Official name Islamic Republic of Mauritania. a republic in W Africa, largely in the Sahara Desert: formerly a French colony; a member of the French Community 1958–66; independent 1960. 418,120 sq. mi. (1,082,931 sq. km).
a republic in NW Africa, on the Atlantic: established as a French protectorate in 1903 and a colony in 1920; gained independence in 1960; lies in the Sahara; contains rich resources of iron ore. Official language: Arabic; Fulani, Soninke, Wolof, and French are also spoken. Official religion: Muslim. Currency: ouguiya. Capital: Nouakchott. Pop: 3 437 610 (2013 est). Area: 1 030 700 sq km (398 000 sq miles) Official name Islamic Republic of Mauritania