Mauritania Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Mauritania is an independent nation in Western Africa. With the capital city of Nouakchott, Mauritania 2020 population is estimated at 4,649,669 according to countryaah. 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 residents of the area who headed south towards the Senegal River.

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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 southeastern Mauritania. For Mauritania political system, please check cancermatters.

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 independent nation.



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 Mauritania.

Violent protests

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.

Mauritania Old History