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Basic Facts
Country name conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Western Sahara
former: Spanish Sahara
Gevernment typelegal 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 of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), led by President Mohamed ABDELAZIZ; 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 Organization of African Unity (OAU) member in 1984; guerrilla activities continued sporadically, until a UN-monitored cease-fire was implemented 6 September 1991
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Flag descriptionthree equal vertical bands of black (hoist), red, and green, with a gold emblem centered on the red band; the emblem features a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bold Islamic inscription above
CurrencyMoroccan dirham (MAD)
Internet country
Ports and terminalsAd Dakhla, Cabo Bojador, Laayoune (El Aaiun)
Agriculture productsfruits and vegetables (grown in the few oases); camels, sheep, goats (kept by nomads); fish
Industriesphosphate mining, handicrafts
LocationNorthern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco
Coordinates24 30 N, 13 00 W
Area total: 266,000 sq km
land: 266,000 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Boundaries total: 2,046 km
border countries: Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km
Coastline1,110 km
Climatehot, dry desert; rain is rare; cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew
Terrainmostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast
Natural resourcesphosphates, iron ore
Natural hazardshot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility
Population273,008 (July 2006 est.)
Ethnic groupsArab, Berber
LanguagesHassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

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