Mauritania

Country Summary

2022 population pyramid

Introduction

Background

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. The French colonized Mauritania in the late 19th century. The country gained independence from France in 1960.

Geography

Area

total: 1,030,700 sq km

land: 1,030,700 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Climate

desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty

Natural resources

iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish

People and Society

Population

4,161,925 (2022 est.)

Ethnic groups

Black Moors (Haratines - Arabic-speaking descendants of African origin who are or were 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%

Population growth rate

1.99% (2022 est.)

Government

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Nouakchott

Executive branch

chief of state: President Mohamed Ould Cheikh el GHAZOUANI (since 1 August 2019) (2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Ould BILAL (since 6 August 2020) (2020)

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 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)

Economy

Economic overview

lower middle-income West African economy; primarily agrarian; rising urbanization; poor property rights; systemic corruption; endemic social and workforce tensions; wide-scale terrorism; foreign over-fishing; environmentally fragile

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$23.17 billion (2020 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$5,000 (2020 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, milk, goat milk, sheep milk, sorghum, mutton, beef, camel milk, camel meat, dates

Industries

fish processing, oil production, mining (iron ore, gold, copper)

Exports

$2.52 billion (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

China 32%, Switzerland 13%, Spain 9%, Japan 9%, Italy 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

iron ore, fish products, gold, mollusks, processed crustaceans (2019)

Imports

$3.68 billion (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

China 26%, France 6%, Spain 6%, Morocco 6%, United Arab Emirates 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

ships, aircraft, wheat, raw sugar, refined petroleum (2019)


Page last updated: Thursday, May 19, 2022