Mauritania Geography

Mauritania, French Mauritanie [m ɔ rita ni], officially the Arab Al-Djumhurijja al-Islamijja al-Muritanijja [d ʒ ʊ m], German Islamic Republic of Mauritania, country in West Africa, with (2019) 4500000 Residents; The capital is Nouakchott.


Mauritania borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Morocco (Western Sahara) to the northwest, Algeria to the north, Mali to the east and south and Senegal to the south.

By far the largest part of the country belongs to the western Sahara, the south (about south of the 18th parallel) to the thorn savannah of the Sahel zone. The 700 km long, flat Atlantic coast with poor ports is followed by an extensive plain partly covered by dunes. To the east rise plateaus with steep steps (around 500 m above sea level), mostly covered with scree (Reg) and towered over by individual island mountains (in Kediet ej-Jill up to 915 m above sea level). They sink to the northeast to the dune area of ​​El-Djouf, a wide, drainless basin that extends into Mali.


With an average of 4 residents / km 2,  according to ejinhua, Mauritania is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world; however, the population distribution is very uneven. The main settlement area is the south, while the area north of the 18th parallel is almost uninhabited, apart from a few oases. Characteristic for Mauritania is the traditional conflict-ridden antagonism among the Moors (70% of the total population), divided into the “white” privileged Bidan and the “black” Haratín. There are also the black African population groups (Soninke, Wolof, Tukulor, Bambara, etc.) who live as field farmers in the fertile Senegal plain. As a result of the drought in the Sahel, many of the mostly Moorish nomads have settled in the west and south of the country, which has led to an increase in the urban population (2017: 61%). The main cities are Nouakchott, Nouadhibou and Rosso.

The biggest cities in Mauritania

Largest cities (population 2013 census)
Nouakchott 958 400
Nouadhibou 118 200
Kiffa 50 200
Mbera 47 700
Kaedi 45 500

Social: Almost a third of the population is affected by poverty. Social and health services are poorly trained.


The constitution makes Islam the state religion; the constitutionally guaranteed individual rights have no right to choose and practice one’s religion freely. The practice of non-Islamic religions – in Mauritania only Christianity – is only permitted (with a ban on Bible distribution and mission) foreigners. The Mauritanians are Sunni of the Maliki school of law; Various Sufi brotherhoods (Tidjanija, Qadirija) are of great influence. For the predominantly Catholic Christians among the foreigners living in Mauritania (Europeans and Black Africans) there is the exemte diocese of Nouakchott.


Mauritania has a rich and ancient literary tradition in classical Arabic, which deals mainly with legal, theological and historical arguments, and another in Arabic dialect, or hassaniye, which deals with any theme, but preferably the celebratory and love one. There is also a popular poem (wood), sung and recited, according to strict rules of versification, by professional singers (iggiw), species of troubadours, including women, such as Yaquta bintʽAli Warakan. Among the oldest and most famous singers is Saddum (18th century), author of celebratory poems. Also cited are: Šayh Muḥammad al-Mamī, Muḥammad wuld Haddar, ʽAbd Masuma and Muḥammad wuld Aḥmad Yura, all of the century. XIX. The prose stories have the same characteristics as poetry: they are mostly fairy tales and hagiographic works that express the beliefs, customs and humor of the Mauri. Then there is a production in znaga, a language spoken by the Berbers, which has given good poets, such as Šayh Muḥammad al-Yadalī and his disciple Muḥammad Walīd wuld Muṣṭafa wuld Khaluna (from the 18th century). French-language literature is scarce and heavily Islamized due to schooling in Arabic. Among the best known authors, the essayist Muḥammad ʽAli Šaīrīf, the historians Mokhtar ould Hamidoun and Maḥmadou Ba Aḥmadou, the poet ʽUmar Ba and Djibrill Sall, poet and playwright. Theatrical production has long been the prerogative of companies formed by students who mainly represented short acts, in French and in hassaniye, mainly of a political nature. In the eighties of the century. XX, announced by Le cri du drogué (1978) by Djibrill Sall, a didactic and social multilingual theater appeared, no longer aimed only at intellectuals. In the Eighties, the poet and novelist Aḥmad Walad ‘Abd al-Qadir (b. 1941) established himself on the Mauritanian literary scene. The French literature has as major exponents T. Youssouf Gueye, Moussa Diagana, and Moussa Ould Ebnou (b. 1956), author of L’amour impossible (1990) and Madinat al-Riyah (1996).

Mauritania Country and People

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