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Western Sahara

 
 

Coordinates:
24.50 N  13.00 W

 
 
Introduction  Geography  People  Government  Economy
 
Communications  Transportation  Military  Transnational Issues

Map of Western Sahara

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Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Western Sahara Top of Page
Background:
Definition Field Listing
Morocco virtually annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976, and the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front contesting Rabat's sovereignty ended in a 1991 UN-brokered cease-fire; a UN-organized referendum on final status has been repeatedly postponed.
   Geography    Western Sahara Top of Page
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
24 30 N, 13 00 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Africa
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 266,000 sq km
land: 266,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 2,046 km
border countries: Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
1,110 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
hot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Sebjet Tah -55 m
highest point: unnamed location 463 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
phosphates, iron ore
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 0.02%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.98% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
NA
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
sparse water and lack of arable land
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: none of the selected agreements
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
the waters off the coast are particularly rich fishing areas
   People    Western Sahara Top of Page
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
273,008 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
NA
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA births/1,000 population
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA deaths/1,000 population
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
NA
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: NA years
male: NA years
female: NA years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA children born/woman
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
Major infectious diseases:
Definition Field Listing
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: may be a significant risk in some locations during the transmission season (typically April through November) (2005)
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s)
adjective: Sahrawi, Sahrawian, Sahraouian
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Arab, Berber
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Muslim
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
NA
   Government    Western Sahara Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Western Sahara
former: Spanish Sahara
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
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 of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), led by President Mohamed ABDELAZIZ; territory partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in April 1976, with Morocco acquiring northern two-thirds; Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979; Morocco moved to occupy that sector shortly thereafter and has since asserted administrative control; the Polisario's government-in-exile was seated as an Organization of African Unity (OAU) member in 1984; guerrilla activities continued sporadically, until a UN-monitored cease-fire was implemented 6 September 1991
Capital:
Definition Field Listing
none
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
none (under de facto control of Morocco)
Suffrage:
Definition Field Listing
none; a UN-sponsored voter identification campaign not yet completed
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
none
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
none
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
none
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
none
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
none
   Economy    Western Sahara Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Western Sahara depends on pastoral nomadism, fishing, and phosphate mining as the principal sources of income for the population. The territory lacks sufficient rainfall for sustainable agricultural production, and most of the food for the urban population must be imported. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan Government. Moroccan energy interests in 2001 signed contracts to explore for oil off the coast of Western Sahara, which has angered the Polisario. Incomes and standards of living in Western Sahara are substantially below the Moroccan level.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$NA
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
NA
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA%
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$NA
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: 40%
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12,000
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 50%
industry and services: 50%
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA%
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA%
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
fruits and vegetables (grown in the few oases); camels, sheep, goats (kept by nomads); fish
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
phosphate mining, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA%
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
85 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
83.7 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1,750 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$NA
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
phosphates 62%
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, so trade partners are included in overall Moroccan accounts (2004)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$NA
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
fuel for fishing fleet, foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, so trade partners are included in overall Moroccan accounts (2004)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$NA
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$NA
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
Moroccan dirhams per US dollar - 8.865 (2005), 8.868 (2004), 9.5744 (2003), 11.0206 (2002), 11.303 (2001)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Western Sahara Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
about 2,000 (1999 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 (1999)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 2, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
NA
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.eh
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
   Transportation    Western Sahara Top of Page
Airports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 3 (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Ad Dakhla, Cabo Bojador, Laayoune (El Aaiun)

   Transnational Issues    Western Sahara Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, whose sovereignty remains unresolved; UN-administered cease-fire has remained in effect since September 1991, administered by the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), but attempts to hold a referendum have failed and parties thus far have rejected all brokered proposals

This page was last updated on 20 July, 2006


Source: CIA Factbook