World Country Western Sahara

About the world country Western Sahara, its location, size, population, and who is in power.

NATIONS OF THE WORLD

SAHARA, WESTERN

Location: West coast of North Africa, between Morocco and Mauritania. Size: 102,973 sq. mi. (266,770 sq. km.). Population: 150,000.

Who Really Rules: The Polisario (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro) is a left-of-center, Islamic nationalist front that was formed in 1973 to oppose Spanish colonial rule. In 1975, when Morocco and Mauritania carved up the territory, the Polisario evacuated thousands of Saharans to Algeria, which shares a border with the Western Sahara, and stepped up its raids. In 1979 Mauritania signed a peace agreement with the Polisario, agreeing to withdraw, but Morocco merely added the Mauritanian sector to its claim. There are between 50,000 and 80,000 Moroccan troops in the region--most confined to urban areas and garrisons--and an estimated 10,000 or more Polisario fighters. Polisario's call for self-determination is supported by a majority of the members of the Organization of African Unity. Its chief backer is Algeria, which provides funds, Soviet-made weapons, and a base area.

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