Magazine article Geographical

Mauritania. (Factfile)

Magazine article Geographical

Mauritania. (Factfile)

Article excerpt

OFFICIAL NAME: Islamic Republic of Mauritania LOCATION: Northwest Africa, between Senegal and Western Sahara CAPITAL: Nouakchott -- named in 1960, it is the most recently named capital of the world CURRENCY: 1 ouguiya (UM) - 5 khoums

LOCATION: Northwest Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and the Western Sahara. Mauritania is about twice the size of France and covers approximately 1,030,400 sq km. It shares borders with Morocco, Algeria, Mali and Senegal.

POPULATION: Approximately 2.6 million people live in Mauritania and population growth is high at 2.9 per cent. Around 40 per cent of the inhabitants are Black Moor, 30 per cent are Moor and 30 per cent are Black African. The Black African population is divided into four tribes known as Soninke, Pulaar, Peuls and Wolof. Mauritania was once predominantly nomadic but today only 4.8 per cent of the population are not permanently settled.

LANGUAGE: Arabic is the official language, but French is widely spoken. The Moors speak an Arabic dialect known as Hassiniya. The Black Africans of the south speak Pulaar, Soninke and Wolof.

RELIGION: Muslim 99.4 per cent, Christian 0.4 per cent. Other religions 0.2 per cent.

HISTORY: Little is known of the region's early history, but it is thought that the first hunters, farmers and fishermen settled a land that was greener and more habitable than it is today. From the first millennium AD the region was home to Berbers who attained political dominance in the eighth century when they set up a confederation to control the lucrative caravan trade. This oversaw the transport of gold, slaves, salt, ivory, copper and cloth through the area. From 700 to 1200 the region was part of the Empire of Ghana, then from the 14th century the Empire of Mali; it was during this time that the influence of Islam spread through the region. By the 15th century climate change had turned much of the land to desert, but the southern coast prospered through trade with Europeans. In the 19th century France seized control of south Mauritania, and in 1920 made it a colony of French West Africa. Mauritania became an independent Islamic republic in November 1960, and is ruled today by an Islamic government.

CLIMATE: Mauritania is hot almost all year round. …

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