Useful Notes: That Dry Patch of Land Unrecognized
That patch of land, usually known as the Western Sahara
, is the biggest patch of land currently non-self-governed in the world. It’s also known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
by its self-proclaimed government (exiled in Algeria). The largest city (and de facto "capital", were it but for the fact that it has no established government) is El Aaiún (also called Laayoune).
Originally a Spanish colony, it handed the administration of the colony in 1975 to a joint effort by Morocco
(the former had started claiming it since 1957). They couldn’t get along and eventually a war erupted; that’s when the Polisario Front, a liberation movement of the Sahrawis, nomads of mixed Arab-Berber blood, proclaimed the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. When the war ended, Morocco took possession of the terrain, reclaiming it as such.
The place itself is almost a Death World
with mostly desert, interrupted by the occasional highway that goes from town to town, its shores are too high and rocky to be used as beaches or ports and it doesn’t seem to have much oil (or at least, it’s not that accessible). The population is barely over 500,000 people, mostly Moroccans and Sahrawis.
The place as of today is divided between a zone controlled by Morocco (next to the shore) and a zone controlled by the Polisario Front (the inland part). The Moroccan part is by far the more heavily populated, and the Moroccan government has been working like hell to develop the region and endear it to the government in Rabat. The Front is backed by Algeria, which Morocco claims to be the one pulling its strings
, which sees the conflict as part of a wider grudge against Morocco that started when the latter attempted to take some territory off them (which had been transferred to them by the French... don't ask why both countries didn't even bother to bury the hatchet and chew out France for the geopolitical mess they just got into). Morocco, on the other hand, is supported by France and, occasionally, America. No side is willing to back down, though Morocco is willing to offer autonomy to the Sahrawis. This comes as no surprise since Spain, Morocco's former master, counts various autonomous communities as part of its dominion to this day.
The Western Saharan flag
The flag uses all four Pan-Arab colors, and is similar to that used by Palestine, distinguishable only by the red crescent and star in the center, symbolizing Islam. Were the Polisario Front to be granted independence, the black and green stripes would be inverted.