Islamic Republic of Mauritania
al-Jumhuriyah al-Islamiyah al-Muritaniyah
Political Status: Independent republic since November 28, 1960; 1961 constitution suspended by the Military Committee for National Recovery on July 20, 1978; present constitution, providing for multiparty civilian government, approved by referendum July 12, 1991.
Area: 397,953 sq. mi. (1,030,700 sq. km.).
Population: 2,548,157 (2000C); 3,162,000 (2006E).
Major Urban Center (2005E): NOUAKCHOTT (644,000). In recent years the population of Nouakchott has grown rapidly, as many former nomads have taken up permanent residence in the capital since the 1970s.
Official Language: Arabic. (Three languages of the Black African community—Poular, Soninke, and Wolof—are constitutionally [Page 842]designated as national languages. French, an official language until 1991, is still widely spoken, particularly in the commercial sector. In addition, in 1999 the government designated French as the “language for ...