After gaining independence from France in 1960, Mauritania became embroiled in both external and internal strife before instituting democratic rule in 2005. However, ethnic tensions continue to cause concern, and there are major differences in the traditions and lifestyles of the urbanized Moorish and rural black populations. Around half of the workforce is engaged in agriculture and livestock, and 30 percent are unemployed. Mauritania has a per capita income of $2,100 and a poverty rate of 40 percent.

The majority of the population is of mixed Moor/black heritage (40 percent). The rest are evenly divided between Moors and blacks. There is no diversity in religion, as all Mauritanians are Muslim. Sharià Law continues to dictate the conditions under which many women live, but some customs have ...

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