Country Profile - Western Sahara
Country Profile of Western Sahara
Morocco virtually annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976, and claimed 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 the territory's 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 that called for independence. Representatives from the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front have met four times since June 2007 to negotiate the status of Western Sahara, but talks have stalled since the UN envoy to the territory stated in April 2008 that independence is unrealistic.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco.
Head of State: 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, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), near Tindouf, Algeria, led by President Mohamed ABDELAZIZMohamed Abdelaziz
Population (million): 538.811 ( July 2013 EST. )
Population Rate : 2.29 % ( 2013 EST. )
note: estimate is based on projections by age, sex, fertility, mortality, and migration; fertility and mortality are based on data from neighboring countries (July 2009 EST.)
Ethnic group: Arab, Berber
Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore.
Currency: Moroccan Dirhams (MAD)