Mauritania is an independent republic which lies mainly in the Sahara Desert belt on the on the bulge of Africa and forms part of the West African Region. The capital city and major port is Nouakchott. Other major towns are Kaedi and Zouerate and the port of Nouadhibou.
The official languages are French and Arabic. The local currency is the Ouguiya (UM). (US$ / UM – current exchange rate).
The mining industry in Mauritania is its key economic sector with a number of minerals being extracted. The oil industry is also an important sub-sector in the country’s economy. Mauritania is one of four West African countries with an operating refinery.
Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility Societe Nationale d’Eau et d’Electricite (Sonelec).
A large percentage of the land is desert and most regions are only suitable for livestock raising due to unreliable rainfall. Food crop requirements are supplemented by imports.
Mauritania has rich marine resources that are being threatened by over-exploitation. The fishing industry earns a large portion of the country’s foreign currency. The manufacturing industry is small and deals mostly with fish processing and iron ore. Poor management of state enterprises has led to Mauritania being heavily indebted, relying on financial assistance.
Structural measures in the form of price liberalisation, the privatisation, liquidation or restructuring of several public enterprises, and agricultural sector reforms have been undertaken in an attempt to reduce debts. The road network in Mauritania is unreliable and incomplete. A railway line links the iron ore mines with the loading port at Nouadhibou.
The international time zone for Mauritania is GMT and the international dialling code is +222. Air Afrique, Royal Air Maroc and Iberia fly to Mauritania’s two international airports at Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. All visitors except nationals of France and Italy require visas in order to visit Mauritania.
The state of health, the current immunisation status, location and the local disease situation leads to the risk of contraction of cholera, hepatitis A, malaria, schistosomiasis, and typhoid fever in Mauritania. An individual risk assessment is recommended. Vaccinations may be required and insurance should be organised prior to arrival in the country.