map of Mauritanialocator map of Mauritania

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 countrys 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.