,000,[3] of which nearly 40% live in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara.

Occupied by Spain until the late 20th century, Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 after a Moroccan demand.[4] It is the most populous territory on that list, and by far the largest in area. In 1965, the UN General Assembly adopted its first resolution on Western Sahara, asking Spain to decolonize the territory.[5] One year later, a new resolution was passed by the General Assembly requesting that a referendum be held by Spain on self-determination.[6] In 1975, Spain relinquished the administrative control of the territory to a joint administration by Morocco (which had formally claimed the territory since 1957)[7] and Mauritania.[6] A war erupted between those countries and a Sahrawi nationalist movement, the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government in exile in Tindouf, Algeria. Mauritania withdrew its claims in 1979, and Morocco eventually secured de facto control of most of the territory, including all the major cities and natural resources. The United Nations considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, and maintains that the Sahrawis have a right to self-determination.[8]

Since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire agreement in 1991, two thirds of the territory (including most of the Atlantic coastline—the only part of the coast outside the Moroccan Western Sahara Wall is the extreme south, including the Ras Nouadhibou peninsula) has been administered by the Moroccan government, with tacit support from France and the United States, and the remainder by the SADR, backed by Algeria.[9] Internationally, countries such as Russia have taken a generally ambiguous and neutral position on each side's claims, and have pressed both parties to agree on a peaceful resolution. Both Morocco and Polisario have sought to boost their claims by accumulating formal recognition, essentially from African, Asian, and Latin American states in the developing world. The Polisario Front has won formal recognition for SADR from 37 states, and was extended membership in the African Union. Morocco has won support for its position from several African governments and from most of the Muslim world and Arab League.[10] In both instances, recognitions have, over the past two decades, been extended and withdrawn according to changing international trends.[citation needed]

As of 2017, no other member state of the United Nations has ever officially recognized Moroccan sovereignty over parts of Western Sahara.[11][not in citation given (See discussion.)][12][13] However, a number of countries have expressed their support for a future recognition of the Moroccan annexation of the territory as an autonomous part of the Kingdom. Overall, the annexation has not garnered as much attention in the international community as many other disputed annexations (e.g. the Russian annexation of Crimea).


Western Sahara is located in Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco. It also borders Algeria to the northeast.

The land is some of the aridest and inhospitable on the planet. The land along the coast is low flat desert and rises, especially in the north, to small mountains reaching up to 600 metres (2,000 ft) on the eastern side.

While the area can experience flash flooding in the spring, there are no permanent streams. At times a cool off-shore current can produce fog and heavy dew. The interior experiences extreme summer heat with averages highs reaching as high as 43–45 °C (109–113 °F) in July and in August; during "winter", days are still hot to very hot with averages highs from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F) but in the northern part of the territory, the thermometer may drop below 0 °C (32 °F) at night and it can be freezing outside in December and in January although it's an exceedingly rare event.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Wes-Sahara
Alemannisch: Westsahara
azərbaycanca: Qərbi Saxara
Bân-lâm-gú: Sai Sahara
башҡортса: Көнбайыш Сахара
беларуская: Заходняя Сахара
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Заходняя Сахара
Bikol Central: Sulnupan na Sahara
български: Западна Сахара
བོད་ཡིག: ནུབ་ས་ཧ་ར།
čeština: Západní Sahara
dansk: Vestsahara
davvisámegiella: Oarje-Sahára
Deutsch: Westsahara
ދިވެހިބަސް: ހުޅަނގު ސަހަރާ
dolnoserbski: Pódwjacorna Sahara
Ελληνικά: Δυτική Σαχάρα
Esperanto: Okcidenta Saharo
estremeñu: Sáhara Ociental
Fiji Hindi: Western Sahara
Gàidhlig: Sathara an Iar
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Sî Sahara
한국어: 서사하라
hornjoserbsce: Zapadna Sahara
hrvatski: Zapadna Sahara
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: ৱেস্টার্ন সাহারা
Bahasa Indonesia: Sahara Barat
interlingua: Sahara Occidental
Interlingue: West-Sahara
íslenska: Vestur-Sahara
Basa Jawa: Sahara Kulon
Kapampangan: Sahara Occidental
қазақша: Батыс Сахара
kernowek: Sahara West
Kreyòl ayisyen: Sahara oksidantal
кырык мары: Вадывел Сахара
لۊری شومالی: سٱرا ٱفتۉنشین
latviešu: Rietumsahāra
lietuvių: Vakarų Sachara
македонски: Западна Сахара
მარგალური: ბჟადალი საჰარა
مازِرونی: صحرا
Bahasa Melayu: Sahara Barat
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Să̤ Sahara
Nederlands: Westelijke Sahara
日本語: 西サハラ
norsk nynorsk: Vest-Sahara
Novial: Westi Sahara
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Gʻarbiy Sahroi Kabir
پنجابی: لیندا صحرا
português: Saara Ocidental
Qaraqalpaqsha: Batıs Saxara
qırımtatarca: Ğarbiy Sahara
Runa Simi: Kunti Sahara
саха тыла: Арҕаа Сахаара
Sesotho sa Leboa: Western Sahara
Simple English: Western Sahara
slovenščina: Zahodna Sahara
српски / srpski: Западна Сахара
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Zapadna Sahara
Basa Sunda: Sahara Kulon
svenska: Västsahara
Taqbaylit: Aneẓruf Utrim
Türkçe: Batı Sahra
українська: Західна Сахара
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: غەربىي ساھارا
Tiếng Việt: Tây Sahara
Xitsonga: Western Sahara
粵語: 西撒哈拉
中文: 西撒哈拉