Culture of Mauritania: People

Culture of Mauritania: People Last updated on Thursday 22nd April 2010

40% of the population is of mixed Moor and black African heritage; another 30 percent of Mauritania's people are Moors (of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry), many of whom lead nomadic existences. More than 90 percent of the population lives in the southern quarter of the country. About 30 percent of the people are black African farmers, who are settled in the Sénégal Valley.

About 75% of Mauritanians are Moors who speak an Arabic dialect called Hassaniyah. They are a traditional nomadic people of the desert and Savannah areas, but a prolonged drought in the 1970s caused a massive movement into cities such as Nouakchott.

The nomadic population -- some 83% of the total in 1963 -- was reduced to only 25% by 1986.

Moors have a mixture of Berber, Arab and African ancestry.

The two principal African tribes in the south are the Pular (who are directly related to the widely dispersed Fulani people), and the Sarakole (also called the Soininke). Three other minority tribes, the Wolof, the Tukulor and Bambara, make up the multiracial nature of the country.

According to the 1988 census, Mauritania had 1,864,236 inhabitants. The 2001 estimated population was 2,747,312, which indicates a overall population density of 3 persons per sq. km (7 persons per sq. mi.).

Statistics

Population

2,747,312 (estimation of July 2001)

Age Structure

0-14 years: 46.14% (female 632,655, male 634,940)

15-46 years: 51.6% (female 718,883, male 698,433)

65 years and over: 2.26% (female 36,562, male 25,840)

Population growth rate:

2.93% (estimation of 2001)

Birth rate:

42.95%/1000 population (estimation of 2001)

Death rate:

13.65 deaths/1000 population (estimation of 2001)

Infant mortality rate:

76.7 deaths/1000 live births (estimation of 2001)

Life expectancy at birth:

Total population: 51.14 years

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