from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- A region of northwest Africa on the Atlantic coast. Sparsely settled primarily by Berbers, the region was first visited by Portuguese navigators in 1434. Spain claimed it as a protectorate in 1884, establishing the province of Spanish Sahara in 1958, but transferred the territory to Morocco and Mauritania in 1976. Mauritania renounced all claims in 1979, with Morocco occupying its portion, but guerrilla resistance from the nationalist Polisario Front forced the Moroccans in 1991 to agree to a UN-monitored referendum on the region's status.
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