Mauritania: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country Mauritania.



Location--In northwestern Africa, with a 375-mi. western coastline on the Atlantic Ocean; to the northwest, Spanish Sahara; to the south, Senegal; to the east and south, Mali; to the northeast, Algeria.

How Created--The borders of Mauritania, an ancient kingdom, were never really clearly defined until 1904, when it became a French territory.

Size--398,000 sq. mi. (1,030,700 sq. km.).

Population--1.5 million: Arab, 80.3%; Fulani, 13.8%; Soninke, 3.3%; Zenaga, 1.3%; Wolof, Malinke, and other, 1.3%. 95% Muslim.

Who Rules--The President is elected to a 5-year term by direct vote; the 40-member Assembly is also elected to 5-year terms; the current President, Moktar Ould Daddah, is also the secretary-general of the Parti de Regroupement Mauritanien, to which all members of the Assembly belong.

Who REALLY Rules--Mauritania's economic independence will depend upon the success of her iron ore and copper mines, which are being developed by France, Britain, Germany, and Italy. The country has very few educated people, and few experienced administrators, and must rely upon foreign technicians and administrators to organize the nation's industry and big business. Most of these administrators are French.

France has, over the years, lent much in the way of technical and financial assistance to her former colony. At times French armed forces have been called upon to help Mauritanian police keep the peace.

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