As I mentioned in my post of 08.12.12, Mauritania is about 30% Moor, 40% mixed Moor/black African and 30% black African. As one might expect of a country with such a complicated and evenly balanced racial makeup, identity politics is complicated in Mauritania: while the country’s leadership, at least since the 70s, has identified itself with the Arab world (becoming a member of the Arab League in 1973), a significant part of the country essentially forms a continuation of black French West Africa. Aside from the by-color black population that has been integrated into the now-dominant Moorish, Arabic-speaking culture, there are also sub-Saharan black Africans, especially in the bigger cities.
For all of the mixedness of the country, the riots of 1989 (when the Moorish and sub-Saharan black African populations came into violent conflict, leading to the forced migration of many Moors from Senegal and black Africans from Mauritania) and the August 2008 coup, Mauritania seemed quite peaceful and stable to us, a sparsely-populated desert country with room for all.
Some of the black African residents of Mauritania
Some of the Moorish residents of Mauritania
By skin color, black, but, as far as we could tell, individuals whose families have long been culturally integrated into the Hassaniya-Arabic speaking culture of the Moors