Mauritania History

Mauritania History


The oldest archaeological finds on Mauritanian territory indicate early settlements in the Neolithic. Light-skinned nomadic Berber tribes inhabited from 2000 BC. the north of the country, while Negroid Wolof and Soninke hunted, raised and farmed crops in the south. In pre-Christian times, Berber tribes of the north united to form a kingdom.

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In the 8th century AD The Berbers in the north adopted Islam from the invaded Arabs, but without giving up their independence entirely; at the same time, the south became part of the black African empire of Mali. In the 11th century, the Berber people of the Almoravids briefly founded an empire that reached as far as northern Spain. But the empire began to disintegrate as early as the middle of the 12th century, the northern part remained dependent on Morocco, the southern part continued to belong to the Mali Empire.

Colonial period

Very late in comparison to the colonization history of the rest of Africa, the French settled on the Senegal River in the late 18th century. A century later, they entered the region north of the river that forms what is now Mauritanian territory. After decades of fighting, the Berber tribes could only be finally knocked down in 1934, but France had already proclaimed the territory as property in 1904 and declared it a colony in 1929 as French West Africa.


After the end of World War II, France granted Mauritania limited self-government by giving the colony the status of an overseas territory within the French Union. 1958 was followed by the appointment as an autonomous republic within the community, in 1960 the country was released to independence. According to AbbreviationFinder, Mokhtar Ould Daddah was elected president and head of government the following year.

Despite the independence, the influence of France remained great. In particular, the lucrative exploitation of the copper and iron ore mines was an important economic reason for the existing interest.

In 1963, Mauritania was a founding member of the OAU, the “Organization for African Unity”, which saw itself as a lawyer for the decolonization of Africa. Two years later, Mauritania distanced itself from France both militarily and economically. 1974 saw the termination of all contracts with France and the nationalization of the copper and iron ore mines previously managed by French companies. The year before, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania had become a member of the “Arab League”, which advocated the war against Israel.

As early as the 1960s, there were repeated border conflicts with Morocco over the Spanish overseas province in the north of the country – today’s Western Sahara. After the Spaniards withdrew from Spanish Sahara, Morocco and Mauritania agreed on a new border in 1976 after further armed conflicts and annexed the areas of the country as agreed. In contrast, a guerrilla movement called POLISARIO (Frente Popular para la Liberaci¨®n de Saqiya al-Hamra y del R¨ªo de Oro) rebelled, which was supported by Algeria, Libya and some other black African countries. A bloody civil was ensued, which led to the fall of Mokthar Ould Daddah by the military in 1978. This placed the state authority under a “Military Committee for National Reconstruction”, which was led by General Mustafa Ould Mohammed Salkek. A number of military coups took place repeatedly over the next few years. In 1979, Mauritania withdrew its claims to the part of the Western Sahara it occupied and ordered its troops out of the country. Morocco then annexed the regions previously occupied by Mauritania.

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Further coups followed, from which Maaouiya Ould Sid’Ahmad Taya emerged in 1984 as the new military ruler. But the domestic and foreign political unrest continued: in 1989 disputes on the border with Senegal led to serious unrest, at the same time the clashes between the fair-skinned Moorish upper class and the oppressed black minority in the country intensified. In the early 1990s, Maaouiya Ould Sid’Ahmad Taya responded with democratic reforms and a policy of internal balance, which was reflected in a new democratic constitution in 1991. In the first direct elections, he was confirmed as head of state for six years, with the opposition accusing him of electoral fraud.

In 1992 Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, leader of the PRDS Democratic Social Party, became the new head of government after winning the National Assembly and Senate elections. In 1996 Sheik Al-Afia Ould Mohammed Khouna followed as head of government and the following year President Maaouiya Ould Si d’Ahmad Taya was confirmed in elections. He appointed Mohammed Lemine Ould Bah Ould Guig as new head of government for a period of one year, and in 1997 Mohammed Khouna returned to office as head of government.

The ruling party was confirmed in partial senate elections in 2000, and for the first time a woman moved into the Senate of the Islamic State. In the 2001 National Council elections, the ruling PRDS received an absolute majority. Since this election, unlike the previous parliamentary elections, was not boycotted by the opposition parties, it is seen as the first step towards multi-party democracy.

On August 3, 2005, a military coup resulted in President Taya being deposed. The putschists appointed Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, chief of police and intelligence agency, as head of government and aimed to create democratic conditions within two years. Parliamentary elections were held in November 2006; Zein Ould Zeidane was elected Prime Minister. On March 25, 2007, former Treasury Secretary Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was elected new president, completing the return of power to a civilian government. In May 2008, Zeine Ould Zeidane resigned; Yahya Ould Ahmed El Waghf became the new prime minister.

On August 6, 2008, a bloody coup by the army led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz against President Abdallahi took place. The international community condemned the coup and called for a return to constitutional order. In the presidential elections in July 2009, Abdel Aziz won over 50% of the vote and won the election. In July 2014 he was re-elected with over 80% of the vote.

Mauritania President