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Western Sahara

 

Western Sahara
Introduction Western Sahara
---------------------------
Background: 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 cease-
fire; a referendum on final status
has been repeatedly postponed.

Geography Western Sahara
------------------------
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North
Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania
and Morocco
Geographic coordinates: 24 30 N, 13 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 266,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 266,000 sq km
Area - comparative: about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries: total: 2,046 km
border countries: Algeria 42 km,
Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km
Coastline: 1,110 km
Maritime claims: contingent upon resolution of
sovereignty issue
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
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sebjet Tah -55 m
highest point: unnamed location 463
m
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: 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: sparse water and lack of arable land
Environment - international party to: none of the selected
agreements: agreements
signed, but not ratified: none of
the selected agreements
Geography - note: the waters off the coast are
particularly rich fishing areas

People Western Sahara
---------------------
Population: 256,177 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: NA%
15-64 years: NA%
65 years and over: NA%
Population growth rate: NA (2002 est.)
Birth rate: NA births/1,000 population
Death rate: NA deaths/1,000 population
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: NA deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA years
male: NA years
female: NA years
Total fertility rate: NA children born/woman
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA%
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s)
adjective: Sahrawian, Sahraouian
Ethnic groups: Arab, Berber
Religions: Muslim
Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: NA%
male: NA%
female: NA%

Government Western Sahara
-------------------------
Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Western
Sahara
former: Spanish Sahara
Government type: 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 and
recognized by 54 nations; 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 OAU member
in 1984; guerrilla activities
continued sporadically, until a UN-
monitored cease-fire was implemented
6 September 1991
Capital: none
Administrative divisions: none (under de facto control of
Morocco)
Suffrage: none; a UN-sponsored voter
identification campaign not yet
completed
Executive branch: none
Political pressure groups and none
leaders:
International organization none
participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US: none
Diplomatic representation from the none
US:

Economy Western Sahara
----------------------
Economy - overview: 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 - $NA
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $NA
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: 40%-45% (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Labor force: 12,000
Labor force - by occupation: animal husbandry and subsistence
farming 50%
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital
expenditures of $NA
Industries: phosphate mining, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 90 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption: 83.7 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: fruits and vegetables (grown in the
few oases); camels, sheep, goats
(kept by nomads)
Exports: $NA
Exports - commodities: phosphates 62%
Exports - partners: Morocco claims and administers
Western Sahara, so trade partners
are included in overall Moroccan
accounts
Imports: $NA
Imports - commodities: fuel for fishing fleet, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: Morocco claims and administers
Western Sahara, so trade partners
are included in overall Moroccan
accounts
Debt - external: $NA
Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Currency code: MAD
Exchange rates: Moroccan dirhams per US dollar -
11.584 (January 2002), 11.303
(2001), 10.626 (2000), 9.804 (1999),
9.604 (1998), 9.527 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications Western Sahara
-----------------------------
Telephones - main lines in use: about 2,000 (1999 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1999)
Telephone system: general assessment: sparse and
limited system
domestic: NA
international: 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: AM 2, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 56,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: NA
Televisions: 6,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .eh
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA

Transportation Western Sahara
-----------------------------
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 6,200 km
paved: 1,350 km
unpaved: 4,850 km (1991 est.)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Ad Dakhla, Cabo Bojador, Laayoune
(El Aaiun)
Airports: 11 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 3 (2001)

Military Western Sahara
-----------------------
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues Western Sahara
-----------------------------------
Disputes - international: Morocco claims and administers
Western Sahara, but sovereignty
remains unresolved; UN-administered
cease-fire has remained in effect
since September 1991, but attempts
to hold a referendum have failed and
parties reject other proposals
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