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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. Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA seized power in a coup in 1984 and ruled Mauritania with a heavy hand for more than two decades. A series of presidential elections that he held were widely seen as flawed. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council that oversaw a transition to democratic rule. Independent candidate Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDALLAHI was inaugurated in April 2007 as Mauritania's first freely and fairly elected president. His term ended prematurely in August 2008 when a military junta led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ deposed him and installed a military council government. AZIZ was subsequently elected president in July 2009 and sworn in the following month. AZIZ sustained injuries from an accidental shooting by his own troops in October 2012 but has continued to maintain his authority. He was reelected in 2014 to a second and final term as president (according to the present constitution). The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among three major groups: Arabic-speaking descendants of slaves (Haratines), Arabic-speaking "White Moors" (Bidhan), and members of Sub-Saharan ethnic groups mostly originating in the Senegal River valley (Halpulaar, Soninke, and Wolof). Mauritania confronts a terrorism threat by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, which launched successful attacks between 2005 and 2011.


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

Natural Resources

iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish

Population - distribution

with most of the country being a desert, vast areas of the country, particularly in the central, northern, and eastern areas, are without sizeable population clusters; half the population lives in or around the coastal capital of Nouakchott; smaller clusters are found near the southern border with Mali and Senegal

Arabic (official and national), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French
NOUAKCHOTT (capital) 968,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Conventional short form
Local long form
Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
Local short form
presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
18 04 N, 15 58 W
Time difference
UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Mauritania's economy is dominated by extractive industries (oil and mines), fisheries and agriculture. Half the population still depends on farming and raising livestock, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s, 1980s and 2000s. Recently, GDP growth has been driven largely by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors.
External debt stocks
US$ 3,690,589,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -955,946,938
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 3,034,964,061
Exports of goods and services
US$ 1,716,020,525
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 501,726,766
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 202,499,614
dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn; cattle, camel and sheep
fish processing, oil production, mining (iron ore, gold, copper)
iron ore, fish and fish products, livestock, gold, copper, crude oil
China 32.7%, Switzerland 11.1%, Spain 8.6%, Italy 6.7%, Cote dIvoire 6.6%, Japan 5.7% (2015)
machinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
China 27.8%, France 6.9%, Morocco 5.6%, Spain 5.2%, Brazil 4.9%, US 4.4% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
  • Support from donors and international development organizations
  • Mineral and halieutic resources
  • Energy source potential (oil, gas, and renewables)
  • Enduring political instability and security concerns
  • Poorly diversified economy, vulnerable to fluctuations in mineral (iron, copper gold, quartz, phosphates), food, oil, and gas prices
  • Non-inclusive growth and high unemployment, especially among young people
  • Restricted formal economy

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