Statistical information Mauritania 1996Mauritania

Map of Mauritania | Geography | People | Government | Economy | Energy | Communication
Military | Transportation | Transnational Issues | Year:  | More stats

Mauritania in the World
Mauritania in the World

World Nomads

Mauritania - Introduction 1996
top of page

Background: 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.

Mauritania - Geography 1996
top of page

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara

Geographic coordinates

Map reference

Total: 1,030,700 km²
Land: 1,030,400 km²
Comparative: slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico

Land boundaries: Total 5,074 km, Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km

Coastline: 754 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: Desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty

Terrain: Mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills

Extremes lowest point: Sebkha de Ndrhamcha -3 m
Extremes highest point: Kediet Ijill 910 m

Natural resources:
Iron ore

Land use

Land use
Arable land: 1%
Permanent crops: 0%
Permanent pastures: 38%
Forests and woodland: 5%
Other: 56%

Irrigated land: 120 km² (1989 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards


Mauritania - People 1996
top of page

2,336,048 (July 1996 est.)
2,263,202 (July 1995 est.)

Growth rate:
3.17% (1996 est.)
3.17% (1995 est.)

Noun: Mauritanian(s)
Adjective: Mauritanian

Ethnic groups:
Mixed Maur/black 40%
Maur 30%
Black 30%

Languages: Hasaniya Arabic (official), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (official)

Religions: Muslim 100%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years:
48% (male 568,828; female 562,342) (July 1996 est.)
48% (male 551,099; female 544,674) (July 1995 est.)

15-64 years:
49% (male 560,540; female 592,914) (July 1996 est.)
49% (male 542,762; female 574,282) (July 1995 est.)

65 years and over:
3% (male 21,753; female 29,671) (July 1996 est.)
3% (male 21,430; female 28,955) (July 1995 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate:
3.17% (1996 est.)
3.17% (1995 est.)

Birth rate:
46.92 births/1000 population (1996 est.)
47.32 births/1000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate:
15.24 deaths/1000 population (1996 est.)
15.66 deaths/1000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1000 population (1996 est.)
0 migrant(s)/1000 population (1995 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current 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
Current issues Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
International agreements: party to_Climate Change, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified_Biodiversity, Desertification, Law of the Sea
International agreements note: Most of the population concentrated along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
All ages:
0.97 male(s)/female (1996 est.) Infant Mortality Rate:81.7 deaths/1000 live births (1996 est.)
83.5 deaths/1000 live births (1995 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 49.01 years (1996 est.), 48.54 years (1995 est.)
Male: 46.09 (1996 est.), 45.66 years (1995 est.)
Female: 52.06 years (1996 est.), 51.54 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate:
6.84 children born/woman (1996 est.)
6.92 children born/woman (1995 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over that can read and write (1995 est.)
Total population: 37.7%
Male: 49.6%
Female: 26.3%

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Mauritania - Government 1996
top of page

Country name
Conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Conventional short form: Mauritania
Local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
Local short form: Muritaniyah

Government type: Republic

Capital: Nouakchott

Administrative divisions: 12 regions (regions, singular_region); Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh ech Chargui, Hodh el Gharbi, Inchiri, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza
Note: There may be a new capital district of Nouakchott

Dependent areas

Independence: 28 November 1960 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 28 November (1960)

Constitution: 12 July 1991

Legal system: Three-tier system:Islamic (Shari'a) courts, special courts, state security courts (in the process of being eliminated)

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Col. Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed TAYA (since 12 December 1984); election last held NA January 1992 (next to be held NA January 1998); results_President Col. Maaouya Ould Sid 'Ahmed TAYA was reelected
Head of government: Prime Minister Cheikh El Afia Ould Mohamed KHOUNA (since NA January 1996) was appointed by the president
Cabinet: Council of Ministers

Legislative branch: Bicameral legislature Senate (Majlis Al-Shuyukh):Elections last held 15 April 1994 (next to be held 12 April 1996; results_percent of vote by party NA; seats (56 total, with 17 up for election every two years) PRDS 16, UFD/NE 1 National Assembly (Majlis Al-Watani):Elections last held 6 and 13 March 1992 (next to be held NA March 1997; results_percent of vote by party NA; seats_(79 total) UFD/NE 67, PMR 1, RDU 1, independents 10

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT (associate), ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, CAEU, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation

Flag descriptionflag of Mauritania: Green with a yellow five-pointed star above a yellow, horizontal crescent; the closed side of the crescent is down; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Mauritania - Economy 1996
top of page

Economy overview: A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a substantial buildup of foreign debt. The government has begun the second stage of an economic reform program in consultation with the World Bank, the IMF, and major donor countries. Short-term growth prospects are gloomy because of the heavy debt service burden, rapid population growth, and vulnerability to climatic conditions.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate:
4% (1995 est.)
5% (1993 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin

Agriculture products

Fish processing
Mining of iron ore and gypsum Accounts for 25% of GDP (including fishing; largely subsistence farming and nomadic cattle and sheep herding except in Senegal river valley; crops_dates, millet, sorghum, root crops; fish products number-one export; large food deficit in years of drought

Industrial production growth rate: Growth rate NA; accounts for almost 30% of GDP

Labor force: 465,000 (1981 est.), 45,000 wage earners (1980)
By occupation Agriculture: 47%
By occupation Services: 29%
By occupation Industry and commerce: 14%
By occupation Government: 10%
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 20% (1991 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $254 million (1994 est.), $280 million (1989 est.)
Expenditures: $280 million, including capital expenditures of $94 million (1994 est.), $346 million, including capital expenditures of $61 million (1989 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: Calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

total value. $390 million (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
$401 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)

Iron ore
Fish and fish products

Japan 27%

Total value:
$355 million (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
$378 million (c.i.f., 1993 est.)

Consumer goods
Petroleum products
Capital goods

Algeria 15%
China 6%
U.S. 3%

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $1.9 billion (1992 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Ouguiyas (UM) per US$1_135.690 (January 1996), 129.768 (1995), 123.575 (1994), 120.806 (1993), 87.027 (1992), 81.946 (1991), 80.609 (1990)

Mauritania - Energy 1996
top of page

Electricity access

Electricity production: 135 million kWh

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 61 kWh (1993)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Mauritania - Communication 1996
top of page

Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: 17,000 telephones (1991 est.); poor system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radio communications stations (improvements being made)
Domestic: mostly cable and open wire lines
International: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) and 2 ARABSAT earth stations, with six planned

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Mauritania - Military 1996
top of page

Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $33 million, 2.5% of GDP (1995), $36 million, 2.7% of GDP (1994)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Mauritania - Transportation 1996
top of page

National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 24
2438 to 3047 m: 3
15-24 to 2437 m: 4
914 to 1523 m: 1
Under 914 m: 2
With unpaved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 4
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 9 (1995 est.)

Airports with paved runways

Airports with unpaved runways
2438 to 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 4
914 to 1523 m: 9 (1995 est.)





Waterways: Mostly ferry traffic on the Senegal River

Merchant marine: None

Ports and terminals

Mauritania - Transnational issues 1996
top of page

Disputes international

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs


You found a piece of the puzzle

Please click here to complete it