Africa: Mauritania

About Mauritania

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. Opposition parties were legalized and a new constitution approved in 1991. Two multiparty presidential elections since then were widely seen as being flawed; Mauritania remains, in reality, a one-party state. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions between its black minority population and the dominant Maur (Arab-Berber) populace.

Vital Statistics
Capitol City: Nouakchott
Population: 2,747,312 (July 2001 est.)
Percent below poverty: 50% (1996 est.)
Language: Hasaniya Arabic (official), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (official), French
Date of independence: 28 November 1960 (from France)
Form of government: republic
Title of Leader: President
Natural Resources: iron ore, gypsum, fish, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold
Environmental Issues: overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; very limited natural fresh water resources away from the Senegal which is the only perennial river
Agricultural Products: dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn, dates; cattle, sheep
Imports: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
Exports: iron ore, fish and fish products, gold
Trading Partners: IMPORTS: France 27%, Benelux 9%, Germany 7%, Spain 7% (1998)
EXPORTS: Japan 18%, France 17%, Italy 16%, Spain 11% (1998)


Mauritania Headlines

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