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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. While geographically West African, the country is ethnically and culturally closer to North Africa. It mainly speaks an Arabic variety (Hassaniya Arabic) and is part of the Arab League.


Mauritania has less than 4 million people spread over 1 million km2 of area, making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. This is because the country is almost uniformly arid. The northern half is the Sahara, a mostly barren wasteland outside of a few oases and mountain valleys. The southern half, on the other hand, is the Sahelian savanna, whose shrubby vegetation is used for animal husbandry. In the extreme south on the banks of the Senegal River, there is a tiny region where arable land exists and precipitation is substantial, promoting a space for farming. The capital, Nouakchott, technically lies in the Sahara, but experiences less harsh climate due to its location on the Atlantic coast, where the Canary Current moderates the temperature.

The region's original population was a mixture of Sanhaja Berbers from North Africa and blacks from sub-Saharan Africa. Islam was introduced in the 11th century by the Almoravid dynasty of Morocco, whose founding fathers came from a tribe of the Sanhaja Berbers. Around the same time, the Arab tribe of Beni Hassan moved into West Africa, triggering a major social upheaval. Assimilating the Berbers, the Arabs dominated the upper class, who came to be called the Beidane, and subjugated the blacks. Some enslaved blacks later underwent Arabization themselves (cf. Sudan) and are nowadays called the Haratin. The lowest social stratum is occupied by blacks speaking the various sub-Saharan languages and therefore do not consider themselves Arab.


In the 17th century, the country was divided between several emirates, chief among them the Trarza. The Trarza came into conflict with France, who up until that point was uninterested in the mainly desert country, when it tried to expand territory beyond the Senegal River, threatening the Saint-Louis Colony. France gradually incorporated the emirates into its empire in the late 19th century, completing it in 1912. Two generations later, the country achieved independence in late 1960. Since the French presence was relatively minimal, the country did not undergo much change as compared to the pre-colonization era, unlike the rest of French West Africa.

The first president of Mauritania was Moktar Ould Daddah, a socialist autocrat. Under his rule, Mauritania annexed parts of Western Sahara following the withdrawal of Spain in 1975, triggering a disastrous war with the Polisario Front, the armed wing of the Sahrawi, and Algeria, who supported the Polisario. Weakened by years of conflict, Ould Daddah was toppled by Colonel Mustafa Ould Salek in 1979, who in turn was Kicked Upstairs when he proved unable to contain the situation. Under Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla, Mauritania pulled out of the war, recognized the Sahrawi claim over Western Sahara, and abolished slavery. Another era of authoritarianism followed his tenure when Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya seized the presidency in 1984 and ruled for the next 20 years.

Under Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, Mauritania improved its relationship with the West and became the third Arab country to exchange ambassadors with Israel. He was brought down by a military coup in 2005 while abroad. Another coup followed three years later, just as the country was preparing for elections, and placed Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (known for being a leading figure for the 2005 coup) as president. He won the elections in July 2009 (which he ran for since April). Ould Abdel Aziz was an ally of the West during the Islamist insurgency plaguing West Africa and, to his credit, was largely responsible for keeping the country safe from insurgents, unlike the situation in neighboring Mali. After two terms, he announced that he would not run for president again, paving the way for the first peaceful transfer of power since the country's independence in 2019. The president elected, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, was handpicked by Ould Abdel Aziz, however.

Mauritania mainly exports minerals, especially iron, and fish. The economy is still dominated by agriculture and a solid half live below the poverty line (6% live on less than US$1.90 a day). The country is infamous for being one of the last nations on Earth to abolish slavery - but roughly 2% of the population are still illegally enslaved. Human trafficking, child labor, and female genital mutilation are also major human rights issues.

Also, note that many Mauritanian men have Ould (pronounced "wool") in their names. That means "son of" in Hassaniya Arabic and is the equivalent of Bin/Ibn in Eastern Arabic. The feminine equivalent is Mint, a form of Eastern Arabic's Bint.

Mauritanian media


The Mauritanian flag
This flag replaced the old flag from 1959 in August 15th, 2017, adding two red bars to the top and bottom of it. 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, and the two red stripes represent the efforts and sacrifices that the people of Mauritania will keep consenting, to the price of their blood, to defend their territory.

The Mauritanian national anthem
بلادَ الأُبَاةِ الهُدَاةِ الكِرامْ
وحِصْنَ الكِتابِ الذي لا يُضَامْ
أيا مَوْريتانِ رَبيعَ الوئامْ
ورُكْنَ السَّماحةِ ثَغْرَ السلامْ

سنَحْمي حِماك ونحِن فداكِ
ونَكْسُو رُبَاكِ بِلَوْن الأمَلْ
وعند نِداكِ نُلَبِّي أجَلْ

بُدورُ سَمَائِكِ لَمْ تُحْجَبِ
وشمسُ جَبِينِكِ لَمْ تَغرُبِ
نَماكِ الأمَاجدُ مِن يَعْرُبِ
لإفْرِيقِيَّا المَنْبَعِ الأعْذَبِ

رَضَعْنَا لِبانَ النَّدَى والإبَا
سَجَايَا حَمَلْنَ جَنًى طَيِّبَا
ومَرْعًى خَصِيباً، وإنْ أجْدَبَا
سَمَوْنَا، فَكَانَ لَنَا أرحَبَا

سَقَيْنا عَدُوَّكِ صَاباً ومُرًّا
فَمَا نالَ نُزْلًا ولا مُسْتَقَرَّا
نُقَاومُهُ حَيْثُ جَاسَ ومَرَّا
نُرَتِّلً إنَّ مَعَ العُسْرِا يُسْرَا

قَفَوْنَا الرسولْ بِنَهْجٍ سَمَا
إلى سِدْرَة المجد فوقَ السَّمَا
حَجَزْنَا الثرَيَا لَنَا سُلَّمَا
رسَمْنَا هُنالِكَ حَدَّ الحِمى

أخَذْنَاكِ عَهْدًا حَمَلْنَاكِ وَعْدًا
ونُهدِيكِ سَعْداً لِجِيلٍ أطَلْ

سنَحْمي حِماك ونحِن فداكِ
ونَكْسُو رُبَاكِ بِلَوْن الأمَلْ
سنَحْمي حِماك ونحِن فداكِ
وعند نِداكِ نُلَبِّي أجَلْ

Land of the proud, the guided and the noble
The fortress of the Book that can't be bound
O Mauritania, the spring of harmony
The corner of tolerance, the haven of peace

We will protect you with our lives
and paint your hills with the color of hope
When you call, "yes!" is our answer

The crescent moons in your sky won't wane
and the sun on your forehead won't set
The noble Arabs enriched you
and the purest source is Africa's

We drank the milk of dew and pride
A nature that brought a good harvest
and a fertile pasture, even when it's barren
welcoming us as we ascend

We made your enemy drink a bitter downpour
so he couldn't settle or rest
We resist him wherever he goes
Praying "Surely with hardship comes ease"

We followed the prophet along the path of the heavens
to the tree of glory above the sky
occupying The Pleiades as our stairway
drawing our border there

We took you as a vow and carried you as a promise
we happily give you up to the future generation

We will protect you with our lives
and paint your hills with the color of hope
We will protect you with our lives
and paint your hills with the color of hope

  • Unitary semi-presidential Islamic republic
    • President: Mohamed Ould Ghazouani
    • Prime Minister: Mohammed Ould Bilal
    • President of the National Assembly: Cheikh Ahmed Baye

  • Capital and largest city: Nouakchott
  • Population: 4,403,313
  • Area: 1,030,000 km² (400,000 sq mi) (28th)
  • Currency: Mauritanian ouguiya (UM) (MRU)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: MR
  • Country calling code: 222
  • Highest point: Kediet ej Jill (915 m/3,002 ft) (164th)
  • Lowest point: Sebkha de Ndrhamcha (−5 m/−16 ft) (26th)

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