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Geography of Western Sahara

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Title: Geography of Western Sahara  
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Subject: Geography of Africa, Economy of Morocco, Geography of Western Sahara, Telecommunications in Western Sahara, International rankings of Morocco
Collection: Geography of Western Sahara
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Geography of Western Sahara

Geography of Western Sahara
Continent Africa
Region North Africa
Area Ranked 78th
 • Total 266,000 km2 (103,000 sq mi)
Coastline 1,110 km (690 mi)
Borders 2,046 km
(Algeria 42 km, Mauritania 1,561 km, Morocco 443 km)
Highest point unnamed elevation
805 m
Lowest point Sebjet Tah, -55 m
Satellite image of Western Sahara
Topography of Western Sahara
Desert Coast of Morocco and Western Sahara, 2014. North is to upper right corner of photo. Note the straight lines produced by strong northerly winds that blow parallel to the coast, producing wind streaks of sand and sand-free surfaces. Also note the transport corridor of roads, railroads and conveyor belt system (vertical line at left) that transport phosphates 100 km (60 miles) from inland mines to the coast. Strong northerly winds blow dust and phosphate into the desert, giving a jagged edge to this line on its south side. [1]

Western Sahara is a territory in Northern Africa, bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean, Morocco proper, Algeria (Tindouf region), and Mauritania. Geographic coordinates:


  • Size 1
  • Land 2
    • Terrain 2.1
    • Natural resources 2.2
    • Land use 2.3
    • Natural hazards 2.4
  • Environment 3
    • Climate 3.1
    • Current issues 3.2
  • Extreme points 4
    • Maps 4.1
  • References 5


Total: 266,060 km², about the size of Colorado

land: 266,000 km²
water: 0 km²

The peninsula in the extreme southwest, with the city of Lagouira, is called Ras Nouadhibou, Cap Blanc, or Cabo Blanco. The eastern side is part of Mauritania.

Maritime claims: contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue



The terrain is mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast.

Elevation extremes:

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: unnamed location 805 m

Natural resources

phosphates, iron ore, fishing resources on Atlantic Ocean coast

Land use

Arable land: 0.02%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.98% (2005)

Irrigated land: NA km²

Natural hazards

Hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind can occur during winter and spring; widespread harmattan haze exists 60% of time, often severely restricting visibility. Flash flooding occurs during spring months.



Western Sahara has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Annual average rainfall is below 50 mm (1,96 in) everywhere. Along the Atlantic coast, averages high and low temperatures are constant and very moderated throughout the year because cool offshore ocean currents considerably cool off the climate, especially during the day. However, summertime is long and extremely hot and wintertime is short and very warm to truly hot further in the interior, where cooling marine influences aren't felt anymore. Averages high temperatures exceed 40 °C (104 °F) in summer during a prolonged period of time but can reach as high as 50 °C (122 °F) or even more in places such as Smara, Tichla, Bir Gandus, Bir Anzarane, Aghouinite, Aousserd and others. Averages high temperatures exceed 20 °C (68 °F) in winter but averages low temperatures can drop to 7 °C (44.6 °F) in some places. The sky is usually clear and bright throughout the year and sunny weather is the norm.

Current issues

Sparse water and lack of arable land.

Extreme points

This is a list of the extreme points of Western Sahara, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.

  • *Note: Western Sahara does not have a northern-most point, the border being formed by a straight horizontal line
  • **Note: Western Sahara does not have an eastern-most point, the border being formed by a straight vertical line


  • Map from the United Nations (PDF)


  1. ^ Desert Coast—Morocco, Western Sahara at NASA Earth Observatory
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