Mauritania

Mauritania (/ˌmɒrɪˈtniə, ˌmɔːrɪ-/ (listen);[9] Arabic: موريتانيا, Mūrītānyā, French: Mauritanie; Berber: Agawej or Cengit; Pulaar: 𞤃𞤮𞤪𞤭𞤼𞤢𞤲𞤭 Moritani; Wolof: Gànnaar; Soninke:), officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Arabic: الجمهورية الإسلامية الموريتانية), is a sovereign state in Northwest Africa. It 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. Mauritania is the eleventh largest country in Africa, and 90 percent of its territory is situated in the Sahara. Most of its population of 4.4 million lives in the temperate south of the country, with roughly one third concentrated in the capital and largest city, Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast.

Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • الجمهورية الإسلامية الموريتانية (Arabic)
    al-Jumhūrīyah al-Islāmīyah al-Mūrītānīyah
  • République islamique de Mauritanie (French)
Motto: شرف، إخاء، عدل
"Honour, Fraternity, Justice"
Anthem: النشيد الوطني الموريتاني
"Land of the Proud, Guided by Noblemen"
Location of Mauritania (dark green) in western Africa
Capital
and largest city
Nouakchott
18°09′N 15°58′W
Official languagesArabic
Recognised national languagesPulaar, Soninke, Wolof
Recognised languages
French
Spoken languages
Ethnic groups
Religion
Sunni Islam
Demonym(s)Mauritanian
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential Islamic republic
 President
Mohamed Ould Ghazouani
Mohammed Ould Bilal
Cheikh Ahmed Baye[2]
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence
 Republic established
28 November 1958
 Independence from France
28 November 1960
 Current constitution
12 July 1991
Area
 Total
1,030,000 km2 (400,000 sq mi)[3] (28th)
 Water (%)
0.03
Population
 2021 estimate
4,614,974[4][5]
 2013 census
3,537,368[3]
 Density
3.4/km2 (8.8/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
 Total
$18.117 billion[6] (134th)
 Per capita
$4,563[6] (140th)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
 Total
$5.200 billion[6] (154th)
 Per capita
$1,309[6] (149th)
Gini (2014) 32.6[7]
medium
HDI (2021) 0.556[8]
medium · 158th
CurrencyOuguiya (MRU)
Time zoneUTC (GMT)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+222
ISO 3166 codeMR
Internet TLD.mr
  1. According to Article 6 of the Constitution: "The national languages are Arabic, Pulaar, Soninke, and Wolof; the official language is Arabic."

The country's name derives from the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania, located in North Africa within present-day Morocco and Algeria. Berbers occupied what is now Mauritania beginning in the third century AD. Arabs under the Umayyad Caliphate conquered the area in the late seventh century, bringing Islam, Arab culture, and the Arabic language. In the early 20th century, Mauritania was colonized by France as part of French West Africa. It achieved independence in 1960, but has since experienced recurrent coups and periods of military dictatorship. The most recent coup, in 2008, was led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who won subsequent presidential elections in 2009 and 2014.[10] He was succeeded by Mohamed Ould Ghazouani following the 2019 elections, which were considered Mauritania's first peaceful transition of power since independence.[11]

Mauritania is culturally and politically part of the Arab world: it is a member of the Arab League and Arabic is the sole official language. Reflecting its colonial heritage, French is widely spoken and serves as a lingua franca. The official religion is Islam, and almost all inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. Despite its prevailing Arab identity, Mauritanian society is multiethnic: the Bidhan, or so-called "white moors", make up 30 percent of the population,[12] while the Haratin, or so-called "black moors", comprise 40 percent.[12] Both groups reflect a fusion of Arab-Berber ethnicity, language, and culture. The remaining 30 percent of the population comprises various sub-Saharan ethnic groups.

Despite an abundance of natural resources, including iron ore and petroleum, Mauritania remains poor; its economy is based primarily on agriculture, livestock, and fishing. Mauritania is known for its poor human rights record, most notably the continued practice of slavery, a result of a historical caste system between the Bidhan and Haratin. It was the last country in the world to abolish slavery, in 1981, and criminalized it only in 2007.


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