Outline of Western Sahara

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The location of Western Sahara
The Flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic that claims Western Sahara from Morocco
An enlargeable relief map of Western Sahara

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Western Sahara:

Western Sahara – occupied territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco 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,[1] many of whom live in Laayoune (also spelled El Aaiún or Laâyoune), the largest city in Western Sahara. Since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire agreement in 1991, most of the territory (including the entire Atlantic coast line) has been controlled by Morocco and the remainder by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) (exiled government in Tindouf, Algeria), strongly backed by Algeria.[2]

General reference[edit]

An enlargeable historical map of Western Sahara

Geography of Western Sahara[edit]

An enlargeable topographic map of Western Sahara
 Mauritania 1,561 km
 Morocco 443 km
 Algeria 42 km

Environment of Western Sahara[edit]

An enlargeable satellite image of Western Sahara

Natural geographic features of Western Sahara[edit]

Regions of Western Sahara[edit]

Ecoregions of Western Sahara[edit]

Administrative divisions of Western Sahara[edit]

Provinces of Western Sahara[edit]
Districts of Western Sahara[edit]
Municipalities of Western Sahara[edit]

Demography of Western Sahara[edit]

Government and politics of Western Sahara[edit]

Main article: Government of Western Sahara and Politics of Western Sahara
Main outlines: Outline of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Outline of Morocco

International organization membership[edit]

Western Sahara is a member of:[4]

Law and order in Western Sahara[edit]

Main article: Law of Western Sahara

History of Western Sahara[edit]

  • Hanno the Navigator – Carthaginian explorer c. 500 BC, best known for his naval exploration of the African coast.
  • Sanhaja – a nomadic people who were once one of the largest Berber tribal confederations of the Maghreb region.
    • Almoravid dynasty – during the 11th century, the Sanhaja tribal confederation allied with the Lamtuna tribe to found the Almoravid dynasty.
  • Trans-Saharan trade – throughout history, some trade routes crossed this region, particularly to and from the Ghana Empire during the Middle Ages.
Saharan trade routes circa 1400, with the modern territory of Niger highlighted
  • Spanish Sahara – name used for the modern territory of Western Sahara when it was ruled as a colonial territory by Spain between 1884 and 1975.
    • Ifni War – series of armed incursions into Spanish West Africa by Moroccan insurgents and Sahrawi rebels that began in October 1957 and culminated with the abortive siege of Sidi Ifni.
    • Polisario Front emerges – formally constituted on May 10, 1973 with the express intention of militarily forcing an end to Spanish colonization.
    • Green March – strategic mass demonstration in November 1975, coordinated by the Moroccan government, to force Spain to hand over the disputed, autonomous semi-metropolitan Spanish Province of Sahara to Morocco. The demonstration of some 350,000 Moroccans advanced several miles into the Western Sahara territory, escorted by near 20,000 Moroccan troops, and meeting very little response by the Sahrawi Polisario Front.
    • Madrid Accords – treaty between Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania to end the Spanish presence in the territory of Spanish Sahara, which was until the Madrid Accords' inception a Spanish province and former colony.
    • Tropas Nómadas – auxiliary regiment to the colonial army in Spanish Sahara composed of Sahrawi tribesmen, equipped with small arms and led by Spanish officers, guarding outposts and sometimes conducting patrols on camelback. Following the Spanish Government's decision to hand over the territory to Morocco and Mauritania towards the end of 1975, numbers of them deserted. Many of the Tropas Nómadas soldiers are believed to have joined Polisario and Spanish-trained fighters formed the core of the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army set up to fight Morocco and Mauritania after the Green March.
    • 1975 United Nations visiting mission to Spanish Sahara – United Nations General Assembly in 1975 dispatched a visiting mission to the territory and the surrounding countries, in accordance with its resolution 3292 (December 13, 1974), to assist in the decolonization process.
  • Western Sahara conflict – ongoing conflict between the Polisario Front of the Sahrawi people and the state of Morocco. The conflict is the continuation of the past insurgency by Polisario against the Spanish colonial forces in 1973-1975 and the subsequent Western Sahara War between the Polisario and Morocco (1975–1991).
    • Western Sahara War – armed struggle between the Sahrawi Polisario Front and Morocco between 1975 and 1991, being the most significant phase of the Western Sahara conflict.
      • Polisario declaration of independence – took place in 1976, establishing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
      • Sahrawi refugee camps – set up in the Tindouf Province, Algeria in 1975-76 for Sahrawi refugees fleeing from Moroccan forces. With most refugees still living in the camps, the refugee situation is among the most protracted ones worldwide.
      • First Battle of Amgala (1976) – Units from the Algerian Army were attacked by units from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces on the night of 27 January. Algeria claimed their troops were providing food and medical supplies to refugees at Amgala, while Morocco said the Algerian troops were heavily armed and were aiding Polisario.
      • Settlement Plan – agreement made in 1991 between the Polisario Front and Morocco on the organization of a referendum, which would constitute an expression of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara, leading either to full independence, or integration with the kingdom of Morocco. It resulted in a cease-fire which remains in effect (more or less) to this day.
      • United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 – adopted unanimously on 29 April 1991, established MINURSO (see below) to implement the Settlement Plan (see above).
        • United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) – UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara established in 1991 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 as part of the Settlement Plan, which had paved way for a cease-fire in the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front (as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) over the contested territory of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).
    • Independence Intifada – series of disturbances, demonstrations and riots that broke out in May 2005 in the Moroccan-occupied parts of Western Sahara and south of Morocco.
      • Gdeim Izik protest camp – protest camp in Western Sahara established by a group of Sahrawis on 9 October 2010 and lasting into November, with related incidents occurring in the aftermath of its dismantlement on 8 November. It has been suggested by Noam Chomsky, that the month-long protest encampment at Gdeim Izik constituted the start of the Arab Spring,[5][6] traditionally considered to be the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia on 17 December 2010.[7][8][9][10]
      • 2011 Western Saharan protests – began on 25 February 2011 as a reaction to the failure of police to prevent anti-Sahrawi looting in the city of Dakhla, Western Sahara, and blossomed into protests across the territory. They were related to the Gdeim Izik protest camp in Western Sahara established the previous fall, which had resulted in violence between Sahrawi activists and Moroccan security forces and supporters.

Culture of Western Sahara[edit]

Art in Western Sahara[edit]

People of Western Sahara[edit]

Persons and personalities[edit]

Sports in Western Sahara[edit]

Economy and infrastructure of Western Sahara[edit]

Education in Western Sahara[edit]

See also[edit]

Main article: Western Sahara


  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. 
  2. ^ Baehr, Peter R. The United Nations at the End of the 1990s. 1999, page 129.
  3. ^ The only glaciers in Africa are on Mt Kenya (in Kenya), on Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania), and in the Ruwenzori Mountains (which are located in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). See Proceedings of the Riederalp Workshop, September 1978; Actes de l'Atelier de Riederalp, septembre 1978): IAHS-AISH Publ. no. 126, 1980.
  4. ^ "Western Sahara". The World Factbook. United States Central Intelligence Agency. July 3, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009. 
  5. ^ ""The Genie Is Out of the Bottle": Assessing a Changing Arab World with Noam Chomsky and Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara". Democracy Now!. 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  6. ^ Bernabé López García (07-02-2011). "Las barbas en remojo". El País. Retrieved 05-03-2011.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Engelhart, Katie (27 May 2011). "Why We Should Prepare for the Arab Spring to Fail". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Mayer, Catherine (24 April 2011). "The Slap that Triggered the Arab Spring "Was Impossible"". Time. TIME Magazine. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  9. ^ McLaughlin, Eliot (26 April 2011). "Collective courage fuels protests across Arab world". CNN. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Day, Elizabeth (15 May 2011). "The slap that sparked a revolution". The Guardian (London). The Observer. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Atlas of Western Sahara

Special topics