Where is Mauritania located?

What countries border Mauritania?

Mauritania Weather

What is the current weather in Mauritania?

Mauritania Facts and Culture

What is Mauritania famous for?

  • Cultural Attributes: Mauritania is a land of two cultures, French as of result of once being a French colony, and the Islamic... More
  • Family: The family is part of a larger group known as the descent or linage group. A group of related linages... More
  • Personal Apperance: Women wear a malaffa, a long cloak wrapped loosely around the body from head to toe.  Men wear a dara,... More
  • Recreation: Soccer is the most popular sport. Liguam is a kids game that is like tug-of-war. More
  • Food and Recipes: Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Many times this meal is a spicy fish and vegetable stew with... More

Mauritania Facts

What is the capital of Mauritania?

Capital Nouakchott
Government Type presidential republic
Currency Ouguiya (MRO)
Total Area 397,953 Square Miles
1,030,700 Square Kilometers
Location Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Language Hassaniya Arabic (official), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (official), French
GDP - real growth rate 4.1%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $4,500.00 (USD)

Mauritania Demographics

What is the population of Mauritania?

Ethnic Groups mixed Maur/black 40%, Maur 30%, black 30%
Nationality Noun Mauritanian(s)
Population 4,005,475
Population Growth Rate 2.29%
Population in Major Urban Areas NOUAKCHOTT (capital) 786,000
Urban Population 41.500000

Mauritania Government

What type of government does Mauritania have?

Executive Branch chief of state: President Mohamed Ould Cheikh el GHAZOUANI (since 1 August 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Ould BILAL (since 6 August 2020)

cabinet: Council of Ministers - nominees suggested by the prime minister, appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 June 2019 (next to be held on 22 June 2024); prime minister appointed by the president

election results:

2019: Mohamed Ould Cheikh El GHAZOUANI elected president in first round; percent of vote - Mahamed Ould Cheikh El GHAZOUANI (UPR) 52%, Biram Dah Ould ABEID (independent) 18.6%, Sidi Mohamed Ould BOUBACAR (independent) 17.9%, other 11.5%

2014: Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ elected president in first round; percent of vote - Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ (UPR) 81.9%, Biram Dah ABEID (IRA) 8.7%, Boidiel Ould HOUMEIT (El Wiam) 4.5%, Ibrahima Moctar SARR (SJD/MR) 4.4%, other 0.5%
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Citizenship citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Mauritania

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
National Holiday Independence Day, 28 November (1960)
Constitution history: previous 1964; latest adopted 12 July 1991

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by Parliament; consideration of amendments by Parliament requires approval of at least one third of the membership; a referendum is held only if the amendment is approved by two-thirds majority vote; passage by referendum requires simple majority vote by eligible voters; passage of amendments proposed by the president can bypass a referendum if approved by at least three-fifths majority vote by Parliament; amended 2006, 2012, 2017
Independence 28 November 1960 (from France)

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Mauritania Geography

What environmental issues does Mauritania have?

Overview The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is situated on the Atlantic Ocean in northwest Africa. Mauritania shares its long northern border with the former Spanish Sahara, now the Western Sahara. Spain relinquished control of this area to Morocco in 1976, but its political status is still unresolved.

Mauritania has three distinct geographic regions:

The Saharan Zone, which constitutes the northern two-thirds of Mauritania. Beautiful shifting dunes, rock outcroppings, and rugged mountain plateaus with elevations higher than 1,500 feet characterize this vast, sparsely populated region. Irregular, scant rainfall permits little vegetation, although date palms are cultivated around larger oases and on some of the higher plateaus in the east. Herds of camels, goats, and sheep, which formerly ranged in this area, were depleted during successive droughts in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Riverine Zone, a narrow belt of rich, well-watered alluvial soil stretching along the Senegal River Valley in the south. It is the center of settled agriculture. Rainfall averages 10-25 inches annually.

Between the two is the Sahelian Zone, a broad, east-west band that extends from the riverine zone to just north of Nouakchott. Until recently, annual rainfall averaged 4-18 inches, which was enough to support savannah grasslands suitable for nomadic cattle and sheep herding. However, a decrease in rainfall has diminished the grasslands forcing many inhabitants to move south to the riverine zone or migrate to larger towns. When it rains, it is usually as heavy, localized thunderstorms. Nouakchott, at the northern extreme of this zone, experiences such storms when they occur.


Mauritania's climate is hot and arid, except in the far south, which has higher humidity. In Nouakchott, daytime temperatures reach 85°F in the winter, although at night sweaters and blankets are needed. Summer temperatures regularly reach over 100°F during the day. It is usually a dry heat that most find more bearable than the same temperatures with high humidity. Summer evenings can be considerably cooler.

The area's fine sand makes beach going one of the highlights of a tour in Nouakchott. However, winds can stir this sand into sandstorms that last several hours. These infrequent sandstorms occur throughout the year, although they are less frequent during the summer and fall months.

Border Countries Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Terrain mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills

Mauritania Economy

How big is the Mauritania economy?

Economic Overview Mauritania's economy is dominated by extractive industries (oil and mines), fisheries, livestock, agriculture, and services. Half the population still depends on farming and raising livestock, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s, 1980s, 2000s, and 2017. Recently, GDP growth has been driven largely by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors.

Mauritania's extensive mineral resources include iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum, and phosphate rock, and exploration is ongoing for tantalum, uranium, crude oil, and natural gas. Extractive commodities make up about three-quarters of Mauritania's total exports, subjecting the economy to price swings in world commodity markets. Mining is also a growing source of government revenue, rising from 13% to 30% of total revenue from 2006 to 2014. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, and fishing accounts for about 15% of budget revenues, 45% of foreign currency earnings. Mauritania processes a total of 1,800,000 tons of fish per year, but overexploitation by foreign and national fleets threaten the sustainability of this key source of revenue.

The economy is highly sensitive to international food and extractive commodity prices. Other risks to Mauritania's economy include its recurring droughts, dependence on foreign aid and investment, and insecurity in neighboring Mali, as well as significant shortages of infrastructure, institutional capacity, and human capital. In December 2017, Mauritania and the IMF agreed to a three year agreement under the Extended Credit Facility to foster economic growth, maintain macroeconomic stability, and reduce poverty. Investment in agriculture and infrastructure are the largest components of the country’s public expenditures.
Industries fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum
Currency Name and Code Ouguiya (MRO)
Export Partners Italy 14.2%, France 13.9%, Spain 11.6%, Germany 10.7%, Belgium 9.8%, Japan 7%
Import Partners France 17.6%, Belgium 7.4%, China 6.6%, Spain 5.7%, Germany 5%

Mauritania News and Current Events

What current events are happening in Mauritania?
Source: Google News

Mauritania Travel Information

What makes Mauritania a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a developing country in northwestern Africa. Arabic is the official language, but French is widely used and several local languages are also spoken. Tourist facilities in the capital, Nouakchott, are adequate, but limited or non-existent elsewhere.


Overall, crime in Mauritania is not unlike crime in any major city in the United States. Most incidents occur in the cities and larger towns and are petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and the theft of improperly secured or openly visible valuables left in vehicles. To reduce exposure to theft and increase personal safety, lock up valuable items and keep them out of sight. Walking alone at any time is discouraged, especially for Western women. Residential burglaries and robberies, particularly at the beaches in Nouakchott, are not uncommon. In Nouakchott, travelers should avoid the beach at night.

Violent crimes and crimes involving the use of weapons are rare. Rapes and assaults have occurred and, in some instances, involved U.S. citizens. The majority of sexual assaults have occurred at night in taxi cabs. Combined with the lack of government regulation of taxi fares and poor regular maintenance, Westerners should avoid taxis and public transportation. Foreign tourists, including U.S. citizens, might be targeted for kidnapping in Mauritania.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, purchasing them may also be breaking local law.

Criminal Penalties

While traveling in Mauritania, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Mauritania, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical facilities in Mauritania are limited. There are few modern clinics or hospitals beyond the capital and a few major towns. At local pharmacies, some medicines are difficult to obtain or may be counterfeit; travelers are advised to carry their own medical supplies and medications (over-the-counter and prescription). There are no modern mortuary services available in Mauritania. Procurement of caskets and materials to ship the remains of deceased citizens internationally are not available in Mauritania.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum malaria is a severe form of the disease that is found in many parts of western Africa, including Mauritania. Because travelers to Mauritania are at high risk for contracting malaria, they should take one of the following anti-malarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam™), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone™). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate anti-malarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, may help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers, who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area, and up to one year after returning home, should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and the names of the anti-malarial drugs they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, please visit the CDC travelers’ health website.

The latest outbreak of Rift Valley Fever occurred in October 2012 in the Tagant region of Mauritania. The first outbreak was recorded in December 2010 and subsequently detected in the Adrar and Inchiri regions of Mauritania. According to the CDC, Rift Valley Fever is a viral disease that primarily affects animals, but also has the capacity to infect humans. Infection can cause severe disease and death in both animals and humans. Humans usually get Rift Valley Fever through bites from infected mosquitoes and other insects. Humans can also get the disease if they are exposed to the blood, body fluids, or tissues of infected animals.

Safety and Security

The current Travel Warning for Mauritania warns U.S. citizens of the continued risks of traveling to Mauritania, and urges extreme caution due to activities by terrorist groups in the region, including Al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). As noted in the Department of State's Worldwide Caution dated February 19, current information suggests that al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions across Africa. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

As a result of perceived Western involvement in counterterrorism efforts, terrorist groups have declared their intention to attack Western targets in Mauritania and the region. It is possible that these terrorist groups will attempt retaliatory attacks against Western targets of opportunity. Al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist organizations have previously conducted kidnapping of Westerners for ransom and suicide bombing attempts. The Mauritanian military continues to engage in action against these elements.

Because of terrorist activities in the vicinity, travelers should avoid all non-essential travel to:

the Mali border regions,

the Hodh El Charghi and Hodh El Gharbi regions of southeastern Mauritania,

the eastern half of the Assaba region (east of Kiffa),

the eastern half of the Tagant region of central Mauritania (east of Tidjika),

the eastern half of the Adrar region (east of Chinguetti), and

the Tiris-Zemmour region of northern Mauritania.

U.S. Embassy staff members are authorized to travel to these regions only in limited circumstances. Given threats by Al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations and other terrorist organizations, and because of indications of a desire to kidnap Westerners for ransom, U.S. citizens are urged to remain vigilant and be alert to surveillance or other risks to their safety. Faith-based organizations, regardless of their location, may also be particularly targeted.

Traveling Safely within Mauritania: Travelers should exercise prudence and caution when traveling in Mauritania. Be particularly vigilant when traveling by road outside of populated areas, even when traveling along main routes and highways. The U.S. Embassy discourages travel outside of urban areas unless in a convoy accompanied by an experienced guide, and even then only if equipped with sturdy vehicles and ample provisions. Driving outside of urban areas after dark is also strongly discouraged. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of banditry and smuggling in the more remote parts of Mauritania.

In Nouakchott and other major cities in Mauritania, there is an increased security presence and additional checkpoints. Police routinely conduct roadblocks at which they may ask for proof of identity and driver’s licenses. Travelers should be prepared for such inquiries by carrying identification at all times. These checkpoints should be respected, even if they appear to be unmanned. Drivers should stop, sound their horn, and pause for an adequate amount of time before proceeding through the checkpoint to avoid any type of confrontation. It is best to drive cautiously and be prepared to stop at short notice.

Travelers should be aware of their surroundings at all times and maintain good personal security practices, including always locking homes and cars, varying routes and times of travel, and maintaining a low profile. When going out, avoid being part of large, highly visible groups of Westerners (but do not travel alone), and avoid sitting in areas that are easily visible from the street when in restaurants or cafes. Be particularly alert when frequenting locales associated with Westerners, including cultural centers, social and recreation clubs, beach areas, and restaurants.

Landmines remain a danger along the border with the Western Sahara and travelers should cross only at designated border posts. Travelers planning overland trips from Mauritania to Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, or Mali should check with the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott before setting out. For more information about travel in Mauritania, please see the section on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.

Political Concerns: In September 2012, many countries around the world, including Mauritania, experienced political demonstrations protesting the controversial YouTube video and cartoon. Also, several political opposition parties have joined together as the Coordination of the Democratic Opposition, and organize regular demonstrations in the capital of Nouakchott seeking the departure of President Aziz. Although the political rallies are generally calm and peaceful, the possibility of political instability or spontaneous violent protests remains. In addition, deteriorating economic conditions could cause civil unrest. Some previous protests in Mauritania have turned violent. An anti-government group calling itself the Youth of February 25 Movement held a series of protests in the capital of Nouakchott in 2011 calling for political, economic, and social reform. A separate group, Do Not Touch My Nationality, organized several demonstrations in 2011 over alleged discrimination in a national registration drive in Nouakchott and in smaller towns throughout Mauritania. Most of these demonstrations turned violent and one protestor was fatally shot by security forces during a September 2011 protest in Maghama. The demonstrations were generally announced in advance in the media and on the Internet. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid political rallies and street demonstrations, and to maintain security awareness at all times.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in a foreign country, visitors may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mauritania is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Public transportation is not safe and road conditions in Mauritania are generally poor, particularly in the interior. Overland travel is difficult and roadside assistance is non-existent. The country’s size (larger than Texas and New Mexico combined) and harsh climate make road maintenance and repair especially problematic. Mauritania has only about 2,070 km (1,286 miles) of surfaced roads, 710 km (441 miles) of unsurfaced roads, and 5,140 km (3,194 miles) of unimproved tracks. Travelers should not offer rides to hitchhikers, nor should visitors to Mauritania accept rides offered by strangers. Taxis and public transportation and are not considered to be secure forms of transportation for western visitors to Mauritania.

The traditional route to Nouadhibou, prior to the completion of a paved road, was along the beach during low tide. Some travelers continue to use this route, as do visitors to coastal fishing villages and other points of interest, as well as smugglers and others who try to avoid the security checkpoints that are often established along the asphalt roads. Pedestrian visitors to the beach should exercise caution because of the beach’s use as a route for motorized vehicles.

U.S. citizens traveling overland for long distances in Mauritania should travel in convoys, and be sure to have suitable four-wheel drive vehicles, a local guide, an adequate supply of water and food, and a second fuel reservoir. Multiple vehicles are recommended in case of breakdown. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and satellite phone are essential when traveling in remote areas. Visitors are urged not to travel alone into the desert or after dark when outside of major urban areas.

Driving in Mauritania can be treacherous, and we encourage travelers to hire a trained local driver. Traffic patterns differ considerably from those in the United States and many Mauritanians drive without regard to traffic signs or rules. Roadway obstructions and hazards caused by drifting sand, animals, and poor roads often plague motorists. These hazards, when combined with the number of untrained drivers and poorly maintained vehicles, make heightened caution imperative at all times. Drivers should be extremely vigilant and all vehicle occupants should always wear their seat belts. Motorcycle and bicycle riders should wear helmets and protective clothing. Nighttime driving is discouraged.

The telecommunications infrastructure, including cellular telephone coverage, is limited. For those traveling outside the major urban areas, it is recommended to have a satellite telephone readily available.

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