El Aaiún

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"El Aioun" redirects here. For the city in north-eastern Morocco, see El Aioun Sidi Mellouk. For town in Mauritania, see El Aioun, Mauritania.
"Ayun" redirects here. For other uses, see Ayun (disambiguation).
El-Aaiún
Laʕyūn العيون
Laayoune
Avenue Makkah al-Mukarramah in El-Aaiún
Avenue Makkah al-Mukarramah in El-Aaiún
El-Aaiún is located in Western Sahara
El-Aaiún
El-Aaiún
Location in Western Sahara
Coordinates: 27°9′13″N 13°12′12″W / 27.15361°N 13.20333°W / 27.15361; -13.20333Coordinates: 27°9′13″N 13°12′12″W / 27.15361°N 13.20333°W / 27.15361; -13.20333
Non-Self-Governing Territory Western Sahara
Region Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra
Province Laayoune Province
Settled 1934
Founded 1938
Population (2010)
 • Total 196,331
Time zone UTC

El-Aaiún (also French: "Laâyoune"; Hassaniya Arabic: Laʕyūn ; Literary Arabic: العيون al-ʿuyūn, lit. "The Springs") is a city in Western Sahara founded by the Spanish colonizer Antonio de Oro in 1938.[1] In 1940, Spain designated it as the capital of the Spanish Sahara. El-Aaiún is the capital of the Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra region.

The town is divided in two by the dry river of Saguia el Hamra. On the south side is the old lower town, constructed by Spanish colonists. A cathedral from that era is still active; its priests serve this city and at Dakhla further south.

Since 1976 the city has been occupied and administered by Morocco,[2] which claims Western Sahara as a part of its territory. The Polisario Front, supported in part by Algeria, has been working for Western Sahara sovereignty as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and it considers the city its occupied capital.

Demographics[edit]

The old Spanish Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, chiefly serves European UN personnel

The city has a population of 196,331[3] and is the largest city in Western Sahara. It is a growing economic hub. Its population is a mixture of Sahrawis, natives of Western Sahara who now make up only a fifth of the population, with much of the remainder being Moroccans from the North attracted by subsidies and government jobs.[4]

Etymology[edit]

El Aaiún is the Spanish transliteration of the Arabic name Layoun which means "the water sources". Laâyoune is a French transliteration, which is used in French-speaking Morocco.

Economy and status[edit]

Since the city has been administered by Morocco, it has become a hub for fishing and for phosphate mining in the region.[4] In 2010 that country was negotiating a new fishing agreement with Europe over offshore fishing. Morocco has invested in the city and area to gain support from natives.[4]

Politically Morocco claims the Western Sahara as part of its historical territory. Mauritania had also claimed it, but Morocco has long had effective control. The Polisario Front, an independence group supported by Algeria, has contested with Moroccan military forces and promotes sovereignty of the area as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. In 1991 the UN achieved a ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front after 16 years of warfare. Riots from independence supporters in the city broke out in 1999 and 2005.[4]

This territory has unresolved sovereignty pending a solution between the two parties that claim it: Morocco and Polisario. The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which monitors the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front, is headquartered in the city. In 2010 the UN was trying to arrange talks between Morocco and Polisario to negotiate some autonomy for the region; Algeria and Mauritania agreed to be there as official observers.[4]

Climate[edit]

El Aaiún has a mild desert climate, moderated by the Gulf Stream with an average annual temperature of 20°C.

Climate data for Laâyoune" also "El Ayun"
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20
(68)
20
(68)
22
(72)
22
(72)
22
(72)
24
(75)
26
(79)
28
(82)
27
(81)
25
(77)
24
(75)
20
(68)
23
(73)
Daily mean °C (°F) 16
(61)
17
(63)
19
(66)
18
(64)
20
(68)
21
(70)
23
(73)
25
(77)
24
(75)
22
(72)
20
(68)
17
(63)
20
(68)
Average low °C (°F) 12
(54)
13
(55)
16
(61)
15
(59)
16
(61)
18
(64)
20
(68)
21
(70)
20
(68)
18
(64)
16
(61)
13
(55)
17
(63)
Precipitation mm (inches) 17.97
(0.7075)
18.51
(0.7287)
6.74
(0.2654)
2.54
(0.1)
3.21
(0.1264)
0.31
(0.0122)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
1.21
(0.0476)
7.47
(0.2941)
16.90
(0.6654)
18.60
(0.7323)
93.46
(3.6795)
Avg. precipitation days 3 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 2 1 3 18
Source: Weatherbase[5]
Climate data for El Aaiún (Laayoune)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 22
(72)
23
(73)
24
(75)
25
(77)
26
(79)
28
(82)
31
(88)
31
(88)
30
(86)
28
(82)
25
(77)
22
(72)
26.3
(79.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.5
(63.5)
18.5
(65.3)
19.5
(67.1)
20.0
(68)
21.5
(70.7)
23.5
(74.3)
26.0
(78.8)
26.5
(79.7)
25.5
(77.9)
23.5
(74.3)
21.0
(69.8)
18.0
(64.4)
21.75
(71.15)
Average low °C (°F) 13
(55)
14
(57)
15
(59)
15
(59)
17
(63)
19
(66)
21
(70)
22
(72)
21
(70)
19
(66)
17
(63)
14
(57)
17.3
(63.1)
Precipitation mm (inches) 8
(0.31)
9
(0.35)
4
(0.16)
2
(0.08)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
4
(0.16)
4
(0.16)
6
(0.24)
10
(0.39)
47
(1.85)
Avg. precipitation days 6 6 5 3 2 0 0 0 1 4 5 6 38
Mean monthly sunshine hours 217 232 248 270 279 270 279 279 240 248 210 217 2,989
Source: weather2travel.com[6]

Sport[edit]

The football club of the city is Jeunesse Massira. The club plays in the Moroccan premier league, the highest football league in the country. Jeunesse Massira uses Mohamed Laghdaf stadium in training and games.

Transport[edit]

El-Aaiún is served by Hassan I Airport.

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Francisco López Barrios (2005-01-23). "El Lawrence de Arabia Español". El Mundo. Retrieved 11-02-2013.  (Spanish)
  2. ^ UN General Assembly Resolution 34/37 and UN General Assembly Resolution 35/19.
  3. ^ Stefan Helders (2010). "Morocco – largest cities (per geographical entity)" (in English). World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Diplomacy over Western Sahara: 'Morocco v Algeria'", The Economist, 4 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for El Aaiún". 
  6. ^ Laayoune Climate Guide – weather2travel.com
  7. ^ "Renewing the twining agreement between Central Algiers and Wilaya of El Aaiun". Sahara Press Service. 2011-10-30. Retrieved 02-11-2011. 
  8. ^ Ayuntamiento de Almería (ed.). "Ciudades Hermanadas". Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  9. ^ "Balance del viaje realizado por representantes municipales al Sahara". Aviles.es. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  10. ^ Ayuntamiento de Málaga (ed.). "Official website for Malaga's candidature for European capital of culture in 2016". Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  11. ^ "Hermanamiento de Montevideo y El Aaiún". Montevideo.gub.uy. 2009-12-13. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  12. ^ "El Ayuntamiento de Lorca denuncia la agresión de Marruecos contra el Pueblo Saharaui". Murcia.es. 12-11-2010. Retrieved 11-02-2013.  (Spanish)

External links[edit]