Western Sahara By | Sunday, September 9  2012 at  15:08

Overview
Morocco annexed two thirds of Western Sahara in 1976.
Morocco claimed the rest of the territory in 1979 after the withdrawal of Mauritania.
A 1991 UN brokered ceasefire ended a guerrilla war waged by Polisario Front contesting Rabat’s sovereignty.
Representatives of the Morocco Government have met the Polisario Front since June 2007 to negotiate the status of Western Sahara.
Struggle over the control of Western Sahara continues.
Around 46 countries recognise Western Sahara as a sovereign state.
Morocco still considers Western Sahara part of the Morocco kingdom.
Algeria supports independence of Western Sahara diplomatically.
UN placed Western Sahara on the list of territories to be decolonised.
Western Sahara is a member of the Africa Union.
Polisario Front maintains that Western Sahara is an occupied territory.

Facts

Form of Government
Legal status still not fully recognised but Polisario's Government-in-exile was seated as an Organisation of African Unity (OAU) member in 1984

Government structure
President, Prime Minister, Parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service: 52,267 males, 59,221 females.
Expenditures: Statistics not available
Branches: Not very clear

Current Ruler
President Mohammed Abdelaziz

Former Rulers
Not applicable

Capital
El-Aaiún
Altitude: 72 metres
Population: 185,929 people

Population
Size: 548,000 (July 2011)
Life expectancy: 54.32 years
Gender Make-Up: Males 49.72 per cent, Females 50.28 per cent

GDP per capita
$2,500

Geography
Area: 266,000sqkm
Land boundaries: Algeria 42km, Mauritania 1,561km, Morocco 443km

Major Languages
Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

Religious portfolio
Islam-99.4 %, Christianity- 0.16 %, Baha''i' Faith

National Make-up
Arab, Berber

Natural Resources
Phosphates, Iron ore

Main exports
Not available

Land Use
Arable land: 0.02%
Permanent crops: 0%
Other: 99.98% (2005)

Monetary Unit/Currency
Moroccan dirhams

Dialling Code
.eh

Internet Code
+212

Transport
Main Port: Port of Dakhla
Airport: Dakhla Airport located in Dakhla.

Modern issues

Environmental
Lack of enough drinking water
Lack of arable land

Political
Conflicts in the country have resulted in severe human rights abuses
Displacement of tens of thousands of Sahrawi civilians from the country.
Legal status and sovereignty of the country still unresolved.
Stalling of the referendum to determine the country’s legal status, whether to go independent or integrate the country into Morocco.

Economic
Pastoral nomadism, fishing, and phosphate mining are the main sources of income for the population
Morocco controls trade and all economic activities in Western Sahara.

Social
Displacement of tens of thousands of Sahrawi civilians from the country by the Sahara conflict.
Food insecurity as most of the land cannot support agriculture.

Foreign Affairs
With Morocco’s claims to Western Sahara, sovereignty remains unresolved.
Since September 1991, a UN-administered ceasefire has been in effect.
Several states have extended diplomatic relations to the "Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic" represented by the Polisario Front in exile in Algeria, while others recognise Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Call for independence from Morocco while Morocco prefers integration of the country into the Kingdom.

The Major Conflicts

Independence War
When: 1973-1974
Who: Polisario Front against Spanish colonisers.
Why: To gain independence.
Outcome: Withdrawal of the Spanish rulers.

Armed conflicts
When: 1975
Who: Morocco and Mauritania versus Polisario Front
Why: To claim Western Sahara.
Outcome: UN brokered ceasefire

What to see
Desert in Atar- covering an area of 650km in the middle of the country.
Religious worship spaces: to experience deep religious worship, you could visit: Sidi Ahmed Babo, Rayem el Antri, Sidi Aabdal-la Ben Musa, Sidi Bubequer and Leyaraf.

Sports
Popular Sports
Football.

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen

Quirks
The government is in exile
The national football federation not affiliated to the world football body Fifa
They currently have no export trade