Mauritania - Country history and economic development

c. 1-1000 A.D. Berber nomads conquer the indigenous black population, dominating trade with the African kingdom of Ghana across the trans-Saharan trade routes.

c. 1100-1674. Almoravid Dynasty controls the trade in gold, slaves, and salt.

1674. Muslim Arabs conquer the country, becoming the upper class of society. Arabic becomes the official language.

1905. Mauritania becomes a French protectorate and later colony; slavery is legally abolished.

1958. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is proclaimed.

1960. Mauritania gains independence from France; M. Ould Daddah is elected president.

1960s-70s. The economy expands thanks to newly discovered iron and copper deposits.

1975. Spain cedes the Western Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania, sparking a continuing conflict over the status of the region.

1978. President Daddah is toppled in a coup, and in 1979 Mauritania withdraws from the Western Sahara. Prime minister, later president, Mohamed Ould Haidalla institutes strict enforcement of Islamic law.

1984. Haidalla is deposed by Colonel Taya.

1989. Mauritania joins the Union of the Arab Maghreb, a North African political and economic union whose members include Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria.

1989. Tensions with Senegal over agricultural rights along their border result in the repatriation of 100,000 Mauritanians from Senegal and the expulsion of 125,000 Senegalese from Mauritania.

1991. A new constitution is adopted, and opposition parties are legalized.

1997. President Taya is reelected president in a landslide election victory.

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