Fun factual information on Mauritania

General Information on Mauritania & Quick Overview

Mauritania was a French colony who gained her independence from France in 1960.

In 1976 Mauritania annexed the southern third of the what was formerly called the Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara), but ceded it after three years of raids by the Polisario guerilla movement who sought independence for the territory.

In 1991 a new constitution was approved, legalizing Opposition parties and two multiparty presidential elections took place but have been branded as being somewhat tainted with irregularity.

Ethnic unrest between its black minority population and the dominant Maur (Arab-Berber) population persists.

Geographical Statistics & Information on Mauritania

Geographical Position: North Africa, on the shores of the North Atlantic Ocean, between neighbouring countries Senegal and former territory Western Sahara. Map Ref Latitude & Longitude 20 degrees 00 North, 12 degrees 00 West

Total Land & Sea Area 1,030,500 square kilometres land area: 1,030,000 square kilometres Sea Area 500 square kilometres

Land boundaries: Total: 5,000 kilometres border countries: Algeria 460 kilometres, Mali 2,250 kilometres, Senegal 800 kilometres, Western Sahara 1,500 kilometres Coastal Length: 750 kilometres

Climatological Conditions & information on Mauritania

Hot, dry, arid desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty, frequent drought and low rainfall

Terrain Features

Mostly barren, arid, dry, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills Highest & Lowest Elevations: Lowest elevation: Sebkha de Ndrhamcha -5 metres Highest elevation: Kediet Ijill 915 metres

Country’s natural resources: iron ore deposits, gypsum, copper deposits, phosphate resources, diamonds deposits, gold deposits, oil, fish stocks & resources

Land use

Ploughable land area: 0.48 percent permanent crops: 0.01 percent other: 99 percent (1998 estimate) Irrigated land area: 500 square kilometres (1998 estimate) Hazardous Natural phenomena: Hot, dry, dusty sirocco wind blows mainly in the months of March and April; the country is subject to periodic severe droughts.

Geographical Point of Interest

Most of the population is concentrated in the southern part of the country, in Nouakchott city and Nouadhibou city and along the River Senegal.

Information on Mauritania’s People & population

Population: 2,912,000 (July 2003 estimate)

Age structure: under 15 years: 47 percent 15 to 64 years: 51 percent Over 65: 2 percent Median age of population: Total: 1 years male: 17 years female: 17 years (2002) Population growth rate: 3 percent (2003 estimate) Birth rate: 42 births per thousand population (2003 estimate) mortality rate: 13 deaths per thousand population (2003 estimate) Net rate of migration: 0 migrant(s) per thousand population (2003 estimate) Infant mortality rate: Total: 74 deaths per thousand live births female: 71 deaths per thousand live births (2003 estimate) male: 77 deaths per thousand live births Life expectancy at birth: total population: 52 years male: 50 years female: 54 years (2003 estimate) Total fertility rate: 6. children born/woman (2003 estimate)



Ethnic groups

Mixed Black/ Maur 45 percent, Maur 28 percent, Black 27 percent

Religious information on Mauritania

Muslim/Islamic faith 100 percent

Languages & Linguistic Groupings

Hassaniya Arabic, Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof, French Literacy: definition: People over the age of 15 years that are literate (can read & write): total population: 42 percent male: 52 percent female: 32 percent (2003 estimate)

Government information on Mauritania

Country name: Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Government type: republic Capital city: Nouakchott

Independence: November 28th, 1960 from Republic of France National holiday: Independence Day: 28 November (1960) Constitution: 1991

Legal system: Combined Shari'a Islamic Law and French Civil Code

Electoral & Voting System

Universal vote from the age of 18.
Executive branch: Head of State: President
Chief of Government:Prime Minister
Cabinet: Council of Ministers

Economy information on Mauritania

Subsistence agriculture and livestock farming still supports over 50% of the Mauritania population.

Many of the nomads/subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by constant recurring droughts in the decades of the 1970s and the 1980s.

Mauritania has large iron ore resources, which account for nearly forty percent of the country’s total exports.

Mauritania’s ocean waters are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, but overexploitation threatens the resource.

Mauritania qualified for debt relief in February 2000 under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and has benefited from strong donor-nation support.

In 2001, oil exploration identified large resources of potentially exploitable oil reserves in areas eighty kilometres offshore. Should come on-stream in 2005.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

$USD4.900 billion (2002 estimate)
Gross Domestic Product - actual growth rate: 3 percent (2002 estimate)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - per head of population: $USD1,500 (2002 estimate)
Gross Domestic Product - composition by sector: agriculture: 20 percent industry: 30 percent services: 50 percent (2001 estimate) Population below poverty line: 40 percent (2001 estimate) Rate of inflation: 4 percent (2002 estimate)

Labour force: 800,000 (2001) Labour force - by occupation: agriculture 55 percent, services 33 percent, industry 12 percent (2001 estimate) Rate of unemployment: 20 percent (1999 estimate)


Incomes: $USD420 million spending : $USD380 million, Industries: fisheries and fish processing, iron ore mining and gypsum mining Industrial production growth rate: 2 percent (2000 estimate)

Agriculture - products: dates, millet, grains, sorghum, rice, corn, livestock


$USD350 million . (2002) Exports - commodities: iron ore, fish and fish products, gold Exports - partners: Italy 14 percent, France 14 percent, Spain 12 percent, Germany 11 percent, Belgium 10 percent, Japan 7 percent (2002)


$USD360 million . (2000) Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods Imports -most important trading partners: France 18 percent, Belgium 8 percent, China 7 percent, Spain 6 percent, Germany 5 percent (2002)

Foreign Indebtedness

$USD2 billion (2000) National Currency: ouguiya (MRO) Currency Abbreviation: MRO

Communications information on Mauritania

Telephones landlines: 27,000 (2001)

Radio broadcast stations: Amplitude Modulation 2, Frequency Modulation 15, shortwave 2 (2001) Television broadcast stations: 2 (2002) Internet country code: .mr

Transportation in & travel to Mauritania:

Railroad networks: 720 kilometres Roading System: Total: 7,700 kilometres Airports & airfields: 26 (2002)

Military system of Mauritania

Military branches: Mauritania Army, Mauritania Navy, Mauritania Air Force, Mauritania National Gendarmerie, Mauritania National Guard, Mauritania National Police, Mauritania Presidential Guard Military spending : - $USD37 million (Fiscal Year02) Military spending : percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP): 4 percent (Fiscal Year02)

International Issues Mauritania

Disputes - international: Mauritania lays claim to Western Sahara.

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Information on Mauritania
Source: All info sourced and adapted from CIA Factbook
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