Middle East / Africa

Western Sahara flag
Summary | Profile

Country profile: Western Sahara

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco
Climate: hot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
Terrain: mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast
Size: 266000 sq. km total (Land area: 266000 sq. km )
Population: 393,831
Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Government: 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)
Capital city: none
Legal system:
Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Licensing:

Country profile

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. In April 2007, Morocco presented an autonomy plan for the territory to the UN, which the U.S. considers serious and credible.

The Polisario also presented a plan to the UN in 2007. Since August 2007, representatives from the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front have met three times to negotiate the status of Western Sahara, with a fourth round of negotiations planned for March 2008.

Energy production and consumption


Oil Gas
Production:    
Consumption: 1,750 bbl/day (2005 est.)  
Exports:    
Imports: 1,698 bbl/day (2005 est.)  
Reserves:    
Major fields:



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