Western Sahara, known as Spanish Sahara before 1976, area on the west coast of North Africa; 266,000 km2, 569,700 residents (2018).Western Sahara borders in the north to Morocco, furthest in the northeast to Algeria and in the east and south to Mauritania and has a west coast to the Atlantic. The capital is El-Aaiún (196,500 residents, 2010).
Until 1976, Western Sahara was part of Spanish West Africa, which Morocco has been claiming since 1958 and Mauritania since 1960. In the 1970s, a domestic liberation struggle started under the leadership of the Polisario Freedom Movement. In 1976, the Spaniards left Western Sahara, which was divided between Morocco and Mauritania. In 1979, a peace agreement was signed between Polisario and Mauritania, which renounced all claims in this area. Instead, Morocco also occupied the former Mauritanian part of Western Sahara. In accordance with a peace plan presented by the UN in 1988, a ceasefire was concluded in 1990.