General Information

Is the largest city of the disputed territory of Western Sahara currently administered by Morocco. The modern city is thought to have been founded by the Spanish colonizer Antonio de Oro in 1938.

In 1940, Spain designated it as the capital of the Spanish Sahara. Laâyoune (El-Aaiún) is the capital of the Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra region administered by Morocco under the supervision of the UN peace-keeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

The town is divided in two by the dry river of Saguia el Hamra. On the south side is the old lower town, constructed by Spanish colonists. A cathedral from that era is still active; its priests serve this city and Dakhla further south.

Laayoune has a mild desert climate, moderated by the Canary Current with an average annual temperature of 20 °C.

The city is a hub for fishing and for phosphate mining in the region. In 2010 that country was negotiating a new fishing agreement with Europe over offshore fishing.