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Landscape with Adrar Mountains
View of the Adrar Plateau Mountains.
Image: Ammar Hassan

Flag of Mauritania
Flag of Mauritania

Mauritania in brief

Destination Mauritania, a Nations Online country profile of the West African state in the southwestern Maghreb and the western African Transition Zone (Sahel). It borders Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, Senegal to the southwest, Western Sahara to the northwest, and it is bounded by the North Atlantic Ocean in the southwest.

The country covers an area of 1,025,520 km², which is about twice the size of Spain, or slightly larger than the US states of Texas and New Mexico combined. Much of the country is covered by the Sahara; about three-quarters of Mauritania is desert or semidesert. The southern quarter is in the semi-arid Sahel zone.

Mauritania has a population of 4 million inhabitants (in 2019); about one-fourth of its people live in Nouakchott, the country's capital and largest city, situated between the dunes and the ocean.

Mauritania's population consists of about 70% Moors - people of Amazigh (Berber) and Arab descent, and 30% non-Arabic speaking Africans: Wolof, Bambara, and Fulas. Spoken languages are Arabic (official), Wolof (official), and French. Mauritania is an Islamic country; the majority are Sunni Muslims. Legal tender is Ouguiya, but Euro is the preferred currency.

What is Mauritania famous for?

The dunes (ergs) of the Sahara, oases lined with date palms, sand, rocks (regs), hamadas - and magnetic mountains.

Mauritania is one of the least visited countries in the world.

The highest peak in Mauritania, Kediet ej Jill, is a black metal mountain made of magnetite. The magnetic mineral has been commercially mined since the 1950s. The mined iron ore is transported across the desert to a port 700 km away on the only railroad track in the country. The length of the train (up to almost 3 km) makes it one of the longest freight trains in the world.

Ben Amera, the largest monolith in Africa, rises 633 meters above the desert floor and is 1.7 km wide.

The Adrar Plateau, impressive dark table mountains in the desert.

The Richat Structure (Guelb er Richat or the Eye of the Sahara), a massive ring-shaped crater-like geological formation in Mauritania's desert with a diameter of about 40 km. Some ancient alien theorists believe that the Richat Structure is the remains of the lost city of Atlantis.

The lost city of Ouadane, an 11th century fortified settlement on the edge of the Richat Structure, was a stopover on the trans-Saharan trade routes.

Banc d'Arguin, the coastal area with dunes, marshes and small islands, is home to Imraguen tribespeople and a popular destination for migratory birds.

A number of animals characterize the landscape of Mauritania, such as dromedaries, donkeys, goats, sheep, warthogs, pelicans, Palearctic migratory waders and crocodiles (Matmata lake). Still, most of the larger mammal species have been extirpated in the country.

Some more facts:
Mauritania is one of the least visited countries in the world.
Mauritania is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, with 4.5 people/sq km.
Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery.
The Bay of Nouadhibou is home to one of the world's largest ship graveyards.

Mauritania | Islamic Republic of Mauritania


Mauritania became independent from France in 1960. The next 50 years were characterized by an authoritarian one-party regime, flawed elections, failed attempts at democracy and military coups. In 1976, Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara), but relinquished it after three years due to attacks by Polisario Front rebels seeking independence for the territory. Opposition parties were legalized, and a new constitution was adopted in 1991.

The country faces a number of issues, including ethnic tensions and a terrorist threat. Although Mauritania has not seen a terror attack since 2011, AQIM (Al-Qaeda) and similar groups remain active in the Sahel region and continue to pose a threat to Mauritanians and foreign visitors.

Mauritania is a member state of the League of Arab States.

Related countries: France


Country Profile

Official Name:
Islamic Republic of Mauritania
conventional short form: Mauritania
short form: Muritaniyah
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah

ISO Country Code: mr, MRT
Actual Time: Thu-Apr-11  14:23
Local Time = No UTC no GMT offset

Country Calling Code: +222

Capital City: Nouakchott (pop. 800,000)

Other Cities:
Nouadhibou (113,000), Selibaby (107,000), Kaedi (91,000), Kiffa (77,000), Rosso (63,000), Zouerate (36,000) more


Official Sites of Mauritania

Presidential Palace in Nouakchott
Presidential Palace in Nouakchott, the building houses the presidency of Mauritania.
Image: APF

Political system
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is, in theory, a presidential republic. Chief of state is the president, head of government is the prime minister.
On 11 March 2007, the first 'democratic' presidential elections since 1960 were held. The election marked the final transition from military to civilian rule following the military coup in 2005.

Until 2017 Mauritania had a bicameral legislature with a Senate and a National Assembly. The Senate was abolished in 2017 by a popular referendum.

The country has been ruled by a military junta led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ since 2007. He became president in 2009 and remained in office from 2009 to 2019.
In August 2019, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani was sworn in as Mauritania's tenth president.

In March 2021, a judge in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott charged former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and about ten other figures with corruption.

Note: External links will open in a new browser window.

Primature Mauritania
Official site of the Prime Minister Office of Mauritania.

National Assembly of Mauritania
The country's National Assembly is the sole chamber of the legislature since 2017.

Ministère des affaires étrangères de la coopération et des Mauritaniens de l'Extérieur
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad.

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to the UN
Mauritania Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
Consulate of Mauritania
Consulate of Mauritania in Montreal, Canada (in French)
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in London
Embassy of Mauritania in the UK.

Office National de la Statistique
The National Statistics Office (in French).



Maps from Mauritania

Mauritania Map
Map of Mauritania (click map to enlarge)
Image: ©


 Map of Mauritania
Political Map of Mauritania.
Google Earth Google Earth Mauritania
Searchable map and satellite view of Mauritania.
Google Earth Google Earth Nouakchott
Searchable map and satellite view of Mauritania's capital city.

 Map of North Africa and the Middle East
Reference map of North Africa and the Middle East.

Political Map of Africa
The 54 countries of Africa.
Map of Africa
A Relief Map of Africa.



News of Mauritania

Mauritania Newsstand,

Online News from Mauritania

Mauritania has one of the most open media environments of the Maghreb region, with relatively little government interference. But blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir’s death sentence on a charge of apostasy in 2014 and the government’s repeated refusal to pardon him have sent a clear and intimidating message to the media.
(Source: BBC and RSF)

Agence d'information indépendante Alakhbar
First independent news agency in Mauritania. It publishes in Arabic and French

AMI - Agence Mauritanienne d'Iinformation
Mauritanian News Agency (in French and Arabic)

Mauritania daily news in French.

Mauritania daily news in Arabic.

Television de Mauritanie (TVM)
Official website of the state-run TV station (in Arabic).

International News Coverage Mauritania
The Guardian
Mauritania-related news.



Arts & Culture of Mauritania

Traditional wall art in Oualata, Mauritania
The entrance to a house with traditional wall art in Oualata, a small oasis town in the country's southeast.
Image: Hugues

Arts & Culture

Ministère mauritanien de la culture
Official website of the Mauritanian Ministry of Culture (in Arabic and French)

Office National des Musées
Site of the National Museums Office.

Galerie Zeinart
The Zeinart Gallery is an art gallery in Nouakchott that exhibits handicrafts and works of art of Mauritanian artists.

La Khaïma
The Nomad Festival is a ten-day festival that focuses on culture and art.

Portal for and about Mauritanian women.

Moorish epic T'heydinn
The T'heydinn epic includes dozens of poems praising the glorious deeds of the Moorish emirs and sultans. The Moorish epic T'heydinn is part of Mauritania's Intangible Cultural Heritage.




Business & Economy of Mauritania

Hub terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG)
Greater Tortue Ahmeyim LNG - BP's planned hub terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) on the maritime border between Mauritania and Senegal. [BP]
Image: Mauritanides

Economy of Mauritania
Mauritania is a country with rich mineral resources, especially iron ore (which account for almost 50% of total exports), copper, and oil and gas. Still, the majority of the population depends on subsistence agriculture and livestock for a livelihood. 50% of the population is employed in agriculture.
Recent GDP growth has been largely driven by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors. About three-quarters of Mauritania's total exports are in raw materials extraction.
Risks to the Mauritanian economy include recurring droughts, dependence on foreign aid and investment, and insecurity in neighboring Mali.

Banque Centrale de Mauritanie
Mauritania's Central Bank (in French and Arabic).

Ministère du Pétrole, de l'Energie et des Mines
Mauritanian Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines.

Biennial international mining and energy conference in Nouakchott.

Major companies of Mauritania

Mauritanian Post Company
La Société Mauritanienne des Postes, or Mauripost, is the company responsible for postal service in Mauritania. Mauripost was created in December 1999, which split the Office des Postes et Télécommunications (OPT) into two national companies.

Mauritel is the principal telecommunications company in Mauritania, established in 1999.

The state-owned Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière de Mauritanie, operates the iron ore mine at Zouérat, the iron ore train, and the port facilities at Nouadhibou.

International companies that help Mauritania exploit the country

First Quantum Minerals Ltd.
The Mauritanian Copper Mines (MCM), a First Quantum Minerals Ltd subsidiary, operates the Guelb Moghrein copper-gold mine near the town of Akjoujt.

Kinross Gold
Canadian-based gold and silver mining company operates a gold mine in Mauritania.

Kosmos Energy
The American oil and gas exploration company operates, together with BP, Greater Tortue Ahmeyim, an offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

The Malaysian state-owned oil and gas multinational operates the Chinguetti offshore oil field.


Mauritania Airlines International
The airline is based in Nouakchott and now serves as the flag carrier of the country. Air Mauritanie was Mauritania's former national carrier; it ceased operations in 2007 and was replaced by Mauritania Airlines International.

Mauritania Railway
The national railway of Mauritania consists of a single, 700 km (435 mi) railway line linking the iron mining center of Zouérat with the port of Nouadhibou, a key commercial center, and Mauritania's second-largest city.

The Iron-ore train of the national railway and mining company SNIM
Mauritania's National Railway (SNIM) operates the transport of iron ore (and people) between the iron-mining town of Zouérat and the port of Nouadhibou. The 700 km long railroad line is the only one in the country and runs through the desert along the border with Western Sahara. On a short section, the train crosses through Western Sahara territory, controlled by the Polisario Front. The trains can have a length of up to 3000 m.
Image: Ammar Hassan



Tourism in Mauritania

Atlantic Ocean beach, north of Nouakchott
An empty Atlantic Ocean beach to the north of Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania.
Image: Olivier ROUX

Destination Mauritania - Travel and Tour Guides


Discover Mauritania: Nouakchott,
Adrar Plateau (arid plateau with nice gorges arising from the flat desert), Richat Structure (the Eye of the Sahara)

Mauritania Ministry of Trade, Industry, Handcraft and Tourism
The official website of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Handcraft and Tourism.

Tourisme - Invest Mauritania
Information about some local tourist attractions by Invest Mauritania (in French).

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in Washington D.C.
The embassy also provides information about the country.

De Terjit à Chinguitti
From Terjit to Chinguitt, a French-based guide to the holy city of the Sahara (in French).

Trek en Mauritanie
A trek in Mauritania, afoot in the Sahara (in French).

Wikivoyage Logo Wikivoyage Mauritania
Travel information for Mauritania.

Tour Operators

Amatliche Tours
Desert tours and more (in French).
Surmi Voyages
Mauritania tour operator.
Tourist complex Tenadi
Located at Trarza 90 km from Nouakchott on the road connecting Nouakchott with Mali (in French).

Donkey cart at the fishing port of Nouakchott
A man waits on the beach of the fishing port of Nouakchott behind his donkey cart for a load of fish.
Image: Mark Fischer



UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Chinguetti ksour, mosque and minaret
View of the ancient Chinguetti ksour (fortified town) and mosque. The complex was in the past a historical center of learning and worship, built in the 11th or 12th century in the Chinguetti oasis in the Mauritanian state of Adrar. The minaret of this ancient mosque is one of the oldest in the Muslim world still in use.
Image: Mohamed Natti

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mauritania
There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mauritania, one cultural and one natural site. Additionally, three properties are listed in UNESCO's Tentative List, an inventory of those properties which each state party intends to consider for nomination. (see the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mauritania).

The following links lead to a detailed description of the respective World Heritage Site at UNESCO.

World Heritage Site Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata
Ancient Ksour (town/fortification) of the 11th and 12th centuries, built to serve caravans crossing the Sahara. These trading and religious centers became focal points of Islamic culture.

World Heritage Site Banc d'Arguin National Park
The park is a land- and seascape of outstanding natural significance, with sand-dunes, coastal swamps, small islands and shallow coastal waters. A favored destination for migrating birds that spend the winter there.

A flock of birds near Banc d'Arguin National Park
Where the desert meets the sea. A flock of migrating (or local) birds near Banc d'Arguin National Park.
Image: jbdodane


Education in Mauritania

Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Nouakchott
The new Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Nouakchott.
Image: Mohamed Chafeï

Bibliothèque de l'Université de NKTT
The Nouakchott University Library (in French).

Université des Sciences, de Technologie et de Médecine
University of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Nouakchott.

Université de Nouakchott
A main academic institution in Mauritania, founded in 1981 with two faculties, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Juridical and Economic Sciences.


Environment & Nature

Sand and stones in the Sahara Desert
Windswept sand and sandstone dominate the landscape of Mauritania.
Image: Ministry of Trade

Ministère de l'Environnement et du Développement Durable
Official website of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development with information about the ministry, its work and function. (in French and Arabic)

Le Parc National du Banc d'Arguin
Official website of the National Park with its unique coastal ecosystem. The Banc d'Arguin National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (in French).

Parc National du Diawling (PND)
The National Park Diawling includes the delta of the Senegal River, in the rainy season it consists mainly of larger lakes.

Guelb Moghrein open pit copper mine
The Guelb Moghrein open pit copper mine west of Akjoujt, Mauritania. The Mine is operated by Mauritanian Copper Mines S.A, a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum Minerals Ltd.
Image: maxar


Mauritania History

Desertification - abandoned part of Aoujeft town
Desertification at work - ruins in the abandoned part of Aoujeft, a town in the Adrar region of western Mauritania.
Image: John Spooner

BBC-logo Mauritania profile - Timeline
Timeline of Mauritania's history by the BBC.

Encyclopædia Britannica History of Mauritania
History of Mauritania by Encyclopædia Britannica.

History of Mauritania
History of Mauritania by The Guardian (UK).

Wikipedia W History of Mauritania
Wikipedia entry about Mauritania's history.

View of the Richat Structure in Mauritania.
Richat Structure in Mauritania, the 50-kilometer-wide 'bull's-eye' on the otherwise kind of featureless expanse of the desert. The view was generated from a Landsat satellite image. There are wild speculations that the structure might be the remains of Plato's ringed city - Atlantis.



Additional Information

Selected country profiles of Mauritania published by international organizations.


Amnesty International: Mauritania
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights.

BBC Country Profile: Mauritania
Country profiles by the British public service broadcaster.

BTI Transformation Index Mauritania
Mauritania Country Report 2020 by Bertelsmann Stiftung.

FAO: Mauritania
UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Freedom House: Mauritania
The U.S. government-funded non-profit organization whose goal is to promote liberal democracies worldwide.

GlobalEDGE: Mauritania
Mauritania ranking by the Global business knowledge portal.

The Heritage Foundation: Mauritania
Index of Economic Freedom by The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank.

Human Rights Watch: Mauritania
HRW conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

OEC: Mauritania
The Observatory of Economic Complexity provides the latest international trade data.

Reporters Without Borders: Mauritania
RSF (Reporters sans frontières) is an international NGO that defends and promotes media freedom.

Wikipedia: Mauritania
Wikipedia's Mauritania page in many languages.

World Bank Data: Mauritania
World Development Indicators database.

The CIA World Factbook -- Mauritania
CIA World Factbook Mauritania Page.


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