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Monday 23rd October
Mauritania Facts
Mauritania has hundreds of kilometres of Atlantic shoreline. The coastal waters of Mauritania are among the richest fishing areas in the world.

The fishing grounds of Mauritania are exploited by fishermen from many other countries.

Mauritania attracts many tourists for sports fishing off the Atlantic coast.

The people of the fishing village of Nouamghar use dolphins to drive shoals of migrating fish towards the shore and their nets.

Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, is one of the newest capitals in the world: construction began in 1960.

The name of the capital, Nouakchott, means "place of the winds".

In 1986 Mauritania's deep-water port was opened near Nouakchott.

Because of desertification Nouakchott is now surrounded by sand.

Two-thirds of Mauritania is desert and the desert is expanding southwards every year.

The Sahara Desert is the world's largest desert: nine million square kilometres.

Ancient rock paintings in Mauritania show giraffes, cattle and other grazing animals which all lived in the region before the desert took over.

Paleolithic stone tools have been found in some areas in the desert.

Mauritania was a French colony under the name French West Africa (French West Africa was formed in 1895. The Federation included Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea (French Guinea), Mali (French Sudan) and Senegal. Later members were Benin (Dahomey), Burkina Faso (Upper Volta) Mauritania and Niger. The Federation ended in 1958).

Mauretania (with an "e") was the name of a kingdom of North Africa (where Morocco is now) which became a Roman province. Mauritania (with an "i") is the name chosen for this part of the French colonial empire when the countries were given their freedom. (At the beginning of the twentieth century, a UK ship was named after the Roman province - Mauretania.)

In 1964 Ould Daddah, the President, established a one party state.

Mauritania is a member of the Arab League which was established in 1945.

Mauritania is one of the very few countries in the world where people who have traditionally led a nomadic life have an important role in running the country.

Swarms of locusts in 2004 wiped out Mauritania's harvest. Food aid was requested by the United Nations.

Offshore oil was discovered in 2001. Exploration and appraisal took place in 2008

Mauritania experienced flooding in 1994, 1999 and 2003. In 2007 many people were once again displaced by flooding.

In October 2008 Niger's government was found guilty of failing to protect Hadijatou Mani from slavery. The ruling is said to have implications for other African countries where slavery persists.

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