La Gouira

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La Gouira

La Gouira (also Lagouira , La Gouera , La Agüera or La Gouèra in Arabic القويرة) was a city on the Atlantic Ocean in the extreme south of Western Sahara . Today the place is largely deserted and covered by sand drifts. It is located south of the Moroccan border wall and thus outside the parts of the Western Sahara occupied by Morocco and within the part held by the DARS ( Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara ).

The name of the place comes from the Hassania designation gwēra, the diminutive for the word gāra (Arabic قارة) for the table mountains protruding from the flat desert .


The place is located in the south on the west coast of the Ras Nouadhibou peninsula, which extends into the Atlantic . In the middle of the peninsula, the border between Western Sahara and Mauritania has been running lengthways since 1912, according to an agreement between the then colonial powers Spain and France. The Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou is located on the east side of the peninsula.


La Gouira can be reached via an approximately five km long dirt road that branches off to the west south of the city center of Nouadhibou (Keran) near the suburb of Cansado. In the Spanish period there was a 130 km long asphalt road to Bir Gandouz , which is now covered by sand drifts and surrounded by minefields.


The city was founded in 1920 under the name Agüera , which is derived from the Spanish agüero “sign; Omen ”, derives. Under the direction of Colonel Bens, a Spanish air base was set up just a few kilometers west of Port Etienne in France , today's Nouadhibou.

In 1924, La Gouira became part of the Río de Oro Province . With the withdrawal of Spain from the former Spanish Sahara colony , Mauritania occupied the city on December 20, 1975 in accordance with an agreement with Morocco. The subsequent struggle of the Western Saharan liberation movement POLISARIO , however, led in 1979 to Mauritania's withdrawal from Western Sahara and thus also from La Gouira. Most of the residents then left the place and the purchase came to a standstill, so that in 1989 the Moroccan King Hassan II had the place evacuated. However, the place still serves as a reference for the Moroccan claim to the entire Western Sahara in the public Moroccan discourse ("From Tangier to Laguera").

In the 1990s, the Moroccan government decided to revive the place. Substantial funds were raised for the construction of roads and other infrastructure, until it was believed that the constant threat of drifting sand would make building impossible.

Today La Gouira is a silted up ruined city, inhabited by a few indigenous Imraguen who live from fishing. The place is de facto in the area of ​​the DARS between the Moroccan-occupied part of Western Sahara and Mauritania, outside the strip of the troop-reduced strip. In March 2017, the DARS began to build up a small troop presence.

Since the Moroccan military did not occupy the Ras Nouadhibou peninsula, a Mauritanian military post in La Gouira temporarily filled the vacuum, while the Moroccan navy , according to its own statement, reserves the right to control the coastal waters.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Creyaufmüller: Nomad culture in the Western Sahara. The material culture of the Moors, their handicraft techniques and basic ornamental structures. Burgfried-Verlag, Hallein (Austria) 1983, p. 13
  2. Abdallah Ben Ali: Guéguerre à Lagouira ( Memento of the original from September 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Maroc Hebdo International, No. 534, 22. – 28. November 2002 (French)

Coordinates: 20 ° 50 ′  N , 17 ° 5 ′  W