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Mauritania Country Guide

Explore Mauritania in Africa

Mauritania with the capital city Nouakchott is located in Africa (Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean). It covers some 1,030,700 square kilometres (slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico) with 3,364,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Mauritania

The terrain features mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara with some central hills. The average density of population is approximately 3 per km². The notable climate conditions in Mauritania can be described as desert with constantly hot, dry, dusty. Potential natural disasters are hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April or periodic droughts.

To reach someone in Mauritania dial +222 prior to a number. There are 74,500 installed telephones. And there are 2,182,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".mr". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Mauritania

Mauritania Flag Icon

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; the gold color stands for the sands of the Sahara.

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. Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA seized power in a coup in 1984 and ruled Mauritania with a heavy hand for more than two decades. A series of presidential elections that he held were widely seen as flawed. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council that oversaw a transition to democratic rule. Independent candidate Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDALLAHI was inaugurated in April 2007 as Mauritania's first freely and fairly elected president. His term ended prematurely in August 2008 when a military junta led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ deposed him and installed a military council government. AZIZ was subsequently elected president in July 2009 and sworn in the following month. AZIZ sustained injuries from an accidental shooting by his own troops in October 2012, but has continued to maintain his authority. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and white and black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities, and is having to confront a growing terrorism threat by al-Qa''ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Africa
Neighbours: Senegal, Algeria, Western Sahara, Mali
Capital: Nouakchott
Size1,030,700 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 397,955 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
CurrencyName Ouguiya, Currency Code:MRO
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).mr
Telephone Country Prefix+222
Mobile Phone Connections2,182,000
Landline Phone Connections74,500

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area1,030,700 (sq km)29

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population3,437,610 133
Population growth rate2.29 (%)36
Birth rate32.31 (births/1,000 population)35
Death rate8.50 (deaths/1,000 population)81
Net migration rate-0.87 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)145
Maternal mortality rate510.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)18
Infant mortality rate57.48 (deaths/1,000 live births)31
Life expectancy at birth61.91 (years)188
Total fertility rate4.15 (children born/woman)36
Health expenditures4.40 (% of GDP)157
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.70 (%)61
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS14,000 88
HIV/AIDS - deaths1,000 77
Obesity - adult prevalence rate12.70 (%)127
Children under the age of 5 years underweight15.90 (%)48
Education expenditures3.90 (% of GDP)114


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)7,824,000,000 157
GDP - real growth rate6.40 (%)39
GDP - per capita (PPP)2,200 190
Labor force1,318,000 135
Unemployment rate30.00 (%)182
Distribution of family income - Gini index39.00 67
Taxes and other revenues37.30 (% of GDP)56
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-1.80 (% of GDP)83
Inflation rate (consumer prices)7.00 (%)177
Central bank discount rate12.00 (%)17
Commercial bank prime lending rate18.00 (%)24
Stock of domestic credit2,349,000,000 136
Industrial production growth rate2.00 (%)113
Current account balance-659,800,000 103
Exports2,878,000,000 132
Imports3,152,000,000 147
Debt - external2,942,000,000 134


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production474,000,000 (kWh)162
Electricity - consumption440,800,000 (kWh)170
Electricity - installed generating capacity253,000 (kW)152
Electricity - from fossil fuels61.70 (% of total installed capacity)134
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants38.30 (% of total installed capacity)58
Crude oil - production7,738 (bbl/day)83
Crude oil - exports10,000 (bbl/day)59
Crude oil - proved reserves20,000,000 (bbl)86
Refined petroleum products - consumption18,120 (bbl/day)134
Refined petroleum products - imports12,870 (bbl/day)126
Natural gas - proved reserves28,320,000,000 (cu m)72
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy2,890,000 (Mt)142


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use72,300 157
Telephones - mobile cellular3,315,000 122
Internet hosts22 221
Internet users75,000 170


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports28 121
Roadways11,066 (km)133


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures5.50 (% of GDP)13

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata
Founded in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the caravans crossing the Sahara, these trading and religious centres became focal points of Islamic culture. They have managed to preserve an urban fabric that evolved between the 12th and 16th centuri ...
Banc d'Arguin National Park
Fringing the Atlantic coast, the park comprises sand-dunes, coastal swamps, small islands and shallow coastal waters. The contrast between the harsh desert environment and the biodiversity of the marine zone has resulted in a land- and seascape of ou ...