Mauritania, formally the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a nation in western North Africa’s Maghreb area. It is Africa’s eleventh biggest nation, bordering to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the north by Morocco and the remains of Western Sahara, to the northeast by Algeria, to the east and southeast by Mali, and to the southwest by Senegal.
The country takes its name from the ancient Berber Kingdom of Mauretania, which flourished in the far north of modern-day Morocco from the third to the seventh centuries BC. Because the Sahara covers around 90% of Mauritania’s area, the population is concentrated towards the south, where precipitation is slightly greater. Nouakchott, the capital and largest city, is located on the Atlantic coast and is home to roughly one-third of the country’s 3.5 million inhabitants. On August 6, 2008, the government was deposed in a military coup led by then-General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Aziz resigned from the military on April 16, 2009, in order to compete for president in the July 19 elections, which he won.
Approximately 20% of Mauritanians live on less than US$1.25 per day. Mauritania suffers from a number of human rights violations, including slavery, which enslaves an estimated 4% (155,600 individuals) of the country’s population against their will, primarily political opponents.