Talk:Western Sahara

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Countries vs. Sovereign States[edit]

Moved from Project:Travellers' pub by (WT-en) Evan

I'm not quite sure where this comment should be posted, so bear with me. I've just noticed that WikiTravel has a seperate country article on the Western Sahara, a disputed chunk of land that is being fought over by Morocco and Mauritania. Although the sovereignty of this land is still unclear--which is why the CIA factbook gives it its own listing--it is currently administered by Morocco, and for the purposes of travel (currency, border formalities, language, etc) can be considered part of that country. I would suggest subsuming the Western Sahara article into the Morocco section, but have no idea how to go about it. Cheers. -- (WT-en) Allyak 13:40, Jul 30, 2004 (EDT)

Essentially political questions like this are difficult for a travel guide to answer: see also Palestine and a few other tough nuts to crack. I would suggest that, in general, we stick to the CIA World Factbook's divisions since at least we can claim that those are unbiased (or at least biased by somebody other than Wikivoyage!). (WT-en) Jpatokal 22:50, 30 Jul 2004 (EDT)
Yes, because claiming that the CIA is unbiased... ;o)
These are controversial subjects, and I think it better to have separate articles for disputed pieces of land, and to mention that the sovereignity of these is not settled in the article. (WT-en) Yann 04:06, 31 Jul 2004 (EDT)


As long as I know the furthest south you can get in Northern Africa by train is Marrakech, far far away from Laayoune. (WT-en) Al_turtusi

I'm sure you know Western Sahara better than 99.9% of Wikivoyage, so please plunge forward! (WT-en) Jpatokal 03:58, 27 March 2008 (EDT)

Flag of Western Sahara[edit]

According to what is mentioned above, Western Sahara has no official flag as it's not a sovereign country. The flag in this page is the one of the auto-proclamed republic of Polisario Front backed in Tindouf south Algeria far from the Western Sahara region. I propose to get rid of this flag as the official statute of the region is a non self governing territory even if it's actually under the moroccan administration.--(WT-en) AhmedSalem 07:02, 16 July 2009 (EDT)

Flags do not imply sovereignty, and we have them for plenty of other non-state territories like Hong Kong, Greenland, Palestine, etc. (WT-en) Jpatokal 07:06, 16 July 2009 (EDT)
In this particular case YES. It induces people into error because first the independent movement is taking place in Tindouf south Algeria far from the Western Sahara region then the UN has never put an official flag to the region. For those who are visiting the region regularly, the most commun flag is the moroccan one but to ensure more neutrality I suggest to get rid of any flag. There is no customs between the north of the country and the Western Sahara region. There is a line in worldwide maps separating Morocco into two parts (for some historical reasons) but in practice there is no customs. Everyone can cross the line by foot, car, bus...without any custom control.

SADR Administration[edit]

I disagree with this paragraph as there is no officiel UN document mentionning that SADR is a sovereign country. After the war held in the region from 1979 till 1991 between the Moroccan army and the Polisario Front army, the UN peacekeeping force MINURSO took place to maintain peace in the region. MINURSO defined a buffer zone where these locations are situated. This buffer zone is forbidden to all military forces (Moroccan & Polisario Front).--(WT-en) AhmedSalem 07:09, 16 July 2009 (EDT)

The article does not claim that SADR is a sovereign country. (WT-en) Jpatokal 08:31, 16 July 2009 (EDT)
Writing these cities are under the control of SADR administration is totally wrong. There is no nationality called SADR. There is no municipalities under the control of SADR in the Western Sahara region. These cities are located in a zone controlled by the MINURSO. According to the ceasfire agreement, SADR has no right to come in this area. If you go to this website link title you can get all statistic information about these locations. But again for more neutrality, I suggest to change the title into : "Cities located in the Minurso controlled area". That's the most neutral expression.
Simply put, that's factually wrong. MINURSO does not "control" anything. The Berm separates the two sides, the Buffer Strip around the berm is 5 km wide, the Restricted Area is 30 km wide. The zone to the east of the Berm is under de facto Polisario control, just like the zone to the west is under de facto Moroccan control. (WT-en) Jpatokal 11:17, 16 July 2009 (EDT)

Wrong Information[edit]

There are many wrong information in this article about : 1. the local currency is definitely MAD (Moroccan Dirham) 2. the education system is there. please look at the following website link title 3. the 'Eat' section doesn't make sense !! Sugar as many produces are subsidized in the whole country 4. the 'Respect' section is also biases. It must be rewritten to ensure neutrality. Dakhla spot is the most famous spot in the world. People are coming from the fourth points of the world. --(WT-en) AhmedSalem 07:33, 16 July 2009 (EDT)

Re: 1, that's what the article says, but SADR pesetas also exist. [1]
Re: 2, 3 and 4, please suggest your own replacements. (WT-en) Jpatokal 08:31, 16 July 2009 (EDT)
1. Excuse me but I am from the region and I can attest that there are Moroccan dirhams in the Western Sahara region and there are Algerian dinars in Tindouf camps (stronghold of Polisario Front) as they are located on the Algerian soil.
2. Too much to say about the education system. Let me ask the municipality of Laayoune city and get back to you with updated information otherwise there is information in the above website.
3. As the objective of this Wiki is to relate the reality on the ground, I think we can simply say in good English as mine is quite dodgy that travelers can find all food products they want in all locations in the Western Sahara region.
4. I believe this wiki is to inform people about vacation facilities and not about the political issue. There are many hotels and restaurants in Laayoune and Dakhla. Do you want me to give more details on that?--(WT-en) AhmedSalem 09:54, 16 July 2009 (EDT)
Yes, that would be much better than pointless political squabbling. (WT-en) Jpatokal 11:19, 16 July 2009 (EDT)


Is it a wiki for worldwide travelers or a wiki for politicians and Polisario Front supporters? I guess it's the first case so I believe travelers will envoy visiting the region as I am native from the Western Sahara region. I can give advices on that but I have no idea how to make without violating Wikivoyage policy.--(WT-en) AhmedSalem 07:44, 16 July 2009 (EDT)

Easy -- give actual travel information. Attractions, restaurants, hotels, how to get in, how to travel around, etc. (WT-en) Jpatokal 08:31, 16 July 2009 (EDT)
In the meantime, I suggest to delete all what is related to the political issue as each side will argue his position (unionists vs independentists)


Before this edit, the variety of English used in this article was not US English. (As evidence of this assrertion, "travelling" and "traveller" were not written as "traveling" and "traveler"). That edit meant that we now have mixed US English and non-US English spelling.

Many folks on Wikivoyage argue about spelling, but most are in favour (favor?) of a consistent variety of English spelling within the same article.

My own personal opinion to the (rhetorical?) edit summary question of "Why re-write one term in en-gb?" is:
"No good reason at all in this case. Except where the article has a strong connection to a particular variety of English, you shouldn't do it! without having a reason to make more important and substantive edits at the same time": --W. Franke-mailtalk 14:41, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Spelling I didn't even realize that "traveling" and "travelling" were EngVar issues: they're just common (mis)spellings in the United States. Note that this article includes (e.g.) "recognized". Why would we include en-gb spelling then? —Justin (koavf)TCM 16:59, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Why not? It's already there.
The "ize" spelling is an Oxford English Dictionary thing - it even has its own code: en-GB-oed
It does rather grate to have different US and non-US spellings in the same sentence: eg: "However, independent travel in the region is restricted, and while crossing through Western Sahara while traveling overland between Morocco and Mauritania is usually OK, some travellers have been turned back when trying to enter, especially during periods of political strife." --W. Franke-mailtalk 17:51, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
This article should be in US English per current policy, see Wikivoyage:Spelling. Quoting a user page sandbox won't change that. Globe-trotter (talk) 18:04, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
I think you are technically correct for a short while. But this conversation began because just one word (rather than the whole article) was switched from non-US English spelling to US English meaning that we now have mixed and inconsistent spelling. Be my guest if you want to switch the whole article's spelling to a consistent variety, G-T. --W. Franke-mailtalk 18:15, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Should we merge to Morocco?[edit]

In other parts of the world we have been discussing 'facts on the ground' being important to the traveler, rather than political opinions. For example, Crimea is now completely under Russia because that is how the traveler will now experience it (no matter how much one would object or support that state of affairs).

So in reality Western Sahara is not an independent country, but a restive part of Morocco. w:Western_Sahara shows that a small part of the territory is still controlled by the Sahrawi Republic, but overwhelmingly everywhere else is under the control of Morocco and has been for many decades.

Given this situation, should we not just merge this into Morocco with the usual disclaimers that we don't take political positions on disputes? Andrewssi2 (talk) 03:43, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Merging Well, if someone wanted to visit Western Sahara, there would actually be two regions which are completely separate. The most populous parts are under Moroccan occupation but there would be a sizable portion which isn't as well. So the idea of traveling to "Western Sahara" really means traveling to an occupied portion or a non-occupied portion (a la Palestine). I'm not necessarily sure what that means for the traveler but if nothing else, there will be folks looking for a guide through a hierarchical list or from a search engine and it's useful to have a page that says something about the territory as a territory. —Justin (koavf)TCM 03:46, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
If I understood that correctly, could we have this as a disambiguation page between the Moroccan province and the Sahrawi Republic ? I get the impression that the status quo will not be changing for a good long while... --Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:04, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
@Andrewssi2: I implied above but did not explicitly state that just as the Palestine article has some content which will overlap either portion of that territory, there are also distinct sections for both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The difference would be very large for a traveler. Western Sahara could have plenty of information which is true for both regions but then also have some content that would be unique to the Free Zone (which is not an area where many would travel anyway but that's another story). There will probably not be enough content nor enough differences to justify splitting off an entirely separate guide, though. (Whereas there is plenty of content to justify a guide just on Gaza or just on the West Bank--huge populations, tourist attractions, etc.) —Justin (koavf)TCM 04:07, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree with Justin, it doesn't seem like there's enough content to split this article in two. However, the Morocco article should probably feel free to cover the Moroccan-controlled part of W. Sahara, as it would any other part of Morocco. From the traveller's point of view, Moroccan-controlled part of W. Sahara is part of Morocco. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 15:36, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
Does Morocco consider Western Sahara a "sub-unit" of its territory (akin to what the UK consider Scotland to be or the likes)? Is there any type of "visible line"? Be it a "security check" or the likes? And would Western Sahara "work" as a subsection in the current Moroccan regional hierarchy? Hobbitschuster (talk) 16:40, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
@Hobbitschuster: No, there is not distinction between "Western Sahara" and "Morocco" for purposes of administration and occupation on the part of Morocco. The administrative subdivisions which intersect Western Sahara overlap Morocco. That said, there will definitely be some security checks and military personnel, so someone can easily tell that he's not in Casablanca anymore. Also, Western Sahara should not be a part of a Moroccan hierarchy. —Justin (koavf)TCM 17:30, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
I don't think Hobbitschuster's suggesting that the breadcrumb be changed to place this guide under Morocco. I think what he's asking is: Within the Morocco guide, can W. Sahara be listed alongside the regions of Morocco (with the appropriate disclaimers and all)? Or is the northern border of W. Sahara just not a good dividing line between one region and another?
And Hobbitschuster: Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I don't want to put words in your mouth. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 17:57, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
Well to give just one other example (though it is in many ways a whole other can of worms)... The part of Jerusalem that was occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 has been annexed by Israel under their law and is - to a visitor - not distinguishable from a part of Israel in terms of the permits needed to get there in terms of access and so on. However, some of the Jewish places in the area occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 are notably different to access and so on and so forth. As far as I know, Western Sahara is rather sparsely populated and if there are notable differences between crossing the line and travel on either side of the line without crossing it, such should be mentioned. And as for the breadcrumbs, I am not suggesting anything on that for now. That can be discussed separately. Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:07, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
The officially accepted term for referring to Western Sahara in Morocco is "Southern Provinces"; due to various province border reforms they don't correspond to the old borders anymore. The clear distinction between these provinces and those in the rest is that, as a tourist, one can be expelled and banned from going south of some specific city (usually Agadir or Guelmim) under threat of imprisonment. --Jlg23 (talk) 17:33, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
The current page is not clear about this, but traveling to Western Sahara is difficult if one does not heed some unusual advice. The political situation is difficult, to say the least. It should definitely be listed as a separated geopolitical entity and I'll add some more advice to the page in the next days. (Disclaimer: I currently (again) live 1h north & go down there regularly) --Jlg23 (talk) 23:22, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
@Jlg23: But also note that the borders of what constitute the "Southern Provinces" overlap but are not identical to Western Sahara. —Justin (koavf)TCM 20:59, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
So.... do we merge or not? Andrewssi2 (talk) 03:52, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't think so. Only part of W. Sahara is actually controlled by Morocco, merging the non-Moroccan part into Morocco would be problematic. Plus Morocco is already split up into sub-regions, so there's nothing to merge anyway: The Morocco guide lists W. Sahara as one it's sub-regions. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 07:07, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
I believe it should be merged as per our 'de facto' policy, such as placing Crimea under Russia. There is another de-facto country called w:Sahrawi_Arab_Democratic_Republic that controls a maximum of 25% of this region, but I'm assuming those areas are very lightly populated (the capital Tifariti has a population of 3 thousand). Why not just cover this country separately? --Andrewssi2 (talk) 20:27, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
The Free Zone is not equivalent to the SADR--they claim the whole territory and control about a third. Morocco claims the whole territory and occupies the rest. —Justin (koavf)TCM 20:49, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
For Wikivoyage purposes: I think the Free Zone is equivalent to the SADR. The SADR claims the whole of W. Sahara, but only controls the Free Zone. So from the traveler's prescriptive: The Free Zone is the SADR, and the rest of W. Sahara is part of Morocco. However, that doesn't mean we should merge (see my below responses to Andrewssi2). Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 09:57, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
But that's not a merge. Morocco is already split up into sub-regions: W. Sahara isn't going to be merged into the Morocco guide, because W. Sahara is a sub-region of Morocco. Albeit, a sub-region that includes some non-Moroccan land, hence why {{IsPartOf}} points to North Africa rather then Morocco.
I think this a really a proposal to split W. Sahara into two sub-regions. And I don't see the point of that: I don't think this guide has enough content to support two sub-regions. All three articles would be heavily overlapping, and give mostly the same information. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 23:20, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
Don't misunderstand me: I agree that it's de facto conditions on the ground we need to be concerned with. But I think this guide already does that, spiting it in two isn't necessary. Morocco on the other hand: I've looked that guide over, and it seems to treat W. Sahara as a separate country. It probably shouldn't do that: The Moroccan-controlled part of W. Sahara is (from the travelers perspective) part of Morocco. In other words: I think it's the Morocco guide that's the problem here, not the W. Sahara guide. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 09:57, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
@Emmette Hernandez Coleman: But there are demonstrable differences--military checkpoints, thousands of land mines, etc. While the exact border where this starts is not the 27th parallel north but there will be a change in how someone travels from Morocco to Western Sahara, including with some legal and practical implications. —Justin (koavf)TCM 10:12, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, there are. The Morocco guide should make a note of that, and the W. Sahara guide should go into more detail. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 10:35, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Then again, the Israel guide more or less treats the Palestinian territories as a separate country. I suppose this is a conversation for Talk:Morocco. As for this guide: Like I said, it already presents the de facto situation, so I don't think spiting it in two serves any purpose. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 13:42, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I think there may be a misunderstanding. When I said 'Merge', I meant place Western Sahara under the navigation breadcrumb of Morocco. Not actually merge the content of any articles (which would stay the same). Andrewssi2 (talk) 03:20, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
But that would involve spiting off a separate guide for the SASR/Free Zone, wouldn't it? Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 03:50, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes it would. Given the SASR is a widely recognized country and a member of the African Union, I would say that this is anyway overdue. Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:14, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Then like I said, that amounts to a proposal to split W. Sahara into two sub-regions. And I don't think this guide has enough content to support two sub-regions, all three (or two) articles would be heavily overlapping. And I think this guide already presents the de facto situation. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 05:30, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
My personal take is that it should split since we never categorize smaller (fully independent) countries under larger ones (e.g. Monaco is not categorized under France. Lack of content for a country is not a reason to keep it under another. Andrewssi2 (talk) 05:43, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Well, W. Sahara isn't exactly a country (by Wikivoyage standerds anyway). It's a territory that's partly in one country, and partly in another. Like an extra-hierarchical region, except that W. Sahara isn't actuality outside the hierarchy.
Like I said, I think both W. Sahara guides would be so overlapping, that there's no real point in spiting. But I'll tell you what: If you really think we should split this guide, create a draft-guides in your userspace. It's one thing to talk about spiting this guide in theory, it's something else to actuality see how the guide would look after a split.
Maybe after I see your drafts, I'll change my mind, and decide that it'd be better to split W. Sahara in two. Or maybe you'll change your mind, and decide that there isn't enough content for two separate guides. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 06:10, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Actuality, you said we never categorize smaller countries under larger ones. That's not quite true: Vatican City is categorized under Italy. And at Talk:Eastern Ukraine: An editor suggested that it'd be better for Donetsk and Luhansk (two unrecognized states) to continue to be covered under that article, rather then to create two empty articles. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 10:15, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
I'm not looking to 'try something out'. Simply put if they are two seperate (de-facto) countries then we should... well split them, completely regardless of how much content you feel that they need. Andrewssi2 (talk) 12:07, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
In my opinion: If it's more practical to cover the two parts of W. Sahara in the same article, then we should, regardless of if they're technically two separate countries. Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 13:21, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
It seems our debate is at an impasse. You think this guide should follow the precedent of the other guides, and I think we should do what's most practical for this guide. Well, want to head to Talk:Morocco#Western Sahara, and discuss how that guide should handle W. Sahara? Emmette Hernandez Coleman (talk) 11:00, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
I would say that that my position is clearly stated as supporting a split, but at this time I don't see the benefit in spending time on this in the list of priorities we otherwise have on WV. Andrewssi2 (talk) 21:43, 7 September 2017 (UTC)

(unindent) This is a no-brainer. Do not merge. The place is a distinct political entity from Morocco regardless of who controls what territory, and notwithstanding any fig-leaf statements we may make about the merge not constituting an endorsement of either side in the political dispute, the act of merging per se would put us in the position of appearing to have taken sides regardless. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 23:16, 7 September 2017 (UTC)

How is it a distinct political entity in the portion controlled by Morocco? Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:27, 8 September 2017 (UTC)
It may be Andre was confused by my position. My position is Western Sahara (the majority of which is controlled by Morocco) should fall under the Morocco country hierarchy (no merging). The country known as w:Sahrawi_Arab_Democratic_Republic should become a seperate article and cover the territory that it controls. Andrewssi2 (talk) 01:43, 8 September 2017 (UTC)
On the face of it, that seems sensible. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:33, 11 September 2017 (UTC)

Understand - Free Zone west of the berm?[edit]

The articles "The Free Zone of Western Sahara, the area to the immediate west of the sand wall (also known as "the berm") was formerly peppered by land mines" is confusing as states; "The Free Zone or Liberated Territories is a term used by the Polisario Front to describe the part of Western Sahara that lies to the east of the Moroccan Berm (the Moroccan border wall) and west and north of the borders with Algeria and Mauritania, respectively." --Andrez1 (talk) 19:38, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Quite right. I've fixed it. Thanks for pointing this out. Ground Zero (talk) 21:35, 18 June 2019 (UTC)