Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic


Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic

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Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic

Key Facts

  • Capital: Aauin
  • Region: North Africa
  • Official language: Arabic, Berber, Spanish, French
  • Independence Day: February 27, 1976
  • Area: 266,000 sq km
  • Population (2020 est.): 652 thousand
  • REC membership: -
  • WTO membership: -
  • GDP: U$ 906.5 million (2007 est.)
  • GDP per capita: US$ 2,500 (2007 est.)
  • Currency: Saharawi pesetas

Economic overview

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a partially recognised state that claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

Western Sahara has a small market-based economy whose main industries are fishing, phosphate mining, tourism, and pastoral nomadism. The territory's arid desert climate makes sedentary agriculture difficult, and Western Sahara imports much of its food. The Moroccan Government administers Western Sahara's economy and is a key source of employment, infrastructure development, and social spending in the territory.

Western Sahara's unresolved legal status makes the exploitation of its natural resources a contentious issue between Morocco and the Polisario. Morocco and the EU in December 2013 finalized a four-year agreement allowing European vessels to fish off the coast of Morocco, including disputed waters off the coast of Western Sahara. As of April 2018, Moroccan and EU authorities were negotiating an amendment to renew the agreement.

Oil has never been found in Western Sahara in commercially significant quantities, but Morocco and the Polisario have quarreled over who has the right to authorize and benefit from oil exploration in the territory. Western Sahara's main long-term economic challenge is the development of a more diverse set of industries capable of providing greater employment and income to the territory. However, following King Mohammed VI’s November 2015 visit to Western Sahara, the Government of Morocco announced a series of investments aimed at spurring economic activity in the region, while the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises announced a $609 million investment initiative in the region in March 2015.

Last updated: April 2020


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