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[110] Spanish colonization lasted roughly from 1884 to 1976, following the creation of the Madrid Accords where Spain absolved all responsibility over the territory and left it to Morocco and Mauritania. [95][failed verification], UN sponsored peace talks, the first in six years between Morocco and Polisario, were held in Geneva on 5 December 2018, with both sides agreeing to meet again in a few months for further talks.[96][97]. This area has a very small population, estimated to be approximately 30,000 nomads. In 2005, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported increased military activity on both sides of the front and breaches of several cease-fire provisions against strengthening military fortifications. [citation needed], While initial Spanish interest in the Sahara was focused on using it as a port for the slave trade, by the 1700s Spain had transitioned economic activity on the Saharan coast towards commercial fishing. [86] The official Moroccan government name for Western Sahara is the "Southern Provinces", consisting of the Río de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra regions. [125] However Sahrawi poets find it difficult to be published, especially by Arabic publishers, due to the political nature of much of their output. Demonstrations and protests still occur, even after Morocco declared in February 2006 that it was contemplating a plan for devolving a limited variant of autonomy to the territory but still explicitly refused any referendum on independence. It also provided further detail on the referendum process in order to make it harder to stall or subvert. Urban Pop % : Urban population as a percentage of total population. Spain began rapidly to divest itself of most of its remaining colonial possessions. In 1965, the United Nations General Assembly adopted its first resolution on Western Sahara, asking Spain to decolonize the territory. [103], In 2002, Hans Corell, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and head of its Office of Legal Affairs, issued a legal opinion on the matter. The native population—which numbers around 570,000—are known as Sahrawis and the majority religion is Islam. It acknowledged that Western Sahara had historical links with Morocco and Mauritania, but not sufficient to prove the sovereignty of either State over the territory at the time of the Spanish colonization. [124] Traditionally, Sahrawi poetry was performed and passed on orally: younger poets would undergo 'apprenticeships to more experienced ones, today the internet is a key way in which Sahrawi poetry is transmitted between and within generations. Both sides blame each other for the stalling of the referendum. By 1974–75 the government issued promises of a referendum on independence in Western Sahara. [98] Supporting life in a territory with scarce freshwater resources is extremely costly. The portion not under the control of the Moroccan government is the area that lies between the border wall and the actual border with Algeria (for map see Minurso map). [19] Towards the end of the Almohad Caliphate, the Beni Hassan, a sub-tribe of the Maqil, were called by the local ruler of the Sous to quell a rebellion; they settled in the Sous Ksours and controlled such cities as Taroudant. These heavy subsidies have created a state-dominated economy in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara. Families were broken up by the dispute. ", This page was last edited on 24 March 2021, at 00:26. Fertility Rate: (Total Fertility Rate, or TFR), it is expressed as children per woman. [44] The population is primarily made up of nomads who engage in herding camels back and forth between the Tindouf area and Mauritania. The festival provides entertainment and educational opportunities for Sahrawi refugees alongside cultural celebrations for visitors and spectators. MESA inspired other Sahrawis to express themselves and embody their national struggle through art and graffiti. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan government (as its de facto southern province). The Polisario Front claims to run this as the Free Zone on behalf of the SADR. The population density in Western Sahara is 2 per Km 2 (6 people per mi 2). Most people, about 90%, live in the temperate, fertile region of the Mediterranean coast. Country's Share of World Pop: Total population in the country as a percentage of total World Population as of July 1 of the year indicated. Global Rank: Position held by Western Sahara in the list of all countries worldwide ranked by population (from the highest population to the lowest population) as of July 1 of the year indicated. Western Sahara's much-touted phosphate reserves are relatively unimportant, representing less than two percent of proven phosphate reserves in Morocco. Las pretensiones de Marruecos sobre los territorios españoles en el norte de África (1956–2002)", "United Nations General Assembly Resolution 34/37, The Question of Western Sahara", "Arab League Withdraws Inaccurate Moroccan maps", "Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (paragraph 37, p. 10)", "Western Sahara not part of EFTA-Morocco free trade agreement –", "International law allows the recognition of Western Sahara – Stockholm Center for International Law and Justice", "An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm", "Algeria Claims Spanish Sahara Is Being Invaded", "Western Sahara's Struggle for Freedom Cut Off By a Wall", "Is One of Africa's Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End? [29] This was discussed by the United Nations Security Council in 2000, and envisioned an autonomous Western Sahara Authority (WSA), which would be followed after five years by the referendum. Western Sahara is located on the northwest coast in West Africa and on the cusp of North Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean to the northwest, Morocco proper to the north-northeast, Algeria to the east-northeast, and Mauritania to the east and south.[16]. The United Nations considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, and maintains that the Sahrawis have a right to self-determination.[8][9]. [110] The importance and prevalence of Spanish has persisted to the present day, even after Spanish withdrawal from Western Sahara in 1976, due to various education exchanges and host programs for Sahrawi children to Spain and Cuba.[112]. This museum is dedicated to the struggle for the independence of Western Saharan people. As of July 2004, an estimated 267,405 people (excluding about 160,000 Moroccan military personnel) lived in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara. [4] It is the most populous territory on that list, and by far the largest in area. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. [37] The protest coincided with a fresh round of negotiations at the UN. It also controls the part of Western Sahara to the east of the Moroccan Wall, known as the liberated territories. The Western Sahara conflict is an ongoing conflict between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco.The conflict originated from an insurgency by the Polisario Front against Spanish colonial forces from 1973 to 1975 and the subsequent Western Sahara War against Morocco between 1975 and 1991. For several years, Western Sahara has sat on the margins of U.S. foreign policy. [100][101][102], After reasonably exploitable oil fields were located in Mauritania, speculation intensified on the possibility of major oil resources being located off the coast of Western Sahara. A field assessment in the vicinity of Bir Lahlou, Tifariti and the berms revealed that the densest concentrations of mines are in front of the berms. Meanwhile, Polisario still insisted on a referendum with independence as a clear option, without offering a solution to the problem of who is qualified to be registered to participate in it. The accords were based on a bipartite administration, and Morocco and Mauritania each moved to annex the territories, with Morocco taking control of the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces, and Mauritania taking control of the southern third as Tiris al-Gharbiyya. In late 2009, Moroccan troops performed military maneuvers near Umm Dreiga, in the exclusion zone, violating the cease-fire. Clashes have broken out in Western Sahara, ending a 30-year ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front. Surrounding territories were generally under French colonial rule. Over roughly five centuries, through a complex process of acculturation and mixing seen elsewhere in the Maghreb and North Africa, some of the indigenous Berber tribes mixed with the Maqil Arab tribes and formed a culture unique to Morocco and Mauritania. It was rejected by both sides, although it was initially derived from a Moroccan proposal. There was a global trend towards complete decolonization. In 1984, the African Union's predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as one of its full members, with the same status as Morocco, and Morocco protested by suspending its membership to the OAU. [6] In 1975, Spain relinquished the administrative control of the territory to a joint administration by Morocco (which had formally claimed the territory since 1957)[7] and Mauritania. In 2013, the festival screened over 15 films from around the world including comedies, short films, animations, and documentaries. [98] The territory is otherwise thought to be economically unviable and unable to support its population without the Moroccan subsidies. Occupied by Spain until 1975, Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 after a Moroccan demand. The precise size and composition of the population is subject to political controversy. [38], In 2016, the European Union (EU) declared that "Western Sahara is not part of Moroccan territory. [118] During Spanish colonial rule, Sahrawi women actively provided financial and physical support to the resistance movements during the 1930s, 1950s, and the late 1960s. This again brought the process to a halt. Since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire agreement in 1991, two-thirds of the territory (including most of the Atlantic coastline—the only part of the coast outside the Moroccan Western Sahara Wall is the extreme south, including the Ras Nouadhibou peninsula) has been administered by the Moroccan government, with tacit support from France and the United States, and the remainder by the SADR, backed by Algeria. The Polisario has insisted on only allowing those found on the 1974 Spanish Census lists (see below) to vote, while Morocco has insisted that the census was flawed by evasion and sought the inclusion of members of Sahrawi tribes that escaped from Spanish invasion to the north of Morocco by the 19th century. [12][13][14] In 2020, the United States recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Moroccan normalisation of relations with Israel.[15]. [115] Similar to other nomadic traditions on the African continent, Sahrawi women traditionally exercised significant power and roles both in the camp and in their tents. Morocco disputes this number, saying it is exaggerated for political reasons and for attracting more foreign aid. According Isidoros "lies appear to play some peculiar importance in this report". [citation needed], Like other Saharan Bedouin and Hassaniya groups, the Sahrawis are mostly Muslims of the Sunni branch and the Maliki fiqh. [99] The cable concluded that the territory is unlikely ever to be of any economic benefit for Morocco, even if offshore oil fields were to be discovered and exploited. Efforts by the UN special envoys to find a common ground for both parties did not succeed. Western Sahara was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in April 1976, with Morocco acquiring the northern two-thirds of the territory. The European Union fishing agreements with Morocco include Western Sahara. The Morocco-controlled parts of Western Sahara are divided into several provinces that are treated as integral parts of the kingdom. While the area can experience flash flooding in the spring, there are no permanent streams. [119] At this event, actors, directors, and film industry insiders from around the world join the Sahrawi people for a week-long festival of screenings, parallel activities, and concerts. [92] A concentration of forces for the commemoration of the Saharawi Republic's 30th anniversary[93] were subject to condemnation by the United Nations,[94] as it was considered an example of a cease-fire violation to bring such a large force concentration into the area. Population. In 2002, the Moroccan king stated that the referendum idea was "out of date" since it "cannot be implemented";[30] Polisario retorted that that was only because of the King's refusal to allow it to take place. [90] These forces are dug into permanent positions, such as gun emplacements, defensive trenches and underground military bases, as well as conducting mobile patrols of the territory. Baker resigned his post at the United Nations in 2004; his term did not see the crisis resolved. Mines were laid in zigzags up to one meter apart, and in some parts of the berms, there are three rows of mines. Intended for a general audience, books in the series present a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of select countries throughout the world. About 20% of the territory is controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, while the remaining 80% of the territory is occupied and administered by neighboring Morocco. Demonstrations and riots by supporters of independence or a referendum broke out in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara in May 2005 and in parts of southern Morocco (notably the town of Assa). After that, the draft quickly garnered widespread international support, culminating in the UN Security Council's unanimous endorsement of the plan in the summer of 2003. The United Nations considers it to be a "non-self-governing territory". Political leadership of trade agreement signatories such as the United States (US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement) and Norway (European Free Trade Association trade accord) have made statements as to these agreements' non-applicability – although practical policy application is ambiguous. [98], Due to the disputed nature of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, the application of international accords to Western Sahara is highly ambiguous. It presents weapons, vehicles and uniforms, as well as abundant documentation history. [122] His canvases of choice were destroyed walls, which he brought back to life through his art. [5] One year later, a new resolution was passed by the General Assembly requesting that a referendum be held by Spain on self-determination. Several international human rights organizations expressed concern at what they termed abuse by Moroccan security forces, and a number of Sahrawi activists have been jailed. Despite these possible inaccuracies, Morocco and the Polisario Front agreed on using the Spanish census as the basis for voter registration when striking a cease-fire agreement in the late 1980s, contingent on the holding of a referendum on independence or integration into Morocco. Mine-laying was not restricted to the vicinity of the berms though, as occupied settlements throughout the Polisario-controlled areas, such as Bir Lahlou and Tifariti, are ringed by mines laid by Moroccan forces. The territory remained disputed between Morocco and local forces well into the … © Copyright - All rights reserved -, countries (and dependencies) by population, World Population Prospects: The 2019 Revision, The population density in Western Sahara is 2 per Km. At times, a cool off-shore current can produce fog and heavy dew. Migrants (net): The average annual number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants over the preceding five year period (running from July 1 to June 30 of the initial and final years), or subsequent five year period (for 2016 data). Much Spanish literature and recent refugee studies scholarship has been dedicated to the exploration of the major role women play in Sahrawi society, and the degree of freedom they experience within the occupied territory and the refugee camps. Sayad's graffiti depicts aspects of Sahrawi culture and includes actual Sahrawi people as his subjects. The Polisario has its home base in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, and declares the number of Sahrawi population in the camps to be approximately 155,000. During the war years (1975–1991), both sides accused each other of targeting civilians. The huge area is sparsely populated since the inhospitable Sahara covers large parts of the country. These 86,425 Sahrawis were dispersed between Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and the refugee camps in Algeria, with smaller numbers in Mauritania and other places of exile. Yearly Change: For 2019: absolute change in total population (increase or decrease in number of people) over the last year (from July 1, 2018 to June 30 2019). Jacob Mundi. Elaboration of data by United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. As of 2015, the population of West Asia was approximately 300 million people and covers an area of 2,415,131 square miles. The US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara on December 10. For forecasted years, the U.N. medium-fertility variant is used. Annual demonstrations against the Moroccan Wall are staged in the region by Sahrawis and international activists from Spain, Italy, and other mainly European countries. For example, all drinking water for the city of Laayoune comes from desalinization facilities and costs 3 US dollars per cubic meter but is sold at the national price of 0.0275 US dollars; the difference is paid for by the government of Morocco. Trade developed further, and the territory may have been one of the routes for caravans, especially between Marrakesh and Tombouctou in Mali. The Saharan lords who were already in prominent positions, such as the members of Maa El Ainain family, provided a recommended list of candidates for new governors. In 1997, the Houston Agreement attempted to revive the proposal for a referendum but likewise has hitherto not had success. In a previously confidential legal opinion (published in February 2010, although it was forwarded in July 2009), the European Parliament's Legal Service opined that fishing by European vessels under a current EU – Morocco fishing agreement covering Western Sahara's waters is in violation of international law. Instead, the African Union participates with the United Nations mission, in order to maintain a ceasefire and reach a peace agreement between its two members. The exiled government of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a form of single-party parliamentary and presidential system, but according to its constitution, this will be changed into a multi-party system at the achievement of independence. It was home to more than 12,000 people. [117], In the contemporary history of Western Sahara, women have occupied central roles and been highly represented in the political sphere. Morocco was readmitted in the African Union on 30 January 2017 by ensuring that the conflicting claims between Morocco and the SADR would be solved peacefully and stopping the extension of its exclusive military control by building additional walls. On 10 December 2020, the United States announced that it would recognize full Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco establishing relations with Israel.[15][41][42]. In 2005, MINURSO lodged a complaint to the Security Council of the United Nations for "military maneuvers with real fire which extends to restricted areas" by Morocco. Lexington Books, 2015, most sparsely populated territories in the world, United Nations list of non-self-governing territories, Mediterranean acacia-argania dry woodlands and succulent thickets, Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Morocco establishing relations with Israel, Foreign relations of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara, International Federation for Human Rights, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1979, President of the Polisario proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Museum of the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army, Outline of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, List of national border changes since World War I, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, "Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly During Its Twentieth Session – Resolution 2072 (XX) – Question of Ifni and Spanish Sahara", "Milestones in the Western Sahara conflict", "Documento de Trabajo núm. Depending on the century, Roman-era sources describe the area as inhabited by Gaetulian Autololes or the Gaetulian Daradae tribes. The presence of land mines scattered throughout the territory by the Moroccan army makes this a dangerous way of life. 2019. [36], On 15 November 2010, the Moroccan government accused the Algerian secret services of orchestrating and financing the Gadaym Izik camp with the intent to destabilize the region. Europe comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and Asia to the east. [113] These types of exchange programs that successfully create cross-border and cross-cultural relationships reinforce the usage of the Spanish language throughout subsequent generations of Sahrawi children. The region may be divided into several broad physiographic regions. A negative number means that there are more emigrants than immigrants. The interior experiences extreme summer heat, with average highs reaching 43–45 °C (109–113 °F) in July and in August; during winter, days are still hot to very hot, with average highs from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F); however, in the northern part of the territory, the thermometer may drop below 0 °C (32 °F) at night and it can be freezing in December and in January, although this is rare. The African Union provides peacekeeping contingent to the UN mission which is deployed to control a buffer zone near the de facto border of walls built by Morocco within Western Sahara. Fighting could intensify absent outside help. Median Age: age that divides the population into two numerically equal groups: half of the people are older than the median age indicated and half are younger. Several buildings, including a TV station, were also set on fire. The UN uses a number of 90,000 "most vulnerable" refugees as basis for its food aid program. [48] As part of the Moroccan-Israeli normalisation deal, the United States established a temporary consulate post in Dakhla in January 2021 as a transition to establishing a permanent consulate within the near future.[49][50]. The Sahrawis are traditionally nomadic Bedouins with a lifestyle very similar to that of the Tuareg Berbers from whom Sahrawis most likely have descended, and they can be found in all surrounding countries. Physically indistinguishable from the Hassaniya speaking Moors of Mauritania, the Sahrawi people differ from their neighbours partly because of different tribal affiliations (as tribal confederations cut across present modern boundaries) and partly as a consequence of their exposure to Spanish colonial domination. Failed States. [11] In both instances, recognitions have, over the past two decades, been extended and withdrawn back and forth, depending on the development of relations with Morocco. In April 2007, the government of Morocco suggested that a self-governing entity, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), should govern the territory with some degree of autonomy for Western Sahara. [25] It initiated guerrilla warfare and, in 1979, Mauritania withdrew due to pressure from Polisario, including a bombardment of its capital and other economic targets. The Polisario Front has won formal recognition for SADR from 46 states, and was extended membership in the African Union. [6] A war erupted between those countries and a Sahrawi nationalist movement, the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government in exile in Tindouf, Algeria. [118], FiSahara International Film Festival is an annual film festival that takes place in one of the southwestern refugee camps in Algeria. [116] Furthermore, Sahrawi women were endowed with major responsibility for the camp during long periods of absence by the men of the camp due to war or trade. 'Western Sahara', 266", "Explosive Ordnance Disposal and technical survey in Polisario-controlled areas of Western Sahara,", "Western Sahara under Polisario Control: Summary Report of Field Mission to the Sahrawi Refugee Camps (near Tindouf, Algeria)", "MINURSO complaint to the UN Security Council (Spanish)", "Secretary General's report to Security Council on Western Sahara, 19 April 2006 (pdf file)", "Western Sahara: Economic Considerations", "Western Sahara: Preparing the GOM For Autonomy and Negotiations with the Polisario", "Rep. Pitts lauds protection of Sahrawis in Morocco trade pact", "Western Sahara excluded from EFTA-Morocco free trade agreement", "Western Sahara "not part of EFTA-Morocco free trade, "Upstream Online: Total turns its back on Dakhla block, 2004", "Last oil company withdraws from Western Sahara", "Korsvold og SeaBird-sjefen fikk protestbrev fra det okkuperte Vest-Sahara", "European Parliament's lawyers declare EU fishing illegal", "In remote Western Sahara, prized phosphate drives controversial investments", "L'Actuel Maroc, no. The stalemating of the Moroccan proposal options has led the UN in the recent "Report of the UN Secretary-General" to ask the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution. The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II.Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the period is generally considered to span the 1947 Truman Doctrine (12 March 1947) to the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union (26 December 1991). [44] United Nations MINURSO forces are also present in the area. For example, Sahrawi Islam has traditionally functioned without mosques, in an adaptation to nomadic life. World Population: Total World Population as of July 1 of the year indicated. Western Sahara contains four terrestrial ecoregions: Saharan halophytics, Mediterranean acacia-argania dry woodlands and succulent thickets, Atlantic coastal desert, and North Saharan steppe and woodlands.[17]. Major Sahrawi political events, such as Polisario congresses and sessions of the Sahrawi National Council (the SADR parliament in exile) are held in the Free Zone (especially in Tifariti and Bir Lehlou), since it is politically and symbolically important to conduct political affairs on Sahrawi territory. Local religious custom (Urf) is, like other Saharan groups, heavily influenced by pre-Islamic Berber and African practices, and differs substantially from urban practices. Western Sahara is a sparsely-populated area of mostly desert situated on the northwest coast of Africa. For all other years: average annual numerical change over the preceding five year period. [89], The Polisario forces (of the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army (SPLA)) in the area are divided into seven "military regions", each controlled by a top commander reporting to the President of the Polisario proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Morocco was also allowed to keep its army in the area and retain control over all security issues during both the autonomy years and the election. This area has a sparse population, estimated to be approximately 30,000 in 2008. For all other years: latest year annual percentage change equivalent assuming homogeneous change in the preceding five year period, calculated through reverse compounding.

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