Cape Bojador

Cape Bojador (Arabic: رأس بوجادور‎, trans. Rā's Būjādūr; Berber languages: ⴱⵓⵊⴷⵓⵔ, Bujdur; Spanish and Portuguese: Cabo Bojador; French: Cap Boujdour) is a headland on the northern coast of Western Sahara, at 26° 07' 37"N, 14° 29' 57"W (various sources give various locations: this is from the Sailing Directions for the region), as well as the name of the large nearby town with a population of 41,178.[1] The name of the surrounding province also derives its name from the cape (Bojador Province).

It is shown on nautical charts with the original Portuguese name "Cabo Bojador", but is sometimes spelled "Cape Boujdour" in some media and academic research.[2][3][4] It is said that it is also known as the "Bulging Cape", although no references to this usage are to be found in standard geographical references. The Cape's name in Arabic is "Abu Khatar", meaning "the father of danger".[5]

The cape is not prominent on maps but may be located by looking 220 km (120 nautical miles) due south of the south-western point of the hook of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands.

Cape Bojador

بوجدور

Cabo Bojador
Cape Bojador is located in Western Sahara
Cape Bojador
Cape Bojador
Location in Western Sahara
Coordinates: 26°08′N 14°30′W / 26.133°N 14.500°W
TerritoryWestern Sahara
Controlled byKingdom of Morocco
Claimed by
Population
(2006)
 • Total41,178

Historical significance

The discovery of a passable route around Cape Bojador, in 1434, by the Portuguese mariner Gil Eanes was considered a major breakthrough for European explorers and traders en route to Africa and later to India. Eanes had made a previous attempt in 1433 which resulted in failure, but tried again under orders of Prince Henry the Navigator. He was successful after the second expedition. The disappearance of numerous European vessels that had made prior attempts to round the Cape despite its violent seas, led some to suggest the presence of sea monsters. The mythic importance of the cape for Portugal was captured in Fernando Pessoa's early 20th century work "Mensagem". In famous stanzas from this longer poem Pessoa wrote of the enormous costs of the Portuguese explorations to the nation. Capturing the symbolic importance to the nation of rounding Cape Bojador, Pessoa wrote: "Who wants to pass beyond Bojador / Must also pass beyond pain." ("Quem quer passar além do Bojador / Tem que passar além da dor.") They thought the ocean was burning past Cape Bojador, but Henry's men went past it.

The reason for the fearsome reputation of the cape is not immediately obvious from maps, where it appears as the south-western point of a slight hump in the coastline, bounded at its other end by Cabo Falso Bojador, ten nautical miles to the northeast. Nor does what is said in the Sailing Directions sound terribly formidable: "Cabo Falso Bojador is formed by several tall sand dunes ... A rocky shoal, with a least depth of 4.8m, extends up to 3 miles N of the cape. A rocky patch, with a least depth of 8m, lies about 2 miles W of the cape. The coast between Cabo Falso Bojador and Cabo Bojador, 10 miles SW, consists of a sandy beach fringed by rocks. Clumps of scrub top the sand dunes which stand about 0.5 mile inland of this beach. Heavy breakers have been observed along this coast at all times. Cabo Bojador, a very low point, is located 9.5 miles SW of Cabo Falso Bojador and is bordered on the S side by black rocks. From the N, the cape appears as a mass of red sand with a gradual slope towards the sea. From the W, the cape is difficult to identify, but from the S its extremity appears as a reef which dries in places and is marked by breakers even in calm weather."

Examining the Pilot Charts for this area, however, it becomes clear that the main concern lies in the changes in winds that occur at about the point at which Cape Bojador is passed in sailing down the coast. It is here that the winds start to blow strongly from the northeast at all seasons. Together with the half-knot set of current down the coast, these conditions would naturally alarm a medieval mariner used to sailing close to the land and having no knowledge of what lay ahead. In the end it was discovered that by sailing well out to sea—far out of sight of land—a more favorable wind could be picked up.

In addition, this is also believed to be the site where Captain James Riley and the crew of the U.S. brig Commerce, sailing at the time from Gibraltar towards the Cape Verde Islands, shipwrecked in August 1815. This tragedy is recounted in the Skeletons on the Zahara, by Dean King, which is set in this region of the African coast. Dean reports that any coastal map of Western Sahara is inaccurate because of the ever-changing physical features, due to the harsh conditions of the Sahara. It also mentions that the depth of the water surrounding Cape Bojador is deceptively shallow, and the color of the sand underneath the water is a "fearful sight". The cape had a fearsome reputation among mariners even prior to the wreck of the Commerce, as there had been at least thirty known shipwrecks between 1790 and 1806.[6]

Faro en Cabo Bojador
Lighthouse and Moroccan military base in modern-day Bojador.

Sailors' fears were founded in what they saw, and the phenomena witnessed by the sailors of those days can be seen today. Any ship that has to pass those places makes sure to give a wide berth in order to avoid accidents. Cape Bojador and its surrounding coast extends into the sea in the form of an underwater reef, and, when the waves break after crashing into unseen gullies, the water spouts furiously into high foamy clouds that look like steam, even on calm days. The sea next to the Cape, and for approximately 3 miles seaward from the coast, is no more than two metres deep. Fish are abundant in the area, and shoals of sardines rise to the surface during the feeding times of larger fish. When this happens, the sea seems to bubble violently as if boiling, and, observed from a distance, the hissing sound produced by the fish flicking their tails on the water's surface adds to the impression. The stifling air wafted westerly on lazy breezes from the desert heightens the impression of extreme temperature, while the desert dust helps to create a mysterious darkness. Worse, the ferrous rocks make compass needles whirl erratically. As recently as 2004, the British Royal Navy's publication Africa Pilot warns that nautical charts of the coastline in the area of Cape Bojador are "reported to be inaccurate".[7]

Ecological significance

The Spanish interest in the desert coast of Western Africa was the result of fishing activities carried out from the Canary Islands by Spanish fishermen.

Spanish fishers were seal fur traders and hunters, fishers and whalers off the Sahara coast with several enclaves in Cabo Bojador, Dakhla and Ras Nouadhibou from 1500 to present, extending from the west coast of Africa to hunting humpback whales and whale calves, mostly in Cape Verde, and the Gulf of Guinea in Annobon, São Tomé and Príncipe islands just to 1940. These fishing activities have had a negative impact on wildlife causing the disappearance or endangerment of many species, particularly marine mammals and birds.[8][9] The former range of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) extended throughout the Northwest Atlantic coast of Africa and the Mediterranean and Black Sea coastlines, including all offshore islands of the Mediterranean, and into the Atlantic and its islands: Canary Islands, Madeira, Ilhas Desertas, Porto Santo, and others as far west as the Azores. Vagrants could be found as far south as Gambia and the Cape Verde islands, and as far north as continental Portugal and Atlantic France.[10]

In modern times

The Spanish originally claimed the land from 20° 51' N (near Cap Blanc) to 26° 8' N (near Cape Bojador) in 1885. This would be a protectorate governed from the Canary Islands in 1887. France would later claim the Western Sahara. The boundary was settled in a joint French-Spanish convention in 1900 to divide the area between Spanish Sahara and French West Africa.[11]

Spain claimed a protectorate over the coastal region from Cap Blanc, far to the south of Cape Bojador, to a point about 200 km to the north in 1884. In 1975, as Spain pulled out following the Madrid Accords, Morocco sought to gain control over the area, leading to disputes between Morocco and the Polisario Front, the organization which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in February 1976. In January 2016 it was announced that the Canary Association of Victims of Terrorism (ACAVITE) intended to sue the Polisario Front for committing "crimes against humanity".[12]

In the Tindouf region of Algeria, Daira de Bojador is a refugee camp for Sahrawis named after Cape Bojador.

In December 2015, the bodies of 11 drowned migrants were found 147 kilometers off Cape Bojador. Earlier that same month, the Spanish coastguard rescued 47 African migrants in a boat off the coast of Gran Canaria.[13]

References

  1. ^ Stefan Helders (2006). "Western Sahara - largest cities (per geographical entity)". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
  2. ^ How Not To Sell A Mercedes In Africa NPR. March 21, 2016
  3. ^ Davison, Ian (2005). "Central Atlantic margin basins of North West Africa: geology and hydrocarbon potential (Morocco to Guinea)". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 43 (1–3): 254–274. Bibcode:2005JAfES..43..254D. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2005.07.018.
  4. ^ Mundy, Jacob (2008). "The Question of Sovereignty in the Western Sahara Conflict". aper for La Cuestión del Sáhara Occidental en El Marco Jurídico Internacional, Las Palmas, Canary Islands. 7-8 June.
  5. ^ Cape Bojador, Cape, Africa Encyclopædia Britannica. March 21, 2016
  6. ^ King, Dean (2004). Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival. New York: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 41. ISBN 0-316-83514-5.
  7. ^ The Cruelest Journey Archived December 31, 2015, at the Wayback Machine National Geographic. March 21. 2016
  8. ^ "FIS - Noticias en Breve - EN BREVE - La flota de arrastre del Golfo de Cádiz vuelve este martes a faenar tras 45 días de parada biológica -". Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  9. ^ http://sahara-news.webcindario.com/actividad_flota_pesquerasahara.pdf
  10. ^ "Monachus monachus (Mediterranean Monk Seal)". International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  11. ^ International Boundary Study, Algeria-Western Sahara 1968
  12. ^ Hemidach, Amjad Spanish Association to Sue Polisario for 'Crimes Against Humanity'. Morocco World News. March 21, 2016
  13. ^ Gálvez, J. Jiménez. "11 African migrants drown trying to reach Canary Islands by boat". EL PAÍS in English, March 21, 2016

Notes

  • Sailing Directions (Enroute), West Coast of Europe and Northwest Coast of Africa (Pub. 143) (Bethesda: National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency, 2005), p. 214, s.v. "Cabo Bojador."
  • Charles Ralph Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415-1825 (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1969) [Caracanet, 1991], pp. 25–6.
  • Atlas of Pilot Charts: North Atlantic Ocean (Washington: National Imagery and Mapping Agency, 2002).
  • Carlos B. Carreiro (author),Portugal's Golden Years, The Life and Times of Prince Henry "The Navigator", (Dorrance Publishing Co, Inc), p. 64

External links

Coordinates: 26°08′N 14°30′W / 26.133°N 14.500°W

1421

Year 1421 (MCDXXI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1434

Year 1434 (MCDXXXIV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia

Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia was a 15th-century Portuguese nautical explorer. He explored much of the coast of Western Sahara in 1435–1436 on behalf of the Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator. He would later become one of the first colonists of Terceira Island in the Azores.

Cape Chaunar

Cape Chaunar, Cap Uarsig, Cape Nun, Cap Noun, Cabo de Não or Nant is a cape on the Atlantic coast of Africa, in southern Morocco, between Tarfaya and Sidi Ifni. By the 15th century it was considered insurmountable by Arabs and Europeans, thus resulting in the name meaning cape "no" in Portuguese. Cape Chaunar is the true northern coastal limit of the Sahara desert, although nearby Cape Bojador is frequently mistakenly called this.

Commerce (1815 ship)

Commerce was a Connecticut-based American merchant sailing ship that ran aground on 28 August 1815 at Cape Bojador, off the coast of Morocco. Far more famous than the ship itself is the story of the crew who survived the shipwreck, who went on to become slaves of local tribes who captured them.Commerce, sailing from Gibraltar to Cape Verde Islands, was under the command of American Captain James Riley and crewed by 11 others. Most were Americans. After sailing for several days in dense fog, the ship ran aground on a reef near Cape Bojador. After being attacked and ransacked on shore by Sahrawi natives, who killed in cold blood one of the seamen, the crew returned to their rowboat and attempted to reach the Cape Verde Islands or hoped to meet another passing ship. This proved impossible, as their meager provisions were running out, and they decided to return to shore and take their chances with the local tribes. Landing some 300 miles further south down the coast, near Cape Barbas, less than one hundred miles North of Cape Blanco, they were taken captive by nomads of the Oulad Bou Sbaa tribe. The survivors were eventually rescued thanks to James Simpson, the American consul at Tangier. Morocco had been the first country to recognize the United States and attempted to maintain generally friendly relations despite the behavior of corsairs and raiders within their borders.

The survivors' story of extreme dehydration, severe starvation, and ever-present brutality while roaming the Sahara desert with their captors became a published story, first in the 1820s in retelling by Captain Riley himself and then in the 2004 account Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by American writer Dean H. King. The original Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce by the "Late Master and Supercargo James Riley is quoted by Abraham Lincoln as one of the six most influential books he read in his youth and was republished as Sufferings in Africa.

Commerce (ship)

Several ships have been named Commerce:

Commerce (1786 ship) was launched at Bermuda. She initially sailed between London and North America, and later between London and the West Indies. In 1803 new owners dispatched her on a whaling voyage. She may have been lost in late 1806 as she was returning from her voyage; she was last listed in 1806.

Commerce (1791 ship) was launched at Liverpool in 1791. She was initially a West Indiaman. New owners in 1795 sent Commerce to the Southern Whale Fishery in 1796. The Spanish captured her in 1797, but by 1799 she had returned to British ownership. She then traded generally until a French privateer captured her in 1805.

Commerce (1798 ship) was launched at Newfoundland. In 1801 she became a whaler and made two voyages to the Southern Whale Fishery where she was captured c.1806.

Commerce (1815 ship) was a Connecticut-based American merchant sailing ship that ran aground on 28 August 1815 at Cape Bojador, off the coast of Morocco. Far more famous than the ship itself is the story of the crew who survived the shipwreck, who went on to become slaves of local tribes who captured them.

Diogo de Silves

Diogo de Silves (fl. 15th century) is the presumed name of an obscure Portuguese explorer of the Atlantic who allegedly discovered the Azores islands in 1427.

He is only known from a reference on a chart drawn by the Catalan cartographer, Gabriel de Vallseca of Mallorca, dated 1439. The map, marred by an inkwell accident in 1869, has a note by the Azores archipelago, presumably written by Vallseca, stating:

Aquestes isles foram trobades p diego de ??? pelot del rey de portugal an lany MCCCCXX?II (Transl. "These islands were found by Diego de ??? pilot of the King of Portugal in the year 14??")

The surname and part of the date are smudged. The earliest known reading of this portion of the map is by a Majorcan named Pasqual in 1789 (before the ink accident) who jotted the surname down as "Guullen". It has since been read by other investigators as Diego de Senill ('the Old' - a hopeful reference in the direction of Gonçalo Velho, who officially discovered the Azores in 1431). Others have proposed de Sevill or de Seville or de Sunis, Survis, Sinus, Simis, Sines, Sivils. The date has been variously interpreted as MCCCCXXVII (1427) or MCCCCXXXII (1432) or MCCCCXXXVII (1437).In 1943, Portuguese historian Damião Peres proposed that only Diogo de Sunis or Diogo de Silves should be entertained as readings from the smudged surname, and opted for Silves simply because Portuguese surnames of that era are usually toponyms and that the town of Silves, in the Algarve, not far from the port of Lagos (where Henry was organizing his expeditions), was not unlikely. He also settled on interpreting the date as 1427. Peres's reading of name and date have since become common in Portuguese sources. The hypothesis has been sufficiently accepted that the Portuguese postal service saw fit to emit a stamp in honor of 'Diogo de Silves' in 1990.There is no other record or information about Diogo de Silves, whom he worked for or what his objective was. It is often assumed (albeit without corroboration) that Diogo de Silves was a captain in the service of the Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator. If so, he may have been sent out in 1427 as just one of Henry's several expeditions in the 1420s down the West African coast in an attempt to double Cape Bojador, or that he may have been going on a routine trip to Madeira, and it has even been speculated he might have been part of a failed Portuguese attack or slave raid on the Canary Islands. How he ended up in the Azores is uncertain - he may have been blown off course, or may have been gathering intelligence about oceanic winds and currents, perhaps experimenting with one of the earliest volta do mar routes for Henry. Finally, the note that he was the "pilot" retains the possibility that the captain of that expedition was actually someone else (Gonçalo Velho?). The reference to the 'King' and not Henry raises the possibility he may have been in the service of the Admiral of Portugal Pedro de Menezes, 1st Count of Vila Real (then governor of Ceuta) rather than Prince Henry.

The only thing that can be gathered from Vallseca's 1439 map is that he probably only discovered the eastern and possibly central clusters of the Azores archipelago, that he probably did not reach the western islands of Flores and Corvo (although westerly islands are drawn, they are probably fantastical; Vallseca seems to have lifted the names directly from earlier maps, e.g. Catalan Atlas of 1375).

Gil Eanes

Gil Eanes (or Eannes, in the old Portuguese spelling; Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒiɫ iˈɐnɨʃ]) was a 15th-century Portuguese navigator and explorer.

Headland

A headland (or simply head) is a coastal landform, a point of land usually high and often with a sheer drop, that extends into a body of water. It is a type of promontory. A headland of considerable size often is called a cape. Headlands are characterised by high, breaking waves, rocky shores, intense erosion, and steep sea cliffs.

Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is flanked by land on three sides, whereas a headland is flanked by water on three sides. Headlands and bays form on discordant coastlines, where bands of rock of alternating resistance run perpendicular to the coast. Bays form where weak (less resistant) rocks (such as sands and clays) are eroded, leaving bands of stronger (more resistant) rocks (such as chalk, limestone, granite) forming a headland, or peninsula. Through the deposition of sediment within the bay and the erosion of the headlands, coastlines eventually straighten out then start the same process all over again.

History of Western Sahara

The history of Western Sahara can be traced back to the times of Carthaginian explorer Hanno the Navigator in the 5th century BC. Though few historical records are left from that period, Western Sahara's modern history has its roots linked to some nomadic groups (living under Berber tribal rule and in contact with the Roman Empire) such as the Sanhaja group, and the introduction of Islam and the Arabic language at the end of the 8th century AD.

Western Sahara has never been a nation in the modern sense of the word. It was home to Phoenician colonies, but those disappeared with virtually no trace. Islam arrived there in the 8th century, but the region, beset with desertification, remained little developed.

From the 11th to the 19th centuries, Western Sahara was one of the links between the Sub-Saharan and North African regions. During the 11th century, the Sanhaja tribal confederation allied with the Lamtuna tribe to found the Almoravid dynasty. The conquests of the Almoravids extended over present-day Morocco, Western Algeria, and the Iberian peninsula to the north and Mauritania and Mali to the south, reaching the Ghana Empire. By the 16th century, the Arab Saadi dynasty conquered the Songhai Empire based on the Niger River. Some Trans-Saharan trade routes also traversed Western Sahara.

In 1884, Spain claimed a protectorate over the coast from Cape Bojador to Cape Blanc, and the area was later extended. In 1958, Spain combined separate districts together to form the province of Spanish Sahara.

A 1975 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the status of the Western Sahara held that while some of the region's tribes had historical ties to Morocco, they were insufficient to establish "any tie of territorial sovereignty" between the Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco. In November of that year, the Green March into Western Sahara began when 300,000 unarmed Moroccans accompanied by the Moroccan Army armed with heavy weapons converged on the southern city of Tarfaya and waited for a signal from King Hassan II of Morocco to cross into Western Sahara. As a result of pressure from France, the US, and the UK, Spain abandoned Western Sahara on November 14, 1975, going so far as to even exhume Spanish corpses from cemeteries. Morocco later virtually annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara in 1976, and the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal.

On February 27, 1976, the Polisario Front formally proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and set up a government in exile, initiating a guerrilla war between the Polisario and Morocco, which continued until a 1991 cease-fire. As part of the 1991 peace accords, a referendum was to be held among indigenous people, giving them the option between independence or inclusion to Morocco. To date the referendum has not been held because of questions over who is eligible to vote.

Jaume Ferrer

Jaume Ferrer (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈʒawmə fəˈre], fl. 1346) was a Majorcan sailor and explorer.

Practically nothing is known of Jaume Ferrer except that he was a Majorcan captain who set out in a galley in 1346 and sailed down the West African coast in an attempt to reach the legendary "River of Gold". The results of this expedition, including whether Ferrer survived the journey, are unknown. Some recent research tentatively identifies Jaume Ferrer as "Giacomino Ferrar di Casa Maveri", a second generation Genoese immigrant in Majorca.Virtually the only information for his expedition is the depiction and note given in the Catalan Atlas of 1375, attributed to the Majorcan cartographer Abraham Cresques (correct patronymic: Cresques Abraham). In the bottom-left corner of the map, there is a brightly painted Aragonese-flagged vessel and a note indicating merely that "Jacme Ferrer" set out in an uxer on 10 August 1346 to search for the "Riu de l'Or" (River of Gold). An uxer is a single-mast, square-rigged and oar-powered cargo galley, with rounded stern and low prow, commonly used to freight horses.The geographic position of the ship (below the Canary Islands) suggest Ferrer probably sailed past Cape Bojador, at that time the non plus ultra of navigation, beyond which European ships dared not sail. If Ferrer survived and returned, then his feat preceded, by nearly a whole century, the famous successful passage of that cape by the Portuguese explorer Gil Eanes in 1434.

There is a sliver of additional information found in a note in the secret archives of the Republic of Genoa (uncovered in 1802), which refers to the expedition, noting that "Joannis Ferne", a Catalan, left "the city of the Majorcans" in a galleass on 10 July 1346 but the vessel was never heard of again, that he went searching for the Riu Auri ('River of Gold') because he heard that it was a collection point for "aurum de paiola" (gold nuggets?), that the people on the shores were all engaged in gold collection and that the river was wide and deep enough for the largest ships.

The "River of Gold", frequently spoken of by trans-Saharan traders, were references to the Senegal River that flowed into the heart of the gold-producing Mali Empire. The Genoese note refers to it also by the alternative name of Vedamel – almost certainly a derivation from Arabic, probably Wad al-mal ('river of treasure') or possibly, by transcription error, Wad al-Nill ('river of Nile – the Senegal was also long known as the 'Western Nile'). Vedamel might also be the origin of Budomel, used by early Portuguese explorers in the 15th century to refer to a Wolof statelet on the Grande Côte, below the Senegal River.

Despite the sparse information, Jaume Ferrer is memorialized in his native city of Palma, in Majorca, by a street name, a statue in the Plaça de les Drassanes and a relief in the town hall. The Atlas's ship is reproduced on a monumental sundial on the city's maritime promenade.

List of cities in Western Sahara

The following are cities in Western Sahara, listed by population. Due to an ongoing conflict over the territory, the majority is controlled by Morocco, and the eastern and southern portions are controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Only those cities under Moroccan administration are subject to the government census; SADR-controlled cities are listed at the end. Morocco claims the entire territory, as does the SADR. The list includes cities, towns, villages, oases and other settlements.

List of lighthouses in Morocco

This is a list of lighthouses in Morocco, which are located along the Mediterranean, and Atlantic coastlines of the country. It includes the two lighthouses of Cabo Bojador, and El Cabino that are in the territory of Western Sahara.

Portuguese discoveries

Portuguese discoveries (Portuguese: Descobrimentos portugueses) are the numerous territories and maritime routes discovered by the Portuguese as a result of their intensive maritime exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries. Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of European overseas exploration, discovering and mapping the coasts of Africa, Canada, Asia and Brazil, in what became known as the Age of Discovery. Methodical expeditions started in 1419 along West Africa's coast under the sponsorship of prince Henry the Navigator, with Bartolomeu Dias reaching the Cape of Good Hope and entering the Indian Ocean in 1488. Ten years later, in 1498, Vasco da Gama led the first fleet around Africa to India, arriving in Calicut and starting a maritime route from Portugal to India. Portuguese explorations then proceeded to southeast Asia, where they reached Japan in 1542, forty-four years after their first arrival in India. In 1500, the Portuguese nobleman Pedro Álvares Cabral became the first European to discover Brazil.

Ras Nouadhibou

Ras Nouadhibou (Arabic: رأس نواذيبو‎) is a 60-kilometre (37 mi) peninsula or headland divided between Mauritania and Western Sahara on the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It is internationally known as Cabo Blanco in Spanish or Cap Blanc in French (both meaning "White Headland").

In the 14th and 15th centuries, fishing activities carried out from the nearby Canary Islands, by Spanish fishermen, inspired Spain to develop an interest in the desert coast of what is today called Western Sahara.Cabo Blanco, in the Atlantic Ocean, is the only place in the world where Mediterranean monk seals form a true colony. In 1997, two-thirds of the colony died off, but there has been gradual recovery since.

Romanus Pontifex

Romanus Pontifex, Latin for "The Roman Pontiff", is a papal bull written in 1454 by Pope Nicholas V to King Afonso V of Portugal. As a follow-up to the Dum Diversas, it confirmed to the Crown of Portugal dominion over all lands south of Cape Bojador in Africa. Along with encouraging the seizure of the lands of Saracen Turks and non-Christians, it repeated the earlier bull's permission for the enslavement of such peoples. The bull's primary purpose was to forbid other Christian nations from infringing the King of Portugal's rights of trade and colonisation in these regions, particularly amid the Portuguese and Castilian competition for ascendancy over new lands discovered.This bull should not be confused with a September 21, 1451 bull by the same name, also written by Nicholas V, relieving the dukes of Austria from any potential ecclesiastical censure for permitting Jews to dwell there.

Saguia el-Hamra

Saguia el-Hamra (Spanish: Saguía el Hamra, Arabic: الساقية الحمراء‎, translit. al-Saqiyah al-Hamra'a, lit. 'Red Canal') was, with Río de Oro, one of the two territories that formed the Spanish province of Spanish Sahara after 1969. Its name comes from a waterway that goes through the capital. The wadi is inhabited by the Oulad Tidrarin Sahrawi tribe.

Occupying the northern part of Western Sahara, it lay between the 26th parallel north and 27°50'N. The city of Cape Bojador served to divide the regions. Its colonial capital was El Aaiún (Laâyoune), and it also included the city of Smara.

The territory takes its name from an intermittent river, the Saguia el-Hamra, the route of which runs west from south of El Farcya to reach the Atlantic at Laayoune.

The area is roughly 82,000 km (51,000 mi), making it approximately a third of the entire Western Sahara.

Sahrawi refugee camps

The Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, are a collection of refugee camps set up in the Tindouf Province, Algeria in 1975-76 for Sahrawi refugees fleeing from Moroccan forces, who advanced through Western Sahara during the Western Sahara War. With most of the original refugees still living in the camps, the situation is among the most protracted in the world.The limited opportunities for self-reliance in the harsh desert environment have forced the refugees to rely on international humanitarian assistance for their survival. However, the Tindouf camps differ from the majority of refugee camps in the level of self-organization. Most affairs and camp life organization is run by the refugees themselves, with little outside interference.The camps are divided into five wilayas (districts) named after towns in Western Sahara; Laayoune, Awserd, Smara, Dakhla and more recently Cape Bojador (or the daira of Bojador). In addition comes the smaller satellite camp "February 27", surrounding the boarding school for women, and the administrative camp Rabouni. The encampments are spread out over a quite large area. While Laayoune, Smara, Awserd, February 27 and Rabouni all lie within an hour's drive of the Algerian city of Tindouf, the Dakhla camp lies 170 km to the southeast. The camps are also the headquarters of the 6th military region of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Senegal River

The Senegal River (Arabic: نهر السنغال‎, French: Fleuve Sénégal) is a 1,086 km (675 mi) long river in West Africa that forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania.

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