Special Travel Circumstances in Mauritania

Islamic ideals and beliefs in the country encourage conservative dress and behavior. Sleeved and below-the-knee garments are recommended, particularly when traveling in areas not frequented by Westerners. The Mauritanian government prohibits the printing and distribution of non-Islamic religious materials, although possession of these materials is legal.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania recognizes Islam as the sole religion of its citizens and the state. Religious freedom is restricted under the constitution and other laws and policies. The Mauritanian Penal Code criminalizes all affronts against Islamic modesty and morals and penalties may range from fines to the death penalty. Participation in Christian gatherings and activities that have not been authorized by the Mauritanian government is illegal. Apostasy is punishable by death.

Mauritanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, narcotics, alcoholic drinks, and pork products. Contact the Embassy of Mauritania in Washington, DC, for specific information regarding customs regulations.

ocal Currency: The local currency is the ouguiya, and it may not be imported or exported. Credit cards can be used only at a few hotels in the capital, Nouakchott, and in the northwestern city of Nouadhibou. However, credit card fraud is a problem, so travelers are strongly advised to pay hotel bills in cash. ATMs are available in Nouakchott and other large cities, but are not secure. Major foreign currencies are changeable at banks and numerous currency exchanges; however, this service is not always available without advance notice or prior arrangement. There is a risk of receiving fraudulent bank notes even from banks, which often do not have the security means to detect false bank notes.

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