Most of Mauritania is encompassed by the Sahara Desert, though it does have a strip of coastal land and some arable land near the Senegal river. More than half of the country is covered in dunes. Three million people live in Mauritania, 760,000 of which call the capital city Nouakchott home. Like many countries in this region, ethnic diversity is distinguished between those of Arab and Berber descent and ethnic groups who are black. Today most of the Mauritania population is mixed. Originally colonized by the french, Mauritania achieved independence in 1960. Despite slavery being abolished in the French colonial period, slavery has persisted in some communities. The Arabic speakers have controlled political life, and a one-party government was established and held power until 1984 when a coup led by Colonel Maaouya Ould Sdi'Ahmen Taya took power. Taya legalized political parties and won elections in 1992, 1997, and 2002. Taya's rule was not democratic, and he banned opposition parties several times. He was overthrown in 2005 by a coup led by Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall. Vall aimed to create a civilian led-government, and in 2007, Sidi Mohamen Ould Cheikh Abdallahi won the presidency. Abdallahi fired the head of the president's guard Aziz who then led a military coup and overthrew him. He was elected in 2009 and took control of the national assembly.




A mass sit-in took place in capital city protesting military rule and advocating for democracy. University students were involved in this protest as it rallied support from the February 25 movement. The source notes that "The whole spectrum of the Mauritanian opposition took part in this sit-in: all parties, political forces, youth movements such as the 25 February movement that organized a night vigil during which they recited poems and repeated their slogan of months 'Down, down with military rule', which they have been saying for more than a year since the beginning of the Arab Spring," Jedou said, as translated by Global Voices". (
Primary Source)