+212 is the dialing code for Western Sahara.
Also called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR or WI according to Abbreviationfinder), it is an arid and almost desert region, located along the northwest coast of Africa, consisting of stony deserts in certain areas and sandy in others. Integrates the Sahara Desert. There are scattered oases and small patches of poor grazing. It has one of the largest fishing reserves in the world.
It has the largest deposits of phosphate in the world, in addition to deposits of copper, uranium and iron. Western Sahara has an area of 286,000 km² and the main city is Laiune, its capital.
According to Countryaah.com, Western Sahara had 250 559 inhabitants. Most of the 250,559 Sahrawis – including refugees in Algeria – are a mixture of Arabs and Berbers, almost all Muslims. They speak Arabic, Berber, Spanish and also French. They practice geomancy and worship a large number of supernatural forces. Saharan society is essentially egalitarian, with no authority other than that of the head of the family. The functions of this are mainly socio-religious. There is therefore no state structure.
There is no current data on religion in Western Sahara. According to some perhaps unofficial data, it is possible to note that 98.32% of the population follows Islam, due to being alongside countries of the Islamic world. The Catholic Church is still present, due to Spanish colonization. 0.55 to 1% of the population follow Roman Catholicism with 1% following other religions or being irreligious or atheist.
Colonized by Spain between 1884 and 1975 as Spanish Sahara, the territory has been listed by the UN as in the process of incomplete decolonization since the 1960s, making it the last major territory to effectively remain a colony. The conflict is largely between the Kingdom of Morocco and Algeria, which supports the nationalist organization Frente Polisario (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro), which, in February 1976, formally proclaimed the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SDR), now basically run by a government-in-exile in Tindouf, Algeria.
Following the Madrid Accords, the territory was divided between Morocco and Mauritania in November 1975, with Morocco taking the northern two-thirds. Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979, with Morocco now owning most of the territory. A portion came to be administered by the RDAS. The Sahara Arab Democratic Republic sat as a member of the Organization of African Unity in 1984 and was a founding member of the African Union Guerrilla activities continued until the United Nations imposed a ceasefire implemented on September 6, 1991 through the MINURSO mission. The patrol mission operated on the dividing line between the two territories.
In 2003, the UN special envoy for the territory, James Baker, presented the Baker Plan, known as Baker II, which would give immediate autonomy to Western Sahara during a transitional period of five years to prepare a referendum, offering the inhabitants of the territory the possibility of choosing between independence, autonomy within the Kingdom of Morocco or complete integration with Morocco. Polisario accepted the plan, but Morocco rejected it. Earlier, in 2001, Baker had presented his proposal, called Baker I, where the dispute would finally be resolved through autonomy within Moroccan sovereignty, but Algeria and the Polisario Front refused. Algeria had proposed the division of the territory once and for all.
In March 2016, Morocco even rejected the visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Mr. Christopher Ross, in charge of general secretary for Minurso.
The population under Moroccan control participates in the country’s elections and in Moroccan regional elections. A referendum on independence or integration in Morocco was agreed upon by Morocco and the Polisario Front in 1991 but has not yet taken place.
Morocco and the Polisario Front seal a ceasefire in 1988. A plebiscite is scheduled for 1992, but it does not happen because there is no agreement on who has the right to vote: Morocco wants the entire population residing in Western Sahara to be, but the Polisario Front it only accepts that they are the inhabitants counted in the 1974 census. This would prevent the vote of Moroccans emigrated to the disputed region after 1974.
The population under polisario control in the Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf in Algeria participate in the elections for the Arab Democratic Republic.
Three Moroccan regions are in Western Sahara, they are:
- Guelmim-Es Semara(Guelmim) – Includes Moroccan territories outside Western Sahara;
- El Aiune–Bojador–Saguia el Hamra(Laiune)
- Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira(Dakhla)
As one of countries that start with W, Western Sahara’s economy is mainly based on fishing, phoenix plantations, and the extraction and export of natural resources such as phosphate. Mineral extraction by Morocco in the occupied territory of Western Sahara is the subject of frequent complaints by international organizations and non-governmental organizations that defend human rights (in particular, the African Union and Western Sahara Resource Watch). Thanks to the exploitation of mines in Western Sahara, Morocco is the largest exporter of phosphates in the world, with about half of the world’s reserves controlled by the Moroccan state-owned group OCP.
The people of Western Sahara speak the Ḥassānīya dialect of Arabic also spoken in northern Mauritania. They are of mixed Arab- Berber descent, but many consider themselves Arabs. They claim descent from the Banu Hassan, an Arab tribe, who invaded Western Sahara in the 14th century.
Sahrawis are Muslims of the Sunni sect and the Maliki school of law. Their interpretation of Islam has traditionally been quite liberal and adapted to nomadic life (i.e. generally functioning without mosques).