Mauritania Travel Information

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Banc d'Arguin National Park  A World Heritage site

Facts About Mauritania

Background: Independent from France in 1960, Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) in 1976, but relinquished it after three years of raids by the Polisario guerrilla front seeking independence for the territory. Opposition parties were legalized and a new constitution approved in 1991. Two multiparty presidential elections since then were widely seen as being flawed; Mauritania remains, in reality, a one-party state. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions between its black minority population and the dominant Maur (Arab-Berber) populace.
Government type: republic
Capital: Nouakchott
Currency: 1 ouguiya (UM) = 5 khoums

Geography of Mauritania

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 N, 12 00 W
total: 1,030,700 sq km
land: 1,030,400 sq km
water: 300 sq km
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, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: most of the population concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country

People of Mauritania

Population: 3,086,859 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  46.14% 
15-64 years:  51.59%
65 years and over:  2.27% 
Population growth rate: 2.93% 
Birth rate: 42.95 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 13.65 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 76.7 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  51.14 years
male:  49.06 years
female:  53.29 years 
Total fertility rate: 6.22 children born/woman 
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), French
definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
total population:  46.7%
male:  53.4%
female:  40% (1998 est.)

SOURCE: The World Factbook

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Mauritania > Map Economy History