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History of Western Sahara

Present Situation

November 6, 1975 the so-called Green March into Western Sahara began when 300,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on the southern city of Tarfaya and waited for a signal from King Hassan II of Morocco to cross into Western Sahara. As a result, Spain abandoned Western Sahara on November 14, 1975. Morocco later 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 cease fire; a referendum on final status has been repeatedly postponed.


The Western Sahara has never been a nation in the modern sense of the word. Phoenician colonies established or reinforced by Hanno the navigator have vanished with virtually no trace, and the increasing desertification of the Sahara, before the camel was introduced in north africa at the beginning of the first millennium AD, made sporadic contact with the outside world almost impossible. The camel revolution made this region one of the main routes of transport of the world. Salt and gold were transported between North Africa and West Africa.

Islam arrived in the 8th century and was an immediate success. Al-Murabitun, also known as the Almoravides, were a group of strict Koranic interpreters from this region who ended up controlling all of North Africa.

More recently, Ma-a-Aynayn started a counter insurgency against the French in the 1910s. He was finally beaten when he tried to conquer Marrakesh.

See also : Western Sahara