The North-Western African nation of Mauritania is celebrating its 59th independence anniversary to mark its freedom from French colonial rule in 1960.
Mauritania came under French control in the late 19th century as France expanded its influence in the area during the so-called ‘scramble for Africa’. France established the country as a colonial territory in 1904, though it wasn’t until 1912 that local resistance was fully quelled.
Mauritania was part of French West Africa from 1920, initially as a protectorate and, then becoming a colony. Like the other French territories in the region, Mauritania became increasingly autonomous after the end of the second world war. It became self-governing in 1958 and on November 28th 1960 it gained full independence from France, with Nouakchott as its capital and Moktar Ould Daddah as the first president.
Mauritania now boasts of rich natural resources such as iron ore, gold and copper and a nominal GDP of US$ 6 billion. Much of the population, numbering about 4.3 million, relies heavily on agriculture and livestock.
Dubbed the National Day of Mauritania, the day is declared a statutory holiday. It is commemorated with marches and independence parades by hundreds across the country.
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