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{{short description|Islamic republic in Northwest Africa}}{{about|the modern country|the ancient kingdom|Mauretania|the archipelago country in the Indian Ocean|Mauritius|other uses|Mauretania (disambiguation)}}{{More citations needed|date=October 2014}}{{Use dmy dates|date=November 2016}}{{Coord|20|N|12|W|display=title}}

{{resize''{{translal-JumhÅ«rÄ«yah al-IslāmÄ«yah al-MÅ«rÄ«tānÄ«yah}}''}}{{native nameRépublique islamique de Mauritanie}}| image_flag = File:Flag of Mauritania.svg| image_coat = File:Sceau de la Mauritanie.svg| symbol_type = Sealaritalics=off"Honor, Fraternity, Justice"}}Africa| image_map2 = Mauritania - Location Map (2013) - MRT - UNOCHA.svg| capital = Nouakchott| largest_city = capital18N58type:city}}| official_languages = ArabicHassaniya Arabic Pulaar language>Pulaar Soninke language>Soninke Wolof language>Wolof Malinke>  a}}| languages_type = Other languagesFrench language>FrenchHTTP://WWW.QUOTIDIEN-NOUAKCHOTT.COM/ETATS-GENERAUX-L-EDUCATION-NATIONALE-EN-MAURITANIE-LA-REFORME-1999-SERA-T-ELLE-SUPPRIMEE >DATE=13 NOVEMBER 2011 WORK=LE QUOTIDIEN DE NOUAKCHOTT ARCHIVEURL=HTTPS://WEB.ARCHIVE.ORG/WEB/20130414235528/HTTP://WWW.QUOTIDIEN-NOUAKCHOTT.COM/ETATS-GENERAUX-L-EDUCATION-NATIONALE-EN-MAURITANIE-LA-REFORME-1999-SERA-T-ELLE-SUPPRIMEE DF=DMY-ALL, Haratin 40%Arab-Berber 30%> Halpulaar, Fulani, Mande peoples, and Wolof people>Wolof 30%}}Demographics of Mauritania>MauritanianUnitary state>Unitary semi-presidential Islamic republicList of heads of state of Mauritania>President| leader_name1 = Mohamed Ould GhazouaniList of heads of government of Mauritania>Prime Minister| leader_name2 = Ismail Ould Bedde Ould Cheikh SidiyaList of Presidents of the National Assembly of Mauritania>President of the National AssemblyCheikh Ahmed BayeHTTPS://WWW.BBC.COM/AFRIQUE/REGION-45793286DATE=9 OCTOBER 2018ACCESSDATE=4 MAY 2019,, National Assembly (Mauritania)>National Assembly| sovereignty_type = IndependenceFrench colonial empire>France| established_date1 = 28 November 1960| established_event2 = Current Constitution of Mauritania| established_date2 = 12 July 1991| area_km2 = 1030000| area_footnote = | area_rank = 28th| area_sq_mi = | percent_water = 0.03Mauritania}}{{UN_Population|ref}}LANGUAGE=FR CHAPTER-URL=HTTP://WWW.ONS.MR/IMAGES/RGPH2013/CHAPITRES_RGPH_FR/CHAPITRE01_R%C3%A9PARTITION_SPATIALE_FR.PDF PUBLISHER=NATIONAL STATISTICAL OFFICE OF MAURITANIA date=November 2017 fix-attempted=yes }}Year}}| population_census_year = 2013| population_density_km2 = 3.4| population_density_sq_mi = | population_density_rank = PUBLISHER=INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, | GDP_PPP_year = 2018| GDP_PPP_rank = 134th| GDP_PPP_per_capita = $4,563| GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 140th| GDP_nominal = $5.200 billion| GDP_nominal_year = 2018| GDP_nominal_rank = 154th| GDP_nominal_per_capita = $1,309| GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = 149th| Gini = 40.5 | Gini_year = 2008| Gini_change = PUBLISHER=WORLD BANK, 2 March 2011, | Gini_rank = | HDI = 0.520 | HDI_year = 2017| HDI_change = increase YEAR=2018 PUBLISHER=UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, | HDI_rank = 159thMauritanian ouguiya>Ouguiya| currency_code = MRUGreenwich Mean Time>GMT| utc_offset = +0| utc_offset_DST = | time_zone_DST = | drives_on = right| calling_code = +222| cctld = .mrPulaar language>Pulaar, Soninke language, and Wolof language>Wolof; the official language is Arabic."Islam in Mauritania>Islam}}Mauritania ({{IPAc-en|audio=En-us-Mauritania.ogg|ËŒ|m|É’r|ɪ|ˈ|t|eɪ|n|i|É™|,_|ËŒ|m|ɔːr|ɪ|-}}; , {{transl|ar|MÅ«rÄ«tānyā}}, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in Northwest Africa. It is the eleventh largest sovereign state in Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, and Senegal to the southwest.The country derives its name from the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BCE into the 7th century CE in the far north of modern-day Morocco and Algeria. Approximately 90% of Mauritania's land is within the Sahara; consequently, the population is concentrated in the south, where precipitation is slightly higher. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast, which is home to around one-third of the country's {{#expr:{{replace|{{UN_Population|Mauritania}}|,||}}/1e6 round 1}} million people. The government was overthrown on 6 August 2008, in a military coup d'état led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. On 16 April 2009, Aziz resigned from the military to run for president in the 19 July elections, which he won.NEWS,weblink Coup Leader Wins Election Amid Outcry in Mauritania, Associated Press (AP), The New York Times, 19 July 2009, Nouakchott, Mauritania, 7 December 2014,

Names and pronunciation

Mauritania ({{IPAc-en|audio=En-us-Mauritania.ogg|ˌ|m|ɒr|ɪ|ˈ|t|eɪ|n|i|ə|,_|ˌ|m|ɔːr|ɪ|-}};{{citation|last=Wells|first=John C.|year=2008|title=Longman Pronunciation Dictionary|edition=3rd|publisher=Longman|isbn=9781405881180}} (, {{transl|ar|Mūrītānyā}}, ) is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (). In other languages, it is known variously as Agawej or Cengiṭ (Berber), Gànnaar (Wolof), Murutaane (Soninke), and Moritani (Pulaar).BOOK, Facts On File, Inc., Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, 2009, 448, 143812676X, The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, situated in western North Africa, BOOK, David, Seddon, A Political and Economic Dictionary of the Middle East, 9780203402917, 2004, We have, by contrast, chosen to include the predominantly Arabic-speaking countries of western North Africa (the Maghreb), including Mauritania (which is a member of the Arab Maghreb Union)..., BOOK, Mohamed, Branine, 10.4135/9781446288177, 9781446210314, Managing Across Cultures: Concepts, Policies and Practices, 2011, 437, The Maghrebian countries or the Arab countries of western North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia)...,

History and politics


The ancient tribes of Mauritania were Berber and African people.BOOK, Stokes, James, Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, 2009, Infobase Publishing, 9781438126760, 450,weblink 13 October 2019, en, The Bafours were primarily agricultural, and among the first Saharan people to abandon their historically nomadic lifestyle. With the gradual desiccation of the Sahara, they headed south.{{Citation needed|date=September 2013}} Many of the Berber tribes claimed Yemeni (and sometimes other Arab) origins. There is little evidence to support such claims, but a 2000 DNA study of Yemeni people suggested there might be some ancient connection between the peoples.JOURNAL, Chaabani, H., Sanchez-Mazas, A., Sallami SF, 2000, Genetic differentiation of Yemeni people according to rhesus and Gm polymorphisms, Annales de Génétique, 43, 3–4, 155–62, 11164198, 10.1016/S0003-3995(00)01023-6, Other peoples also migrated south past the Sahara to West Africa. In 1076, Moorish Islamic warrior monks (Almoravid or Al Murabitun) attacked and conquered the large area of the ancient Ghana Empire. File:AMH-6743-NA View of Arguin castle.jpg|thumb|The Dutch trading post of ArguinArguinThe Char Bouba war (1644–74) was the unsuccessful final effort of the peoples to repel the Yemeni Maqil Arab invaders. The invaders were led by the Beni Hassan tribe. The descendants of the Beni Hassan warriors became the upper stratum of Moorish society. Hassaniya, a bedouin Arabic dialect that derives its name from the Beni Hassan, became the dominant language among the largely nomadic population."Mauritania - History". Library of Congress Country Studies.Berbers retained a niche influence by producing the majority of the region's marabouts: those who preserve and teach Islamic tradition.

Colonial history and present day

{{Refimprove section|date=September 2016}}Imperial France{{vague|date=February 2016}} After war laid Claim to the territories of present-day Mauritania from the Senegal River area and northwards, starting in the late 19th century. In 1901, Xavier Coppolani took charge of the imperial mission. Through a combination of strategic alliances with Zawaya tribes, and military pressure on the Hassane warrior nomads, he managed to extend French rule over the Mauritanian emirates. Trarza, Brakna and Tagant were occupied by the French armies in 1903–04, but the northern emirate of Adrar held out longer, aided by the anti-colonial rebellion (or jihad) of shaykh Maa al-Aynayn, as well by insurgents from Tagant and the other regions. Adrar was finally defeated militarily in 1912, and incorporated into the territory of Mauritania, which had been drawn up and planned in 1904. Mauritania was part of French West Africa from 1920, as a protectorate and, then, a colony.WEB,weblink Mauritania: History,, 2017-01-16, French rule brought legal prohibitions against slavery and an end to inter-clan warfare. During the colonial period, 90% of the population remained nomadic. Many sedentary peoples, whose ancestors had been expelled centuries earlier, began to trickle back into Mauritania. The previous capital of the country under the French rule, Saint-Louis, was located in Senegal, so when the country gained independence in 1960, Nouakchott, at the time little more than a fortified village ("ksar"), was chosen as the site of the new capital of Mauritania.BOOK, Pazzanita, Anthony G., Historical Dictionary of Mauritania,weblink 2008, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Md., 978-0-8108-6265-4, page 369.After gaining independence, larger numbers of indigenous Sub-Saharan African peoples (Haalpulaar, Soninke, and Wolof) entered Mauritania, moving into the area north of the Senegal River. Educated in French language and customs, many of these recent arrivals became clerks, soldiers, and administrators in the new state. This occurred as the French militarily suppressed the most intransigent Hassane tribes in the north. This changed the former balance of power, and new conflicts arose between the southern populations and Moors. Between these groups stood African origins, who is part of the Arab society, integrated into a low-caste social position."Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law", BBC News. 9 August 2007.{{clarify |date=April 2019|reason=Unsure what this sentence is trying to convey, but it doesn't discernibly reflect anything in the cited source.}}{{Incomprehensible inline|date=April 2019|reason=}}Modern-day slavery still exists in different forms in Mauritania.BOOK, Abdel Nasser Ould, Yasser, Sage, Jesse, Kasten, Liora, Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery,weblink 2008, Macmillan, 978-1-4039-7493-8, According to some estimates, thousands of Mauritanians are still enslaved.NEWS,weblink Mauritania made slavery illegal last month, South African Institute of International Affairs, 6 September 2007, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 21 November 2010, dmy-all, WEB,weblink BBC World Service - The Abolition season on BBC World Service,, WEB,weblink Mauritania (Tier 3), US Dept. of State, Report, 258–59, A 2012 CNN report, "Slavery's Last Stronghold," by John D. Sutter, describes and documents the ongoing slave-owning cultures."Slavery's last stronghold", (16 March 2012). Retrieved 20 March 2012. This social discrimination is applied chiefly against the "black Moors" (Haratin) in the northern part of the country, where tribal elites among "white Moors" (Bidh'an, Hassaniya-speaking Arabs and Arabized Berbers) hold sway."Freedom Fighter: A slaving society and an abolitionist’s crusade", New Yorker, 8 September 2014 Slavery practices exist also within the sub-Saharan African ethnic groups of the south.File:Central mosque in Nouakchott.jpg|thumb|Nouakchott is the capital and the largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the SaharaSaharaThe great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive devastation in Mauritania, exacerbating problems of poverty and conflict. The Arabized dominant elites reacted to changing circumstances, and to Arab nationalist calls from abroad, by increasing pressure to Arabize many aspects of Mauritanian life, such as law and the education system. This was also a reaction to the consequences of the French domination under the colonial rule. Various models for maintaining the country's cultural diversity have been suggested, but none was successfully implemented.This ethnic discord was evident during inter-communal violence that broke out in April 1989 (the "Mauritania–Senegal Border War"), but has since subsided. Mauritania expelled some 70,000 sub-Saharan African Mauritanians in the late 1980s.MAURITANIA: Fair elections haunted by racial imbalance, IRIN News. 5 March 2007. Ethnic tensions and the sensitive issue of slavery – past and, in some areas, present â€“ are still powerful themes in the country's political debate. A significant number from all groups seek a more diverse, pluralistic society.

Conflict with Western Sahara

The International Court of Justice has concluded that in spite of some evidence of both Morocco's and Mauritania's legal ties prior to Spanish colonization, neither set of ties was sufficient to affect the application of the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples to Western Sahara.WEB,weblink Cour internationale de Justice - International Court of Justice,, Mauritania, along with Morocco, annexed the territory of Western Sahara in 1976, with Mauritania taking the lower one-third at the request of Spain, a former imperial power. After several military losses from the Polisario – heavily armed and supported by Algeria, the regional power and rival to Morocco â€“ Mauritania withdrew in 1979. Its claims were taken over by Morocco.Due to economic weakness, Mauritania has been a negligible player in the territorial dispute, with its official position being that it wishes for an expedient solution that is mutually agreeable to all parties. While most of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco, the UN still considers the Western Sahara a territory that needs to express its wishes with respect to statehood. A referendum is still supposed to be held sometime in the future, under UN auspices, to determine whether or not the indigenous Sahrawis wish to be independent, as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or to be part of Morocco.

Ould Daddah era (1960–1978)

Mauritania became an independent nation in November 1960.{{citation|first= Martin |last= Meredith |title= The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence|publisher= Public Affairs Publishing|location= New York|year= 2005|page= 69|isbn=978-1610390712}} In 1964 President Moktar Ould Daddah, originally installed by the French, formalized Mauritania as a one-party state with a new constitution, setting up an authoritarian presidential regime. Daddah's own Parti du Peuple Mauritanien (PPM) became the ruling organization in a one-party system. The President justified this on the grounds that Mauritania was not ready for western-style multi-party democracy. Under this one-party constitution, Daddah was reelected in uncontested elections in 1976 and 1978.He was ousted in a bloodless coup on 10 July 1978. He had brought the country to near-collapse through a disastrous war to annex the southern part of Western Sahara, framed as an attempt to create a "Greater Mauritania".

CMRN and CMSN military governments (1978–1984)

File:Chinguetti-Guide.JPG|thumb|ChinguettiChinguettiCol. Mustafa Ould Salek's CMRN junta proved incapable of either establishing a strong base of power or extracting the country from its destabilizing conflict with the Sahrawi resistance movement, the Polisario Front. It quickly fell, to be replaced by another military government, the CMSN.The energetic Colonel Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidallah soon emerged as its strongman. By giving up all claims to Western Sahara, he found peace with the Polisario and improved relations with its main backer, Algeria. But relations with Morocco, the other party to the conflict, and its European ally France deteriorated. Instability continued, and Haidallah's ambitious reform attempts foundered. His regime was plagued by attempted coups and intrigue within the military establishment. It became increasingly contested due to his harsh and uncompromising measures against opponents; many dissidents were jailed, and some executed. In 1981 slavery was formally abolished by law, making Mauritania the last country in the world to do so.

Ould Taya's rule (1984–2005)

In December 1984, Haidallah was deposed by Colonel Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, who, while retaining tight military control, relaxed the political climate. Ould Taya moderated Mauritania's previous pro-Algerian stance, and re-established ties with Morocco during the late 1980s. He deepened these ties during the late 1990s and early 2000s as part of Mauritania's drive to attract support from Western states and Western-aligned Arab states. Mauritania has not rescinded its recognition of Polisario's Western Saharan exile government, and remains on good terms with Algeria. Its position on the Western Sahara conflict is, since the 1980s, one of strict neutrality.Ordinance 83.127, enacted 5 June 1983, started the process of nationalization of all land not clearly the property of a documented owner, thus abolishing the traditional system of land tenure. Potential nationalization was based on the concept of "dead land",Ordonnance 9 i.e., property which has not been developed or on which obvious development cannot be seen. A practical effect was government seizure of traditional communal grazing lands.WEB,weblink Mauritania's campaign of terror, State-Sponsored Repression of Black Africans, Human Rights Watch/Africa (formerly Africa Watch), 1994, {{rp|42, 60}}Political parties, illegal during the military period, were legalized again in 1991. By April 1992, as civilian rule returned, 16 major political parties had been recognized; 12 major political parties were active in 2004. The Parti Républicain Démocratique et Social (PRDS), formerly led by President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, dominated Mauritanian politics after the country's first multi-party elections in April 1992, following the approval by referendum of the current constitution in July 1991. President Taya won elections in 1992 and 1997. Most opposition parties boycotted the first legislative election in 1992. For nearly a decade the parliament was dominated by the PRDS. The opposition participated in municipal elections in January–February 1994, and in subsequent Senate elections – most recently in April 2004 – and gained representation at the local level, as well as three seats in the Senate.This period was marked by extensive ethnic violence and human rights abuses. Between 1990 and 1991, a campaign of particularly extreme violence took place against a background of Arabization, interference with blacks' association rights, expropriation and expatriation.Amnesty International Report 1990, London, Amnesty International Publications, 1990File:Nouakchott 0518.JPG|thumb|Aerial view of NouakchottNouakchottIn October 1987, the government allegedly uncovered a tentative coup d'état by a group of black army officers, backed, according to the authorities, by Senegal.JOURNAL, Mauritanie 1945–1990 ou l'État face à la Nation,weblink French, Pierre Robert, Baduel, Revue du monde musulman et de la Méditerranée, 1989, 54, 11–52, Fifty-one officers were arrested and subjected to interrogation and torture.WEB, Mahamadou, Sy,weblink L'enfer de Inal, 2000, Mauritanie, l'horreur des camps, L'Harmattan, Paris, Heightened ethnic tensions were the catalyst for the Mauritania–Senegal Border War, which started as a result of a conflict in Diawara between Moorish Mauritanian herders and Senegalese farmers over grazing rights.WEB,weblink Inventory of Conflict and Environment (ICE), Template, American University, 20 March 2012, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 17 February 2012, dmy-all, On 9 April 1989, Mauritanian guards killed two Senegalese.WEB, Garba, Diallo, 1993,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink Mauritania, a new Apartheid?, 6 December 2011,, Following the incident, several riots erupted in Bakel, Dakar and other towns in Senegal, directed against the mainly Arabized Mauritanians who dominated the local retail business. The rioting, adding to already existing tensions, led to a campaign of terror against black Mauritanians,BOOK, Mireille, Duteil, French, Chronique mauritanienne, Annuaire de l'Afrique du Nord, XXVIII, 1989, du CNRS, who are often seen as 'Senegalese' by Bidha'an, regardless of their nationality. As low scale conflict with Senegal continued into 1990/91, the Mauritanian government engaged in or encouraged acts of violence and seizures of property directed against the Halpularen ethnic group. The tension culminated in an international airlift agreed to by Senegal and Mauritania under international pressure to prevent further violence. The Mauritanian Government expelled tens of thousands of black Mauritanians. Most of these so-called 'Senegalese' had no ties to Senegal, and many have been repatriated from Senegal and Mali after 2007. The exact number of expulsions is not known but the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that, as of June 1991, 52,995 Mauritanian refugees were living in Senegal and at least 13,000 in Mali.{{rp|27}}From November 1990 to February 1991, between 200 and 600 (depending on the sources) Fula and Soninke soldiers and/or political prisoners were executed or tortured to death by Mauritanian government forces. They were among 3,000 to 5,000 blacks{{snd}}predominantly soldiers and civil servants{{snd}}arrested between October 1990 and mid-January 1991.{{citation|publisher= Amnesty International |date= 5 April 1991 |title= Press release|quote= 3,000 were arrested}}{{citation|publisher= US Department of State|title=Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 1991|date= 1992 |quote= possibly as many as 3,000 [arrests]}} Some Mauritanian exiles believe that the number was as high as 5,000 on the basis of alleged involvement in an attempt to overthrow the government.{{citation|url=weblink |publisher= Department of State |title= Country Report on Human Rights Practices, 1993 |chapter= Mauritania|date= 30 January 1994}}The government initiated a military investigation but never released the results. In order to guarantee immunity for those responsible and to block any attempts at accountability for past abuses, the Parliament declared an amnestyWEB, Channe, Lindstrom,weblink Report on the Situation of Refugees in Mauritania: Findings of a three week exploratory study, American University of Cairo, October–November 2002, 21, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 25 July 2012, dmy-all, in June 1993 covering all crimes committed by the armed forces, security forces as well as civilians, between April 1989 and April 1992. The government offered compensation to families of victims, which a few accepted in lieu of settlement. Despite this amnesty, some Mauritanians have denounced the involvement of the government in the arrests and killings.{{rp|87}}In the late 1980s, Ould Taya had established close co-operation with Iraq, and pursued a strongly Arab nationalist line. Mauritania grew increasingly isolated internationally, and tensions with Western countries grew dramatically after it took a pro-Iraqi position during the 1991 Gulf War. During the mid-to late 1990s, Mauritania shifted its foreign policy to one of increased co-operation with the US and Europe. It was rewarded with diplomatic normalization and aid projects. On 28 October 1999, Mauritania joined Egypt, Palestine, and Jordan as the only members of the Arab League to officially recognize Israel. Ould Taya also started co-operating with the United States in anti-terrorism activities, a policy which was criticized by some human rights organizations.NEWS,weblink Crackdown courts U.S. approval, CNN, 24 November 2003, 6 August 2008,weblink" title="">weblink 7 April 2008, NEWS,weblink Mauritania: New wave of arrests presented as crackdown on Islamic extremists, IRIN Africa, 12 May 2005, 6 August 2008, (See also Foreign relations of Mauritania.)(File:Road from Nouakchott to Mauritanian.jpg|thumb|Road from Nouakchott to the Mauritanian–Senegalese border)A group of current and former Army officers launched a violent and unsuccessful coup attempt on 8 June 2003. The leaders of the attempted coup escaped from the country, but some of them were caught, later on. Mauritania's presidential election, its third since adopting the democratic process in 1992, took place on 7 November 2003. Six candidates, including Mauritania's first female and first Haratine (descended from former slaves) candidates, represented a wide variety of political goals and backgrounds. Incumbent President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya won reelection with 67.0% of the popular vote, according to the official figures, with Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla finishing second.

August 2005 military coup

On 3 August 2005, a military coup led by Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall ended Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya's twenty-one years of rule. Taking advantage of Taya's attendance at the funeral of Saudi King Fahd, the military, including members of the presidential guard, seized control of key points in the capital Nouakchott. The coup proceeded without loss of life. Calling themselves the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, the officers released the following statement:
"The national armed forces and security forces have unanimously decided to put a definitive end to the oppressive activities of the defunct authority, which our people have suffered from during the past years."NEWS,weblink BBC News, Mauritania officers 'seize power', 4 August 2005, 6 August 2008,
The Military Council later issued another statement naming Colonel Vall as president and director of the national police force, the Sûreté Nationale. Vall, once regarded as a firm ally of the now-ousted president, had aided Taya in the coup that had originally brought him to power, and had later served as his security chief. Sixteen other officers were listed as members of the Council.Though cautiously watched by the international community, the coup came to be generally accepted, with the military junta organizing elections within a promised two-year timeline. In a referendum on 26 June 2006, Mauritanians overwhelmingly (97%) approved a new constitution which limited the duration of a president's stay in office. The leader of the junta, Col. Vall, promised to abide by the referendum and relinquish power peacefully. Mauritania's establishment of relations with Israel{{spaced ndash}}it is one of only three Arab states to recognize Israel{{spaced ndash}}was maintained by the new regime, despite widespread criticism from the opposition. They considered that position as a legacy of the Taya regime's attempts to curry favor with the West.Parliamentary and municipal elections in Mauritania took place on 19 November and 3 December 2006.

2007 presidential elections

File:Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.jpg|thumb|Sidi Ould Cheikh AbdallahiSidi Ould Cheikh AbdallahiMauritania's first fully democratic presidential elections took place on 11 March 2007. The elections effected the final transfer from military to civilian rule following the military coup in 2005. This was the first time since Mauritania gained independence in 1960 that it elected a president in a multi-candidate election.NEWS,weblink BBC News, Mauritania vote 'free and fair', 12 March 2007, 6 August 2008, The elections were won in a second round of voting by Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, with Ahmed Ould Daddah a close second.

2008 military coup

On 6 August 2008, the head of the presidential guards took over the president's palace in Nouakchott, a day after 48 lawmakers from the ruling party resigned in protest of President Abdallahi's policies.{{Which|date=May 2013}} The army surrounded key government facilities, including the state television building, after the president fired senior officers, one of them the head of the presidential guards.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 6 December 2008, 48 lawmakers resign from ruling party in Mauritania, Tehran Times, 6 August 2008, The President, Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghef, and Mohamed Ould R'zeizim, Minister of Internal Affairs, were arrested.The coup was co-ordinated by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, former chief of staff of the Mauritanian Army and head of the presidential guard, who had recently been fired. Mauritania's presidential spokesman, Abdoulaye Mamadouba, said the President, Prime Minister, and Interior Minister had been arrested by renegade Senior Mauritanian army officers and were being held under house arrest at the presidential palace in the capital.NEWS,weblink AFP, Coup in Mauritania as president, PM arrested, Google, 6 August 2008, 4 July 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 9 August 2008, NEWS,weblink Troops stage 'coup' in Mauritania, BBC News, 6 August 2008, 4 July 2010, WEB,weblink Coup under way in Mauritania: president's office, 2008-08-06, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 12 August 2008, . In the apparently successful and bloodless coup, Abdallahi's daughter, Amal Mint Cheikh Abdallahi, said: "The security agents of the BASEP (Presidential Security Battalion) came to our home and took away my father."NEWS, McElroy, Damien,weblink Mauritania president under house arrest as army stages coup, The Daily Telegraph, UK, 6 August 2008, 4 July 2010, The coup plotters, all dismissed in a presidential decree shortly beforehand, included Abdel Aziz, General Muhammad Ould Al-Ghazwani, General Philippe Swikri, and Brigadier General (Aqid) Ahmad Ould Bakri.WEB, Vinsinfo,weblink, Generals Seize Power in Mauritanian Coup,, 4 July 2010,

After the coup

File:Mauritania-aziz-in-his-home-city-Akjoujt-15mar09 1.jpg|thumb|Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in his hometown, AkjoujtAkjoujtFile:Nouakchott-Dispersion des manifestants-2011.jpg|thumb|2011–12 Mauritanian protests2011–12 Mauritanian protestsA Mauritanian lawmaker, Mohammed Al Mukhtar, claimed that many of the country's people supported the takeover of a government that had become "an authoritarian regime" under a president who had "marginalized the majority in parliament."Mohamed, Ahmed. WEB,weblink Renegade army officers stage coup in Mauritania, 2008-08-06, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 19 August 2008, . (6 August 2008) The coup was also backed by Abdallahi's rival in the 2007 election, Ahmed Ould Daddah. However, Abdel Aziz's regime was isolated internationally, and became subject to diplomatic sanctions and the cancellation of some aid projects. It found few supporters (among them Morocco, Libya and Iran), while Algeria, the United States, France and other European countries criticized the coup, and continued to refer to Abdallahi as the legitimate president of Mauritania. Domestically, a group of parties coalesced around Abdallahi to continue protesting the coup, which caused the junta to ban demonstrations and crack down on opposition activists. International and internal pressure eventually forced the release of Abdallahi, who was instead placed under house arrest in his home village. The new government broke off relations with Israel. In March 2010, Mauritania's female foreign minister Mint Hamdi Ould Mouknass announced that Mauritania had cut ties with Israel in a "complete and definitive way."WEB,weblink Mauritania Affirms Break with Israel, Voice of America News, 21 March 2010, 4 July 2010, After the coup, Abdel Aziz insisted on holding new presidential elections to replace Abdallahi, but was forced to reschedule them due to internal and international opposition. During the spring of 2009, the junta negotiated an understanding with some opposition figures and international parties. As a result, Abdallahi formally resigned under protest, as it became clear that some opposition forces had defected from him and most international players, notably including France and Algeria, now aligned with Abdel Aziz. The United States continued to criticize the coup, but did not actively oppose the elections.Abdallahi's resignation allowed the election of Abdel Aziz as civilian president, on 18 July, by a 52% majority. Many of Abdallahi's former supporters criticized this as a political ploy and refused to recognize the results. They argued that the election had been falsified due to junta control, and complained that the international community had let down the opposition. Despite complaints, the elections were almost unanimously accepted by Western, Arab and African countries, which lifted sanctions and resumed relations with Mauritania. By late summer, Abdel Aziz appeared to have secured his position and to have gained widespread international and internal support. Some figures, such as Senate chairman Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, continued to refuse the new order and call for Abdel Aziz's resignation.In February 2011, the waves of the Arab Spring spread to Mauritania, where thousands of people took to the streets of the capital.NEWS,weblink London, The Guardian, Richard, Adams, Libya's turmoil, 25 February 2011, In November 2014, Mauritania was invited as a non-member guest nation to the G20 summit in Brisbane.



File:Adrar-Mother&daughter.JPG|thumb|A Moorish family in the Adrar Plateau.]]{|class="wikitable" style="float: right; margin-left: 10px"! colspan="4" style="text-align:center; background:#cfb;"|Population{{UN_Population|ref}}! style="background:#cfb;"|Year! style="background:#cfb;"|Million1950 style="text-align:right;"|0.72000 style="text-align:right;"|2.7{{UN_Population{{#expr:{{formatnum:{{UN_PopulationR}}/1e6 round 1}}{{As of|{{UN_Population|Year}}}}, Mauritania had a population of approximately 4.3 million. The local population is divided into three main ethnic tiers: Bidhan or Moors, Haratin, and West Africans. The CIA World Factbook estimates 30% Bidhan, 40% Haratin, and 30% others. Local statistics bureau estimations indicates that the Bidhan represent around 53% of citizens. They speak Hassaniya Arabic and are primarily of Arab-Berber origin. The Haratin constitute roughly 34% of the population. They are descendants of former slaves and also speak Arabic. The remaining 13% of the population largely consists of various ethnic groups of West African descent. Among these are the Niger-Congo-speaking Halpulaar (Fulbe), Soninke, Bambara and Wolof.WEB, The World Factbook – Africa – Mauritania,weblink CIA,


{{Bar box|title=Mauritania Religions|titlebar=#ddd|float=right|bars={{Bar percent|Islam|green|99.9}}{{Bar percent|Christianity|blue|0.1}}}}(File:Nouakchott camel market2.jpg|thumb|Camel market in Nouakchott)Mauritania is nearly 100% Muslim, with most inhabitants adhering to the Sunni denomination. The Sufi orders, the Tijaniyah and the Qadiriyyah, have great influence not only in the country, but in Morocco, Algeria, Senegal and other neighborhood countries as well. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Nouakchott, founded in 1965, serves the 4,500 Catholics in Mauritania (mostly foreign residents from West Africa and Europe). There are extreme restrictions on freedom of religion and belief in Mauritania; it is one of thirteen countries in the world which punishes atheism by death.WEB,weblink Atheists around world suffer persecution, discrimination: report, Reuters, Evans, Robert, 7 January 2015, 9 December 2012, On 27 April 2018, The National Assembly passed a law that makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of "blasphemous speech" and acts deemed "sacrilegious". The new law eliminates the possibility under article 306 of substituting prison terms for the death penalty for certain apostasy-related crimes if the offender promptly repents. The law also provides for a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 600,000 Ouguiyas (approximately EUR 14,630) for "offending public indecency and Islamic values" and for "breaching Allah’s prohibitions" or assisting in their breach.WEB,weblink Mauritania Passes Law Mandating Death Penalty for "Blasphemy", Patheos, Mehta, Hemant, 17 May 2018, 17 May 2018,


Arabic is the official and national language of Mauritania. The local spoken variety, known as Hassaniya, contains many Berber words and significantly differs from the Modern Standard Arabic that is used for official communication. Pulaar, Soninke and Wolof also serve as national languages. French is widely used in the media and among educated classes.WEB,weblink Mauritania: Encyclopædia Britannica, 27 February 2016,


Life expectancy at birth was 61.14 years (2011 estimate). Per capita expenditure on health was 43 US$ (PPP) in 2004.WEB,weblink Human Development Report 2009 – Mauritania,, 4 July 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 8 July 2010, dmy-all, Public expenditure was 2% of the GDP in 2004 and private 0.9% of the GDP in 2004. In the early 21st century, there were 11 physicians per 100,000 people. Infant mortality is 60.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 estimate).The obesity rate among Mauritanian women is high, perhaps in part due to the traditional standards of beauty (in some regions in the country), in which obese women are considered beautiful while thin women are considered sickly.WEB,weblink Mauritania struggles with love of fat women, NBC News, 16 April 2007, 5 September 2012,


Since 1999, all teaching in the first year of primary school is in Modern Standard Arabic; French is introduced in the second year, and is used to teach all scientific courses.WEB,weblink Education system in Mauritania,, 4 July 2010, The use of English is increasing.NEWS,weblink English is All the Rage in Mauritania - Al-Fanar Media, 2015-08-29, Al-Fanar Media, 2018-06-10, en-US, Mauritania has the University of Nouakchott and other institutions of higher education, but the majority of highly educated Mauritanians have studied outside the country. Public expenditure on education was at 10.1% of 2000–2007 government expenditure.


{{Largest cities of Mauritania}}

Administrative divisions

The government bureaucracy is composed of traditional ministries, special agencies, and parastatal companies. The Ministry of Interior spearheads a system of regional governors and prefects modeled on the French system of local administration. Under this system, Mauritania is divided into 15 regions (wilaya or régions).Control is tightly concentrated in the executive branch of the central government, but a series of national and municipal elections since 1992 have produced limited decentralization. These regions are subdivided into 44 departments (moughataa). The regions and capital district (in alphabetical order) and their capitals are:{{Regions of Mauritania Image Map}}{|class="wikitable"! style="width:140px;"|Region !! style="width:110px;"|Capital !! style-"width:30px;"|#Adrar Region>Adrar Atar, Mauritania >|1Assaba Region>Assaba Kiffa 2Brakna Region>Brakna Aleg 3Dakhlet Nouadhibou Region>Dakhlet Nouadhibou Nouadhibou 4Gorgol Region>Gorgol Kaédi 5Guidimaka Region>Guidimaka Sélibaby 6Hodh Ech Chargui Region>Hodh Ech Chargui Néma 7Hodh El Gharbi Region>Hodh El Gharbi Ayoun el Atrous 8Inchiri Region>Inchiri Akjoujt 9Nouakchott-Nord Region>Nouakchott-Nord Dar-Naim 10Nouakchott-Ouest Region>Nouakchott-Ouest Tevragh-Zeina 10Nouakchott-Sud Region>Nouakchott-Sud Arafat, Mauritania >|10Tagant Region>Tagant Tidjikdja 11Tiris Zemmour Region>Tiris Zemmour Zouérat 12Trarza Region>Trarza Rosso 13


missing image!
- Mauritania Topography.png -
Topography of Mauritania
Mauritania is in the western region of the continent of Africa, is generally flat, its 1,030,700 square kilometres forming vast, arid plains broken by occasional ridges and clifflike outcroppings. It borders the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara, Mali and Algeria.BOOK, Thomas Schlüter, Geological Atlas of Africa: With Notes on Stratigraphy, Tectonics, Economic Geology, Geohazards, Geosites and Geoscientific Education of Each Country,weblink 2008, Springer Science & Business Media, 978-3-540-76373-4, 166, It is considered part of both the Sahel and the Maghreb. A series of scarps face southwest, longitudinally bisecting these plains in the center of the country. The scarps also separate a series of sandstone plateaus, the highest of which is the Adrar Plateau, reaching an elevation of 500 metres. BOOK, R. H. Hughes, A Directory of African Wetlands,weblink 1992, IUCN, 978-2-88032-949-5, 401, Spring-fed oases lie at the foot of some of the scarps. Isolated peaks, often rich in minerals, rise above the plateaus; the smaller peaks are called guelbs and the larger ones kedias. The concentric Guelb er Richat is a prominent feature of the north-central region. Kediet ej Jill, near the city of Zouîrât, has an elevation of 1,000 metres and is the highest peak.Approximately three-quarters of Mauritania is desert or semidesert.BOOK, Njoki N. Wane, A Glance at Africa,weblink 2009, AuthorHouse, 978-1-4389-7489-7, 58–, As a result of extended, severe drought, the desert has been expanding since the mid-1960s. The plateaus gradually descend toward the northeast to the barren El Djouf, or "Empty Quarter," a vast region of large sand dunes that merges into the Sahara Desert. To the west, between the ocean and the plateaus, are alternating areas of clayey plains (regs) and sand dunes (ergs), some of which shift from place to place, gradually moved by high winds. The dunes generally increase in size and mobility toward the north.Belts of natural vegetation, corresponding to the rainfall pattern, extend from east to west and range from traces of tropical forest along the Sénégal River to brush and savanna in the southeast. Only sandy desert is found in the centre and north of the country.


(File:Mauritania treemap.png|thumb|Graphical depiction of Mauritania's product exports in 28 color-coded categories)Despite being rich in natural resources, Mauritania has a low GDP.BOOK, International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept., Islamic Republic of Mauritania: Selected Issues Paper,weblink 2015, International Monetary Fund, 978-1-4843-3657-1, 19–22, A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. Gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior.The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In March 1999, the government signed an agreement with a joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund mission on a $54 million enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF). Privatization remains one of the key issues. Mauritania is unlikely to meet ESAF's annual GDP growth objectives of 4–5%.Oil was discovered in Mauritania in 2001 in the offshore Chinguetti field. Although potentially significant for the Mauritanian economy, its overall influence is difficult to predict. Mauritania has been described as a "desperately poor desert nation, which straddles the Arab and African worlds and is Africa's newest, if small-scale, oil producer."Mauritania junta promises free elections. (7 August 2008). There may be additional oil reserves inland in the Taoudeni basin, although the harsh environment will make extraction expensive.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 24 February 2009, Taoudeni Basin Overview, Baraka Petroleum, 14 March 2009, United Arab Emirates government, via its pilot green city Masdar, announced it will install new solar plants in the city of Atar which will supply an additional 16.6 megawatts of electricity. The plants will power about 39,000 homes and save 27,850 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.NEWS,weblink UAE installs eight solar energy plants in Mauritania,

Human rights

File:Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir.png|thumb|200px|Mauritanian blogger and political prisoner Mohamed Cheikh Ould MkhaitirMohamed Cheikh Ould MkhaitirThe Abdallahi government was widely perceived as corrupt and restricted access to government information. Sexism, racism, female genital mutilation, child labour, human trafficking, and the political marginalization of largely southern-based ethnic groups continued to be problems.Mauritania. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, US State Department, 11 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2012. Homosexuality is illegal and is a capital offense in Mauritania.WEB,weblink LGBT relationships are illegal in 74 countries, research finds, The Independent, 17 May 2016, Following the 2008 coup, the military government of Mauritania faced severe international sanctions and internal unrest. Amnesty International accused it of practicing coordinated torture against criminal and political detainees.'Prisoner torture rising' in Mauritania, SAPA/AP, 3 December 2008. Amnesty has accused the Mauritanian legal system, both before and after the 2008 coup, of functioning with complete disregard for legal procedure, fair trial, or humane imprisonment. The organization has said that the Mauritanian government has practiced institutionalized and continuous use of torture throughout its post-independence history, under all its leaders.Mauritania: Prisoner Confessions Extracted Through Torture Says Amnesty International, IRIN: 3 December 2008Sillah, Ebrimah. Mauritania: 'Chains Are Jewellery for Men', Inter Press Service, 3 December 2008.Mauritania: Torture at the heart of the state . Amnesty International. 3 December 2008. Index Number: AFR 38/009/2008.According to the US State Department 2010 Human Rights Report,2010 Human Rights Report: Mauritania. (8 April 2011). Retrieved 20 March 2012. abuses in Mauritania include:...mistreatment of detainees and prisoners; security force impunity; lengthy pretrial detention; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrests; limits on freedom of the press and assembly; corruption; discrimination against women; female genital mutilation (FGM); child marriage; political marginalization of southern-based ethnic groups; racial and ethnic discrimination; slavery and slavery-related practices; and child labor.Mauritanian blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir was sentenced to death after he wrote an article critical of religion and the caste system in Mauritania. He is a designated prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.WEB,weblink Mauritania must immediately release Mohamed Mkhaïtir, blogger sentenced to death for apostasy,, en, 5 March 2015, In July 29, 2019, the government finally released Mohamed Mkhaïtir after a long campaign from rights groups to release him. Mauritania releases Facebook blogger convicted of blasphemy |url=weblink He left Mauritania and is now living in Europe. “I slept with voices demanding my death and woke up with shouts calling for me to be killed” By: Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaïtir class="section" name="Modern slavery">

Modern slavery

Slavery in contemporary Africa|Slavery] persists in Mauritania.NEWS, The unspeakable truth about slavery in Mauritania, The Guardian, 8 June 2018,weblinkweblink 25 August 2018, In 1905, the French colonial administration declared an end of slavery in Mauritania, with very little success.WEB,weblink Slavery's Last Stronghold, CNN, English, John D. Sutter, March 2012, 25 June 2017, Although nominally abolished in 1981, it was not illegal to own slaves until 2007. The US State Department 2010 Human Rights Report states, "Government efforts were not sufficient to enforce the antislavery law. No cases have been successfully prosecuted under the antislavery law despite the fact that de facto slavery exists in Mauritania."Only one person, Oumoulmoumnine Mint Bakar Vall, has been prosecuted for owning slaves and she was sentenced to six months in jail in January 2011.WEB,weblink Mauritania woman gets six months in jail for slavery,, 17 January 2011, 14 December 2013, In 2012, it was estimated that 10% to 20% of the population of Mauritania (between 340,000 and 680,000 people) live in slavery.Slavery's last stronghold. (16 March 2012). Retrieved 20 March 2012.In 2012, a government minister stated that slavery "no longer exists" in Mauritania.NEWS,weblink CNN, Mauritanian minister responds to accusations that slavery is rampant, 17 March 2012, I must tell you that in Mauritania, freedom is total: freedom of thought, equality – of all men and women of Mauritania... in all cases, especially with this government, this is in the past. There are probably former relationships – slavery relationships and familial relationships from old days and of the older generations, maybe, or descendants who wish to continue to be in relationships with descendants of their old masters, for familial reasons, or out of affinity, and maybe also for economic interests. But (slavery) is something that is totally finished. All people are free in Mauritania and this phenomenon no longer exists. And I believe that I can tell you that no one profits from this commerce., According to the Walk Free Foundation's Global Slavery Index, there were an estimated 90,000 enslaved people in Mauritania in 2018 or around 2% of the population.COUNTRY DATA {{!, Global Slavery Index Mauritania |website=Global Slavery Index |date=2018 |publisher=Walk Free Foundation |url= |access-date=2019-01-06 |quote= }}Obstacles to ending slavery in Mauritania include:
  • The difficulty of enforcing any laws in the country's vast desert
  • Poverty that limits opportunities for slaves to support themselves if freed
  • Belief that slavery is part of the natural order of this society.


File:Chinguetti-biblio.jpg|thumb|upright|Qur'an collection in a library in ChinguettiChinguetti{{See also|Mauritanian cuisine|Music of Mauritania|Sport in Mauritania}}Filming for several documentaries and films has taken place in Mauritania, including Fort Saganne (1984), The Fifth Element (1997), Winged Migration (2001), and Timbuktu (2014).

See also




Further reading

  • BOOK, Foster, Noel, Mauritania: The Struggle for Democracy, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010, 978-1935049302,
  • BOOK, Hudson, Peter, Travels in Mauritania, Flamingo, 1991, 978-0006543589,
  • BOOK, Murphy, Joseph E, Mauritania in Photographs, Crossgar Press, 1998, 978-1892277046,
  • WEB, Slavery’s last stronghold,weblink CNN, 3 February 2014,
  • BOOK, Pazzanita, Anthony G, Historical Dictionary of Mauritania, Scarecrow Press, 2008, 978-0810855960,
  • BOOK, Ruf, Urs, Ending Slavery: Hierarchy, Dependency and Gender in Central Mauritania, Transcript Verlag, 2001, 978-3933127495,
  • BOOK, Sene, Sidi, The Ignored Cries of Pain and Injustice from Mauritania, Trafford Publishing, 2011, 978-1426971617,

External links

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