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Info Africa - MAURITANIA

Mauritania lies in northern Africa, bordering Western Sahara, Senegal, Mali and Algeria, as well as the North Atlantic Ocean. This former French colony received independence in 1960. A huge proportion of the country is desert land. Mauritania is a melting pot of the Arab Maghreb and western sub-Saharan Africa. The Arab population is mainly in the northern region, while the southern region is home to black Africans. Many Mauritanians are nomads. Mauritania’s southern border is the Senegal River. The northern bank of this river is greatly used by Mauritania as it is the main area in the country that allows consistent vegetation. Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, came into being in 1960. It’s a beautiful city near the ocean. The buildings

have a traditional Berber style of architecture. Visitors are welcomed to enjoy the beaches and different mosques. Nouakchott is known for its African market, the camel market as well as different arts and crafts centers, such as the Maison de la Culture.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Mauritania's Flag

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

Nationality: Mauritanian

Capital: Nouakchott

Population: 3,177,388 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 45.6%
  • 15-64 years: 52.2%
  • 65 years and over: 2.2% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.88% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 41.7% of the population is literate (male: 51.8%, female: 31.9%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Muslim 100%

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

Quick Facts
  • total: 1,030,700 sq km
  • land: 1,030,400 sq km
  • water: 300 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: the size of Ontario

Natural resources: iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish

Environmental 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; locust infestation


In the 1970s and 1980s, Mauritania experienced frequent droughts that forced the nomads and subsistence farmers to move into the cities. At least half of Mauritania’s population is dependent on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. Mauritania has several iron ore deposits, accounting for about 40% of its total exports. Although Mauritania’s coastal waters are one of the richest fishing areas in the world, the overexploitation by foreigners threatens the future of this industry. Nouakchott is Mauritania’s first deepwater port. Mauritania qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in 2000. It received support from donor and lending countries in 2001. Mauritania holds around 1 billion barrels of proved reserves. Oil production and exports are planned to begin in early 2006. The government is working on reducing poverty, improving the health and education system as well as promoting privatization of Mali’s economy. Mauritania is one of Africa’s newest oil producing countries.

Major industries:

  • fish processing
  • mining of iron ore
  • gypsum

Agricultural products:

  • dates
  • millet
  • sorghum
  • rice
  • corn
  • cattle
  • sheep

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2005)

Railways: 717 km

Road map: 7,660 km (paved: 866 km, unpaved: 6,794 km)

Currency: Ouguiya


Telephone lines in use: 39,000 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 522,400 (2004)

Television Stations: 1(2002)

Radio Stations: AM 1, FM 14, shortwave 1 (2001)

Internet users: 14,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 0.6% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 9,500 (2003 est.)

More Information

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