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Western Sahara Country Guide

Explore Western Sahara in Africa

Western Sahara with the capital city El Aaiún is located in Africa (Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean). It covers some 266,000 square kilometres (about the size of Colorado) with 273,008 citizens.

Interactive map of Western Sahara

The landscape offers mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast. The average density of population is approximately 1 per km². The notable climate conditions in Western Sahara can be described as hot, dry desert with rain is rare and cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew. Potential threats by nature are hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring or widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility.

To reach someone in Western Sahara dial +212 prior to a number. There are 2,000 installed telephones. And there are 0 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".eh". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Western Sahara

Western Sahara Flag Icon


Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria. After Spain withdrew from its former colony of Spanish Sahara in 1976, Morocco annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara and claimed the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front contesting Morocco''s sovereignty ended in a 1991 cease-fire and the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation. As part of this effort, the UN sought to offer a choice to the peoples of the Western Sahara between independence (favored by the Polisario Front) or integration into Morocco. A proposed referendum never took place due to lack of agreement on voter eligibility. The 2,700 km- (1,700 mi-) long defensive sand berm, built by the Moroccans from 1980 to 1987 and running the length of the territory, continues to separate the opposing forces with Morocco controlling the roughly 80 percent of the territory west of the berm. Ethnic tensions in Western Sahara occasionally erupt into violence requiring a Moroccan security force response.

National administrative regions of Western Sahara

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Africa
Neighbours: Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco
Capital: El Aaiún
Size266,000 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 102,703 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
about the size of Colorado
CurrencyName Dirham, Currency Code:MAD
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).eh
Telephone Country Prefix+212
Mobile Phone Connections0
Landline Phone Connections2,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area266,000 (sq km)78

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population538,811 171
Population growth rate2.96 (%)10
Birth rate31.18 (births/1,000 population)40
Death rate8.64 (deaths/1,000 population)75
Infant mortality rate57.50 (deaths/1,000 live births)30
Life expectancy at birth61.90 (years)189
Total fertility rate4.15 (children born/woman)37


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)906,500,000 206
GDP - per capita (PPP)2,500 183
Labor force144,000 179


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production90,000,000 (kWh)199
Electricity - consumption83,700,000 (kWh)199
Electricity - installed generating capacity58,000 (kW)179
Electricity - from fossil fuels100.00 (% of total installed capacity)45
Refined petroleum products - consumption1,948 (bbl/day)189
Refined petroleum products - imports1,702 (bbl/day)183
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy314,600 (Mt)186


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports6 174

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

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