Mauritania

Mauritania

Two-thirds of Mauritania’s territory is desert – the only productive land is that drained by the Senegal River. The country has taken a strongly Arab direction since 1964.

 Geography: The Sahara, barren except for some scattered oases, covers the north. Savanna lands lie to the south.

 Climate: The climate is generally hot and dry, aggravated by the dusty harmattan wind. Summer rain in the south, virtually none in the north.

 People and Society: The majority Maures control political and economic life. Family solidarity among nomadic peoples is particularly strong. Ethnic tension centers on the oppression of the sizable black minority by Maures. Tens of thousands of blacks are estimated to be in illegal slavery.

 The Economy: Agriculture and herding. Iron, copper, and gold mining. World’s largest gypsum deposits. Offshore oil from 2006. Rich fishing grounds.

 Insight: Slavery officially became illegal in Mauritania in 1980, but de facto slavery still persists

 Fact-File:

 Official Name: Islamic Republic of Mauritania

 Date of Formation: 1960

 Capital: Nouakchott

 Population: 3.29 million

 Total Area: 397,953 sq. miles (1,030,700 sq. km)

 Density: 8 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Hassaniyah Arabic*, Wolof, French

 Religions: Sunni Muslim 100%

 Ethnic Mix: Maure 81%, Wolof 7%, Tukolor 5%, other 4%, Soninka 3%

 Government: Presidential system

 Currency: Ouguiya = 5 khoums

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