Forgotten world (73): Mauritania

Mauritania is a mineral-rich country in north-west Africa which is twice the size of France. Its 3.2 million population mixes white and black Moors and black Mauritanians of several ethnic groups. The white Moorish elite have traditionally held power and black citizens have been discriminated against.
In spite of a 1981 decree outlawing slavery, a centuries-old system of bondage still operates with slaves serving their masters and being passed on as family chattels from generation to generation [more information here].
The country obtained its independence from France in 1960, but has seen little stability in that period. A military junta is about to step down and hand over power to a democractially elected civilian government. Mauritania is an Islamic republic, a member of the Arab League, and an ally of the US in its war on terror and controversially it has diplomatic relations with Israel.