1975 - Morocco annexes Western Sahara after Spain ends its colonial rule and withdraws. The Polisario Front guerrilla movement demands independence for the roughly 500,000 Sahrawi people.
Fighting breaks out between Moroccan troops and the Polisario, prompting more than 100,000 Sahrawi refugees to flee to neighbouring Algeria, which provides military, financial and diplomatic support to the Polisario.
1991 - U.N. brokers ceasefire between the Polisario, which holds about 20% of Western Saharan territory, and Morocco and negotiates the presence of a peacekeeping force, MINURSO, which is still there in 2013.
40 percent of Morocco's national fishing catch comes from the waters off Laayoune, the territory's biggest city.
Morocco and Western Sahara together form the world's third biggest producer of phosphate, after China and the United States, and account for 30% of global exports. Western Sahara accounts for 10% of the combined production.
Longest conveyor belt in the world is in Western Sahara, transporting over 3 million tonnes of phosphate per year 100 km from Bou Craa phosphate mines to Laayoune.
Western Sahara is the largest non-self-governing territory on the U.N. list and has a larger surface area than all the 16 other members combined.
It is the third most thinly populated country or territory in the world after Greenland and the Falkland Islands. With a population of half a million in an area the size of Great Britain, Western Sahara has 1.7 people per square kilometre.
It has the world's 11th fastest population growth rate partly because of a push by the Polisario to counter the Moroccan government's 'Green March' (settlement plans).
Only 0.02 percent of its surface is arable land, making it the least fertile country in the world (not including islands and capital countries).
Per capita GDP of $2,500 places Western Sahara 183rd in world rankings just after Nigeria and Djibouti.