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The World’s Longest Minefield Isn’t Where You Think It Is

War Is Boring
REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

War Is Boring

Security, Africa

North Korea? Vietnam?

The World’s Longest Minefield Isn’t Where You Think It Is

The farthest-stretching mine belt on Earth isn’t in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the Angolan savannas or the Afghan mountains. It’s in one of the most desolate parts of the Sahara Desert.

The U.N. classifies the Western Sahara as a “non-self-governing territory,” despite two-thirds of the region being occupied by Morocco.

Located on the west coast of Africa—near the Canary Islands, south of Morocco, west of Algeria and north of Mauritania—Western Sahara was Spanish until 1976, when pressure from pro-independence fighters compelled Spain’s forces to withdraw.

(This article by Mitch Swenson originally appeared at War is Boring in 2014.)

Subsequently Mauritania and Morocco, through hostile takeover, divided the desert territory.

Following the 1975 Moroccan invasion, the Sahrawi indigenous people fled by the thousands across the border into Algeria. And in 1980 Morocco—sensing that the territory was vulnerable—made a push to annex the majority of the ungoverned desert.

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