History of Mauritania

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is located between 15-27 degrees’ north latitude and 5-17 degrees’ west longitude. This country, located on the line of contact between the Sahara and the Sahel, is bordered on the south by the Republic of Senegal, on the south-east and the east by the Republic of Mali, and on the north and northwest by Algeria and Western Sahara. With a more than 600 km coastline, the Atlantic Ocean forms the western frontier of this largely-desert country. Drought in the 1960s and 1970s forced its inhabitants, who for a long time were nomads, to settle in cities.

The mass migrations from the countryside have negatively affected society and led to the decline in traditional economies, including agricultural and pastoral activities, and the spread of chaotic urbanization.

Official name: The Islamic Republic of Mauritania 

Independence: 28 November 1960 

Religion: Islam (the state religion) 

Languages: Arabic (the official language), Pulaar, Soninke and Wolof 

Area: 1030,700 km²

 Main cities: Nouakchott (the capital of the country), Nouadhibou, Nema, Kiffa, AIoun, Kahedi, Aleg, Rosso, Atar, Selibabi, Zouerate, Tidjikja, Akjoujt.

Currency: Ouguiya (1 euro = 41.8 new ouguiya) 

Population: 4.42 million 

Density: 4.29 inhabitants / km² 

Population growth rate: 2.7% 

Median age: 63 years 

GDP at current prices: 228.4 billion new ouguiyas 

GDP annual growth rate: + 6.3%

President of the Republic: Mr. Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazwani, sworn-in on 1 August 2019.

The region, known today as Mauritania, was not a desert, as the existing artifacts confirm the prosperity and activity during past ages. This allowed the formation of diverse population groups and cultures, which enabled the country to later become a land of rapprochement and exchange. The caravans led to the founding of cities that later turned into cultural centers that attracted human groups looking for inclusive organizations, and thus the emergence of the empires of the Sahel and Sahara: Ghana, the Almoravids, Mali, Songhai …

While the prosperity of trade across the Sahara led to the spread of Islam, it was the Almoravid State that united a region extending from the Senegal River in the south to Andalusia in the north, around the Sunni Maliki rite. This spread resulted in the growth of cities such as Wadane, Tichitt, Walata and Chinguitt, to become living cultural centers. On the southern slope, the kingdoms of Walo and Futa emerged. With the arrival of the Beni Hassan tribes, the pace of social and cultural transformations accelerated, with the emergence of the Emirates, which have their own social system.

When the Europeans reached the shores of the Atlantic, Mauritania was already a meeting-place of cultural exchange, which heralded the possibility of forming a national entity, but it is colonialism that would determine the features of modern Mauritania.

The colonizers soon realized the geostrategic advantage that they could exploit through the occupation of this area, which they first called Terre des Hommes (Land of Men) to celebrate the strong personality of the desert-dwellers who adhered to their human dimension despite the harsh environment.

The fierce resistance to the colonial invasion delayed the establishment of the administrative apparatus of the occupation and prevented colonial entrenchment so that the state could preserve the essence of its authenticity.

Mauritanias independence was declared on 28 November 1960 in the capital, Nouakchott, which had not been more than three years old.

Mauritania, which was nicknamed ‘Cinderella of West Africa’ due to its supposed ‘weakness’, has succeeded in entering the world stage and taking its place, by developing its basic mission as a country of rapprochement and peace, to begin very early to fully play its regional and international role. It has established excellent relations with sisterly and friendly countries in its Arab and African space, in the Islamic world, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania.

It also became a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (which later turned into the African Union), the League of Arab States and regional organizations whose primary mission is integration, such as the Senegal River Investment Organization and the Arab Maghreb Union …

Mauritania also worked to ensure the stability of the Sahel region, which led to the establishment of the G-5 Sahel, on which great hopes are placed in the field of partnership to achieve peace and sustainable development in the sub-region.

Mauritania is also a member of the Nouakchott Process, which is sponsored by the African Union and includes 11 countries of the Sahel and Sahara.

Mauritania today is a pluralistic democracy that enjoys effective separation of powers and respects individual and collective freedoms.

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