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Where is Western Sahara?

Where is Western Sahara geographically? Characterized by rocky landscape, the Atlantic coast line and expansive sand-dunes, Western Sahara is a disputed-territory nestled in North Africa’s Maghreb region. Its northern side is bordered by the city of Morocco and to its north east resides Algeria. The southern east border of Western Sahara touches Mauritania while the west end is hugged by the Atlantic Ocean which forms its coastal line. The Western Sahara spans over an area of 266,000 kilometers featuring mainly desert flatlands. It is sparsely populated, comprising of a population of only 500,000 people.

Where is Western Sahara historically? This territory has a history dating back to the 19th century when it was occupied by Spain. However, in 1963, because of the Moroccan demand, the territory got listed among the UN’s non self governing territories. Then, in 1975, a massive war erupted between Morocco, Spain, Mauritania and the Sahrawi-Arab Democratic Republic to conquer Western Sahara. After endless battles, Mauritania withdrew in the year 1979 while Morocco secured de-facto control of most of the Western Sahara territory that included all major cities of the territory and its natural resources. In 1991, the UN declared ceasefire in the Western Sahara to maintain peace.
Influenced by different groups from neighboring countries like Sahrawis, Arab-Berber and Hassaniya, it is no wonder that the Western Sahara is so culturally diverse. Though it has an unclear political status, nonetheless, tourists continue to visit Western Sahara because of its history and cultural diversity. Some of the most popular places to visit in Western Sahara are El Aaiun and Smara. El Aaiun is a popular place among tourists largely because of its recreational sites. El Aaiun also known as Laayoune, was founded in 1928 by the Spanish, and is easily navigable on foot. As the city lies on the coast, here you can enjoy quality time at the beach. Besides this, the city is also recognized as a hub for fishing.

Smara is also one of the most popular places to visit in Western Sahara. Previously, it was used as the trade hub for camel-caravans. The town was built with red stones, around a beautiful fortress, Zawiy Maalainin, which was enclosed with a mosque. Though the fortress isn’t intact today, however, tourists do come here to view the ruins of the fortress. Another architectural marvel for tourists to view here is the Moroccan Berm which is a sand wall nearly 2,700 kilometers long and 3m high that runs through Western Sahara to Morocco. It took 7 years to build. It was built by Moroccan forces for boundary demarcation.