Mauritania, country on the Atlantic coast of Africa. Culturally it forms a transitional zone between the Arab-Amazigh (Berber) populations of North Africa and the African peoples in the region to the south of the Tropic of Cancer known as the Sudan.
Much of Mauritania encompasses part of the Sahara desert, and, until the drought conditions that affected most of that zone of Africa in the 1970's, a large proportion of the population was nomadic. The population in 2019 was 4.526 million people, about one third of its people live in Nouakchott, the capital and largest city, situated between the dunes and the ocean.
Mauritania is an Islamic country, the majority are Sunni Muslims. The country’s mineral wealth includes large reserves of iron ore, copper, and gypsum, all of which are now being exploited, as well as some oil resources.
Mauritania was administered as a French colony during the first half of the 20th Century and became Independent on November 28, 1960. By the terms of the constitution, Islam is the official state religion, but the republic guarantees freedom of conscience and religious liberty to all. Arabic is the official language; Fula, Soninke, and Wolof are national languages. The capital, Nouakchott, is located in the southwestern part of the country.