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International Boundary Study No. 149

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Return to IBS MenuIBS No. 149 - Mauritania & Western Sahara 1975Table of ContentsI. Boundary BriefII. Historical BackgroundIII. Boundary TreatiesIV. AlignmentDocumentationBoundary MapInternational Boundary Study No. 149 – January 8, 1975 Mauritania – Western Sahara (Spanish Sahara) Boundary (Country Codes: MR-WI) The Geographer Office of the Geographer Bureau of Intelligence and ResearchOffice of the Geographer Bureau of Intelligence and Research INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY STUDY No. 149 - January 8, 1975 MAURITANIA – WESTERN SAHARA (SPANISH SAHARA) BOUNDARY TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I. Boundary Brief ............................................................ 2 II. Historical Background............................................... 2 III. Boundary Treaties...................................................... 3 IV. Alignment...................................................................... 4 Documentation..................................................................... 5Page 2 MAURITANIA – WESTERN SAHARA (SPANISH SAHARA) BOUNDARY I. BOUNDARY BRIEF The Mauritania-Spanish Sahara boundary is approximately 970 miles long. It consists of straight-line segments and is demarcated by widely spaced pillars. Northward from Cap Blanc, the line follows successively short segments utilizing midpoints between the coasts of the peninsula, the parallel of 21º 20' N., short segments joining the highest points of specified hills, the meridian of 12º W., the parallel of 26º N., and the meridian of 8º 40' W. to the Algeria tripoint. II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Spanish Sahara. In 1476 Spaniards from the Canary Islands established a fort at Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequena to the north of Cap Juby. The fort was abandoned in 1524, and in general, Spanish claims to the northwest coast of Africa remained dormant until the war with Morocco in 1859-60. Thereafter, a number of Spanish expeditions explored the territory later known as Rio de Oro and attempted to promote trade with the people. On January 9, 1885, a Spanish notification declared a protectorate over the Atlantic coastal area between the parallels of 20º 51' N. (Cap Blanc) and 26º 08' N. (Cabo Bojador), but it did not indicate a boundary inland. A Spanish decree of April 6, 1887, placed the protectorate under the administration of the Governor-General of the Canary Islands. In accordance with a Franco-Spanish treaty of November 27, 1912, Spain was afforded a sphere of influence in two parts of Morocco referred to as the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco (in the north) and the Spanish Southern Zone of Morocco. The Spanish Southern Zone of Morocco was administered as a part of Rio de Oro. Between 1934 and 1958, Rio de Oro, Infi, and the Spanish Southern Zone of Morocco were administered as parts of Spanish West Africa. A decree of January 10, 1958, created the Provincia de Sahara, commonly referred to as The Spanish Sahara. Mauritania. French traders operated along the coast of present-day Mauritania as early as the 17th century. In 1903 France proclaimed a protectorate over the territories of the Trarza and Brakna peoples in the Pays Maures (Moorish County). The following year Mauritania was made a civil territory within the framework of French West Africa, and in 1920 it was made a colony. Following World War II, Mauritania was made an overseas territory in the French Union. It became a republic and an autonomous member of the French Community in November 1958. Mauritania became independent on November 28, 1960.Page 3 III. BOUNDARY TREATIES A Convention was signed by France and Spain on June 27, 1900, delimiting a boundary inland between their respective spheres of influence from Cap Blanc to the 12th meridian as follows: Article I. On the Sahara coast, the boundary between the French and Spanish possessions shall follow a line which, beginning with the point indicated on insert (a) on the map forming Annex 2 to this Convention, on the west coast of Cape Blanc Peninsula, between the tip of that Cape and Ouest Bay, shall extend to the middle of the aforesaid peninsula; then, dividing it in half in so far as the terrain will permit, it shall run north to where it intersects parallel 21º 20' North Latitude. The boundary shall continue east on the parallel 21º 20' North Latitude to the intersection of that parallel with the meridian 15º 20' west of Paris (13º west of Greenwich). From that point, the demarcation line shall continue in a northwesterly direction describing, between the meridians 15º 20' and 16º 20' west of Paris (13º and 14' west of Greenwich), a curve that shall be drawn in such a way as to leave to France the salt pans of the Idjil region, with their associated facilities; the boundary shall run at a distance of at least 20 kilometers from the outer boundary of the salt pans. From the intersections of the aforesaid curve with the meridian 15º 20' west of Paris (13º west of Greenwich), the boundary shall extend, as directly as possible, to the intersection of the Tropic of Cancer with the meridian 14º 20' west of Paris (12º west of Greenwich) and shall continue northward along the last-mentioned meridian. It is understood that, in the Cape Blanc area, the delimitation by the Special Commission mentioned in Article VIII of this Convention shall be made in such a way that the western part of the peninsula, including Ouest Bay, is assigned to Spain and that Cape Blanc properly speaking and the eastern part of that peninsula are retained by France. … A Franco-Spanish convention of October 3, 1904, delimited a boundary between French and Spanish spheres of influence northward from the intersection of the parallel of 26º N. and the meridian of 12º W. This convention established that part of the present-day Mauritania-Spanish Sahara boundary which extends from the intersection of the 26th parallel and the 12th meridian to the Algeria tripoint. After the signing of a Franco-Spanish delimitation agreement on December 19, 1956, a joint commission the following year demarcated the Mauritania-Spanish Sahara boundary with pillars numbered from south to north through No. 391. 1 Pillars erected on the Algeria-Spanish Sahara boundary and the Morocco-Spanish Sahara boundary are numbered consecutively in continuation of the Mauritania-Spanish Sahara series to No. 49 on the coast south of Cap Juby.Page 4 IV. ALIGNMENT The


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