Mauritania, a former French territory, was first discovered by the Portuguese explorers. Even though they arrived to the lands as early as in the 15th century, the control over the country was later overtaken by the French. Several successful attacks resulted in them establishing a settlement and proclaiming the country one of their colonies known under the name French West Africa.
Like any other country that served as a colony and had no right to make decisions on its own, Mauritania fought for its independence. Upon winning this exhausting battle, the country officially gained independence in 1960. Despite being independent for almost 60 years, the French influence on the culture and education system is still obvious.
There are many interesting facts about this culturally diverse country that many people do not know about. Today, we’ll fix that by providing a set of these facts. Here they are…
Mauritania: 8 interesting facts about the country with unusual beauty standards
1. Mauritania’s peculiar feature is a mixture of cultures
Mauritania’s culture is truly unique because it was shaped under the influence of many ethnic groups living on the lands in the past. People representing different cultures, slowly mixed as did their cultures. One of the consequences that still exist is the art and tradition of storytelling that aims to remind natives of their past that should not be forgotten. Folk stories, myths and legends have withstood the test of time and continue being the most informative source of the country’s history.
2. The country’s cuisine includes meals from many cultures
The meals one can try while in Mauritania may include meat and fish as well as many vegetables. Even though the cuisine is strongly influenced by Moroccan and Senegalese cultures, the country has its own national dish called thieboudienne. The delicious meal based on rice and fish is served with a special sauce, a fun fact about Mauritania.
Since the majority of the population adheres to Islam, alcohol is strictly banned. Mauritanians prefer drinking mint tea during a day which is a great way to quench thirst.
3. Mauritanian females are not equal to males
The realities of the present prove that women are able to achieve the same success as men. Equality is no longer a privilege but the principle incorporated in the lifestyle of many countries. Unfortunately, Mauritania is not one of these countries. Females in Mauritania get neither education no the right to work. Education, work and other things associated with freedom are reserved for men who are responsible for earning money and providing for their families. As for women, their main and only priorities in life are expected to be children and home.
4. Mauritania is the country where polygamy is common
Polygamy is the family lifestyle that has been existing in the country for many centuries. Since the wedding and creation of a new family is a very important event, the elder generation arranges marriages based on their experience and the long-standing traditions. Arranged marriages are believed to be a solid foundation for the relationships that will link a bride and a groom till the end of their days. While marriages between cousins are acceptable, marriages between people of different religions are strictly forbidden.
5. The country’s culture dictates unusual beauty standards
Today’s society all over the world believes that a pretty woman is a slim woman. This beauty standard is totally different in Mauritania, with the prettiest girls being as fat as possible, an interesting fact about Mauritania. Once a girl turns 15 (which is the age when she can marry a man), she is taken to a special farm. The farm where she will be forced to eat until she gets fat. Apart from attractiveness, the size of a woman’s body defines her status within the women society.
6. Mauritania’s women are punished for being slim
You’ll be shocked to learn that slim women are severely punished in Mauritania. First, they are taken to one of the special farms located in a rural area and are forced to drink milk and eat fat food. If a girl is unable to continue eating, she is beaten up.
7. Mauritanians are expected to give expensive gifts to their future wives
The family of the groom is expected to cover all the expenses associated with the wedding. On the wedding day, a special contract is signed, with two witnesses stating that the bride and the groom have been bound forever. The groom is to give his bride either a sum of money or a gift. Here there are no strict rules, and everything depends on the budget and imagination of his family.
8. Mauritanian females wear black wedding dresses on the most important day of their lives
While in the majority of the countries women are supposed to marry in a white dress (signifying their purity), females in Mauritania marry in black. An interesting fact about Mauritania is that there are several explanations to why exactly this color was chosen as the color of a wedding dress.
According to the folk stories, women born and living in Mauritania had pale skin. When wearing black dresses, they looked more attractive than they were. Besides, black dresses in the past were made only from natural material which helped women to get rid of ugly dark spots on the skin.
In contrast to women, men are supposed to marry in white.
Even though the Mauritanian society considers children to be very important, it is unable to ensure their safe and happy childhood. Extreme poverty and violence the children are faced with in everyday life forces children to work from an early age and learn to protect themselves.
I hope that this article on Mauritania facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!