Uncategorized » Western Sahara

Western Sahara

Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria. After Spain withdrew from its former colony of Spanish Sahara in 1976, Morocco annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara and claimed the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania’s withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front contesting Morocco’s sovereignty ended in a 1991 cease-fire and the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation. As part of this effort, the UN sought to offer a choice to the peoples of the Western Sahara between independence (favored by the Polisario Front) or integration into Morocco. A proposed referendum never took place due to lack of agreement on voter eligibility. The 2,700 km- (1,700 mi-) long defensive sand berm, built by the Moroccans from 1980 to 1987 and running the length of the territory, continues to separate the opposing forces with Morocco controlling the roughly 80 percent of the territory west of the berm. Ethnic tensions in Western Sahara occasionally erupt into violence requiring a Moroccan security force response.

Geography:

Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco
24 30 N, 13 00 W
total: 266,000 sq km

country comparison to the world: 78

land: 266,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
about the size of Colorado
total: 2,046 km
border countries: Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km
1,110 km
contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue
hot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast
lowest point: Sebjet Tah -55 m
highest point: unnamed elevation 805 m
phosphates, iron ore
arable land: 0.02%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.98% (2011)
NA
hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility
sparse water and lack of arable land
party to: none of the selected agreements
the waters off the coast are particularly rich fishing areas

People and Society:

noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s)
adjective: Sahrawi, Sahrawian, Sahraouian
Arab, Berber
Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Muslim
538,811 (July 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

note: estimate is based on projections by age, sex, fertility, mortality, and migration; fertility and mortality are based on data from neighboring countries (July 2013 est.)
0-14 years: 38.4% (male 104,539/female 102,315)
15-24 years: 19.7% (male 53,536/female 52,814)
25-54 years: 33.5% (male 88,716/female 91,874)
55-64 years: 4.7% (male 11,870/female 13,518)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 8,616/female 11,013) (2013 est.)
population pyramid: 
total: 20.6 years
male: 20.2 years
female: 21.1 years (2013 est.)
2.96% (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

31.18 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

8.64 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

urban population: 82% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 3.49% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Laayoune 237,000 (2011)
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2013 est.)
total: 57.5 deaths/1,000 live births

country comparison to the world: 30

male: 62.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 52.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)
total population: 61.9 years

country comparison to the world: 189

male: 59.65 years
female: 64.23 years (2013 est.)
4.15 children born/woman (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

NA
NA
NA
NA
NA

Government:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Western Sahara
former: Rio de Oro, Saguia el Hamra, Spanish Sahara
legal status of territory and issue of sovereignty unresolved; territory contested by Morocco and Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro), which in February 1976 formally proclaimed a government-in-exile, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), near Tindouf, Algeria, led by President Mohamed ABDELAZIZ
none
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in September
none (territory west of the berm under de facto Moroccan control)
none; (residents of Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara participate in Moroccan elections)
none
none
AU, CAN (observer), WFTU (NGOs)
none
none

Economy:

Western Sahara has a small market-based economy whose main industries are fishing, phosphate mining, and pastoral nomadism. The territory’s arid desert climate makes sedentary agriculture difficult, and Western Sahara imports much of its food. The Moroccan Government administers Western Sahara’s economy and is a key source of employment, infrastructure development, and social spending in the territory. Western Sahara”s unresolved legal status makes the exploitation of its natural resources a contentious issue between Morocco and the Polisario. Morocco and the EU in July 2006 signed a four-year agreement allowing European vessels to fish off the coast of Morocco, including the disputed waters off the coast of Western Sahara, but this agreement was terminated in 2011. Oil has never been found in Western Sahara in commercially significant quantities, but Morocco and the Polisario have quarreled over who has the right to authorize and benefit from oil exploration in the territory. Western Sahara”s main long-term economic challenge is the development of a more diverse set of industries capable of providing greater employment and income to the territory.
$906.5 million (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

$NA
NA%
$2,500 (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: 40% (2007 est.)
144,000 (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 177

agriculture: 50%
industry and services: 50% (2005 est.)
NA%
NA%
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA
NA%
fruits and vegetables (grown in the few oases); camels, sheep, goats (kept by nomads); fish
phosphate mining, handicrafts
NA%
$NA
phosphates 62%
$NA
fuel for fishing fleet, foodstuffs
$NA
Moroccan dirhams (MAD) per US dollar -
8.6087 (2012)
8.0899 (2011)
8.4172 (2010)
8.0571 (2009)
7.526 (2008)
calendar year

Energy:

90 million kWh (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

83.7 million kWh (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

0 kWh (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

0 kWh (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

58,000 kW (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 179

100% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 45

0% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 204

0% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 208

0% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 205

0 bbl/day (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 142

0 bbl (1 January 2012 es)

country comparison to the world: 205

0 bbl/day (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 209

1,948 bbl/day (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

0 bbl/day (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

1,702 bbl/day (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

0 cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 209

0 cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 209

0 cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

0 cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

0 cu m (1 January 2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

314,600 Mt (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Communications:

general assessment: sparse and limited system
domestic: NA
international: country code – 212; tied into Morocco’s system by microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, and satellite; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) linked to Rabat, Morocco (2008)
Morocco’s state-owned broadcaster, Radio-Television Marocaine (RTM), operates a radio service from Laayoune and relays TV service; a Polisario-backed radio station also broadcasts (2008)
.eh

Transportation:

6 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 174

total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2013)
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m:
1 (2013)
Ad Dakhla, Laayoune (El Aaiun)

Military ::WESTERN SAHARA

males age 16-49: 79,489
females age 16-49: 87,362 (2010 est.)
male: 5,523
female: 5,429 (2010 est.)

Transnational Issues ::WESTERN SAHARA

many neighboring states reject Moroccan administration of Western Sahara; several states have extended diplomatic relations to the “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic” represented by the Polisario Front in exile in Algeria, while others recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara; most of the approximately 102,000 Sahrawi refugees are sheltered in camps in Tindouf, Algeria
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