Week 37: Focus Mauretanien

Every crumb of life must be used to conquer dignity!
Fatou Diome (Le ventre de l’Atlantique)

Official name: Mauretanien

Superficie : 1.030.700 km2

Population: 4,42 millions d’habitants

Capitale : Nouakchott

Villes principales : Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, Rosso

Langue officielle : Arabe

Langues courantes : arabe, pulaar, soninké, wolof

Monnaie : Ouguiya

Fête nationale : 28 novembre

Religions : Islam 99 % (religion officielle)

Fuseau Horaire : UTC + 0

Hymne national : Nachid al-watani (Mauritanie)


Few sources provide access to historical developments in the region before the 17th century. The Bidhan refer to the cultural heritage of the Berber dynasty of the Almoravids. The immigration of Arab tribes led to the Arabization of the native Berbers and the promotion of Islamization. In the fifteenth century, the integration of Mauritania into world trade, particularly the Atlantic slave trade, began on the Atlantic coast with the help of port bases. In the seventeenth century, profound social upheavals, accompanied by a war that lasted some thirty years, between 1644 and 1774, led to the emergence of the very dynamic social structure of the present « Bidhan ».

Very late compared to the history of the colonization of the rest of Africa, the French settled on the Senegal River towards the end of the 18th century. A century later, they advanced into the region north of the river, which forms the current territory of Mauritania.

After decades of fighting, the Berber tribes were finally defeated only in 1934, but France had already proclaimed the territory as its possession in 1904 and declared it a colony in 1929 under the name of French West Africa.

After the end of the Second World War, France granted Mauritania limited autonomy by giving the colony the status of an overseas territory within the French Union. In 1958, it was declared an autonomous republic. The project for an independent Mauritania in the 1960s also arose from geostrategic considerations. France saw it above all as a counterweight to the nationalist project of the Moroccan Istiqlal party, which propagated a Great Moroccan Empire from Tangiers to Saint-Louis on the Senegal River and Timbuktu in Mali. In Mauritania itself, efforts are going in two directions. The Moors on the one hand, having strong ties with Morocco, pleaded for unity with Morocco, while the black African population of the south on the other hand propagated annexation to Mali.

On 28.11.1960, Mauritania became independent as a presidential republic under the name of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. But France’s influence remained strong even after independence. France’s interest in the lucrative exploitation of copper and iron ore mines was an important economic reason for its paternalistic presence in Mauritania.

In the 2000 senatorial by-elections, the ruling party was confirmed and for the first time a woman also entered the Senate of the Islamic State. In the 2001 national elections, the ruling PRDS won an absolute majority. As this election, unlike the previous parliamentary elections, was not boycotted by opposition parties, it is seen as a first step towards multiparty democracy.