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Find Western Sahara Travel and Tourist Information with links to official travel and tourism websites and state resources for visitors to Western Sahara.
Visitors to Western Sahara can travel freely in most Moroccan-controlled parts of the country, but should still check the latest travel and safety advice.
The Shifting Sands of Politics
Portuguese navigators visited the area near modern al-Aaiun, in 1434, but didn't establish lasting settlements.
Spain came back into the picture in 1884, and established a protectorate over the coast from Cape Bojador to Cape Blanc.
When King Hassan II of Morocco launched a massive non-violent invasion of Spanish Sahara in late 1975, Spain agreed to relinquish the area to Mauritania and Morocco.
Spain withdrew in February 1976, leaving two-thirds of the former Spanish Sahara occupied by Morocco and the rest by Mauritania.
Polisario guerrillas based in Algeria staged raids against Mauritanian and Moroccan outposts in Western Sahara between 1976 and 1978.
Mauritania surrendered its portion in 1979, only for Morocco to annex it all.
By February 1982, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was recognised by more than 70 nations and admitted to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Morocco suspended its OAU membership in 1985.
The region (including much of Morocco and Mauritania) was 'controlled' by various nomadic tribes - modern notions of sovereign 'rule' came with European colonizers.
The population of Western Sahara are mostly of Berber or Arab descent.
Western Sahara Today
Most recently settlers from northern Morocco have been encouraged to migrate to Western Sahara through incentives offered to them by the Moroccan government.
The main towns of Western Sahara are al-Aaiun, or Laayoune - formerly the capital of Spanish Sahara - and Ad-Dakhla; formerly Villa Cisneros.
Western Sahara Travel
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Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo).