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Mauritania , officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in the Maghreb region of western North Africa. It is the eleventh largest country in Africa, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, by Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest.

The country derives its name from the ancient Berber Kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BC to the 7th century AD, in the far north of modern-day Morocco. Approximately 90% of Mauritania's land is within the Sahara Desert and consequently the population is concentrated in the south, where precipitation is slightly higher than the rest of the country. The capital and largest city of Mauritania is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast, which is home to around one-third of the country's 3.5 million people. The government of Mauritania was overthrown on 6 August 2008, in a military coup d'état led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. On 16 April 2009, General Aziz resigned from the military to run for president in the 19 July elections, which he won.

About 20% of Mauritanians live on less than US$1.25 per day. Slavery in Mauritania has been called a major human rights issue, with over 150,000 people – roughly 4% of the country's population, proportionally the highest for any country – being enslaved against their will, especially enemies of the government. Higher estimates suggest 10% to 20% of the population (340,000 to 680,000 people) is enslaved. Additional human rights concerns in Mauritania include female genital mutilation and child labour.

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