Islam first spread southward into West Africa, including Mauritania, with the movement of Muslim traders and craftsmen and later with the founders of Islamic brotherhoods.
Over the next 500 years, Arabs overcame fierce resistance from the local population (Berber and non-Berber alike) and came to dominate Mauritania.
Moors reacted to this change by increasing pressure to Arabize many aspects of Mauritanian life, such as law and language.
Mauritanian Muslims, however, do not emphasize the Islamic concepts of the eternal soul and of reward or punishment in an afterlife.
The Mauritanian government has been trying to increase irrigation to the Senegal River valley to stimulate the production of rice, which they are currently importing in large quantities.
Six candidates, including Mauritania's first female and first Haratine (former slave family) candidates, represented a wide variety of political goals and backgrounds.
After several military losses to the Polisario, Mauritania retreated in 1979 and their claims were taken by Morocco.
The coup was organized by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, former chief of staff of the Mauritanian army and head of the Presidential Guard, whom the president had just dismissed.
Muslims in Mauritania believe in various lesser spirits apparently transformed from pre-Islamic faiths into Islamic spirits.
Mauritania's third presidential election since adopting the democratic process in 1992, took place on November 7, 2003.
The Democratic and Social Republican Party (PRDS), led by President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, has dominated Mauritanian politics since the country's first multi-party elections in April 1992.
From the third to seventh centuries C.E., the migration of Berber tribes from North Africa displaced the Bafours, the original inhabitants of present-day Mauritania and the ancestors of the Soninke.
The practice of tethering a remora, a sucking fish, to a fishing line and using the remora to capture sea turtles probably originated in the Indian Ocean.
Politics in Mauritania have always been heavily influenced by personalities, with any leader's ability to exercise political power dependent upon control over resources; perceived ability or integrity; and tribal, ethnic, family, and personal considerations.
After independence in 1960, President Moktar Ould Daddah, originally installed by the French, formalized Mauritania into a one-party state in 1964 with a new constitution, which set up an authoritarian presidential regime.
A committee of military officers governed Mauritania from July 1978 to April 1992.
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, or Mauritania, is a country in northwest Africa.
Mauritania's economic weakness has since made it a negligible player in the territorial dispute.
More than 75 percent of the Mauritanian population live by traditional economic practices, such as raising livestock.
Mauritania, along with Morocco, illegally annexed the territory of Western Sahara in 1976, with Mauritania taking the lower one-third.
A schism developed between those who consider Mauritania to be an Arab country (mainly Moors) and those who seek a dominant role for the non-Moorish peoples.
Religious liberty is an unknown concept in Mauritania.
Mauritania and Madagascar are the only two countries in the world not to use decimal-based currency.
Mauritania sees itself as a link connecting the northern, Arab nations of North Africa's Maghreb and the sub-Saharan Black African countries that make up the rest of the continent.
Under this system, Mauritania is divided into 13 regions (wilaya), including the capital district, Nouakchott.
The discord between these two conflicting visions of Mauritanian society was evident during intercommunal violence that broke out in 1989 (the "1989 Events"), but has since subsided.
On June 25, 2006, a national referendum took place in which Mauritanians approved several reforms by 97 percent, with at least 76 percent of eligible voters casting their votes.
Richat Structure, located in the Sahara Desert of Mauritania, at Gres de Chinguetti Plateau, has been a focus of world attention due to its bull's eye shape.
The Mauritanian Thirty-Year War (1644-1674) was the unsuccessful final effort to repel the Yemeni Maqil Arab invaders led by the Beni Hassan tribe.
During the colonial period, the population remained nomadic, but many sedentary peoples, whose ancestors had been expelled centuries earlier, began to trickle back into Mauritania.
A long history of being one of the world's poorest countries has the potential to change as Mauritania has recently discovered large offshore reserves of oil and natural gas.
Mauritania is a land dominated by sand and barren soil located on the western flank of the Sahara Desert.
Mauritania is generally flat, its territory of over one million square kilometers (618,000 square miles) forming vast, arid plains broken by occasional ridges and cliff-like outcroppings.