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Sparsely populated – an obvious consequence of its desert-dominated landscape – the contentious land of Western Sahara has been a matter of serious debate and conflict for decades. When Spain relinquished its colonial hold on the territory in 1975, neighbouring Morocco and Mauritania divided up the land between themselves, ignoring the protest of the Polisario Front, a party dedicated to the national emancipation of the Sahrawi people. To this day, the matter remains unresolved and a point of bitter division, with thousands of Moroccan troops defending their claim and occasional insurgencies led by the Polisario Front.
For these reasons, Western Sahara is hardly a holiday destination. It has been hard for journalists and human rights delegates to travel there – let alone tourists.
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