What Languages Are Spoken in Mauritania?

The flag of Mauritania.
The flag of Mauritania.

Modern Standard Arabic is recognized as the official language of Mauritania. French is spoken as a foreign language in the country. Several minority languages are also spoken by the ethnic minorities living in Mauritania. These include Wolof, Pulaar, Soninke, and Bambara. Hassaniya Arabic is also a popular language spoken in Mauritania.

Afro-Asiatic Languages Spoken in Mauritania


The official language of Mauritania is Literary Arabic, also referred to as Modern Standard Arabic. The fact that Mauritania’s population is almost completely Muslim makes Arabic the most recognized language in the nation.

Hassaniyya Arabic

This language serves as a lingua franca in Mauritania. It is the Arabic language’s local and oral form that is spoken by the common people of Mauritania in their daily lives. The language is also closely related to the Arabic dialect spoken by the Bedouins. The Imraguen people, an ethnic group living in Mauritania, also speak Hassaniyya Arabic.

Berber Languages Spoken in Mauritania


This language, although more widely spoken in the past, is currently spoken near the River Sénégal, to the south of Mauritania, by the Zenaga people. As of 2013, there are about 200 native speakers of Zenaga in Mauritania.


The Berber language is spoken by the Tuareg people living in the extreme southeast of Mauritania, near the country’s border with Mali.

Foreign Languages Spoken in Mauritania


As a legacy of French colonial rule in Mauritania, French is one of the most popular foreign languages spoken in the country. Mauritania is one of the members of the La Francophonie. A large section of the country's population has a certain degree of knowledge of the French language. African French and Maghreb French are the two varieties of French spoken in the country.

Niger-Congo Languages Spoken in Mauritania

Wolof is spoken in Mauritania by the Wolof people. The tonal language is a member of the Senegambian branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages.


The Mande language of Soninke is spoken by West Africa’s Soninke people. In Mauritania, the language enjoys the status of national language.


The Pulaar language is spoken by the Haalpulaar'en living in Mauritania, Gambia, Senegal, and Mali. There are several dialects of this language, but all are mutually intelligible.


The Bambara language is spoken by the Bambara people living in Mauritania.


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