People in Mauritania
Mauritania forms a border from North Africa to Black
Africa. This is what the area of Africa south of the
Sahara is called. North Africa is inhabited by peoples
with lighter skin color, predominantly Arabs and
Berbers. Darker-skinned people live in sub-Saharan
Africa. Both groups meet in Mauritania.
Moors and Black Africans
There are two main groups of people in Mauritania. 70
percent are Moors and have Arab-Berber roots. They speak
Hassania, an Arabic dialect. Of these 70 percent, about
half belong to the Bidhan (White Moors), the other half
to the Haratin. The Haratin are descendants of former
slaves. Haratin means "the liberated".
They all speak Arabic and feel part of the Arabic
culture. They live more in the north of the country.
Your society is structured strictly hierarchically.
Right at the top are the warriors (Hassan) and the
religious leaders (marabouts) as nobility. They are
followed by the Zenaga (descendants of the people who
pay tribute to the nobility) and then the craftsmen. At
the bottom are the Haratin.
The remaining 30 percent of the population of
Mauritania belong to black African peoples. These are
called Soudans. They live mainly along the Senegal
River, in the south of the country. These peoples
include the Tukulor, the Fulbe, the Soninke, the Wolof
and the Bambara. No more precise figures are available,
they are no longer published because that led to race
riots. An estimate from 1982 says: 18 percent Tukulor
and Fulbe, four percent Soninke, one percent Wolof.
To this day there are slaves in Mauritania. It was
not until 2007 that a law made slavery a criminal
offense. Even today, slavery secures the power of the
elite of the white Moors. The slaves are almost always
The children of Mauritania
Every woman in Mauritania has more than four children
on average. That is much. With us, each woman has an
average of only 1.4 children. Children and young people
in Mauritania make up a large proportion of the
population. A little less than half of the population is
under 18 years of age.
Infant mortality is 3.3 percent, child mortality 5.2
percent (as of 2018, ours: 0.2 and 0.3 percent). That
means: more than three out of 100 newborn children die,
more than five out of 100 do not celebrate their first
birthday. The numbers have been going down over the past
few decades, but they're still too high.
Urban and countryside
54 out of 100 people in Mauritania live in the city,
46 out of 100 in the countryside. More and more people
are moving to the cities. While in 1957 90 percent of
the population lived as nomads, today it is only a few
percent. A quarter of all Mauritanians live in
Languages in Mauritania
The Moors, majority of the population in Mauritania,
speak Hassania. It's an Arabic dialect. It is written
in Arabic script. Arabic is also the country's official
French has been preserved as a commercial language
from the colonial times. Like Arabic, it is also the
language of instruction.
The black African peoples of the Soudans speak their
own languages. The Tukulor and Fulbe speak Fulfulde.
The Soninke speak Soninke and the Wolof speak Wolof.
Religions in Mauritania
Almost all Mauritanians are Muslims, so they belong
to Islam. Islam is the state religion, it is also
called in the official country name: Islamic Republic of
Mauritania. Islamic law and Sharia apply.