Capital: there is no capital but El Aaiún (also called Laâyoune) is the largest city


Population: 522,928 (July 2012 est.)


name – noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s) adjective: Sahrawi, Sahrawian, Sahraouian


People groups: Arab, Berber


Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic


Religion: Muslim, mainly Sunni but with a nomadic influence eg no mosques.


After an agreement among the European colonial powers at the Berlin Conference in 1884 on the division of spheres of influence in Africa, Spain seized control of The Western Sahara and established it as a Spanish colony. After WW2 and initially being violently opposed to decolonization, Spain began to give in to pressures and by 1974–75 issued promises of a referendum on independence.

Morocco and Mauritania both claimed the territory while the Polisario Front, which opposed both Moroccan and Mauritanian claims, demanded full independence. Mauritania withdrew its claims but conflict, sometimes armed (1975-91), has continued to the present day between the Polisario Front and Morocco, which has de facto control over most of the territory and the UN have been unsuccessful in bringing about a resolution.

Living conditions: Infant mortality – total: 58.96 deaths/1,000 live births: Life expectancy – 61.5

The originally clan– and tribe-based society underwent a massive social upheaval in 1975, when a part of the population was forced into exile by the Polisario and settled in the refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria, where they remain sequestrated till now. Families were broken up by the dispute. There have been major human rights abuses on both sides.

There is no government, control coming from Morocco although the Polisario Front has a government-in-exile in Algeria.


A sangar (fortification) from the Western Sahara conflict. The fortification is built of rocks on top of a mesa overlooking the Grart Chwchia, Al Gada, Western Sahara. The whole country is desert with few natural resources and none in economic quantities.



  • That members of the government in exile come under the influence of CPM in Algeria and are able to be men of peace for their own people.

  • That in God’s time there will be a resolution of the situation allowing refugees to return.

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