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Western Sahara:
Geography

Western Sahara Page


Other pages in this profile of Western Sahara:
People, Government, Economy, Communications & Transportation, Military & Transnational Issues.
Background
Definition
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 UN-brokered cease-fire; a UN-organized referendum on 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. Since June 2007, representatives from the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front have met four times to negotiate the status of Western Sahara.
Location
Definition
Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco
Geographic coordinates
Definition
24 30 N, 13 00 W
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 266,000 sq km
land: 266,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 2,046 km
border countries: Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km
Coastline
Definition
1,110 km
Maritime claims
Definition
contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue
Climate
Definition
hot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
Terrain
Definition
mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Sebjet Tah -55 m
highest point: unnamed elevation 805 m
Natural resources
Definition
phosphates, iron ore
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 0.02%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.98% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
NA
Natural hazards
Definition
hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility
Environment - current issues
Definition
sparse water and lack of arable land
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: none of the selected agreements
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
the waters off the coast are particularly rich fishing areas


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