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Africa :: Mauritania Print
Page last updated on November 24, 2020
  • Introduction :: Mauritania
  • Background field listing

    Berbers moved south into the area of today's Mauritania beginning in the 3rd century. Beginning in the 8th century, Mauritania experienced a slow but constant infiltration of Arabs and Arab influence from the north, pressing the Berbers, who resisted assimilation, to move farther south. One particular Arab group, the Bani Hassan, continued to migrate southward until, by the end of the 17th century, they dominated the entire country. Having finally been defeated, Berber groups turned to clericalism to regain a degree of ascendancy. At the bottom of the social structure were the slaves, subservient to both the Arabic warriors and Islamic Berber holy men. All of the social rivalries were fully exploited by the French as they colonized Mauritania in the late 19th century. 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 2009 and reelected in 2014 to a second and final term. He was replaced in 2019 by Mohamed Cheikh El GHAZOUANI. 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).

    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (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. However, AQIM and similar groups remain active in neighboring Mali and elsewhere in the Sahel region and continue to pose a threat to Mauritanians and foreign visitors.

  • Geography :: Mauritania
  • Location field listing
    Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    20 00 N, 12 00 W
    Map references field listing
    Area field listing
    total: 1,030,700 sq km
    land: 1,030,700 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 30
    Area - comparative field listing
    slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico; about six times the size of Florida
    Area comparison map: Area comparison map
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 5,002 km
    border countries (4): Algeria 460 km, Mali 2236 km, Senegal 742 km, Western Sahara 1564 km
    Coastline field listing
    754 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    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 field listing
    desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
    Terrain field listing
    mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
    Elevation field listing
    mean elevation: 276 m
    lowest point: Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m
    highest point: Kediet Ijill 915 m
    Natural resources field listing
    iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
    Land use field listing
    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 field listing
    450 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    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 as shown in this population distribution map
    Natural hazards field listing
    hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
    Environment - current issues field listing
    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 field listing
    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 field listing
    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 field listing
    4,005,475 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 128
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Mauritanian(s)
    adjective: Mauritanian
    Ethnic groups field listing
    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 field listing
    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 field listing
    Muslim (official) 100%
    Demographic profile field listing

    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 field listing
    0-14 years: 37.56% (male 755,788/female 748,671)
    15-24 years: 19.71% (male 387,140/female 402,462)
    25-54 years: 33.91% (male 630,693/female 727,518)
    55-64 years: 4.9% (male 88,888/female 107,201)
    65 years and over: 3.92% (male 66,407/female 90,707) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 75
    youth dependency ratio: 69.5
    elderly dependency ratio: 5.6
    potential support ratio: 18 (2020 est.)
    Median age field listing
    total: 21 years
    male: 20.1 years
    female: 22 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 188
    Population growth rate field listing
    2.09% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    Birth rate field listing
    29 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    Death rate field listing
    7.5 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    Net migration rate field listing
    -0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Population distribution field listing
    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 as shown in this population distribution map
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 55.3% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 4.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030: PDF
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    1.315 million NOUAKCHOTT (capital) (2020)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    766 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 47.9 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 52.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 43.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 64.5 years
    male: 62.1 years
    female: 67 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    Total fertility rate field listing
    3.65 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    17.8% (2015)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 98.7% of population
    rural: 68.4% of population
    total: 84.4% of population
    unimproved: urban: 1.3% of population
    rural: 31.6% of population
    total: 15.6% of population (2017 est.)
    Current Health Expenditure field listing
    4.4% (2017)
    Physicians density field listing
    0.18 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 83.5% of population
    rural: 25.2% of population
    total: 56% of population
    unimproved: urban: 16.5% of population
    rural: 74.8% of population
    total: 44% of population (2017 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    0.2% (2019 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    5,700 (2019 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    <500 (2019 est.)
    Major infectious diseases field listing
    degree of risk: very high (2020)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
    animal contact diseases: rabies
    respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    12.7% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    19.2% (2018)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    Education expenditures field listing
    2.6% of GDP (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Literacy field listing
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 53.5%
    male: 63.7%
    female: 43.4% (2017)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 9 years
    male: 9 years
    female: 10 years (2019)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 15.2%
    male: 14.1%
    female: 17% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
  • Government :: Mauritania
  • Country name field listing
    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.) and the subsequent Roman province (1st-7th centuries 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 field listing
    presidential republic
    Capital field listing
    name: Nouakchott
    geographic coordinates: 18 04 N, 15 58 W
    time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: may derive from the Berber "nawakshut" meaning "place of the winds"
    Administrative divisions field listing
    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 field listing
    28 November 1960 (from France)
    National holiday field listing
    Independence Day, 28 November (1960)
    Constitution field listing
    history: previous 1964; latest adopted 12 July 1991
    amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by Parliament; consideration of amendments by Parliament requires approval of at least one third of the membership; a referendum is held only if the amendment is approved by two-thirds majority vote; 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; amended many times, last in 2017 (by referendum)
    International law organization participation field listing
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    Citizenship field listing
    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 field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Mohamed Cheikh El GHAZOUANI (since 1 August 2019)
    head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Ould BILAL (since 6 August 2020)
    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 22 June 2019 (next scheduled for 22 June 2024); prime minister appointed by the president
    election results: Mohamed Cheikh El GHAZOUANI elected president in first round; percent of vote - Mahamed Cheikh El GHAZOUANI (UPR) 52%, Biram Dah Ould ABEID (independent) 18.6%, Sidi Mohamed Ould BOUBACAR (independent) 17.9%, other 11.55%
    Legislative branch field listing
    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 systems, 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 2 rounds on 1 and 15 September 2018 (next to be held in 2023)
    election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - 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 field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (subdivided into 7 chambers: 2 civil, 2 labor, 1 commercial, 1 administrative, and 1 criminal, each with a chamber president and 2 councilors ); 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: Courts of Appeal; courts of first instance or wilya courts are established in the regions' headquarters and include commercial and labor courts, criminal courts, Moughataa (district) Courts, and informal/customary courts
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Alliance for Justice and Democracy/Movement for Renewal or AJD/MR [Ibrahima Moctar SARR]
    Burst of Youth for the Nation [Lalla Mint CHERIF]
    Coalition of Majority Parties or CPM (includes UPR, UDP)
    El Karama Party [Cheikhna Ould Mohamed Ould HAJBOU]
    El Vadila Party [Ethmane Ould Ahmed ABOULMAALY]
    National Forum for Democracy and Unity or FNDU [Mohamed Ould MAOLOUD] (coalition of hard-line opposition parties, includes RNRD-TAWASSOUL)
    National Rally for Reform and Development or RNRD-TAWASSOUL [Mohamed Mahmoud Ould SEYIDI]
    Party of Unity and Development or PUD [Mohamed BARO]
    Popular Progressive Alliance or APP [Messaoud Ould BOULKHEIR]
    Rally of Democratic Forces or RFD [Ahmed Ould DADDAH]
    Ravah Party [ Mohamed Ould VALL]
    Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal or PRDR [Mintata Mint HEDEID]
    Union for Democracy and Progress or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS]
    Union of Progress Forces [Mohamed Ould MAOULOUD]
    Union for the Republic or UPR [Seyidna Ali Ould MOHAMED KHOUNA]
    International organization participation field listing
    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 field listing
    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 field listing
    chief of mission: Ambassador Michael J. DODMAN (since 5 January 2018)
    telephone: [222] 4525-2660 or [222] 2660-2663
    embassy: Avenue Al Quds, Nouadhibou, Nouadhibou Road, Nouakchott

    mailing address: use embassy street address
    FAX: [222] 4525-1592
    Flag description field listing
    green with a yellow, five-pointed star between the horns of a yellow, upward-pointing crescent moon; 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) field listing
    five-pointed star between the horns of a horizontal crescent moon; national colors: green, yellow
    National anthem field listing
    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 field listing

    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) field listing
    $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) field listing
    $4.935 billion (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    3.5% (2017 est.)
    1.8% (2016 est.)
    0.4% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $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 field listing
    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 field listing
    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 field listing
    agriculture: 27.8% (2017 est.)
    industry: 29.3% (2017 est.)
    services: 42.9% (2017 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn; cattle, camel and sheep
    Industries field listing
    fish processing, oil production, mining (iron ore, gold, copper)

    note: gypsum deposits have never been exploited

    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    1% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    Labor force field listing
    1.437 million (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 50%
    industry: 1.9%
    services: 48.1% (2014 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    10.2% (2017 est.)
    10.1% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Population below poverty line field listing
    31% (2014 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: 2.5%
    highest 10%: 29.5% (2000)
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 1.354 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 1.396 billion (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    27.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -0.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 69
    Public debt field listing
    96.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
    100% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 21
    Fiscal year field listing
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    2.3% (2017 est.)
    1.5% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    Current account balance field listing
    -$711 million (2017 est.)
    -$707 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Exports field listing
    $1.722 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.401 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Exports - partners field listing
    China 31.2%, Switzerland 14.4%, Spain 10.1%, Germany 8.2%, Japan 8.1% (2017)
    Exports - commodities field listing
    iron ore, fish and fish products, livestock, gold, copper, crude oil
    Imports field listing
    $2.094 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.9 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    Imports - commodities field listing
    machinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
    Imports - partners field listing
    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)
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $875 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $849.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Debt - external field listing
    $4.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $3.899 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Exchange rates field listing
    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 field listing
    population without electricity: 3 million (2019)
    electrification - total population: 32% (2019)
    electrification - urban areas: 56% (2019)
    electrification - rural areas: 4% (2019)
    Electricity - production field listing
    1.139 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    1.059 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    Electricity - imports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    558,000 kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    65% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 118
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 141
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    16% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    20% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    Crude oil - production field listing
    4,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 81
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    5,333 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    20 million bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 83
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    17,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 150
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    17,290 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 150
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    2.615 million Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
  • Communications :: Mauritania
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 53,742
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.37 (2019 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 158
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 4,083,199
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 104.09 (2019 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: limited system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations; mobile-cellular services expanding; 3 mobile network operators; monopolies and little stimulus for competition; 3G penetration high yet little development in LTE and consequently mobile broadband access speeds are low; World Bank and European Investment Bank support attempts to improve telecom and improve regulatory measures; regulator struggles to enforce good quality of service; efforts to improve backbone of network (2020)
    domestic: fixed-line teledensity 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular network coverage extends mainly to urban areas with a teledensity of roughly 104 per 100 persons; mostly cable and open-wire lines; a domestic satellite telecommunications system links Nouakchott with regional capitals (2019)
    international: country code - 222; landing point for the ACE submarine cable for connectivity to 19 West African countries and 2 European countries; satellite earth stations - 3 (1 Intelsat - Atlantic Ocean, 2 Arabsat) (2019)
    note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media field listing
    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 (2019)
    Internet country code field listing
    Internet users field listing
    total: 798,809
    percent of population: 20.8% (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 13,222
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
  • Transportation :: Mauritania
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 454,435 (2018)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    5T (2016)
    Airports field listing
    30 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 9 (2017)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    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 field listing
    total: 728 km (2014)
    standard gauge: 728 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Roadways field listing
    total: 12,253 km (2018)
    paved: 3,988 km (2018)
    unpaved: 8,265 km (2018)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    Waterways field listing
    (some navigation possible on the Senegal River) (2011)
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 5
    by type: general cargo 2, other 3 (2019)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Nouadhibou, Nouakchott
  • Military and Security :: Mauritania
  • Military and security forces field listing
    Mauritanian Armed Forces: Army, Mauritanian Navy (Marine Mauritanienne), Islamic Republic of Mauritania Air Group (Groupement Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie, GAIM); Ministry of Interior: Gendarmerie, National Guard (2019)
    Military expenditures field listing
    2.8% of GDP (2019)
    3% of GDP (2018)
    2.9% of GDP (2017)
    2.9% of GDP (2016)
    2.8% of GDP (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 31
    Military and security service personnel strengths field listing
    the Mauritanian Armed Forces have approximately 16,000 active personnel (15,000 Army; 700 Navy; 300 Air Force); est. 3,000 Gendarmerie; est. 2,000 National Guard) (2019)
    Military equipment inventories and acquisitions field listing
    the Mauritanian Armed Forces' inventory is limited and made up largely of older French and Soviet-era equipment; since 2010, Mauritania has received mostly secondhand military equipment from a variety of suppliers, including Brazil, China, France, and Turkey (2019 est.)
    Military deployments field listing
    450 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (2020)
    Military service age and obligation field listing
    18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)
    Military - note field listing
    since a spate of terrorist attacks in the 2000s, including a 2008 attack on a military base in the country’s north that resulted in the deaths of 12 soldiers, the Mauritanian Government has increased the defense budget and military equipment acquisitions, enhanced military training, heightened security cooperation with its neighbors and the international community, and built up the military’s special operations and civil-military affairs forces

    Mauritania is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5 Sahel Group, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger; it has committed 550 troops and 100 gendarmes to the force; in early 2020, G5 Sahel military chiefs of staff agreed to allow defense forces from each of the states to pursue terrorist fighters up to 100 km into neighboring countries; the G5 force is backed by the UN, US, and France; G5 troops periodically conduct joint operations with French forces deployed to the Sahel under Operation Barkhane (2020)
  • Transnational Issues :: Mauritania
  • Disputes - international field listing

    Mauritanian claims to Western Sahara remain dormant

    Refugees and internally displaced persons field listing
    refugees (country of origin): 26,001 (Western Saharan Sahrawis) (2019); 60,455 (Mali) (2020)
    Trafficking in persons field listing
    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)