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.
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.
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Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Short form: Mauritania
ISO Country Code: mr, MRT
Local Time = No UTC no GMT offset
Country Calling Code: +222
Capital City: Nouakchott (pop. 800,000)
Nouadhibou (113,000), Selibaby (107,000), Kaedi (91,000), Kiffa (77,000), Rosso (63,000), Zouerate (36,000)
Independence: 28 November 1960 (from France).
Constitution: Approved 1991. Military rule 1978-1992. The original constitution was promulgated in 1961.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara.
Area: 1,030,000 km² (398,000 sq. mi.), almost two times the area of France.
Terrain: Northern four-fifths barren desert; southern 20% mainly Sahelian with small scale irrigated and rainfed agriculture in the Senegal River basin.
Climate: Predominantly hot and dry.