The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, also referred to as Mauritania, is one of the largest nations in Africa. The country covers an area of roughly 400,000 square miles and is the 28th largest nation globally. Evidence indicates that Mauritania has been home to human communities for a long time with one of the first groups that settled there being the Balfour. In ancient times, Mauritania was bordered by the region referred to as Libya. In the present day, Mauritania shares its borders with four nations: Algeria, Mali, Western Sahara, and Senegal. The land boundaries of the nation cover a distance of roughly 3,153 miles. Several events have affected the shape of Mauritania’s borders with one of the most significant being colonization by the French.
Senegal and Mauritania share a border that is roughly 742 miles long and is situated on the southwestern side of Mauritania. Some urban centers and towns are located on the Mauritanian side of the border with some of the most notable being Rosso, Bogue, Kaedi, and Mederdra. Roads link towns on the Senegalese side of the border to towns on the Mauritanian side of the border. Both Mauritania and Senegal were under the control of the French during the colonial era, and they determined the shape of the boundary between the two nations.
The Border Dispute With Senegal
From 1989 to 1991, Mauritania and Senegal were involved in a dispute about the nature of the border that separates the two nations. The conflict revolved around grazing rights and the River Senegal which forms part of the boundary between the two states. The conflict had some devastating impacts such as the creation of numerous refugees, the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two nations, and a significant number of people died on both sides. Several international organizations tried to help settle the dispute with the Organization of African Union (OAU) playing a huge role. Despite their best efforts, the Senegalese president, Abdou Diouf, played the biggest role in settling the conflict. Because of his efforts, Senegal and Mauritania signed a treaty that led to the re-establishment of ties between the two nations.
Mauritania’s longest land border is shared with Mali and extends for roughly 1,390 miles in the eastern and southeastern section of Mauritania. The French colonized both Mali and Mauritania, and the border between the two nations was determined during the colonial period. There are several towns located on the Malian side of the border such as Selibabi, Kankossa, and Kobenni.
The Border Dispute With Mali
Mali and Mauritania were involved in a border dispute in 2010 because of the actions of the governments of Mauritania and France. The two governments carried out an unsuccessful operation to rescue hostages of French nationalities who were being held by AQIM fighters believed to be hiding in Mali. Since the Malian government did not sanction the operation, it led to the deterioration of the relationship between Mali and Mauritania. Apart from the 2010 dispute, Mali and Mauritania were also involved in a border dispute in 1963.
A 97-mile long border separates the nations of Mauritania and Western Sahara. The border is situated on the northern side of the country and has been the subject of controversy for countless times. There are several towns on the Mauritian side of the border with some of the most notable being Tmeimichat, Zouerat, and Ain Ben Tili. There are roads connecting towns in Mauritania to towns in Western Sahara.
The Border Dispute With Western Sahara
One of the factors that contributed to a dispute between the two nations was the fact that Mauritania’s annexation of part of Western Sahara’s territory. Mauritania later pulled out of those areas that it had annexed after the French government intervened to try and settle the conflict. During the dispute, close to 2,000 Mauritanian soldiers lost their lives. It is also estimated that more than 2,000 Mauritian soldiers may have been captured during the conflict. After pulling out of Western Sahara, the Mauritian government declared that it was neutral in the conflict and it hoped for a quick and peaceful end to the issue. Mauritania played a significant role in Western Sahara’s history as it was the birthplace of the Polisario Front.
Mauritania’s shortest land border is shared with the North African nation of Algeria which is roughly 286 miles long and is situated in the northeastern section of Mauritania. In 2018, the Mauritian and Algerian governments opened up a border crossing close to the city of Tindouf which is situated on the Algerian side of the border. The border crossing point was created to improve the security along the border of the two nations.
The Relationship Between Algeria and Mauritania
Several experts classify the relationship between Mauritania and Algeria as cordial. Despite the friendly relationship, Algeria and Mauritania have had several disputes. One of the most significant issues concerned the Western Saharan War where Morocco and Mauritania were on one side while Algeria and the Polisario Front were on the opposing side. One of the factors that contributed to Mauritania pulling out of Western Sahara was the economic and political pressure that Algeria exerted. In Mauritania, the Algerian government is represented by an embassy located in Nouakchott. On the other hand, the government of Mauritania is represented by an embassy located in Algiers.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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