A Traveller's Research

Western Sahara 🇪🇭

The following is not a political statement, and should not be interpreted as such. This is not any endorsement of claims by either side in the dispute. This is the best information that is available to me. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of this information.
  • Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since the 1960s when it was a Spanish colony.
  • Disputed territory is claimed by The Kingdom of Morocco and native Saharawis population seeking self-determination.
    • Polisario Front’s Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)
      • Saharawis are supported by Algeria.
      • The Polisario Front, a liberation movement of the Sahrawi people, are fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, a Spanish colony until the mid-1970s, now occupied and largely administered by Morocco.
      • Since a United Nations-sponsored cease-fire agreement in 1991, most of the territory has been administered by Morocco as the Southern Provinces, the remainder by the SADR as the Free Zone. The SADR is recognized by many states, and a full member of the African Union.


  • Population » 567,000 people
    • one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world
  • The largest city » El Aaiún (Laâyoune), is home to over a third of the population of the territory.
  • Main languages » Arabic, some French
  • Main religion » Islam
  • Life expectancy » 66 years (men), 70 years (women)


  • Area » 252,120 sq km (97,344 sq miles)
    • mainly consisting of desert flatlands
  • Western Sahara is a non-self governing territory on the northwest coast of Africa bordered by the Kingdom of Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west
  • Sebkha Tah, on the Western Sahara / Morocco border, is the lowest point in Morocco at 55 meters (180 ft) below sea level.  (Wikipedia)
    • Coordinates
    • 27.708056 -12.675833
    • Maps » Google
Map of Western Sahara

Map of Western Sahara (Source » Wikimedia)



  • After Spain withdrew from its former colony of Spanish Sahara in 1976, Morocco annexed the northern two-thirds. Morocco claimed the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania’s withdrawal. A guerrilla war ensued contesting Morocco’s sovereignty.  This ended in 1991 with the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation.
  • The UN sought to offer a choice to the peoples of Western Sahara between independence or integration into Morocco. A proposed referendum never took place.
  • Morocco has offered autonomy, but maintains the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom and maintains a security presence in the territory.
  • There are periodic ethnic tensions between the native Sahrawi population and Moroccan immigrants.


  • Dakhla » Kiters resort area on the Atlantic.
UK Travel Advice

UK Travel Advice

Government Travel Advice


  • In the southern part, there is a 20km ‘no-mans land’ area before reaching Mauritania. In this area it is important to stay on the well travelled portion of the road. There are many landmines, even a few metres off the road.
  • There are no border controls. Morocco considers Western Sahara to be a southern province.

Safety and Security

  • The Polisario Front, an organisation that has spent decades pressing for the territory’s independence, blocked the only road leading south to Mauritania and western Africa at the town of Guerguerat. (Oct 2020)
  • “As ‘Western Sahara’ is a a military zone, checkpoints increase south of Tan Tan, and unlike up north, they don’t just wave foreigners through but want your passport details.” (Sahara Overland)




This page was updated April 3, 2023

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