Mauritania State Overview

By | December 14, 2021

Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Located this country in the north of the African continent. It has an approximate area of 1,025,520 km² and ranks 29th in area. It is almost completely occupied by the Sahara desert, so it has an extreme desert climate with a great daily temperature range and little rainfall. The Senegal River serves as the border with the country of Senegal. Mauritania’s currency is the ouguiyas (MRO). Nouakchott is the capital city of Mauritania according to babyinger.


From the 1st century BC, the Roman Republic constituted a province called Mauritania, which occupied the northern part of Morocco, but did not reach the current limits of the country. It was in the 3rd and 4th centuries, the migration of Berber tribes from North Africa displaced the Bafours, the original residents of present-day Mauritania and the ancestors of the Soninké.

In 1076, Islamic troops (Almoravids or Al Murabitun) attacked and conquered the former empire of Ghana. For almost 500 years, the Arabs put up fierce resistance to the local population (Berbers and non-Berbers), coming to dominate Mauritania. During the colonial period, it was France that controlled the territory and exploited its important phosphate deposits. Until 1960 Morocco claimed its sovereignty over Mauritania.

In 1946, Mauritania achieved the status of overseas territory and on November 10, 1946, Ahmeddou Ould Horma Ould Babana became the first member of Mauritania. This allows in 1948, the development of an elite and political parties. The framework law of Gaston Deferre June 23, 1956 allows the creation of an executive suite in which the execution is entrusted to a lawyer Mokhtar Ould Daddah.

In 1960 Morocco recognized the country’s independence, [citation required] and on November 28 of that year it was definitively proclaimed, the capital Nouakchott being founded on the site where a small colonial town, the Ksar, was located, when 90% of the population was nomadic.

After twenty years of military rule, Mauritania began the democratic transition in 2005 which ended in 2007 with a senate, parliament and presidency recognized by the international community. However, these institutions were overthrown by the Army in August 2008 after political and social tensions. After a transition period controlled by the Supreme Court, new elections were held in July 2009.

The constitution defines Mauritania as an Islamist Republic. There are Universal suffrages that elect the President and the deputies for a period of 6 and 5 years respectively.

Islamic Republic with presidential system. The President is elected by universal suffrage for six years. He holds the Head of State and part of the executive power together with the Prime Minister. Legislative power is divided into a National Assembly (elected by universal suffrage) and the Senate.


Mauritania’s population barely reaches 4 million people. It has an area of more than a million square kilometers, much of it desert, or what is the same, approximately twice the Spanish surface. He has a life expectancy at birth of 63 years.

Located in the Sahel region, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Its geographical coordinates are between meridians 4º 48 ‘and 16º 30’ west of Greenwich and the parallels 14º 45 ‘and 27º 22’ north and it has a coastline of 754 km. Its territory occupies an area of 1,030,700 km², which for comparative purposes is similar to twice that of Spain. It is the 29th country in the world by area.

It has a border of 1 564 km with Western Sahara to the west and north, 460 km with Algeria to the northeast, 2 236 km with Mali to the east and south, and 742 km with Senegal to the south; if all these extensions are added, Mauritania has a total border of 5,002 km.

The highest altitude in the country is 910 meters above sea level at Kediet ej Jill and the lowest point is 3 meters below sea level at Sebkha de Ndrhamcha. Its climate is extremely dry, which explains the low population density. The temperatures of the coast are more temperate with winds from the sea and the regions of the river are more humid.


The Senegal River serves as the border with the country of Senegal. The country is dominated, except for a narrow coastline, by the Sahara desert that occupies almost the entire territory and that has been spreading since the 1960s due to the great droughts that the country has suffered.

It contains about 300 km² that are made up of water contained in small lakes and oases. All major cities in the country, such as Nouakchott, the state capital, and Nouadhibou, the commercial capital, are located on the narrow coastline. The main cities in the interior are Tidjikja, Atar and Chinguetti.

Economic development

Mauritania’s currency is the ouguiyas (MRO). In this currency converter you can find its exchange rate with respect to any other currency. The economy is based on the export of iron and phosphates and on subsistence livestock and agriculture. The increasingly intense droughts are a serious factor in the increase of poverty in the country.

Mauritania has experienced an increase in the number of tourists. Due to political instability in Algeria, Mauritania has become the most popular country for trans-African travel. The so-called West Africa Route runs through Mauritania.

It does not have a diversified economy. With 80% of desert area and just 1% of regularly arable land, the weight of the primary sector falls on fishing and livestock. In the industrial sector, which constitutes a quarter of GDP, mining and fish processing stand out.

Within the mining sector, the predominant activity is the extraction of iron, through the public company “Societé Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM)”, the largest employer in the country after the State. Iron ore exports account for more than half of the country’s exports.

It ranks 161st on the Human Development Index. Although there have been some improvements in recent decades, poverty remains a serious handicap that affects more than 40% of the population, especially in rural areas and among women.

Social development


There is a large proportion of the population, especially women, who are illiterate. At the educational level, there have been appreciable improvements, obtaining 73% of initiates in primary education. Situation that contrasts with that suffered by public health, with inefficient coverage and quality of services that reflects an infant mortality rate of 10% and a maternal mortality rate of 7%.

However, it should be mentioned that efforts in the fight against epidemics and diseases have been successful, with HIV being present in only 1% of the population according to 2009 studies.


Country of traditionally nomadic culture. Its entire social structure is tribal, and it bases its laws on these. The music of Mauritania comes predominantly from the largest ethnic group in the country: the Arabs. In Muslim society, musicians occupy the lowest race, the Iggawins.

Traditional musical instruments including a lute with four strings shaped hourglass called tidinit and ardin kind of harp executed by women, of similar conception to the kora. Percussion instruments include the tbal (a timpani) and the daghumma (a kind of maraca).


The main religion is Sunni Islam, which accounts for 99.1% of the population. Other options are minority, without ever exceeding 1% of the registered population: 0.26% of the population identifies as Christians, 0.52% practice ethnic religions, and in a smaller percentage we find Buddhists, Hindus and Jews. These religions are generally practiced by foreign groups. 0.1% of the population is considered agnostic, the percentage of people without religious affiliation being very low as well.

In terms of religious freedom, we find that the Mauritanian government exercises strong control over the country’s religion, exceeding the average with respect to the rest of the countries of the world (6.6 / 10 points compared to 2.7 / 10 of the world average). Thus, apostasy from the official religion is punishable by law. On the other hand, from the social point of view, there is not a high rate of hostilities for religious reasons (1.2 / 10 points compared to 2.0 for the world average).

Mauritania State Overview