Western Sahara is a contested territory in north-west Africa. Formerly known as Spanish Sahara, it covers 266,000 sq km and is mainly desert, with a traditionally nomadic population. The land is rich in phosphates and is believed to have oil deposits off-shore.
1884: Area comes under Spanish rule
1934: Area becomes a Spanish province
1973: Polisario Front established as representative of the Sahrawi people
1975 (October): International Court of Justice rejects territorial claims by Morocco and Mauritania, recognises Saharawis' right to self-determination and Spain agrees to referendum
1975 (November): King Hassan II of Morocco orders a "Green March" into the territory. Spain agrees to end colonial rule and negotiates partition of the territory between Morocco and Mauritania ("Madrid Agreement")
1976: Polisario proclaims the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) announces a government.
1978: Mauritania signs peace deal with Polisario and renounces all territorial claims; Morocco moves to occupy areas previously allocated to Mauritania; guerilla war continues until 1991
1991 (April): UN establishes Minurso, the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara
1991 (September): UN-brokered ceasefire declared
1996: UN suspends preparations for referendum
2001: Following mediation between Morocco and the Polisario, former US secretary of state James Baker (acting under UN auspices) proposes a compromise solution known as the "Baker Plan" or the "Third Way"
2004: Baker resigns as UN envoy. Deadlock ensues
Western Sahara - Wikipedia
Western Sahara - CIA Factbook
Western Sahara - BBC
History of Western Sahara - Wikipedia
Western Sahara - Moroccan government web page
The Green March - Wikipedia
Polisario Front - Wikipedia
International Court of Justice
Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara, 16 October 1975
United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara - official website
MINURSO - Wikipedia
Elections in Western Sahara - Wikipedia
Human rights in Western Sahara - Wikipedia
The Baker Plan - Wikipedia
Western Sahara Online
A variety of information about the Sahrawis and their struggle.
A large website produced by the Association de soutien à un référendum libre et régulier au Sahara Occidental (in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese)
A Yahoo group monitoring news about Western Sahara
Western Sahara photographs
A large and varied collection of images
Forced Migration Online
Pictures of refugee camps
Cultural website featuring "voices and visions from Western Sahara".
Pictures by Ofei Dako
"Solidarity race for the Sahrawi people"