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Religion in Western Sahara


Western Sahara, which consists almost entirely of desert, is extremely sparsely populated. Data on the size and structure of the population are uncertain due to past conflicts and since almost half of the indigenous population since 1976 have moved to mainly Algeria, where they live in refugee camps. By the time the Moroccan occupation began, at least 270,000 Moroccans had immigrated by 2010. In the same year, population growth was 3.2%.

The residents of Western Sahara call themselves Sahrawis ('desert residents') and are predominantly Arabs and Arabized Berbers who speak Hassaniya Arabic dialects. However, Berber languages ​​are still spoken by northern tribal groups. Traditionally, the tribally organized Sahrawis have fed themselves as nomadic herdsmen.


Islam is the second most dominant (just over 99% in 2010) religion in Western Sahara. The majority are Sunnis and belong to the Malikite legal tradition. One feature of Islam in Western Sahara is Marabutism. means the worship of Islamic saints and the graves they are believed to lie in. The area was quickly Islamized by trade from the mid-700s onwards. The Christian presence is weak. The oldest Christian church is the Catholic, which was established in the country in 1476 and today has just under 800 people as members.

The following Islamic days are national holidays: Prophet Muhammad's birth, Id al-fitr, Id al-adha and the Islamic New Year.

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