Facts About Mauritania
Mauritania is a north African country that shares its borders with Algeria, Western Sahara, Senegal and Mali. The official name of the country is ‘Islamic Republic of Mauritania’ and it has a population of about 3.3 million people (UN, 2009). It used to be a French colony till it became independent on November 28, 1960. In the year 1984 Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya led a coup and seized power for himself. He was known to rule with an iron fist till he was deposed in another coup in 2005 when the military seized power and watched over the country’s transition to democracy. The political setup of the country is democratic and has President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as the head of the state and Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf as the head of the government. The legal system of Mauritania is a curious mix of Islamic law and French civil law. The official language of Mauritania is Arabic and almost everyone follows Islam. Other languages spoken in Mauritania are Pulaar, Soninke, French and Wolof.
Interesting & Fun Facts On Mauritania
- The history of Mauritania dates back to the 3rd century AD. The migration of Berber tribes between the 3rd and 7th slowly removed all traces of the Bafours people, the original settlers of Mauritania.
- Between 1644 and 1674 the Berber made their final effort to resist the Beni Hassan tribes and Maqil Arab invaders in what was later called the Mauritanian Thirty-Year War.
- Mauritania became a colony of the French in the 1860 and remained one till 1960.
- The Moorish past gives the society a thriving culture in music. History shows that the Moorish musicians were so popular that they were regularly summoned to perform at the houses of the lords.
- Mauritania is one of the few countries to still follow the practice of compulsory military service of 2 years.
- Forty percent of the exports from Mauritania are of iron ore, owing to its abundant availability in the region.
- A majority of the population of Mauritania depends on farming and animal rearing for a livelihood.
- Mauritania still faces a rampant problem with the trafficking of children for the purposes of forced labor, sexual exploitation and begging.
- Being one of the poorest countries in the world, with about 40% of its population still below the poverty line, Mauritania depends heavily on iron ore exports, fishing and off shore oil wells for its economic progress.
- The country is spread over an area of 1,030,700 sq km and has a 754 km long coastline.
- Being a desert country the climate in Mauritania is hot and dry.
- The lowest point in Mauritania is 5 meters or 16.4 feet below sea level.
- The highest point in Mauritania is Mount Ijill that extends to a height of 915 meters.
- Apart from iron ore, Mauritania’s other natural resources include gold, gypsum, phosphate, diamonds, copper and oil.
- The most striking feature in Mauritania is what some refer to as ‘The Eye of Africa’. It is actually a Richat structure and looks like an enormous bulls eye from a distance. The feature has a diameter of about 50 km which translated to about 30 miles and is believed to be formed due to the simultaneous lifting of the underlying geology.
- A majority of the population is located in cities like Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and also along the banks of Senegal River.
- Majority of Mauritanians belong to the Sunni sect.
- Nearly 70% of the country is a desert which is growing as a result of frequent droughts.
- The country is divided into 12 regions and has its capital district in Nouakchott.
- Rock paintings found in Mauritania indicated that the region could have been inhabited by animals like giraffes and other such grazing animals.
- The coastline of Mauritania offers excellent opportunities for those who would wish to explore the beach, surf, swim or fish in the sea.