Colonized by the Spanish this rather large part of western Africa (twice size of England) is highly contentious. When the Spanish left in 1975 Morocco and Mauritania claimed it as their territory. So did the indigenous Sahrawi people. The latter started a guerrilla war and Mauritania called it quits.

That left the Saharawi’s – The Polisario Front – vs Morocco. In the end a ‘Berm’ was built north to south from sand and land mines to partition the territory with the Moroccos on the coastal side and the Sahrawi’s landlocked.

To Moroccans it is ‘Moroccan Sahara’. To every UN member it is ‘Western Sahara’. Morocco was loathe to join the African Union until this year as many African states have relations with the Saharawi “state”.

Morocco spends 800 Million USD a year maintaining control – which is 1600 USD per head of population which is a lot of money when the GDP per capita of Morocco is only $3000. That goes into subsidies and flags (see the pics).

The Police aren’t too excited about tourists and the moment I got off the bus I had my passport taken and copied and was followed for most of my stroll around the waterfront. Friendly folks though and was a nice day at the beach.

The other place to check out is Dakhla which is a coastal town further south.

There is some great art/antiques for sale across the road from the Mosque.