Mauritania is a country in West Africa. It is one of the Maghreb countries, which include Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Mauritania covers 1,030,700 sq km (397,954 sq mi), and is bordered by Western Sahara to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and south, and Senegal to the southwest. It has a population of 3.3 million people (2011 estimate). Its capital and biggest city is Nouakchott.

More on Mauritania

Mauritania is on the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+0) with no Daylight Saving Time. Traffic here drives on the right. The official currency is called the Ouguiya (MRO). The official language is Arabic. The phone IDD code is +222.

Kaédi market street, Mauritania
Kaédi market street, Mauritania
Author: Bertramz (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Mauritania is still one of the under-developed countries of Africa. Its 2009 estimated nominal GDP was $3.029 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $975. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity was $2,037.

Mauritania came under French colonial rule since the turn of the 20th century until it gained its independence on 28 November, 1960. Under French rule, slavery was outlawed and interclan warfare brought to a stop. However it has not stopped the simmering hostility between clans and tribes, and this erupt into conflicts every now and then.

On 6 August 2008 the civilian government of Mauritania was overthrown by the military. Coup leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz then resigned from the military to run for president, which he won on 16 April, 2009. In February 2011, public demonstrations against the ruling regime, with began in other Middle Eastern and North African countries, spread to Mauritania.

A shelter in the Mhaïreth oasis in Adrar, Mauritania
A shelter in the Mhaïreth oasis in Adrar, Mauritania
Author: Ji-Elle (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Mauritania is a flat desert country. The highest peak reaches 1,000 m (3,291 ft), on the north-central part of the country. Mauritania is hot and dry, and has suffered through several long periods of droughts, which caused the desert to continue expanding in size.

Planning your visit to Mauritania

At time of writing, April 2011, the political situation in Mauritania remains shaky, with the possibility of demonstrations taking place at any time. Casual visitors and tourists are therefore cautioned against planning a trip there until the situation improves.

Visitors from Western countries are required to have a visa obtained before arriving. The main gateway to the country is Nouakchott International Airport (NKC). The national carrier Mauritanian Airways has regular flights to


Major Cities in Mauritania

  1. Nouakchott – capital
  2. Atar
  3. Chinguetti
  4. Nouadhibou
  5. Tichit

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mauritania

  1. Banc d’Arguin National Park
  2. Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

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