The older history of Mauritania is
characterized by meetings between Barbican nomads,
resident black population and Arab and French
colonizers. The nomadic population has gradually been
pushed away in favor of Arab culture and Islam. The
French laid the foundation for the state administration
on which independent Mauritania of 1960 has built.
Little is known about the country's early history,
but remains are from prehistoric times. The millennium
before our era, hunters and fishermen lived in the area
that is today Mauritania.
In the 300s after Christ, Berber nomads from Morocco
began to migrate into western Sahara. They soon
established trade routes in the area. Salt was the first
important commodity, later slaves and gold were added.
The Berberians displaced the original inhabitants of the
area who headed south towards the Senegal River.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Mauritania, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
From the caravan traffic arose the Ghanaian kingdom,
which had its heyday between the 7th and 9th centuries.
Ghana was in the border regions between today's
Mauritania, Mali and Senegal. Its capital is believed to
have been Koumbi Saleh, whose ruins are found in
From the 7th century, Arabs began to search for the
area, and the Berber was pushed south. With the Arabs
came Islam. The Berbers converted to Islam in the 9th
century. By contrast, it took many centuries before most
nomads had embraced Arab culture.
The most successful Berber empire in Western Sahara
was the almoravids. In the 1000s they gained control of
the caravan trade and created a kingdom that stretched
from the Senegal River to Spain. After the fall of the
Almoravids in the 1100s, the Arabs gained more
influence. The area was gradually taken over by Arabs
from Yemen, among them the Bedouin tribe Banu Hassan.
The Arab rulers ruled over a Berber population which in
turn enslaved large parts of the black population.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Spaniards and
Portuguese built trading stations on the coast of
Mauritania, often after fierce battles with the nomadic
people. But it was not until the late 19th century that
the colonization of what is today Mauritania took off
seriously. French trading companies then ascended the
Senegal River from the current Senegal.
From the end of the 19th century Mauritania became
part of French West Africa and the area became a French
protectorate in 1903. The black groups in southern
Mauritania were favored by the colonizers. They were
given better education than the nomads and got jobs in
colonial administration. Among the nomadic people in the
north, the French encountered vigorous resistance.
Mokhtar Ould Daddah, who came from an influential
family, became the first Mauritian to receive a
university education in Paris. Daddah formed his own
party in 1959 that won the confidence of the French and
many Mauritanian people. In an election to the colony's
parliament that year, the Mauritanian people's party won
all the seats. The following year Mauritania became an
Islamist leader killed in Mali
The Mauritanian Air Force kills an Aqim commander in a raid against Mali.
State visit to China
President Abdelaziz visits China. A Chinese military delegation then visits
A series of protests against a census campaign leads to several protesters
being injured and arrested.
The parliamentary elections are postponed
President Abdelaziz postpones indefinitely the parliamentary elections that
would have been held in the fall.
Violent in protest against slavery
A demonstration against slavery leads to violent clashes with police. Several
people are injured and arrested.
New attack in Mali
Another six Islamists are reported to have been killed in a new attack
against Aqim in Mali (see also June 2011).
Attacks against Islamists in Mali
Mauritanian and Malian forces are attacking a base in Mali belonging to
al-Qaeda group Aqim, and at least 15 Islamists are reported to have been killed.
Continued protests against the government
During a "day of anger" when it was called for extensive protests, about 20
people are arrested who are demonstrating against the government.
Protests in "Arab Spring" tracks
Protesters inspired by the riots that erupted in other Arab countries demand
that democracy be introduced in Mauritania.