Many sedentary peoples, whose ancestors had been expelled centuries earlier, began to trickle back into Mauritania.
The previous capital of the country under the French rule, Saint-Louis, was located in Senegal, so when the country gained independence in 1960, Nouakchott, at the time little more than a fortified village ("ksar"), was chosen as the site of the new capital of Mauritania.
This ethnic discord was evident during inter-communal violence that broke out in April 1989 (the "Mauritania–Senegal Border War"), but has since subsided.
Mauritania expelled some 70,000 sub-Saharan African Mauritanians in the late 1980s.
In 1076, Moorish Islamic warrior monks (Almoravid or Al Murabitun) attacked and conquered the large area of the ancient Ghana Empire.
Over the next 500 years, Arabs overcame fierce resistance from the local population (Berber and non-Berber alike) to dominate Mauritania.
The Arabized dominant elites reacted to changing circumstances, and to Arab nationalist calls from abroad, by increasing pressure to Arabize many aspects of Mauritanian life, such as law and the education system.Between these groups stood African origins, who is part of the Arab society, integrated into a low-caste social position.This social discrimination is applied chiefly against the "black Moors" (Haratin) in the northern part of the country, where tribal elites among "white Moors" (Bidh'an, Hassaniya-speaking Arabs and Arabized Berbers) hold sway.Through a combination of strategic alliances with Zawaya tribes, and military pressure on the Hassane warrior nomads, he managed to extend French rule over the Mauritanian emirates.Trarza, Brakna and Tagant have been occupied by the French armies in 1903–04, but the northern emirate of Adrar held out longer, aided by the anti-colonial rebellion (or jihad) of shaykh Maa al-Aynayn, as well by insurgents from Tagant and the other regions.Adrar was finally defeated militarily in 1912, and incorporated into the territory of Mauritania, which had been drawn up and planned in 1904.Mauritania was part of French West Africa from 1920, as a protectorate and, then, a colony.gradually absorbed the territories of present-day Mauritania from the Senegal River area and northwards, starting in the late 19th century.In 1901, Xavier Coppolani took charge of the imperial mission.This was also a reaction to the consequences of the French domination under the colonial rule.Various models for maintaining the country's cultural diversity have been suggested, but none were successfully implemented.