Laayoune has through less than 25 years risen to legendary status in Morocco- the further north you get in Morocco, the more enthusiastic the accounts of the beauty of Laayoune get. The average Moroccans living here (in Laayoune there is a clear difference between Moroccans and the Sahrawis), seems to long to the day that he can move back north.
Laayoune is not without charm, and even if it appears to be a standard Moroccan town at first, there is enough to sustain the interest of the visitor for a couple of days. But a little knowledge of the town's history will be of help.
The town was founded in 1930 by the Spanish, but there were settlements in the area long time before that. A town grew up along the southern shores of the wadi (seasonal river) Seguiat al-Hamra. Laayoune's importance came principally of being the administrative centre of the phosphate industry. In 1975 Morocco annexed Laayoune, and a second town centre grew up on the hills over old Laayoune. The town has today more than 200,000 inhabitants (due to the undecided status of Western Sahara, population size is a political question), and is the town in Morocco that survives most on governmental subsidies.