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Sebjet Aridal

Price: £569.25 (including 15 % tax)

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As they evaporate, the waters that feed this sebjet or sebkha (temporary salt lake) carve channels in the sand and leave behind deposits of salt. The sebkha can be of great economic importance to regions such as this, at the heart of the Western Sahara, which extends some 1,500 miles (2,500 km) along the Atlantic, covering an area half the size of France. Once a Spanish colony, this region is rich in underground deposits of phosphate and coastal fishing grounds, and it was claimed by Morocco when the Spanish left in 1975, much against the will of the local people—the Saharawi nomads, who are represented by the Polisario Front. Although they have never been granted any kind of sovereignty, the Moroccans broke the resistance of the Saharawi and built 180 miles (300 km) of walls across the open desert, separating hundreds of families. Some 400 moroccan soldiers are still engaged in fighting the Polisario Front, but this conflict is due to be resolved by a referendum in 2009. However, much has changed since 1975, and the number of Moroccans who have settled in the region is now greater than that of the native Saharawi.

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