Western Sahara 1997Western%20Sahara

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Western Sahara
Western Sahara 

Volotea Air

Western Sahara - Introduction 1997
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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 and is not expected to occur until at least 2002.

Western Sahara - Geography 1997
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Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco

Geographic coordinates: 24 30 N, 13 00 W

Map referenceAfrica

Total: 266,000 km²
Land: 266,000 km²
Water: 0 km²
Comparative: about the size of Colorado

Land boundaries
Total: 2,046 km
Border countries: (3) 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

Extremes lowest point: Sebjet Tah -55 m
Extremes highest point: unnamed location 463 m

Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 19%
Permanent crops: 24%
Permanent pastures: 0%
Forests and woodland: 47%
Other: 10% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA km²

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

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


Western Sahara - People 1997
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Population: 228,138 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 2.43% (1997 est.)

Noun: Sahrawi(s), Sahraoui(s)
Adjective: Sahrawian, Sahraouian

Ethnic groups: Arab, Berber

Languages: Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

Religions: Muslim

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 2.43% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 46.14 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 17.53 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: -4.28 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: sparse water and arable land

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: NA male(s)/female
Under 15 years: NA male(s)/female
15-64 years: NA male(s)/female
65 years and over: NA male(s)/female
Total population: NA male(s)/female

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 142.75 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 47.71 years
Male: 46.66 years
Female: 49.09 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.8 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Literacy: NA

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Western Sahara - Government 1997
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Country name
Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Western Sahara

Government 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)

Dependent areas


National holiday


Legal system

International law organization participation


Suffrage: none; a UN sponsored voter identification campaign has yet to be completed

Executive branch: none

Legislative branch

Judicial branch

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: none

Diplomatic representation
In the us: none
From the us: none

Flag descriptionflag of Western%20Sahara

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Western Sahara - Economy 1997
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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.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: NA%

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: NA%
Industry: NA%
Services: 40%-45% (1996 est.)

Agriculture products: fruits and vegetables (grown in the few oases; camels, sheep, goats (kept by the nomads)

Industries: phosphate mining, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Labor force
Total: 12,000
By occupation: animal husbandry and subsistence farming 50%
Labor force

Unemployment rate: NA%

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $N/A
Expenditures: $N/A, including capital expenditures of $N/A

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $NA
Commodities: phosphates 62%
Partners: Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, so trade partners are included in overall Moroccan accounts

Imports: $NA
Commodities: fuel for fishing fleet, foodstuffs
Partners: Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, so trade partners are included in overall Moroccan accounts

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $NA

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Moroccan dirhams (DH) per US$1 - 9.018 (January 1997), 8.716 (1996), 8.540 (1995), 9.203 (1994), 9.299 (1993), 8.538 (1992)

Western Sahara - Energy 1997
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 85 million kWh (1995)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: NA kWh

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Western Sahara - Communication 1997
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: 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

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Western Sahara - Military 1997
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $NA
Percent of gdp: NA%

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Western Sahara - Transportation 1997
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 12 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 6
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 3
With paved runways under 914 m: 3 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 6
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 5 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 6
2438 to 3047 m: 3
Under 914 m: 3 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 6
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 5 (1996 est.)

Heliports: 1 (1996 est.)


Railways: 0 km



Merchant marine

Ports and terminals

Western Sahara - Transnational issues 1997
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Disputes international: 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 in effect since September 1991

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs

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