Western Sahara Overview

Western Sahara ( Arabic: الصحرى الغربية ‎) is a former Spanish colony ( Spanish Sahara ) in North Africa on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Nowadays, the country is occupied by Morocco, which calls it its southern province. Western Sahara borders Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. Until now, the official status of Western Sahara has not been determined.


In 1911, the territory of the Western Sahara was colonized by Spain, receiving the name “Spanish Sahara”. Western Sahara gained its independence in 1975, when 300,000 Moroccans marched across Western Sahara.

Initially, in addition to Morocco, Mauritania also had a territorial claim to Western Sahara, which even brought troops into the southern part of the country. Nowadays, Morocco controls most of the Western Sahara. Rich deposits of phosphates, as well as significant assistance to Moroccan migrants from the state, made the migration of Moroccans here very attractive. A small eastern part of Western Sahara is controlled by the Polisario Front, which is fighting for the restoration of the country’s independence.


Almost the entire territory of the country is occupied by stony desert, only in the south are sand dunes. The surface of the country is flat, with high cliffs on the ocean coast.


Most of the territory is economically unused. The road network is very poorly developed. The basis of agriculture in Western Sahara is fishing, dates are grown in oases. The industry is focused on the processing of phosphates mined there. The coast of the ocean has a significant potential for the use of wind energy.

The western part of the country receives significant aid from Morocco for the development of infrastructure as part of the program for the settlement of Western Sahara by Moroccans. The eastern part of the country, where the refugee camps are located, is very dependent on international aid.

In recent years, Western Sahara’s income from tourism has increased significantly. Airplanes fly to Ad-Dakhli from Spain and the Canary Islands.


According to CachedHealth, the territory of Western Sahara is inhabited mainly by representatives of the Sahrawi people, but the actions of the Moroccan authorities on the assimilation of Western Sahara caused a significant increase in the number of Moroccans.

Administrative division

As of 2008, most of Western Sahara is controlled by Morocco. The Polisario controls the territories east of the Moroccan wall.

The Moroccan territory is divided into three regions:

  • Guelmim-Es-Semara- partially includes the territory of Morocco

Province of Guelmim

Es Semara province

  • Lyon-Bujudur-Sakieh-El-Hamra

Buzhdur province

Province of Lyon

  • Oud-Ed-Dahab-Laguera

Aiserd Prefecture

Oud Ed Dahab Province

Western Sahara Overview