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Spanish Sahara, was partitioned between Mauritania
and Morocco in 1976, and since 1979 has been occupied by
Map of Morocco, The Shifting Sands of Politics, Western Sahara Today.
Available for Travel
Countries neighbouring Western Sahara are: Mauritania,
Algeria and Morocco.
Portuguese navigators visited the area near modern al-Aaiun, in
1434, but didn't establish lasting settlements.
The region was held by Spain in the
early 16th century until Morocco took control and tried to rule
over this part of the Sahara for more than three hundred years.
Spain came back into the picture in 1884, and established a
protectorate over the coast from Cape Bojador to Cape Blanc.
Saharawi nationalists sought independence in the early 1970s, but Algeria, Mauritania, and Morocco, all laid claims to the area.
When King Hassan II of Morocco launched a massive non-violent invasion
of Spanish Sahara in late 1975, Spain agreed to relinquish the area to Mauritania and
Spain withdrew in February 1976, leaving two-thirds of the former
Spanish Sahara occupied by Morocco and the rest by Mauritania.
Polisario guerrillas based in Algeria staged raids against Mauritanian
and Moroccan outposts in Western Sahara between 1976 and 1978.
Mauritania surrendered its portion in 1979, only for Morocco to annex
By February 1982, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was
recognised by more than 70 nations and admitted to the Organisation of African Unity
(OAU). Morocco suspended its OAU membership in 1985.
The region (including much of Morocco and Mauritania) was
'controlled' by various nomadic tribes - modern notions of sovereign 'rule' came with
The population of Western Sahara are mostly of Berber or Arab descent.
Weather in Africa:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Africa.
Most recently settlers from northern Morocco have been encouraged
to migrate to Western Sahara through incentives offered to them by the Moroccan
The main towns of Western Sahara are al-Aaiun, or Laayoune -
formerly the capital of Spanish Sahara - and Ad-Dakhla; formerly Villa Cisneros.
Sahara - Morocco
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