Iraq the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Assyrians, Shabakis, Armenians, Mandeans and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan and Mandeanism present; the official languages of Iraq are Kurdish. Iraq has a coastline measuring 58 km on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf; these rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers known as Mesopotamia, is referred to as the cradle of civilisation.
It was here that mankind first began to read, create laws and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which "Iraq" is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. Iraq was the centre of the Akkadian, Sumerian and Babylonian empires, it was part of the Median, Hellenistic, Sassanid, Rashidun, Abbasid, Mongol, Safavid and Ottoman empires. The country today known as Iraq was a region of the Ottoman Empire until the partition of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century, it was made up of three provinces, called vilayets in the Ottoman language: Mosul Vilayet, Baghdad Vilayet, Basra Vilayet. In April 1920 the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed monarchy joining these vilayets into one Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of Iraq; the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created.
Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power, multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005; the US presence in Iraq ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. Out of the insurgency came a destructive group calling itself ISIL, which took large parts of the north and west, it has since been defeated. Disputes over the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan continue. A referendum about the full sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017. On 9 December 2017, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIL after the group lost its territory in Iraq. Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of one autonomous region; the country's official religion is Islam. Culturally, Iraq has a rich heritage and celebrates the achievements of its past in both pre-Islamic as well as post-Islamic times and is known for its poets.
Its painters and sculptors are among the best in the Arab world, some of them being world-class as well as producing fine handicrafts, including rugs and carpets. Iraq is a founding member of the UN as well as of the Arab League, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF; the Arabic name العراق al-ʿIrāq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk and is thus of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for "city", UR. An Arabic folk etymology for the name is "well-watered. During the medieval period, there was a region called ʿIrāq ʿArabī for Lower Mesopotamia and ʿIrāq ʿAjamī, for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran; the term included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq. Prior to the middle of the 19th century, the term Eyraca Arabic was used to describe Iraq.
The term Sawad was used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. As an Arabic word, عراق means "hem", "shore", "bank", or "edge", so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as "the escarpment", viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the "al-Iraq arabi" area. The Arabic pronunciation is. In English, it is either or, the American Heritage Dictionary, the Random House Dictionary; the pronunciation is heard in US media. In accordance with the 2005 Constitution, the official name of the state is the "Republic of Iraq". Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern Iraq was home to a Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been discovered at Shanidar Cave This same region is the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from 11,000 BC. Since 10,000 BC, Iraq was one of centres of a Caucasoid Neolithic culture (k
Algerian Civil War
The Algerian Civil War was an armed conflict between the Algerian Government and various Islamic rebel groups which began in 1991 following a coup negating an Islamist electoral victory. The war began as it first appeared the government had crushed the Islamist movement, but armed groups emerged to fight jihad and by 1994, violence had reached such a level that it appeared the government might not be able to withstand it. By 1996–97 however it became clear that the violence and predation of the Islamists had lost its popular support, although fighting continued for several years after; the war has been referred to as'the dirty war', saw extreme violence and brutality used against civilians. Islamists targeted journalists, over 70 of whom were killed, foreigners, over 100 of whom were killed, although it is thought by many that security forces as well as Islamists were involved, as the government infiltrated the insurgents. Children were used by the rebel groups. Total fatalities have been estimated to be a range of different values from 44,000 to between 100,000 and 200,000.
The conflict began in December 1991, when the new and enormously popular Islamic Salvation Front party appeared poised to defeat the ruling National Liberation Front party in the national parliamentary elections. The elections were canceled after the first round and the military took control of the government, forcing pro-reform president Chadli Bendjedid from office. After the FIS was banned and thousands of its members arrested, Islamist guerrillas emerged and began an armed campaign against the government and its supporters, they formed themselves into various armed groups, principally the Islamic Armed Movement, based in the mountains, the more hard-line Armed Islamic Group, based in the towns. The GIA motto was "no agreement, no truce, no dialogue" and declared war on the FIS in 1994 after it made progress in negotiations with the government; the MIA and various smaller insurgent bands regrouped, becoming the FIS-loyalist Islamic Salvation Army. After talks collapsed, elections were won by the army's candidate, General Liamine Zéroual.
The GIA not only fought the AIS but began a series of massacres targeting entire neighborhoods or villages—some evidence suggests the involvement of government forces—which peaked in 1997. Its massacre policy caused desertion and splits, while the AIS, under attack from both sides, declared a unilateral ceasefire with the government in 1997. In the meantime 1997 parliamentary elections were won by a newly created pro-Army party supporting the president. In 1999, following the election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika as president, violence declined as large numbers of insurgents "repented", taking advantage of a new amnesty law; the remnants of the GIA proper were hunted down over the next two years, had disappeared by 2002, with the exception of a splinter group called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which announced its support for Al-Qaeda in October 2003 and continued fighting an insurgency that would spread to other countries in the region. Social conditions that led to dissatisfaction with the FLN government, interest in jihad against it include: a population explosion in the 1960s and 70s that outstripped the stagnant economy's ability to supply jobs, housing and urban infrastructure to massive numbers of young in the urban areas.
Islam in Algeria after independence was dominated by Salafist "Islamic revivalism" and Political Islam rather than the more apolitical popular Islam of brotherhoods found in other areas of North Africa. The brotherhoods had been dismantled by the FLN government in retaliation for lack of support and their land had been confiscated and redistributed by the FLN government after independence. In the 1980s the government imported two renowned Islamic scholars, Mohammed al-Ghazali and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to "strengthen the religious dimension" of the ruling National Liberation Front party's "nationalist ideology". Rather than doing this, the clerics worked to promote "Islamic awakening" as they were "fellow travelers" of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies. Al-Ghazali issuing a number of fatawa favorable to positions taken by local "radical" imams. Another Islamist, Mustafa Bouyali, a "gifted inflammatory preacher" and veteran of the Algerian independence struggle, called for the application of the sharia and creating of an Islamic state by jihad.
After persecution by the security services in 1982 he founded the underground Mouvement Islamique Arme, "a loose association of tiny groups", with himself as amir. His group carried out a series of "bold attacks" against the regime and was able to continue its fight for five years before Bouyali was killed in February 1987. In the 1980s, several hundred youth left Algeria for camps of Peshawar to fight jihad in Afghanistan; as Algeria was a close ally of th
Politics of Algeria
Politics of Algeria takes place in a framework of a constitutional semi-presidential republic, whereby the President of Algeria is head of state while the Prime Minister of Algeria is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the People's National Assembly and the Council of the Nation. A legacy of Algeria's bloody War of Independence from France is a powerful military and security apparatus that put a high value on secrecy. Since 1988, parties other than the ruling FLN have been allowed and multiparty elections have been held, but freedom of political speech and assembly is circumscribed, the 2014 presidential election was boycotted by major opposition parties. Algeria has been called a "controlled democracy", or a state where the military and "a select group" of unelected civilians—reportedly known to Algerians as "le pouvoir" —make major decisions, such as who should be president.
Since the early 1990s, a shift from a socialist to a free market economy has been ongoing with official support. The civil war resulted in more than 100,000 deaths since 1991. Although the security situation in the country has improved, addressing the underlying issues which brought about the political turmoil of the 1990s remains the government's major task; the government lifted the state of emergency declared in 1999. Under the 1976 Constitution Algeria is a multi-party state. All parties must be approved by the Ministry of the Interior. To date, Algeria has had more than 40 legal political parties. According to the Constitution, no political association may be formed if it is "based on differences in religion, race, gender, or region." While many sources agree that the real power in Algeria is not held by its constitutional organs, they differ as to who/what does. According to the Economist magazine, the military is the primary powerbroker, along with "a select group" of unelected civilians.
These “décideurs” are known to Algerians as “le pouvoir”, make major decisions, including who should be president. Adam Nossiter of the New York Times states "Algerian politics is still dominated" by men from the ruling party, the FLN. Moroccan-Italian journalist Anna Mahjar-Barducci, writing in Haaretz, insists the FLN "is a group of apparatchiks fighting each other when they're not tending to the businesses... with which they have rewarded themselves from their positions of power". According to Mahjar-Barducci, real power is held by "the military's Department of Intelligence and Security." The head of state is the President of the republic, elected to a 5-year term, renewable once. Algeria has universal suffrage; the President is the head of the Council of Ministers and of the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister, the head of government; the Prime Minister appoints the Council of Ministers. The People's National Assembly has less power relative to the executive branch than many parliaments and has been described as "rubber-stamping" laws proposed by the president.
As of 2012 there were 462 seats in parliament. In the May 2012 election the government reported a 42.9% turnout, though the BBC reported that correspondents saw "only a trickle of voters" at polling places. In that election 44 political parties participated with the ruling National Liberation Front winning more than any other group—220 seats—and an alliance of moderate Islamists coming in second with 66 seats; the Islamists disputed the results. In keeping with its amended Constitution, the Algerian Government espouses participatory democracy and free-market competition; the government has stated that it will continue to open the political process and encourage the creation of political institutions. More than 40 political parties, representing a wide segment of the population, are active in Algerian national politics; the most recent legislative election was 2012. President Bouteflika has pledged to restructure the state as part of his overall reform efforts. However, no specifics are yet available as to how such reforms would affect political structures and the political process itself.
In the 2002 elections, there were 17,951,127 eligible voters, 8,288,536 of them voted which made a turn out of 46.17%. Out of the ballots cast, there were 867,669 void ballots according to the Interior ministry and 7,420,867 which went to the various candidates; the most recent legislative election now is the 2012 one: Algeria is divided into 48 wilaya headed by walis who report to the Minister of Interior. Each wilaya is further divided into daïras, themselves divided in communes; the wilayas and communes are each governed by an elected assembly. Algeria has more than 30 daily newspapers published in French and Arabic, with a total publication run of more than 1.5 million copies. Although free to write as they choose, in 2001, the government amended the penal code provisions relating to defamation and slander, a step viewed as an effort to rein in the press. Government monopoly of newsprint and advertising is seen as another means to influence the press, although it has permitted newspapers to create their own printing distribution networks..
See List of Algerian newspapers. Population growth and associated problems—unemployment and underemployment, inability of social services to keep pace with rapid urban migration, inadequate industrial management and productivity, a decaying infrastructure—continue to plague Algerian society. Increases in the production and prices of oil and gas over
Israel the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west and Egypt to the southwest; the country contains geographically diverse features within its small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition. Israel has evidence of the earliest migration of hominids out of Africa. Canaanite tribes are archaeologically attested since the Middle Bronze Age, while the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged during the Iron Age; the Neo-Assyrian Empire destroyed Israel around 720 BCE. Judah was conquered by the Babylonian and Hellenistic empires and had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces.
The successful Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom by 110 BCE, which in 63 BCE however became a client state of the Roman Republic that subsequently installed the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE, in 6 CE created the Roman province of Judea. Judea lasted as a Roman province until the failed Jewish revolts resulted in widespread destruction, expulsion of Jewish population and the renaming of the region from Iudaea to Syria Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region has persisted to a certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century CE, the Levant was taken from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and remained in Muslim control until the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid conquest of 1187; the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. During the 19th century, national awakening among Jews led to the establishment of the Zionist movement in the diaspora followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman Syria and British Mandate Palestine.
In 1947, the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency, rejected by Arab leaders; the following year, the Jewish Agency declared the independence of the State of Israel, the subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War saw Israel's establishment over most of the former Mandate territory, while the West Bank and Gaza were held by neighboring Arab states. Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries, since the Six-Day War in 1967 held occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip, it extended its laws to the Golan East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is the world's longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in a final peace agreement. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have been signed.
In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a democratic state. The country has a liberal democracy, with a parliamentary system, proportional representation, universal suffrage; the prime minister is head of government and the Knesset is the legislature. Israel is a developed country and an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member, with the 32nd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2017; the country benefits from a skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East, has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Furthermore, Israel ranked 11th in the UN's 2018 World Happiness Report. Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name "State of Israel" after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel and Judea, were considered but rejected.
In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term "Israeli" to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett. The names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish people respectively; the name "Israel" in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years, until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the "Exodus"; the earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word "Israel" as a collective is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt. The area is known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith.
Under British Mandate, the whole region was known as Palestine (Hebre
Algeria the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. The capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the far north of the country on the Mediterranean coast. With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres, Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, the world's largest Arab country, the largest in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, to the north by the Mediterranean Sea; the country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 1,541 communes. It has the highest human development index of all non-island African countries. Ancient Algeria has known many empires and dynasties, including ancient Numidians, Carthaginians, Vandals, Umayyads, Idrisid, Rustamid, Zirid, Almoravids, Spaniards and the French colonial empire. Berbers are the indigenous inhabitants of Algeria. Algeria is a middle power.
It supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 16th largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has one of the largest defence budget on the continent. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League, OPEC, the United Nations and is a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union. On 2 April 2019, president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after nearly 20 years in power, following pressure from the country’s army after mass protests against Bouteflika's campaign for a fifth term; the country's name derives from the city of Algiers. The city's name in turn derives from the Arabic al-Jazā'ir, a truncated form of the older Jazā'ir Banī Mazghanna, employed by medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi. In the region of Ain Hanech, early remnants of hominid occupation in North Africa were found.
Neanderthal tool makers produced hand axes in the Levalloisian and Mousterian styles similar to those in the Levant. Algeria was the site of the highest state of development of Middle Paleolithic Flake tool techniques. Tools of this era, starting about 30,000 BC, are called Aterian; the earliest blade industries in North Africa are called Iberomaurusian. This industry appears to have spread throughout the coastal regions of the Maghreb between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. Neolithic civilization developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean Maghreb as early as 11,000 BC or as late as between 6000 and 2000 BC; this life, richly depicted in the Tassili n'Ajjer paintings, predominated in Algeria until the classical period. The mixture of peoples of North Africa coalesced into a distinct native population that came to be called Berbers, who are the indigenous peoples of northern Africa. From their principal center of power at Carthage, the Carthaginians expanded and established small settlements along the North African coast.
These settlements served as market towns as well as anchorages. As Carthaginian power grew, its impact on the indigenous population increased dramatically. Berber civilization was at a stage in which agriculture, manufacturing and political organization supported several states. Trade links between Carthage and the Berbers in the interior grew, but territorial expansion resulted in the enslavement or military recruitment of some Berbers and in the extraction of tribute from others. By the early 4th century BC, Berbers formed the single largest element of the Carthaginian army. In the Revolt of the Mercenaries, Berber soldiers rebelled from 241 to 238 BC after being unpaid following the defeat of Carthage in the First Punic War, they succeeded in obtaining control of much of Carthage's North African territory, they minted coins bearing the name Libyan, used in Greek to describe natives of North Africa. The Carthaginian state declined because of successive defeats by the Romans in the Punic Wars.
In 146 BC the city of Carthage was destroyed. As Carthaginian power waned, the influence of Berber leaders in the hinterland grew. By the 2nd century BC, several large but loosely administered Berber kingdoms had emerged. Two of them were established behind the coastal areas controlled by Carthage. West of Numidia lay Mauretania, which extended across the Moulouya River in modern-day Morocco to the Atlantic Ocean; the high point of Berber civilization, unequaled until the coming of the Almohads and Almoravids more than a millennium was reached during the reign of Masinissa in the 2nd century BC. After Masinissa's death in 148 BC, the Berber kingdoms were reunited several times. Masinissa's line survived until 24 AD, when the remaining Berber territory was annexed to the Roman Empire. For several centuries Algeria was ruled by the Romans. Like the rest of No
Mauritania is a country in Northwest Africa. It is the eleventh largest sovereign state in Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, Senegal to the southwest; the country derives its name from the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BCE into the 7th century CE in the far north of modern-day Morocco and Algeria. 90% of Mauritania's land is within the Sahara. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast, home to around one-third of the country's 4.3 million people. The government was overthrown on 6 August 2008, in a military coup d'état led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. On 16 April 2009, Aziz resigned from the military to run for president in the 19 July elections, which he won. Mauritania (. In other languages, it is known variously as Agawej or Cengiṭ, Gànnaar and Moritani; the ancient tribes of Mauritania were Berber people.
The Bafours were agricultural, among the first Saharan people to abandon their nomadic lifestyle. With the gradual desiccation of the Sahara, they headed south. Many of the Berber tribes claimed Yemeni origins. There is little evidence to support such claims, but a 2000 DNA study of Yemeni people suggested there might be some ancient connection between the peoples. Other peoples migrated south past the Sahara to West Africa. In 1076, Moorish Islamic warrior monks attacked and conquered the large area of the ancient Ghana Empire; the Char Bouba war was the unsuccessful final effort of the peoples to repel the Yemeni Maqil Arab invaders. The invaders were led by the Beni Hassan tribe; the descendants of the Beni Hassan warriors became the upper stratum of Moorish society. Hassaniya, a bedouin Arabic dialect that derives its name from the Beni Hassan, became the dominant language among the nomadic population. Berbers retained a niche influence by producing the majority of the region's marabouts: those who preserve and teach Islamic tradition.
Imperial France 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. Through a combination of strategic alliances with Zawaya tribes, military pressure on the Hassane warrior nomads, he managed to extend French rule over the Mauritanian emirates. Trarza and Tagant were occupied by the French armies in 1903–04, but the northern emirate of Adrar held out longer, aided by the anti-colonial rebellion of shaykh Maa al-Aynayn, as well by insurgents from Tagant and the other regions. Adrar was defeated militarily in 1912, incorporated into the territory of Mauritania, drawn up and planned in 1904. Mauritania was part of French West Africa from 1920, as a protectorate and a colony. French rule brought legal prohibitions against an end to inter-clan warfare. During the colonial period, 90% of the population remained nomadic. 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, was chosen as the site of the new capital of Mauritania. After gaining independence, larger numbers of indigenous Sub-Saharan African peoples entered Mauritania, moving into the area north of the Senegal River. Educated in French language and customs, many of these recent arrivals became clerks and administrators in the new state; this occurred. This changed the former balance of power, new conflicts arose between the southern populations and Moors. Between these groups stood African origins, part of the Arab society, integrated into a low-caste social position. Modern-day slavery still exists in different forms in Mauritania. According to some estimates, thousands of Mauritanians are still enslaved. A 2012 CNN report, "Slavery's Last Stronghold," by John D. Sutter and documents the ongoing slave-owning cultures.
This social discrimination is applied chiefly against the "black Moors" in the northern part of the country, where tribal elites among "white Moors" hold sway. Slavery practices exist within the sub-Saharan African ethnic groups of the south; the great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive devastation in Mauritania, exacerbating problems of poverty and conflict. The Arabized dominant elites reacted to changing circumstances, to Arab nationalist calls from abroad, by increasing pressure to Arabize many aspects of Mauritanian life, such as law and the education system; this was 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 implemented; this ethnic discord was evident during inter-communal violence that broke out in April 1989, but has since subsided. Mauritania expelled some 70,000 sub-Saharan African Mauritanians in the late 1980s. Ethnic tensions and the sensitive issue of
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona