Mauritania Facts

Mauritania Facts and History


Mauritania – a country that is half desert

The Sahara desert continues to grow. Desertification is the name of the worldwide phenomenon of desert expansion, and it also affects Mauritania, half of which consists of the Sahara desert. Their share is constantly increasing. Accordingly, the proportion of people in Mauritania who can survive as nomads is decreasing. Fifty years ago, 75% of the country’s residents were moving their herds between feeding grounds. Now only 10% of Mauritanians live as nomads.

The consequences of this change in lifestyle can be seen, for example, in the capital Nouakchott: While only around 15,000 people lived in the city in 1960, the year Mauritania gained independence, the population had grown to around 800,000 by 2009. Many rural refugees live in tents on the outskirts of the city – not only because they have no houses, but because they are originally nomads.

In August 2005, a “military council for justice and democracy” came to power in the Islamic presidential republic and dissolved both chambers of parliament, albeit with the aim of promoting the democratization of the country. The coup plotters enjoy popular support and have announced parliamentary elections within two years. On August 6, 2008, the military took power in the country under the strong man General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Name of the country République Islamique de Mauritanie
Name in German Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Form of government Islamic Presidential Republic
Geographical location North West Africa
National anthem Be a help to God
Independence November 28, 1960
Population about 4.5 million (Credit: Countryaah: Mauritania Population)
Ethnicities more than 30% light-skinned Moorsmore than 30% Haratin ((black Africans who belong to the Moorish-Arab culture)

more than 30% black Africans

Religions Islam is the state religion,only around 0.3% of the population are Christians
Languages Arabic (official language)French as well as Pular, Soninké and Wollof
Slavery slavery was officially abolished in 1980 and made a criminal offense in 2007
Capital Nouakchott with about 950,000 residents (some estimate considerably more)
Surface 1,030,700 km²
Highest mountain Kediet Ijill with a height of 910 m
Longest river Senegal with a length of 1,430 km
Largest lake Lac Rkiz
International license plate RIM
National currency 1 Ouguiya
Time difference to CET – 1 h
International phone code 00222
Mains voltage, frequency 127/220 volts and 50 hertz(round two-pin plugs are used.)
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .mr

Mauritania: history

Before colonization

From the 10th century onwards, Islamicized Berber tribes and Arab nomads penetrated the area of today’s Mauritania, from which the tribal society of the white Moors (Beydan) was formed in the following period. In the 15th century, the first European trading posts were established on the Mauritanian coast.

In the 20th and 21st centuries

According to Abbreviationfinder website, towards the end of the 19th century, France began colonizing the country from Senegal. Despite massive resistance from the nomadic tribes, Mauritania became a colony of French West Africa in 1904. On November 28, 1960, Mauritania gained independence under Ould Daddah. In 1975 it annexed the south of Western Sahara. The authoritarian rule of the first President Ould Daddah was overthrown by a military coup in 1978. In 1979 Mauritania withdrew from Western Sahara.

After a phase of changing military regimes and political instability, Colonel M. Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya came to power in a bloodless coup in 1984. Ethnic conflicts between Moors and blacks led to serious human rights violations in 1989 and as a result to the expulsion of around 100,000 blacks from Mauritania and 250,000 Mauritanians from Senegal. In the same year the Islamic jurisprudence was introduced.

After an alleged coup attempt in 1990, around 500 black people were killed in a persecution. In 1991, President Taya initiated a democratization process and measures for national reconciliation in the country, including a referendum that confirmed the new democratic constitution. In 1992 Taya was re-elected President. When he was re-elected in 1997, there was a boycott by the opposition parties. In 2000 electoral reform was carried out. An attempted coup against President Taya in 2003 failed. After he was re-elected in the same year, the opposition raised allegations of electoral fraud.

The locust plague in 2004 affected around 750,000 people in Mauritania.

In early August 2005, President Taya was overthrown. After that, a “Military Council for Justice and Democracy” led by Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall took over rule. On August 6, 2008, the military took power in the country under the strong man General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (born 1956). This regime also promised elections and democratization in the country.

Aziz stepped down on April 15, 2009 to run in the June presidential election, which he won in July 2009. In 2014, Abdel Aziz was re-elected as President.

Mauritania Facts