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At the end of the first millennium this was the western extreme of the Saharan trade routes and was famous for date plantations. By the time of Mali Empire it was home to nomadic Berber, and eventually became part of the Islamic Almoravid state. Portuguese explorers visited and documented the area (and raided for slaves). Mauritania became a French colony in 1814 and achieved independence in 1960.

Background Notes: Mauritania
A useful potted history is included with these US Department of State Background Notes on Mauritania. Also included is a range of political, economic, and geographical data, as well as information on its people, defense, and relations with the US.

Mauritania - Library of Congress Country Studies
The Library of Congress Country Study for Mauritania provides an excellent and fairly detailed history of the country. This information was originally compiled for the US Department of Army in case of potential deployment -- examining the historical, social, economic, and political background the country. (The only problem with this site is the awkwardness of navigating so many pages.)

Mauritania History from Lonely Planet
A quirky, colloquial presentation of Mauritania’s history presented by LonelyPlanet.com. Makes awfully good reading and may galvanize your interest in Africa’s regional history. Not only suitable for travelers.

Mauritania - a Country Profile from the BBC
An extremely brief historical overview accompanies this BBC Country Profile of Mauritania. Of particular interest are the simplified regional map (see where the country is in Africa), a photograph of Mauritania’s current Chief of State, and details about the countries media.

Timeline for Mauritania from the BBC
A chronology of important events in the history of Mauritania given by year (and for more recent events by month also).

CIA World Fact Book: Mauritania
A useful map and a range of geographical, political, and economic facts which are mostly up-to-date. Unfortunately this country profile lacks historical information (except for independence date), but the population statistics are probably the best available.

Mauritania's Chief of State and Cabinet Ministers
Updated weekly, this list of Mauritania's Chief of State and Cabinet Ministers is provided by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.

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