Western Sahara celebrates its Independence Day with a public holiday every 18 November.
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|2024||18 Nov||Mon||Independence Day|
|Please scroll down to end of page for previous years' dates.|
Western Sahara is one of the most disputed regions on the face of the Earth. It is occupied by Morocco but also claimed by Mauretania, Spain, and others. And the Polisario movement, backed by Algeria, favours its independence.
Spain took control of what became known as Spanish Sahara during the late 1800s and early 1900s. They withdrew from the region, however, in 1975 due to international pressure and to the threat of invasion from Morocco. Morocco quickly annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara by 1976 and the bottom third by 1979.
On 27 February in 1976, the Polisario Front declared the independence of Western Sahara. This is the date for Western Sahara’s Independence Day according to those who favour such independence. There are parades, speeches, and other celebrations on this day, whether in Western Sahara itself or among refugee camps in Mauretania or Algeria.
The declaration of independence in 1976 set off a guerrilla war against Morocco that has continued to this day. In spite of the 1991 cease-fire, the conflict continues. Morocco did not honour their promise, specified in the agreement, to allow a referendum to be held in Western Sahara. The referendum was to give the choice between independence and permanent union with Morocco.
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