The region of Guelmim-Es Semara is partly occupied by the Western Sahara Desert in the south. Five provinces make up this region: Assa-Zag, Es Semara (in Western Sahara), Guelmim, Tan-Tan, and Tata. The capital is Guelmim.
The province of Guelmim is part of the Guelmim-Es Semara region and its main city, Guelmim, is the region’s capital. Situated at the edge of the Sahara, the city is frequented by desert nomads as well as tourists. Market days draw huge crowds of tourists, often outnumbering the local population. Every Saturday, the Tuareg (called Blue People because of their clothes, whose dye tints their skin) ride into town on their camels to purchase supplies. Guelmim is home to a camel market, and a camel festival is held here annually in July.
The province of Es Semara is in the Western Sahara Desert. Its largest city and capital, Smara, was planned as a caravan rest stop and trade centre in 1869. It was designated the provincial capital and turned into a centre of religion in 1902, when an Islamic library and some religious schools were built. Of all the principal cities in the Western Sahara, it is the only one that was not established by the Spanish. The Sahrawis and local craftsmen were responsible for much of the construction of the city as it was expanded in the early 20th century. The ancient stone fortress Zawiy Maalainin is in its heart.
Aside from its port, the only other claim to fame of the province of Tan-Tan is the Venus of Tan-Tan, an ancient figurine discovered in a river terrace deposit by the Draa River. The principal places here are Tilemsoun, Abattekh, Chbika, Elkhalona, El Mesied and its capital, the modest desert town of Tan-Tan. It is a small and sparsely populated town 25 kilometres from the port.
Tata is a popular place for tourists to begin desert expeditions. This province is situated in the Sahara plain, southeast of Agadir and Taroudannt. By the foot of Jebel Bani in the Anti Atlas mountain range, it is also close to the Algerian border.
Assa-Zag lies south-east of Guelmim. A small town in a desert area north of the Jbel Ouarkziz, it is part of the Sahrawi-inhabited region of Morocco but does not belong to the Western Sahara.