Despite its famed reputation for desert landscapes, exuding a perpetual air of desolation, Western Sahara is blessed with bountiful natural resources. From harbouring some of the world’s most critical phosphate reserves – essential fertilisers for agricultural production – to coastal sections serving as meccas for surfers, its temperate waters are also flush with fish.

Although considered the last African colony by the United Nations, Western Sahara has been occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco for nearly half a century.

After Spain ceded Western Sahara as a colony in 1975, the former ruler negotiated with Morocco for continued fishing rights and to maintain its fleet of boats – one of the largest in Europe – in Western Saharan waters.

Subsequent annexation of the disputed territory by Morocco in 1976 remains frowned upon by the international community. It led to a 16-year-long guerilla war waged between the Polisario Front, a rebel Sahrawi nationalist liberation movement, which the UN considers the legitimate representative of Western Sahara and the Moroccan Army.

Source: The Africa Report

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