Africa :: Mauritania
  • Introduction :: 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. 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. He was reelected in 2014 to a second and final term as president (according to the present constitution). The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among three major groups: Arabic-speaking descendants of slaves (Haratines), Arabic-speaking "White Moors" (Beydane), and members of Sub-Saharan ethnic groups mostly originating in the Senegal River valley (Halpulaar, Soninke, and Wolof).

    The activities of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and similar groups, pose a severe security threat to Mauritanians and foreign visitors. AQIM launched a series of attacks in Mauritania between 2005 and 2011, murdering American and foreign tourists and aid workers, attacking diplomatic and government facilities, and ambushing Mauritanian soldiers and gendarmes. A successful strategy against terrorism that combines dialogue with the terrorists and military actions has prevented the country from further terrorist attacks since 2011.

  • Geography :: Mauritania
  • Location:
    Western 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: 1,030,700 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 30
    Area - comparative:
    slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
    Land boundaries:
    total: 5,002 km
    border countries (4): Algeria 460 km, Mali 2236 km, Senegal 742 km, Western Sahara 1564 km
    Coastline:
    754 km
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
    Climate:
    desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
    Terrain:
    mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
    Elevation:
    mean elevation: 276 m
    elevation extremes: -5 m lowest point: Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha
    915 highest point: Kediet Ijill
    Natural resources:
    iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
    Land use:
    agricultural land: 38.5% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 0.4% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 38.1% (2011 est.)
    forest: 0.2% (2011 est.)
    other: 61.3% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land:
    450 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution:
    with most of the country being a desert, vast areas of the country, particularly in the central, northern, and eastern areas, are without sizeable population clusters; half the population lives in or around the coastal capital of Nouakchott; smaller clusters are found near the southern border with Mali and Senegal
    Natural hazards:
    hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
    Environment - current issues:
    overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; limited natural freshwater resources away from the Senegal, which is the only perennial river; locust infestation
    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    Geography - note:
    Mauritania is considered both a part of North Africa's Maghreb region and West Africa's Sahel region; most of the population is concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country
  • People and Society :: Mauritania
  • Population:
    3,840,429 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    Nationality:
    noun: Mauritanian(s)
    adjective: Mauritanian
    Ethnic groups:
    black Moors (Haratines - Arab-speaking slaves, former slaves, and their descendants of African origin, enslaved by white Moors) 40%, white Moors (of Arab-Berber descent, known as Beydane) 30%, sub-Saharan Mauritanians (non-Arabic speaking, largely resident in or originating from the Senegal River Valley, including Halpulaar, Fulani, Soninke, Wolof, and Bambara ethnic groups) 30%
    Languages:
    Arabic (official and national), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French

    note: the spoken Arabic in Mauritania differs considerably from the modern standard Arabic used for official written purposes or in the media; the Mauritanian dialect, which incorporates many Berber words, is referred to as Hassaniya

    Religions:
    Muslim (official) 100%
    Demographic profile:

    With a sustained total fertility rate of about 4 children per woman and almost 60% of the population under the age of 25, Mauritania’s population is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future. Mauritania’s large youth cohort is vital to its development prospects, but available schooling does not adequately prepare students for the workplace. Girls continue to be underrepresented in the classroom, educational quality remains poor, and the dropout rate is high. The literacy rate is only about 50%, even though access to primary education has improved since the mid-2000s. Women’s restricted access to education and discriminatory laws maintain gender inequality – worsened by early and forced marriages and female genital cutting.

    The denial of education to black Moors also helps to perpetuate slavery. Although Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981 (the last country in the world to do so) and made it a criminal offense in 2007, the millenniums-old practice persists largely because anti-slavery laws are rarely enforced and the custom is so ingrained.  According to a 2018 nongovernmental organization's report, a little more than 2% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which includes individuals sujbected to forced labor and forced marriage, although many thousands of individuals who are legally free contend with discrimination, poor education, and a lack of identity papers and, therefore, live in de facto slavery.  The UN and international press outlets have claimed that up to 20% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which would be the highest rate worldwide.

    Drought, poverty, and unemployment have driven outmigration from Mauritania since the 1970s. Early flows were directed toward other West African countries, including Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Gambia. The 1989 Mauritania-Senegal conflict forced thousands of black Mauritanians to take refuge in Senegal and pushed labor migrants toward the Gulf, Libya, and Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mauritania has accepted migrants from neighboring countries to fill labor shortages since its independence in 1960 and more recently has received refugees escaping civil wars, including tens of thousands of Tuaregs who fled Mali in 2012.

    Mauritania was an important transit point for sub-Saharan migrants moving illegally to North Africa and Europe. In the mid-2000s, as border patrols increased in the Strait of Gibraltar, security increased around Spain’s North African enclaves (Ceuta and Melilla), and Moroccan border controls intensified, illegal migration flows shifted from the Western Mediterranean to Spain’s Canary Islands. In 2006, departure points moved southward along the West African coast from Morocco and Western Sahara to Mauritania’s two key ports (Nouadhibou and the capital Nouakchott), and illegal migration to the Canaries peaked at almost 32,000. The numbers fell dramatically in the following years because of joint patrolling off the West African coast by Frontex (the EU’s border protection agency), Spain, Mauritania, and Senegal; the expansion of Spain’s border surveillance system; and the 2008 European economic downturn.

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 38.24% (male 737,570 /female 730,969)
    15-24 years: 19.78% (male 372,070 /female 387,375)
    25-54 years: 33.44% (male 595,472 /female 688,620)
    55-64 years: 4.74% (male 82,197 /female 99,734)
    65 years and over: 3.81% (male 62,072 /female 84,350) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios:
    total dependency ratio: 76.5 (2015 est.)
    youth dependency ratio: 71 (2015 est.)
    elderly dependency ratio: 5.5 (2015 est.)
    potential support ratio: 18.3 (2015 est.)
    Median age:
    total: 20.7 years
    male: 19.7 years
    female: 21.6 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 186
    Population growth rate:
    2.14% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 41
    Birth rate:
    29.9 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 38
    Death rate:
    7.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    Net migration rate:
    -0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    Population distribution:
    with most of the country being a desert, vast areas of the country, particularly in the central, northern, and eastern areas, are without sizeable population clusters; half the population lives in or around the coastal capital of Nouakchott; smaller clusters are found near the southern border with Mali and Senegal
    Urbanization:
    urban population: 53.7% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 4.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population:
    1.205 million NOUAKCHOTT (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 0.86 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate:
    602 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 14
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 50.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 55.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 45.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 63.8 years (2018 est.)
    male: 61.4 years (2018 est.)
    female: 66.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 194
    Total fertility rate:
    3.79 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    Contraceptive prevalence rate:
    17.8% (2015)
    Health expenditures:
    3.8% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    Physicians density:
    0.13 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
    Drinking water source:
    improved: urban: 58.4% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 57.1% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 57.9% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 41.6% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 42.9% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 42.1% of population (2015 est.)
    Sanitation facility access:
    improved: urban: 57.5% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 13.8% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 40% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 42.5% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 86.2% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 60% of population (2015 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    0.3% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    9,000 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    <1000 (2017 est.)
    Major infectious diseases:
    degree of risk: very high (2016)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
    vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever (2016)
    animal contact diseases: rabies (2016)
    respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis (2016)
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
    12.7% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
    24.9% (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    Education expenditures:
    2.6% of GDP (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Literacy:
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
    total population: 52.1% (2015 est.)
    male: 62.6% (2015 est.)
    female: 41.6% (2015 est.)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
    total: 9 years (2015)
    male: 9 years (2015)
    female: 9 years (2015)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
    total: 15.2% (2012 est.)
    male: 14.1% (2012 est.)
    female: 17% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 87
  • Government :: Mauritania
  • Country name:
    conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
    conventional short form: Mauritania
    local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
    local short form: Muritaniyah
    etymology: named for the ancient kingdom of Mauretania (3rd century B.C. to 1st century A.D.), which existed further north in present-day Morocco; the name derives from the Mauri (Moors), the Berber-speaking peoples of northwest Africa
    Government type:
    presidential republic
    Capital:
    name: Nouakchott
    geographic coordinates: 18 04 N, 15 58 W
    time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions:
    15 regions (wilayas, singular - wilaya); Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Inchiri, Nouakchott Nord, Nouakchott Ouest, Nouakchott Sud, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza
    Independence:
    28 November 1960 (from France)
    National holiday:
    Independence Day, 28 November (1960)
    Constitution:
    history: previous 1964; latest adopted 12 July 1991 (2018)
    amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by either house of Parliament; consideration of amendments by Parliament requires approval of at least one-third of the membership of either house; a referendum is held only if it is approved by two-thirds majority vote in both houses; passage by referendum requires simple majority vote by eligible voters; passage of amendments proposed by the president can bypass a referendum if approved by at least three-fifths majority vote by Parliament in joint session; amended several times, last in 2017 (by referendum) (2018)
    International law organization participation:
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    Citizenship:
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Mauritania
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
    Suffrage:
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch:
    chief of state: President Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ (since 5 August 2009); note - AZIZ deposed President Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDELLAHI in a coup and installed himself as president in August 2008; he subsequently retired from the military, stepped down from the appropriated presidency in April 2009 to run for the legitimate presidency; he was elected president in July 2009 and reelected in June 2014
    head of government: Prime Minister Yahya Ould HADEMINE (since 21 August 2014); note - HADEMINE resigned on 29 October 2018; Mohamed Salem Ould BECHIR asked to form new government
    cabinet: Council of Ministers - nominees suggested by the prime minister, appointed by the president
    elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 21 June 2014 (next to be held by 2019); prime minister appointed by the president
    election results: Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ elected president in first round; percent of vote - Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ (UPR) 81.9%, Biram Dah ABEID (IRA) 8.7%, Boidiel Ould HOUMEIT (El Wiam) 4.5%, Ibrahima Moctar SARR (SJD/MR) 4.4%, other 0.5%
    Legislative branch:
    description: unicameral Parliament or Barlamane consists of the National Assembly or Al Jamiya Al Wataniya (157 seats; 113 members in single- and multi-seat constituencies directly elected by a combination of plurality and proportional representation voting sytems, 40 members in a single, nationwide constituency directly elected by proportional representation vote, and 4 members directly elected by the diaspora; all members serve 5-year terms)
    elections: first held as the unicameral National Assembly in September 2018 (next to be held in 2023)
    election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

    note: a referendum held in August 2017 approved a constitutional amendment to change the Parliament structure from bicameral to unicameral by abolishing the Senate and creating Regional Councils for local development

    Judicial branch:
    highest courts: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (subdivided into 1 criminal and 2 civil chambers, each with a president and 5 counselors); Constitutional Council (consists of 6 members)
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court president appointed by the president of the republic to serve a 5-year renewable term; Constitutional Council members appointed - 3 by the president of the republic, 2 by the president of the National Assembly, and 1 by the president of the Senate; members serve single, 9-year terms with one-third of membership renewed every 3 years
    subordinate courts: High Court of Justice (cases involving treason and criminal acts of high government officials, including the president); courts of appeal; wilaya (regional) courts (located at the headquarters of each of the 15 regions); commercial and labor courts; criminal courts; moughataa (district) courts; informal/customary courts
    Political parties and leaders:
    Alliance for Justice and Democracy/Movement for Renewal or AJD/MR [Ibrahima Moctar SARR]
    Burst of Youth for the Nation [Lalla CHERIVA]
    Coalition for Unity, Pacific and Democratic Alternation or CUPAD (coalition of opposition parties, includes APP, El Wiam)
    Coalition of Majority Parties or CPM (includes UPR, UDP)
    El Karama Party [Cheikhna Ould Mohamed Ould HAJBOU]
    El Vadila Party [Ethmane Ould Ahmed ABOULMAALY]
    El Wiam [Boidiel Ould HOUMEID]
    National Forum for Democracy and Unity or FNDU [Mohamed Ould MAOLOUD] (coalition includes RNRD-TAWASSOUL)
    National Rally for Reform and Development or RNRD-TAWASSOUL [Mohamed Mahmoud Ould SEYIDI]
    Party for Liberty, Equality and Justice [Ba ALASSANE]
    Party of Unity and Development or PUD [Mohamed BARO]
    Popular Progressive Alliance or APP [Messaoud Ould BOULKHEIR]
    Ravah Party [ Mohamed Ould VALL]
    Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal or PRDR [Mintat Mint HEDEID]
    Union for Democracy and Progress or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS]
    Union for Progress [Mohamed Ould MAOULOUD]
    Union for the Republic or UPR [Sidi Mohamed Ould MAHAM]
    International organization participation:
    ABEDA, ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, CAEU (candidate), EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, MIUSMA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Mohamedoun DADDAH (since 27 June 2016)
    chancery: 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 232-5700 through 5701
    FAX: [1] (202) 319-2623
    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Michael DODMAN (since 5 January 2018)
    embassy:  Avenue Al Quds, Nouadhibou, Nouadhibou Road,  Nouakchott, Mauritania

     
    mailing address: same as embassy address
    telephone: [222] 4525-2660 or [222] 2660-2663
    FAX: [222] 4525-1592
    Flag description:
    green with a yellow, five-pointed star above a yellow, upward-pointing crescent; red stripes along the top and bottom edges; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam; green also represents hope for a bright future; the yellow color stands for the sands of the Sahara; red symbolizes the blood shed in the struggle for independence
    National symbol(s):
    star and crescent; national colors: green, yellow
    National anthem:
    name: "Hymne National de la Republique Islamique de Mauritanie" (National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania)
    lyrics/music: Baba Ould CHEIKH/traditional, arranged by Tolia NIKIPROWETZKY

    note: adopted 1960; the unique rhythm of the Mauritanian anthem makes it particularly challenging to sing; Mauritania in November 2017 adopted a new national anthem, "Bilada-l ubati-l hudati-l kiram" (The Country of Fatherhood is the Honorable Gift) composed by Rageh Daoud (sound file of the new anthem is forthcoming)

  • Economy :: Mauritania
  • Economy - overview:

    Mauritania's economy is dominated by extractive industries (oil and mines), fisheries, livestock, agriculture, and services. Half the population still depends on farming and raising livestock, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s, 1980s, 2000s, and 2017. Recently, GDP growth has been driven largely by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors.

    Mauritania's extensive mineral resources include iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum, and phosphate rock, and exploration is ongoing for tantalum, uranium, crude oil, and natural gas. Extractive commodities make up about three-quarters of Mauritania's total exports, subjecting the economy to price swings in world commodity markets. Mining is also a growing source of government revenue, rising from 13% to 30% of total revenue from 2006 to 2014. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, and fishing accounts for about 15% of budget revenues, 45% of foreign currency earnings. Mauritania processes a total of 1,800,000 tons of fish per year, but overexploitation by foreign and national fleets threaten the sustainability of this key source of revenue.

    The economy is highly sensitive to international food and extractive commodity prices. Other risks to Mauritania's economy include its recurring droughts, dependence on foreign aid and investment, and insecurity in neighboring Mali, as well as significant shortages of infrastructure, institutional capacity, and human capital. In December 2017, Mauritania and the IMF agreed to a three year agreement under the Extended Credit Facility to foster economic growth, maintain macroeconomic stability, and reduce poverty. Investment in agriculture and infrastructure are the largest components of the country’s public expenditures.

    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $17.28 billion (2017 est.)
    $16.7 billion (2016 est.)
    $16.4 billion (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 154
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $4.935 billion (2017 est.) (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate:
    3.5% (2017 est.)
    1.8% (2016 est.)
    0.4% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    GDP - per capita (PPP):
    $4,500 (2017 est.)
    $4,400 (2016 est.)
    $4,400 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 173
    Gross national saving:
    24.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
    24.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
    19% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    GDP - composition, by end use:
    household consumption: 64.9% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 21.8% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 56.1% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: -3.2% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 39% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -78.6% (2017 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 27.8% (2017 est.)
    industry: 29.3% (2017 est.)
    services: 42.9% (2017 est.)
    Agriculture - products:
    dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn; cattle, camel and sheep
    Industries:
    fish processing, oil production, mining (iron ore, gold, copper)

    note: gypsum deposits have never been exploited

    Industrial production growth rate:
    1% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    Labor force:
    1.437 million (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 48.1% (2014 est.)
    industry: 1.9% (2014 est.)
    services: 48.1% (2014 est.)
    Unemployment rate:
    10.2% (2017 est.)
    10.1% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 142
    Population below poverty line:
    31% (2014 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 29.5% (2000)
    highest 10%: 29.5% (2000)
    Distribution of family income - Gini index:
    37 (2014)
    39 (2006 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 83
    Budget:
    revenues: 1.354 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 1.396 billion (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues:
    27.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
    -0.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 69
    Public debt:
    96.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
    100% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 21
    Fiscal year:
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    2.3% (2017 est.)
    1.5% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    Central bank discount rate:
    9% (31 December 2009)
    12% (31 December 2007)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    Commercial bank prime lending rate:
    17% (31 December 2017 est.)
    17% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 27
    Stock of narrow money:
    $1.296 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.287 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Stock of broad money:
    $1.296 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.287 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Stock of domestic credit:
    $2.364 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $2.355 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Market value of publicly traded shares:

    NA

    Current account balance:
    -$711 million (2017 est.)
    -$707 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    Exports:
    $1.722 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.401 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    Exports - commodities:
    iron ore, fish and fish products, livestock, gold, copper, crude oil
    Exports - partners:
    China 31.2%, Switzerland 14.4%, Spain 10.1%, Germany 8.2%, Japan 8.1% (2017)
    Imports:
    $2.094 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.9 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Imports - commodities:
    machinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
    $875 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $849.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Imports - partners:
    Belgium 11.5%, UAE 11.3%, US 9.2%, China 7.5%, France 7.4%, Netherlands 6.1%, Morocco 6%, Slovenia 4.8%, Vanuatu 4.7%, Spain 4.7% (2017)
    Debt - external:
    $4.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $3.899 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
    (31 December 2009 est.)
    Exchange rates:
    ouguiyas (MRO) per US dollar -
    363.6 (2017 est.)
    352.37 (2016 est.)
    352.37 (2015 est.)
    319.7 (2014 est.)
    299.5 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Mauritania
  • Electricity access:
    population without electricity: 2.8 million (2013)
    electrification - total population: 28% (2013)
    electrification - urban areas: 47% (2013)
    electrification - rural areas: 2% (2013)
    Electricity - production:
    1.191 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    Electricity - consumption:
    1.108 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Electricity - exports:
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    Electricity - imports:
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    Electricity - installed generating capacity:
    412,000 kW (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Electricity - from fossil fuels:
    63.8% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 141
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
    23.5% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    Electricity - from other renewable sources:
    16.7% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    Crude oil - production:
    0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    Crude oil - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Crude oil - imports:
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    Crude oil - proved reserves:
    20 million bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Refined petroleum products - production:
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Refined petroleum products - consumption:
    16,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    Refined petroleum products - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    Refined petroleum products - imports:
    16,390 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    Natural gas - production:
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    Natural gas - consumption:
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Natural gas - exports:
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Natural gas - imports:
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    Natural gas - proved reserves:
    28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 71
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
    2.4 million Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
  • Communications :: Mauritania
  • Telephones - fixed lines:
    total subscriptions: 57,057 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Telephones - mobile cellular:
    total subscriptions: 4,074,157 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 108 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 127
    Telephone system:
    general assessment: limited system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations; mobile-cellular services expanding rapidly; 3 mobile network operators: Mattel, Mauritel, and Chinguitel (2018)
    domestic: fixed-line teledensity 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular network coverage extends mainly to urban areas with a teledensity of roughly 100 per 100 persons; mostly cable and open-wire lines; a domestic satellite telecommunications system links Nouakchott with regional capitals (2018)
    international: country code - 222; satellite earth stations - 3 (1 Intelsat - Atlantic Ocean, 2 Arabsat); fiber-optic and asymmetric digital subscriber line cables for Internet access (2018)
    Broadcast media:
    10 TV stations: 5 government-owned and 5 private; in October 2017, the government suspended all private TV stations due to non-payment of broadcasting fees; as of April 2018, only one private TV station was broadcasting, Al Mourabitoune, the official TV of the Mauritanian Islamist party, Tewassoul; the other stations are negotiating payment options with the government and hope to be back on the air soon; 18 radio broadcasters: 15 government-owned, 3 (Radio Nouakchott Libre, Radio Tenwir, Radio Kobeni) private; all 3 private radio stations broadcast from Nouakchott; of the 15 government stations, 3 broadcast from Nouakchott (Radio Mauritanie, Radio Jeunesse, Radio Koran) and the other 12 broadcast from each of the 12 regions outside Nouakchott; Radio Jeunesse and Radio Koran are now also being re-broadcast in the regions (2018)
    Internet country code:
    .mr
    Internet users:
    total: 661,913 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 18% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions:
    total: 12,637 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
  • Transportation :: Mauritania
  • National air transport system:
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 4 (2015)
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 248,158 (2015)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:
    5T (2016)
    Airports:
    30 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 115
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 9 (2017)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 21 (2013)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 10 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 8 (2013)
    under 914 m: 2 (2013)
    Railways:
    total: 728 km (2014)
    standard gauge: 728 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Roadways:
    total: 12,253 km (2018)
    paved: 3,988 km (2018)
    unpaved: 8,265 km (2018)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    Waterways:
    (some navigation possible on the Senegal River) (2011)
    Merchant marine:
    total: 6 (2017)
    by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 2, other 3 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Nouadhibou, Nouakchott
  • Military and Security :: Mauritania
  • Military expenditures:
    2.97% of GDP (2016)
    2.75% of GDP (2015)
    2.7% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 29
    Military branches:
    Mauritanian Armed Forces: Army, Mauritanian Navy (Marine Mauritanienne; includes naval infantry), Islamic Republic of Mauritania Air Group (Groupement Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie, GAIM) (2013)
    Military service age and obligation:
    18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)
  • Transnational Issues :: Mauritania
  • Disputes - international:
    Mauritanian claims to Western Sahara remain dormant
    Refugees and internally displaced persons:
    refugees (country of origin): 26,001 (Western Saharan Sahrawis) (2016), 57,673 (Mali) (2018)
    Trafficking in persons:
    current situation: Mauritania is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; adults and children from traditional slave castes are subjected to slavery-related practices rooted in ancestral master-slave relationships; Mauritanian boy students called talibes are trafficked within the country by religious teachers for forced begging; Mauritanian girls, as well as girls from Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, and other West African countries, are forced into domestic servitude; Mauritanian women and girls are forced into prostitution domestically or transported to countries in the Middle East for the same purpose, sometimes through forced marriages
    tier rating: Tier 3 - Mauritania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were negligible; one slavery case identified by an NGO was investigated, but no prosecutions or convictions were made, including among the 4,000 child labor cases NGOs referred to the police; the 2007 anti-slavery law remains ineffective because it requires slaves, most of whom are illiterate, to file their own legal complaint, and the government agency that can submit claims on them did not file any in 2014; authorities arrested, prosecuted, and convicted several anti-slavery activists; NGOs continued to provide the majority of protective services to trafficking victims without support from the government; some steps were taken to raise public awareness about human trafficking (2015)