General Information


Officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in Northwest Africa. It is the eleventh largest country in Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, and Senegal to the southwest.

The country derives its name from the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BCE into the 7th century CE in the far north of modern-day Morocco and Algeria.

The local population is divided into three main ethnic tiers: Bidhan or Moors, Haratin, and West Africans. A CIA report indicates Bidhan, Haratin, and others, although no serious studies in this matter exists.
Arabic is the official and national language of Mauritania. The local spoken variety, known as Hassaniya, contains many Berber words and significantly differs from the Modern Standard Arabic that is used for official communication. Pulaar, Soninke and Wolof also serve as national languages. French is widely used in the media and among educated classes.

Mauritania is generally flat, with vast arid plains broken by occasional ridges and cliff-like outcroppings. A series of scarps face south-west, longitudinally bisecting these plains in the center of the country. The scarps also separate a series of sandstone plateaus, the highest of which is the Adrar Plateau.

The cuisine of Mauritania includes the culinary practices of Mauritania.There is an overlap with Moroccan cuisine in the north and Senegalese cuisine in the south.  Alcohol is prohibited in the Muslim faith and its sale is largely limited to hotels. Mint tea is widely consumed and poured from height to create foam. Traditionally, meals are eaten communally.

Traditional instruments include an hourglass-shaped four-stringed lute called the tidinit and the woman's kora-like ardin. Percussion instruments include the tbal (a kettle drum) and daghumma (a rattle).