Map Mauritania
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of 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 ushered in a military council government. AZIZ was subsequently elected president in July 2009. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and white and black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities, and is having to confront a growing terrorism threat by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Area land: 1,030,700 sq km
Area water: 0 sq km
Coastline: 754 km
Country name conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Country name conventional short form: Mauritania
Country name former: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Population: 3,281,634 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 40.4% (male 665,314/female 660,352); 15-64 years: 56.2% (male 866,859/female 975,821); 65 years and over: 3.5% (male 48,075/female 65,213) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 2.349% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 33.23 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 8.83 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female; total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 60.42 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 65.55 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 55.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 61.14 years; male: 58.94 years; female: 63.41 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 4.3 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.7% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 14,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Mauritanian(s); adjective: Mauritanian;
Ethnic groups: mixed Moor/black 40%, Moor 30%, black 30%;
Religions: Muslim 100%;
Languages: Arabic (official and national), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French, Hassaniya;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 51.2%; male: 59.5%; female: 43.4% (2000 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $6.8 billion (2010 est.); $6.476 billion (2009 est.); $6.542 billion (2008 est.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $3.486 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2010 est.); -1% (2009 est.); 3.5% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,100 (2010 est.); $2,100 (2009 est.); $2,100 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 12.5%; industry: 46.7%; services: 40.7% (2008 est.);
Population below poverty line: 40% (2004 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.5%; highest 10%: 29.5% (2000);
Labor force: 1.318 million (2007);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 50%; industry: 10%; services: 40% (2001 est.);
Unemployment rate: 30% (2008 est.); 20% (2004 est.);
Budget: revenues: $770 million; expenditures: $770 million (2007 est.);
Industries: fish processing, oil production, mining of iron ore, gold, and copper;
note: gypsum deposits have never been exploited

Industrial production growth rate: 2% (2000 est.);
Electricity - production: 415.3 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 386.2 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.

Mauritania in the News

Fears of Rising Religious Extremism in Tolerant Democracy

An attack on the Israeli Embassy on Feb. 1 and two other high-profile attacks since December have thrown into question Mauritania's future as a modernizing, tolerant Islamic Republic.

Mauritania: New Anti-Slavery Law Not Enough for Real Change, Activists Say

On Aug. 8, Mauritania's National Assembly unanimously adopted a law criminalizing slavery … the first time in Mauritanian history that slaveholders have been sanctioned.