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Western Sahara


Western Sahara Western Sahara:Geography
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between
Mauritania and Morocco
Map references: Africa
total area: 266,000 sq km
land area: 266,000 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Colorado
Land boundaries: total 2,046 km, Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km,
Morocco 443 km
Coastline: 1,110 km
Maritime claims: contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue
International disputes: claimed and administered by Morocco, but
sovereignty is unresolved and the UN is attempting to hold a
referendum on the issue; the UN-administered cease-fire has been
currently in effect since September 1991
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
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 19%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 81%
Irrigated land: NA sq km
current issues: sparse water and arable land
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
international agreements: NA Western Sahara:People
Population: 217,211 (July 1995 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA
Population growth rate: 2.48% (1995 est.)
Birth rate: 46.9 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)
Death rate: 18.52 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 148.95 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 46.31 years
male: 45.34 years
female: 47.59 years (1995 est.)
Total fertility rate: 6.91 children born/woman (1995 est.)
noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s)
adjective: Sahrawian, Sahraouian
Ethnic divisions: Arab, Berber
Religions: Muslim
Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Literacy: NA%
Labor force: 12,000
by occupation: animal husbandry and subsistence farming 50% Western Sahara:Government
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Western Sahara
Digraph: WI
Type: legal status of territory and question 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); 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)
Executive branch: none
Member of: none
Diplomatic representation in US: none
US diplomatic representation: none Economy
Overview: Western Sahara, a territory poor in natural resources and
having little rainfall, depends on pastoral nomadism, fishing, and
phosphate mining as the principal sources of income for the
population. Most of the food for the urban population must be
imported. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by
the Moroccan Government. Incomes and standards of living are
substantially below the Moroccan level.
National product: GDP $NA
National product real growth rate: NA%
National product per capita: $NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Unemployment rate: NA%
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
Exports: $8 million (f.o.b., 1982 est.)
commodities: phosphates 62%
partners: Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, so trade
partners are included in overall Moroccan accounts
Imports: $30 million (c.i.f., 1982 est.)
commodities: fuel for fishing fleet, foodstuffs
partners: Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, so trade
partners are included in overall Moroccan accounts
External debt: $NA
Industrial production: growth rate NA%
capacity: 60,000 kW
production: 79 million kWh
consumption per capita: 339 kWh (1993)
Industries: phosphate mining, handicrafts
Agriculture: limited largely to subsistence agriculture and fishing;
some barley is grown in nondrought years; fruit and vegetables are
grown in the few oases; food imports are essential; camels, sheep, and
goats are kept by the nomadic natives; cash economy exists largely for
the garrison forces
Economic aid: $NA
Currency: 1 Moroccan dirham (DH) = 100 centimes
Exchange rates: Moroccan dirhams (DH) per US$1 - 8.892 (January 1995),
9.203 (1994), 9.299 (1993), 8.538 (1992), 8.707 (1991), 8.242 (1990)
Fiscal year: NA Western Sahara:Transportation
Railroads: 0 km
total: 6,200 km
unpaved: gravel 1,450 km; improved, unimproved earth, tracks 4,750 km
Ports: Ad Dakhla, Cabo Bojador, El Aaiun
total: 14
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways under 914 m: 3
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7 Western Sahara:Communications
Telephone system: 2,000 telephones; sparse and limited system
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: tied into Morocco's system by microwave radio relay,
troposcatter, and 2 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth stations linked to
Rabat, Morocco
broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: NA
broadcast stations: 2
televisions: NA Western Sahara:Defense Forces
Branches: NA
Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP
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