Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is an Arab Maghreb country
in West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic
Ocean, Western Sahara (controlled by Morocco),
Algeria, Mali and Senegal. It is named after the
ancient Berber Kingdom of Mauretania, which later became a province of the Roman
Empire, even though the modern Mauritania
covers a territory far to the south of the old Berber kingdom that had no
relation with it.
Mauritania, originally, has been populated by the
indigenous, Berber tribes since 3 AD. At around 8 AD, the Arabs came and
introduced Islam to the Berbers. The European colonial powers of the 19th
century had little interest in Mauritania.
The French Republic
was mostly interested in the territory for strategic reason, as a connection
between their possessions in North and in West Africa.
Mauritania thus became part
of French West Africa in 1904, but colonial control was mostly limited to the
coast and the Saharan trade routes, and there were territories nominally within
French West Africa. This setup has led to the
under development of the country¡¯s economy as old customs and traditions
changed little ushering in the new century. Independence from the French was achieved
only on 1960.
Mauritania has one of the lowest GDP rates in Africa, about 20% of the population live on less than
US$1.25 per day.