Mauritania (Arabic: موريتانيا Mūrītānyā
, Berber: Muritanya or Agawej
, Wolof: Gànnaar
, Soninke: Murutaane
, Pulaar: Moritani
), officially known as the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Arabic: الجمهورية الإسلامية الموريتانية al-Jumhūriyyah al-ʾIslāmiyyah al-Mūrītāniyyah
, Berber: Tagduda Tislamant n Muritanya ⵜⴰⴳⴷⵓⴷⴰ ⵜⵉⵙⵍⴰⵎⴰⵏⵜ ⵏ ⵎⵓⵔⵉⵜⴰⵏⵢⴰ
, French: République Islamique de Mauritanie
, Wolof: Republik bu Lislaamu bu Gànnaar
), is a West African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean, as well as Mali, Senegal, Algeria, and Western Sahara. It was named after the ancient Kingdom of Mauretania
, which was actually located to the north in present-day Morocco
. After the Arab conquest of North Africa, control of the area passed back and forth between various Arab, Berber, and sub-Saharan African kingdoms until it was gradually incorporated into the French Empire in the late 19th century. The country achieved independence in late 1960. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, and its prime exports are minerals (especially iron) and fish.
Mauritania is well known for being one of the last nations on Earth to abolish slavery - but roughly 20% of the population are still illegally enslaved, and a solid half of the free Mauritanians live below the poverty line (20% live on less US$1.25 per day).
Mauritania is also one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. And as if illegal slavery and poverty wasn't enough, human trafficking, child labour, and female genital mutilation are also major human rights issues.
Mauritania would be better, if not for the sheer fact that the government got thrown out the door in early August 2008, during a military coup d'état ran by the country's current president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (known for being a leading figure for a coup in August 2005). He eventually won the elections in July 2009 (which he ran for since April
). And well, he's been president since.
There's really nothing much in Mauritanianote
, aside from its huge issues that it really really
needs to solve. And well... it can't.
Also, note that many Mauritanian names have the 'Ould' in their names. That means son of
in the Mauritanian Arabic dialect. Though the word now functions basically the same way as 'Mac' or 'O' in Irish and Scottish surnames.
The Mauritanian flag
The green field and the crescent-and-star pattern are common Islamic symbols, though this flag leans more on the Pan-African colors, as both the crescent and star are colored gold, symbolizing the Sahara Desert.