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.
Geopolitics and Interdependence
Mauritania is located in northwest Africa. The country has borders with the states of Algeria, Mali and Senegal as well as with the territory of Western Sahara occupied by Morocco. Three times the size of Germany with 1.03 million km², the country has a population of about 3.8 million.
80% of the population is concentrated on less than one fifth of the country’s surface area, mainly in southern Mauritania. The capital Nouakchott has a population of about 950,000.
The official language is Arabic and French is considered the language of formal education. Pulaar, Wolof and Soninke are also recognized national languages. Almost 100% of the population are Sunni Muslims and there is also a Christian minority.
Mauritania has two large national parks (the Diawling National Park in the south of the country, on the border with Senegal, and the Banc d’Arguin National Park on the west coast).
During the first 15 years of its independence, the internal political evolution of Mauritania under President Moukhtar Ould Daddah was relatively peaceful and uniform. With the end of his regime, a phase of great internal political instability began, with several military coups and revolts.
Since independence, the army has had a decisive influence on Mauritanian politics. Even the first president was dismissed by his chief of staff. Subsequently, officers who came to power through coups d’état have alternated at the head of state. The roots of this system based on current military control go back to the 1980s. Even during the phases of transformation, military leadership proved that even after the democratic election of a president, it was not prepared to give up its historically increased influence.
The presidential elections of 2019 will lead to the first democratic and peaceful change of power in the country’s history. The protests that followed the elections, however, show the internal unrest and conflicts that persist in the country. The Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2020 ranks Mauritania 91st out of 137 countries assessed in the field of democratic development.
Regular demonstrations by anti-slavery activists bring the issue to the public’s attention and are also being noticed at the international level. It is estimated that up to 500,000 people in Mauritania live under slavery Pressure on the Mauritanian government to address the issue of slavery is increasing. Some of the demonstrations are being dispersed by the police by force. The arrest of 17 activists of the anti-slavery organization IRA-Mauritania is seen by human rights organizations around the world as an attempt to systematically dismantle IRA-Mauritania.
Mauritania was also a founding member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but left it in 1999 in favour of strengthening ties with the Arab world. Since 2016, Mauritania is again an associate member and aims to become a full member. In 2017, Mauritania will conclude a treaty with ECOWAS on free access to goods and persons. The country’s relations with Morocco, which had been very tense after independence due to Moroccan territorial claims, had normalized and Morocco was now an important trading partner. Relations with Algeria have eased with Mauritania’s renunciation of all claims to the territory of Western Sahara.
While the country’s relations with Morocco and Algeria remain complicated, relations with Tunisia can nevertheless be described as friendly. Mauritania also supports Tunisia’s efforts to revive the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).
In recent years, Mauritania has intensified its relations with its southern and eastern neighbours. Its relations with its southern neighbour, Senegal, fluctuate between cooperation and recurrent conflicts. The 12th meeting of the Mauritanian-Senegalese Joint Commission took place in October 2015. The recently discovered gas fields off the coasts of both countries will strengthen cooperation.
Mauritania cooperates with Mali, Niger and Algeria within the CEMOC (Joint Operational Staff Committee); the aim of this cooperation is to improve the security situation in the region and to combat the activities of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Since February 2014, Mauritania has been working in the « G5 Sahel » with Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad on development and security policy.
Current political development
The collapse of Mauritanian export earnings in 2015 led to a budget deficit of 5.6%. Since then, this deficit has been reduced to around 3.5% through cuts in the national budget, some of them drastic. Loans from China and Arab funds finance the government’s high defence spending and major infrastructure projects. The high level of debt (98%, IMF 2018) restricts future investment opportunities. In addition, falling commodity prices in recent years have led to a sharp drop in the country’s foreign exchange earnings. For at least 20 years, Mauritania has had a strong tendency to overexploit natural resources, due to the deterioration of the climate and the changed socio-economic conditions (sedentariness, population growth, etc.).
In Mauritania, great hopes are placed in the outcome of the COP 23 climate conference and especially in the climate fund, for which high compensation payments are being demanded. Mauritania wants to increasingly develop alternative energy sources; in the next few years 30 to 40% of electricity consumption is to be covered by solar and wind energy.
ODD 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
By including SDG goals in the SCAPP (Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Shared Growth), Mauritania became one of the first countries to include Agenda 2030 in their national development strategies. This project is being launched with a view to bringing planning closer to local needs and facilitating the participation of populations and local authorities in the design, implementation and monitoring of development policies in their regions.
It is difficult to assess the actions of the Mauritanian government in relation to GDS 8 in isolation, but the country’s national strategy has many challenges to meet the expectations of the SDDs in general.
The Mauritanian Government has implemented important reforms for the private sector, including the simplification of business start-ups, access to credit, cross-border trade in goods and the registration of land and property ownership.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has thus attested to the Mauritanian Government’s willingness to combat and overcome its obvious weaknesses.
Development of the gross domestic product :
● GDP per capita in US dollars 1,271 (2017); 1,310 (2018 – estimate)
● Development of GDP: USD 4.935 billion (2017); USD 5.200 billion (estimate
● GDP growth rate 1.9% (2017); 2.4% (estimate 2018)
The main factors contributing to this positive development are fishing, livestock farming, the emerging processing industry and trade. Nevertheless, Mauritania is about 70 percent dependent on food imports and there is practically no processing industry. A start has been made on modernising Mauritania’s foreign trade regime, but there is no law to promote investment.
Ahmed Baba Miské
Ahmed Baba Miské is a great intellectual and political figure in Mauritania. Originally from Chinguetti in Mauritania, Ahmed Baba Miské took part very early in the struggle for the independence of his country. A fight for freedom that will become the common thread of his life and career throughout the world. A fervent idealist and anti-colonialist who began his militancy in 1955 at the age of 20. He was then 20 years old and participated in the creation of the Mauritanian Youth Association (AJM), of which he became the general secretary, then in the creation of the Mauritanian People’s Party (PPM). He died in
Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
Mbarek Ould Beyrouk – is a prominent Mauritanian newspaper journalist who published his first novel in 2006. But it was only with his third work, « The Desert and the Drum » (2015), that he received the Geneva « Prix Ahmadou Kourouma », thus giving him a broader literary forum.
Aissata Kâne was a minister in one of the governments of the first president Mokhtar Ould Daddah. She was the first woman to enter the government of the first Republic. Aissata Kana had been the president of the French-speaking women for many years.
She contributed in social and charitable activities for the benefit of the needy in hospitals, health centres, etc. She was also the first woman to join the government of the First Republic.
Biram Dah Abeid
Biram Dah Abeid’s parents were slaves. Her father was released. In 1979, he entered the high school of Rosso, Trarza. At the age of 19, he founded the African National Movement Against the Caste System, Discrimination and Slavery.
He was listed in 2014 by PeaceLinkLive as one of the « 10 people who changed the world you may not have heard of » and by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people. He was also referred to as the « Mauritanian Nelson Mandela » by the online news organization Middleeasteye.net. In August 2018, Biram was imprisoned on an “order from above” intended. this should prohibit his participation in the September 2018 parliamentary elections, in which Biram was running as an anti-slavery, opposition candidate. Despite Mauritanian authorities’ attempts to deprive him, Biram was elected to Parliament from his prison cell.
The Desert and the Drum » (2015) from Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
La décolonisation de l’Afrique revisitée (2014) from Ahmed Baba Miské
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