El-Aaiún is a city in Western Sahara founded by the Spanish in 1928. It was administered by Morocco since 1976, which considered it a part of its territory. El-Aaiún is the capital Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra region. The Polisario front which claims Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic considered it their capital.
The town is divided in two by the dry river of "Saguia el Hamra". On the south side is the old lower town, constructed by the Spanish. A cathedral from that era is still in operation, with priests dividing their time between this town and Dakhla further south. The city has a population of 196,331 and is the largest city in Western Sahara. It is a growing economic hub in what Morocco sees as its Southern Provinces. Its population is a mixture of Moroccans from the North as well as Sahrawis from Southern Saharan Morocco and natives of Western Sahara (who make up a fifth of the population).