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Countries > Mauritania Mauritania Flag

Languages   4 languages are spoken in Mauritania. We have 468 products available for 3 of those languages.

Capital: Nouakchott
Population: 2,425,000
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Mauritania Map


Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara

Geographic coordinates: 20 00 N, 12 00 W

Map references: Africa

total : 1,030,700 sq km
land: 1,030,400 sq km
water: 300 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico

Land boundaries:
total: 5,074 km
border countries : Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km

Coastline: 754 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone : 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty

Terrain: mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sebkha de Ndrhamcha -3 m
highest point: Kediet Ijill 910 m

Natural resources: iron ore, gypsum, fish, copper, phosphate

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 38%
forests and woodland : 4%
other: 58% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 490 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts

Environment - current issues: overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; very limited natural fresh water resources away from the Senegal which is the only perennial river

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified : none of the selected agreements

Geography - note: most of the population concentrated along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country


Population: 2,828,858 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 46.1% (male 653,005; female 650,530)
15-64 years: 51.7% (male 720,473; female 741,094)
65 years and over : 2.2% (male 26,251; female 37,505) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.92% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 42.54 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 13.34 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth :1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years:0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population:0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 75.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.53 years
male :49.42 years
female: 53.71 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.15 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun: Mauritanian(s)
adjective: Mauritanian

Ethnic groups: mixed Maur/black 40%, Maur 30%, black 30%

Religions: Muslim 100%

Languages: Hasaniya Arabic (official), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (official)

definition : age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 41.2%
male: 51.5%
female:31.3% (2002 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form : Islamic Republic of Mauritania
conventional short form: Mauritania
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
local short form: Muritaniyah

Data code: MR

Government type: republic

National capital: Nouakchott

Administrative divisions: 12 regions (regions, singular - region) and 1 capital district*; Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh Ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Inchiri, Nouakchott*, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza

Independence: 28 November 1960 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 28 November (1960)

Constitution: 12 July 1991

Legal system: three-tier system: Islamic (Shari'a) courts, special courts, and state security courts (in the process of being eliminated)

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA (since 12 December 1984)
head of government: Prime Minister Cheikh El Avia Ould Mohamed KHOUNA (since 17 November 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 12 December 1997 (next to be held NA December 2003); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA reelected with 90.9% of the vote

Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of the Senate or Majlis al-Shuyukh (56 seats, a part of the seats up for election every two years; members elected by municipal leaders to serve six-year terms) and the National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (81 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 17 April 1998 (next to be held NA April 2002); National Assembly - last held 19 and 26 October 2001 (next to be held NA 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PRDS 98%, others 2%; seats by party - PRDS 56; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - PRDS 79%, RDU 3.5%, UDP 3.5%, AC 5%, RDF 4%, UFP 3.5%, FP 1.5%; seats by party - PRDS 64, UDP 3, RDU 3, AC 4, RDF 3, UFP 3,and FP 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders:Action for Change or AC [Messoud Ould BOULKHEIR]; Alliance for Justice and Democracy or AJD [Kebe ABDOULAYE]; Democratic and Social Republican Party or PRDS (ruling party) [President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA]; Mauritanian Party for Renewal and Concorde or PMRC [Molaye El Hassen Ould JIYID]; National Union for Democracy and Development or UNDD [Tidjane KOITA]; Party for Liberty, Equality and Justice or PLEJ [Daouda M'BAGNIGA]; Popular Front or FP [Ch'bih Ould CHEIKH MALAININE]; Popular Progress Alliance or APP [Mohamed El Hafed Ould ISMAEL]; Popular Social and Democratic Union or UPSD [Mohamed Mahmoud Ould MAH]; Progress Force Union or UFP [Mohamed Ould MAOULOUD]; Rally of Democratic Forces or RDF [Ahmed Ould DADDAH]; Rally for Democracy and Unity or RDU [Ahmed Ould SIDI BABA]; Union for Democracy and Progress or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS] note: the Action for Change party was banned in January 2002; parties legalized by constitution ratified 12 July 1991, however, politics continue to be tribally based

Political pressure groups and leaders:Arab nationalists; Ba'athists; General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CGTM [Abdallahi Ould MOHAMED, secretary general]; Independent Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CLTM [Samory Ould BEYE]; Islamists; Mauritanian Workers Union or UTM [Mohamed Ely Ould BRAHIM, secretary general]

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT (associate), ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, CAEU, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mohamedou Ould MICHEL
chancery: 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-5700

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador John W. LIMBERT
embassy: address NA, Nouakchott
mailing address: B. P. 222, Nouakchott
telephone: [222] (2) 526-60, 526-63
FAX: [222] (2) 515-92

Flag description: green with a yellow five-pointed star above a yellow, horizontal crescent; the closed side of the crescent is down; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam


Economy - overview: Half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for half of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In the past, drought and economic mismanagement resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In February, 2000, Mauritania qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and in December 2001 received strong support from donor and lending countries at a triennial Consultative Group review. Mauritania withdrew its membership in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2000 and subsequently increased commercial ties with Arab Maghreb Union members Morocco and Tunisia, most notably in telecommunications. In 2001, exploratory oil wells in tracts 80 km offshore indicated potential viable extraction at current world oil prices. However, the refinery in Nouadhibou historically has not exceeded 20% of its distillation capacity, and it handled no crude in the year 2000. A new Investment Code approved in December 2001 improved the opportunities for direct foreign investment.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $5 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:4% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,800 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 29%
services: 46% (2001 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 4.4% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total: 786,000 (2001)
by occupation: agriculture 50%, services 40%, industry 10% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate: 21% (1999 est.)

revenues: $421 million
expenditures : $378 million, including capital expenditures of $154 million (2002 est.)

Industries: fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum

Industrial production growth rate: 2% (2000 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 105,000 kW (1991)

Electricity - production: 154 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 143.22 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: dates, millet, sorghum, root crops; cattle, sheep; fish products

total value: $359 million (f.o.b., 2000)
commodities: fish and fish products, iron ore, gold
partners : France 18%, Japan 16%, Italy 13%, Spain 10% (2000)

total value:$335 million (f.o.b., 2000)
commodities: foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, capital goods
partners: France 33%, US 10%, Spain 9%, Algeria 6%, Germany 6%, Benelux 5% (2000)

Debt - external: $1.6 billion (2000)

Economic aid:
recipient: $220 million (2000)

Currency: 1 ouguiya (MRO) = 5 khoums

Exchange rates: ouguiyas per US dollar - 254.350 (December 2001), 238.923 (2000), 209.514 (1999), 188.476 (1998), 151.853 (1997), 137.222 (1996)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones:26,500 (2001)

Telephone system: limited system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations (improvements being made)
domestic : mostly cable and open-wire lines; a recently completed domestic satellite telecommunications system links Nouakchott with regional capitals
international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 2 Arabsat

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 14, shortwave 1 (2001)

Radios: 410,000 (2001)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (2002)

Televisions: 98,000 (2001)


total: 704 km (single track); note - owned and operated by government mining company
standard gauge : 704 km 1.435-m gauge (2001)

total: 7,720 km
paved: 830 km
unpaved:6,890 km (2000)

Waterways: mostly ferry traffic on the Senegal River

Ports and harbors: Bogue, Kaedi, Nouadhibou, Nouakchott, Rosso

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 26 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 17
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m:7
under 914 m:3 (2001)


Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Guard, National Police, Presidential Guard

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 644,294 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males : 312,276 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $37.1 million (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3.7% (FY01)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none