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Geography of Western Sahara


ContinentAfrica
RegionNorth Africa
Coordinates24°30′N 13°00′W / 24.500°N 13.000°W / 24.500; -13.000
AreaRanked 78th
 • Total266,000 km2 (103,000 sq mi)
Coastline1,110 km (690 mi)
Borders
  • 2,046 kilometres (1,271 mi)
  • (Algeria: 42 kilometres (26 mi)
  • Mauritania: 1,561 kilometres (970 mi)
  • Morocco: 443 kilometres (275 mi))
Highest pointunnamed elevation: 701 metres (2,300 ft)
Lowest pointSebjet Tah, −55 metres (−180 ft)[citation needed]
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 kilometres (62 mi) 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: 24°30′N 13°00′W / 24.500°N 13.000°W / 24.500; -13.000

Size

Total: 266,060 square kilometres (102,730 sq mi), about the size of Colorado

land: 266,000 square kilometres (103,000 sq mi)
water: 0 square kilometres (0 sq mi)

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

Maritime claims: contingent upon resolution of sovereignty issue

Land

Terrain

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: Sebjet Tah, −55 metres (−180 ft), a depression in the northwest part of Western Sahara straddling the Morocco border
Highest point: Unnamed elevation, 701 metres (2,300 ft), east of Awsard (Aousserd)[2]

Natural resources

Phosphates, iron ore, and fishing resources on Atlantic Ocean coast

Land use

Arable land: 0.02%

Irrigated land: N/A

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.

Environment

Climate

Western Sahara has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Annual average rainfall is below 50 millimetres (2.0 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. Average 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. Average high temperatures exceed 20 °C (68 °F) in winter but average low temperatures can drop to 7 °C (45 °F) in some places. The sky is usually clear and bright throughout the year and sunny weather is the norm.

Climate data for Laayoune (1981-2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 22.2
(72.0)
22.7
(72.9)
24.5
(76.1)
23.9
(75.0)
25.6
(78.1)
27.4
(81.3)
29.5
(85.1)
30.4
(86.7)
30.0
(86.0)
28.6
(83.5)
26.0
(78.8)
23.2
(73.8)
26.2
(79.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.9
(62.4)
17.6
(63.7)
19.2
(66.6)
19.2
(66.6)
20.7
(69.3)
22.5
(72.5)
24.5
(76.1)
25.2
(77.4)
24.7
(76.5)
23.3
(73.9)
20.8
(69.4)
18.0
(64.4)
21.1
(70.0)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.6
(52.9)
12.5
(54.5)
13.9
(57.0)
14.5
(58.1)
15.8
(60.4)
17.7
(63.9)
19.4
(66.9)
20.0
(68.0)
19.4
(66.9)
18.0
(64.4)
15.6
(60.1)
12.8
(55.0)
15.9
(60.6)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 11.1
(0.44)
11.1
(0.44)
5.4
(0.21)
1.1
(0.04)
0.5
(0.02)
0.0
(0.0)
0.1
(0.00)
0.5
(0.02)
1.5
(0.06)
3.0
(0.12)
9.8
(0.39)
13.3
(0.52)
57.4
(2.26)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 239.1 234.7 281.4 296.5 326.5 308.9 290.3 286.9 260.1 266.1 243.9 229.8 3,264.2
Source: NOAA[3]
Climate data for Dakhla, Western Sahara
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.0
(91.4)
33.9
(93.0)
37.0
(98.6)
37.2
(99.0)
42.0
(107.6)
36.0
(96.8)
38.9
(102.0)
39.0
(102.2)
41.8
(107.2)
39.6
(103.3)
37.0
(98.6)
31.6
(88.9)
42.0
(107.6)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 20.9
(69.6)
22.7
(72.9)
23.7
(74.7)
23.3
(73.9)
24.0
(75.2)
24.8
(76.6)
25.7
(78.3)
26.5
(79.7)
27.4
(81.3)
26.6
(79.9)
25.1
(77.2)
22.5
(72.5)
24.4
(75.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.1
(64.6)
18.4
(65.1)
20.0
(68.0)
19.2
(66.6)
19.9
(67.8)
20.7
(69.3)
21.9
(71.4)
22.7
(72.9)
23.0
(73.4)
22.6
(72.7)
20.8
(69.4)
18.7
(65.7)
20.5
(68.9)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 13.3
(55.9)
13.8
(56.8)
14.7
(58.5)
14.9
(58.8)
15.8
(60.4)
16.7
(62.1)
17.5
(63.5)
18.3
(64.9)
18.8
(65.8)
18.0
(64.4)
16.6
(61.9)
14.5
(58.1)
16.1
(61.0)
Record low °C (°F) 8.5
(47.3)
8.8
(47.8)
10.0
(50.0)
10.0
(50.0)
11.0
(51.8)
11.1
(52.0)
10.0
(50.0)
13.0
(55.4)
12.0
(53.6)
9.0
(48.2)
8.0
(46.4)
7.2
(45.0)
7.2
(45.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 2.3
(0.09)
2.8
(0.11)
1.0
(0.04)
0.0
(0.0)
0.4
(0.02)
0.0
(0.0)
1.4
(0.06)
2.1
(0.08)
10.9
(0.43)
6.3
(0.25)
2.6
(0.10)
9.8
(0.39)
39.7
(1.56)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 0.9 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.2 0.3 0.8 1.8 0.9 1.3 1.6 10.7
Average relative humidity (%) 70 77 75 75 78 79 81 82 80 77 76 73 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 254.2 245.8 275.9 276.0 306.9 291.0 266.6 272.8 249.0 254.2 240.0 241.8 3,174.2
Mean daily sunshine hours 8.2 8.7 8.9 9.2 9.9 9.7 8.6 8.8 8.3 8.2 8.0 7.8 8.7
Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst[4]

Current issues

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2022)

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.

References

  1. ^ Desert Coast—Morocco, Western Sahara at NASA Earth Observatory
  2. ^ Western Sahara High Point,Peakbagger.com
  3. ^ "WMO_Normals_ASCII_60033". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  4. ^ "Klimatafel von Dakhla (Villa Cisneros) / Westsahara (Dem. Arab. Rep. Sahara)" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 6 November 2018.