Western Sahara Overview

Western Sahara Overview

Western Sahara, area on the northwest coast of Africa and in the western Sahara, between Morocco and Mauritania, bordering Algeria in the extreme east, 272,000 km 2, (2020) 652,300 residents; The capital is Laayoune.

Flag of Western Sahara. The flag of Western Sahara (Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara), which is also the flag of the liberation movement POLISARIO, is in the pan-Arab colors of black, white, green and red; Crescent and star symbolize Islam.

The constitution of the state proclaimed by the Frente Polisario on the territory of the Western Sahara, which is largely not recognized internationally, dates from 1976 (last amendment 2011) and defines Islam as the state religion and the basis for legislation; the “sovereign” tasks are de facto currently limited to the refugee camps in southwest Algeria (4 “provinces”, divided into municipalities and districts). Each of the municipalities has its own jurisdiction. The provinces of Dakhla, Boujdour and Smara occupied by Morocco are subject to Moroccan law.

Coat of arms of Western Sahara. The coat of arms of the predominantly unrecognized Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara (DARS) in Western Sahara was introduced by the Frente Polisario. It shows the crescent moon and star as symbols for Islam, olive branches as symbols for peace, and the rifles with the Western Saharawi flag stand for the struggle for an independent state.

The flat, undulating plateaus, cut up by wadis, are mainly 300–350 m above sea level; the highest point in the northeast reaches 823 m above sea level. The extremely arid desert climate (in Dakhla) has an average annual temperature of 22 ° C (with high fluctuations in the course of the day) and 50 mm of annual precipitation on an average of nine rainy days. Sand dunes are predominant; in the mountainous part sparse vegetation; there are only a few oases.

According to petwithsupplies, the country’s residents are the Sahraoui (Sunni Muslims, predominantly of the Maliki school of law). The official language is Arabic, the lingua franca is largely Hasanía, an Arabic dialect. The majority of the population are nomads, who seasonally crossed the borders to neighboring countries with their herds. The nomadic economy is severely restricted by the construction of defensive walls in the northeast. In 1976 a considerable part of the population fled mainly to Algeria to the Tindouf oasis (according to estimates there are still 90,000 – 165,000 refugees living there). The few settlements show disproportionate growth rates: Laâyoune (2014) 217 ​​700 residents (including many Moroccan immigrants and military personnel); other urban settlements are Dakhla (106,300 residents) and Smara (57,000 residents).

Only just under 19% of Western Sahara can be used for agriculture; Livestock (goats, camels, sheep) and oasis farming (dates, barley, wheat). Rich phosphate deposits can be found near Bou Craa ; Shipping via the port of Laayoune; Airport at Peter van Walsum and Dakhla.

Old town of Laayoune. Houses in the old town are reflected in the Saguia al-Hamra. In this area of ​​Western Sahara only sparse vegetation grows along the river.


El-Aaiun, Aaiun, Aiun [a ju ː n], Moroccan Laayoune , capital of Western Sahara, 1958-76 of Spanish Sahara, the Saguia al-Hamra, (2014) 217 700 residents.

Airport; 25 km away in the southwest of the city, at the mouth of the river in the Atlantic, newly built fishing port and shipping point for the phosphate of Bou Craa.

Modern urban development in the city center since 1976.

Western Sahara Overview