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Mauritania Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Nouakchott (pop. 612,000)

Other Cities: Nouadhibou (113,000), Selibaby (107,000), Kaedi (91,000), Kiffa (77,000), Rosso (63,000), Zouerate (36,000).
Local Time: No UTC no GMT offset

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara.
Area: 1,030,070 sq. km. (419,212 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Northern four-fifths barren desert; southern 20% mainly Sahelian with small scale irrigated and rainfed agriculture in the Senegal River basin.
Border countries: Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Western Sahara

Climate: Predominantly hot and dry.

Type: Republic.
Independence: November 28, 1960 (from Fance).
Constitution: Approved 1991. Military rule 1978-1992. Original constitution promulgated 1961.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Mauritanian(s).
Population (2001): 2.5 million.
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber (White Moor or Beydane), Arab-Berber-Negroid (Black Moor or Haritine), Haalpulaar, Soninke, Wolof.
Religion: Islam.
Languages: Arabic (official), French, Pulaar, Wolof, and Soninke. Literacy: 42%.


Currency: Ouguiya (MRO)

Natural resources: Fish, iron ore, gypsum.

Agriculture products:
Dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn, dates; cattle, sheep.

Industries: Fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum.

Exports partners:
Japan 12.5%, France 12.1%, Spain 11.4%, Italy 10.4%, Belgium 7.8%, Germany 7.4%, Russia 5%, Cote d'Ivoire 4.2%, Netherlands 4% (2003)

Imports partners: France 16.8%, Spain 7.7%, China 6.3%, Belgium 5.1%, Germany 4.9%, Japan 4.3%, UK 4.1%, USA 4% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Mauritania


Embassy of Mauritania

Embassy of Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Office National de la Statistique

Political Map of Mauritania

Map of North Africa and the Middle East



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 flawed,
but October 2001 legislative and municipal elections were generally
free and open. 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.

Geography Mauritania

Location:  Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between
Senegal and Western Sahara

Geographic coordinates:  20 00 N, 12 00 W

Map references:  Africa

Area:  total: 1,030,700 sq km land: 1,030,400 sq km water: 300 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly larger than three times the size of
New Mexico

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 territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 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, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold,
oil; fish

Land use:  arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  490 sq km (1998 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: 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 Mauritania

Population:  2,828,858 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 46.1% (male 653,005; female 650,530) 15-64
years: 51.7% (male 720,473; female 741,094) 65 years and over: 2.2%
(male 26,251; female 37,505) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.92% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  42.54 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  13.34 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  75.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   53.71 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  6.15 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  1.8% (2000 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  6,600 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  610 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Mauritanian(s) adjective: Mauritanian

Ethnic groups:  mixed Maur/black 40%, Maur 30%, black 30%

Religions:  Muslim 100%

Languages:  Hassaniya Arabic (official), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof
(official), French

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 41.2% male: 51.5% female: 31.3% (2002 est.)

Government Mauritania

Country name:  conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
 Muritaniyah local long form:
Government type:  republic

Capital:  Nouakchott

Administrative divisions:  12 regions (regions, singular - region) and
1 capital district*; Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol,
Guidimaka, Hodh Ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Inchiri, Nouakchott*,
Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza

Independence:  28 November 1960 (from France)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 28 November (1960)

Constitution:  12 July 1991

Legal system:  a combination of Shari'a (Islamic law) and French civil law

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA
(since 12 December 1984) head of government: Prime Minister Cheikh El
Avia Ould Mohamed
 Council of Ministers elections:  held 12 December 1997 (next to be held
 NA December 2003); prime minister
appointed by the president election results: President Maaouya Ould Sid
Ahmed TAYA reelected with 90.9% of the vote

Legislative branch:  bicameral legislature consists of the Senate or
Majlis al-Shuyukh (56 seats, a part of the seats up for election every
two years; members elected by municipal leaders to serve six-year terms)
and the National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (81 seats; members elected
by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: Senate - last held
17 April 1998 (next to be held NA April 2002); National Assembly - last
held 19 and 26 October 2001 (next to be held NA 2006) election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - PRDS 98%, others 2%; seats by party
- PRDS 56; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - PRDS 79%,
RDU 3.5%, UDP 3.5%, AC 5%, RDF 4%, UFP 3.5%, FP 1.5%; seats by party -
PRDS 64, UDP 3, RDU 3, AC 4, RDF 3, UFP 3,and FP 1

Judicial branch:  Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Court of Appeals;
lower courts

Political parties and leaders:  Action for Change or AC [Messoud Ould
BOULKHEIR]; Alliance for Justice and Democracy or AJD [Kebe ABDOULAYE];
Democratic and Social Republican Party or PRDS (ruling party) [President
Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA]; Mauritanian Party for Renewal and Concorde
or PMRC [Molaye El Hassen Ould JIYID]; National Union for Democracy
and Development or UNDD [Tidjane KOITA]; Party for Liberty, Equality
and Justice or PLEJ [Daouda M'BAGNIGA]; Popular Front or FP [Ch'bih
Ould CHEIKH MALAININE]; Popular Progress Alliance or APP [Mohamed El
Hafed Ould ISMAEL]; Popular Social and Democratic Union or UPSD [Mohamed
Mahmoud Ould MAH]; Progress Force Union or UFP [Mohamed Ould MAOULOUD];
Rally of Democratic Forces or RDF [Ahmed Ould DADDAH]; Rally for Democracy
and Unity or RDU [Ahmed Ould SIDI BABA]; Union for Democracy and Progress
or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS] note: the Action for Change party was banned
in January 2002; parties legalized by constitution ratified 12 July 1991,
however, politics continue to be tribally based

Political pressure groups and leaders:  Arab nationalists; Ba'athists;
General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CGTM [Abdallahi Ould
MOHAMED, secretary general]; Independent Confederation of Mauritanian
Workers or CLTM [Samory Ould BEYE]; Islamists; Mauritanian Workers Union
or UTM [Mohamed Ely Ould BRAHIM, secretary general]

International organization participation:  ABEDA, ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AFESD,
IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Mohamedou Ould MICHEL chancery: 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC
20008 FAX: [1] (202) 319-2623 telephone: [1] (202) 232-5700

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
John W. LIMBERT embassy: Rue Abdallaye, Nouakchott mailing address:
BP 222, Nouakchott telephone: [222] 525-2660, 525-2663 FAX: [222] 525-1592

Flag description:  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

Economy Mauritania

Economy - overview:  Half the population still depends on agriculture
and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many
subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts
in the 1970s and 1980s.  Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron
ore, which account for half of total exports. The decline in world
demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. The
nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the
world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source
of revenue. The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott
in 1986. In the past, drought and economic mismanagement resulted in
a buildup of foreign debt. In February, 2000, Mauritania qualified for
debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative
and in December 2001 received strong support from donor and lending
countries at a triennial Consultative Group review. Mauritania withdrew
its membership in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
in 2000 and subsequently increased commercial ties with Arab Maghreb
Union members Morocco and Tunisia, most notably in telecommunications. In
2001, exploratory oil wells in tracts 80 km offshore indicated potential
viable extraction at current world oil prices. However, the refinery in
Nouadhibou historically has not exceeded 20% of its distillation capacity,
and it handled no crude in the year 2000. A new Investment Code approved
in December 2001 improved the opportunities for direct foreign investment.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $5 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  4% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $1,800 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 25% industry: 29% services:
46% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:  50% (2001 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 30.2% (2000)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  37.3 (1995)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  4.4% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  786,000 (2001)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 50%, services 40%, industry 10%
(2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:  21% (1999 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $421 million expenditures: $378 million, including
capital expenditures of $154 million (2002 est.)

Industries:  fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum

Industrial production growth rate:  2% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:  154 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 84.42% hydro: 15.58%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  143.22 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn, dates;
cattle, sheep

Exports:  $359 million (f.o.b., 2000)

Exports - commodities:  iron ore, fish and fish products, gold

Exports - partners:  France 18%, Japan 16%, Italy 13%, Spain 10% (2000)

Imports:  $335 million (f.o.b., 2000)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and equipment, petroleum products,
capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods

Imports - partners:  France 33%, US 10%, Spain 9%, Algeria 6%, Germany
6%, Benelux 5% (2000)

Debt - external:  $1.6 billion (2000)

Economic aid - recipient:  $220 million (2000)

Currency:  ouguiya (MRO)

Currency code:  MRO

Exchange rates:  ouguiyas per US dollar - 254.350 (December 2001), 238.923
(2000), 209.514 (1999), 188.476 (1998), 151.853 (1997), 137.222 (1996)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Mauritania

Telephones - main lines in use:  26,500 (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  35,000 (2001)

Telephone system:  general assessment: limited system of cable and
open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone
communications stations (improvements being made) domestic: mostly
cable and open-wire lines; a recently completed domestic satellite
telecommunications system links Nouakchott with regional capitals
international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
and 2 Arabsat

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 1, FM 14, shortwave 1 (2001)

Radios:  410,000 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:  1 (2002)

Televisions:  98,000 (2001)

Internet country code:  .mr

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  5 (2001)

Internet users:  7,500 (2001)

Transportation Mauritania

Railways:  704 km standard gauge: 704 km 1.435-m gauge note: owned and
operated by government mining company (2001)

Highways:  total: 7,720 km paved: 830 km unpaved: 6,890 km (2000)

Waterways:  note: ferry traffic on the Senegal River

Ports and harbors:  Bogue, Kaedi, Nouadhibou, Nouakchott, Rosso

Merchant marine:  none (2002 est.)

Airports:  26 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 9 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 1,524 to
2,437 m: 6 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:   5 914 to 1,523 m: Military Mauritania

Military branches:  Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National
Guard, National Police, Presidential Guard

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 644,294 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 312,276
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $37.1 million (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  3.7% (FY01)

Transnational Issues Mauritania

Disputes - international:  none

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

AMI - Agence Mauritanienne d'Iinformation

Nouakchott Info Quotidien

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