With an area of more than 1 million km², according to COUNTRYAAH, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania is almost three times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany and is one of the largest countries in the world (world rank 28). The north-west African state borders the Western Sahara and Algeria in the north and Mali in the east. In the south, the Senegal River forms the border with Senegal. The coast of Mauritania stretches for 754 km. The longest stretch from west to east is 1,150 km, from north to south 1,400 km.
This demarcation is the result of the European colonial policy of the 19th century. By the General Act of the Berlin Conference from 1885 on the division of Africa among the then great powers, Mauritania became part of the French sphere of influence.
81.5% of the population is made up of Moors, descendants of Arabs and Berbers, the remainder from black African populations considered indigenous, however present on the territory since the Neolithic: wolof (6.8%), toucouleur (5.3%), serahuli (2.8%), fulbe (1.1%) and others (2.5%). The Moors, who arrived in the country starting from the century. X and coming from the Maghreb, they gradually pushed further to the S, rejecting or enslaving the black African populations. The population density is still very low (3 residents / km²), but the annual growth coefficient is high (2.6% 1994-99), especially in relation to the resources offered by the area. The population, which at the beginning of the Second World War was around 350,000 residents, had risen to 650,000 twenty years later, subsequently registering a much greater average increase. It is concentrated along the Senegal River, where it is possible to practice agriculture and fishing; as we proceed towards N and inwards the density decreases, especially beyond theof the 100 mm; in the few oases live groups of sedentary blacks, descendants perhaps from slaves brought in from Sudan or from the primitive native residents. The Moors still practice nomadism moving from one oasis to another and dedicating themselves to cattle breeding and trade. The main caravan route that connected the savannah regions of the Niger basins with Senegal, supplying cereals, with the Maghreb, extended at the foot of the first escarpments of the other lands; here in the past very flourishing oasis centers had developed, such as Chinguetti, Atar, Ouadane, today in full decline. The urban population is constantly increasing (in 2005 it was 40.4% of the total population) but the settlement structures are inadequate to contain this urbanization, so dilapidated shanty towns proliferate. Nouakchott is the largest economic center of the country and, located at the natural outlet of the Sahel, near the Atlantic coast, along the main route of Trans-Mauritanian traffic, it carries out a discrete port and commercial movement in general. The major port center, however, is Nouâdhibou, founded in 1906 by the French with the name of Port-Étienne; it began to develop only after 1963, the year in which it was connected by rail to the iron deposits of Fdérick (formerly Fort Gouraud) becoming its port of embarkation. The other major centers of Mauritania are Boutilimit, Zouèrat, notable for their mineral resources, Kaédi and Rosso, agricultural markets in the area irrigated by the Senegal River.
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The climate is characterized by high temperatures and sparse and irregular rainfall. The annual temperature fluctuations are small; however, large daily fluctuations can occur in the desert.
Most of the rain falls during the short rainy season (hivernage), from July to September, and the average annual precipitation varies from 400 millimeters in the extreme south to less than 100 millimeters in the north.
Mauritania can be divided into three climatic zones.
Inland there is a hot, dry desert climate with large temperature differences between day and night. In this desert region of Mauritania, daytime temperatures of well over 40 °C are usually reached.
On the coast between Nouadhibou and Nouakchott, the temperatures are milder than inland due to the proximity of the Atlantic. In Nouakchott, the capital by the sea, temperatures average 28 °C in July and 21 °C in January. In the months of August and September there is high humidity in the coastal area of Mauritania.
In the area along the Senegal River, temperatures are very high for more than half of the year and humidity is high all year round. There is a rainy season from July to October with a total of up to 400 mm of precipitation.
The Harmattan, a hot, dry and often dust-laden wind, blows from the Sahara during the long dry season and is the predominant wind, except on the narrow coastal strip, which is influenced by oceanic trade winds.
The climate diagrams worldwide provide a climate cross-section for some larger Mauritanian cities.