Laayoune (called El-Aaiún in Spanish) is the capital city of Western Sahara, a disputed territory on Africa’s northwest coast overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean.
Western Sahara shares its land borders with Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. Predominantly desert flatlands, Western Sahara is among the world’s 10 most-thinly populated geographies.
Western Sahara is a smaller participant in international trade, exporting US$9.5 million worth of goods around the globe in 2016. Highest value Western Saharan exports are cotton, octopus meat, indoor and outdoor games including swimming pools, tricycles and scooters, sunflower-seed or safflower oil, iron or steel screws and cocoa beans.
Capital Facts for Laayoune, Western Sahara: Quick Reference
Capital landmarks: Laayoune Grand Mosque, Centre Artisanal and the Laayoune-Plage harbour
Below, you will find a sampling of the most famous people born in Laayoune, Western Sahara:
- Mohamed Fadel Ismail Ould Es-Sweyih, nationalist politician & diplomat (born 1952)
- Brahim Mojtar, Minister of Cooperation (born Dec. 18, 1953)
- El Wali Amidane, human rights activist (born Oct. 26, 1986)
- Elkouria Amidane, student peace prize winner 2009 (born Sep. 29, 1985)
- Hamdi Lembarki, protest victim (born 1974)
Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches mostly targeting published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.
Demonym for a resident of Western Sahara: Western Saharan
Population: 262,000 (Laayoune)
Density: 32,750 people per square mile (12,645 per square kilometer)
Population: 587,020 (Western Sahara)
Density: 6 people per square mile (2 per square kilometer)
GDP: US$906.5 million in 2007 (for Western Sahara, per CIA World Factbook)
GDP per person:$2,500
Note: The above country-level GDP metrics are on a Purchasing Power Parity basis and are in U.S. dollars. Credible city GDP statistics for Laayoune were unavailable.
Official currency used in Laayoune: Moroccan dirham
Brookings Institution, Global Metro Monitor Report (includes GDP data). Accessed on January 18, 2017
Demographia, World Urban Area, 12th Annual Edition. Accessed on January 18, 2017
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 1, 2017
The World Factbook, Africa: Western Sahara, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on January 18, 2017
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Major Urban Areas – Population, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on January 18, 2017
Wikimedia Commons, City Flags. Accessed on January 18, 2017
Note: Some city flags were unavailable. If so, attribution belongs to Wikimedia Commons for pertinent country flags.
Wikipedia, El-Aaiún. Accessed on January 18, 2017
Wikipedia, List of countries and territories by population density. Accessed on January 18, 2017
Wikipedia, Western Sahara. Accessed on January 18, 2017
US Department of State, Western Sahara. Accessed on January 18, 2017
Laayoune’s land area measures 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) with an estimated population of 262,000 residents in 2014.
As of July 2016, Western Sahara’s national population count is 587,020 inhabitants who live over a land area equal to 102,703 square miles (266,000 square kilometers).
Population density is much higher within Western Sahara’s capital city Laayoune with an average 32,800 people per square mile (12,600 per square kilometer).
For Western Sahara overall, population density drops significantly to an average 6 people per square mile (2 per square kilometer).