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Introduction - Mauritania:
BackgroundIndependent 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. Opposition parties were legalized and a new constitution approved in 1991. Two multiparty presidential elections since then were widely seen as flawed, but October 2001 legislative and municipal elections were generally free and open. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council, which declared it would remain in power for up to two years while it created conditions for genuine democratic institutions and organized elections. Accordingly, parliamentary elections were held in late 2006-early 2007 and presidential elections in March 2007. The newly-elected legislature is expected to assume power following the inauguration of the new president in April 2007. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population and different Moor (Arab-Berber) communities.
Location - Mauritania:
LocationNorthern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates20 00 N, 12 00 W
Map referencesAfrica
Areatotal: 1,030,700 sq km
land: 1,030,400 sq km
water: 300 sq km
Area comparativeslightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
Land boundariestotal: 5,074 km
border countries: Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km
Coastline754 km
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climatedesert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
Terrainmostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
Elevation extremeslowest point: Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m
highest point: Kediet Ijill 915 m
Natural resourcesiron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
Land usearable land: 0.2%
permanent crops: 0.01%
other: 99.79% (2005)
Irrigated land490 sq km (2002)
Natural hazardshot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
Environment current issuesovergrazing, 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; locust infestation
Environment international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography notemost of the population concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country
People - Mauritania:
Population3,270,065 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 45.5% (male 744,995/female 741,369)
15-64 years: 52.4% (male 845,272/female 866,998)
65 years and over: 2.2% (male 28,564/female 42,867) (2007 est.)
Median agetotal: 17.1 years
male: 16.8 years
female: 17.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate2.867% (2007 est.)
Birth rate40.56 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate11.89 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.005 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.975 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.666 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 68.07 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 71.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 64.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 53.51 years
male: 51.24 years
female: 55.85 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate5.78 children born/woman (2007 est.)
Hiv aids adult prevalence rate0.6% (2003 est.)
Hiv aids people living with hiv aids9,500 (2003 est.)
Hiv aids deathsless than 500 (2003 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Mauritanian(s)
adjective: Mauritanian
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and Rift Valley fever are high risks in some locations
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2007)
Ethnic groupsmixed Moor/black 40%, Moor 30%, black 30%
ReligionsMuslim 100%
LanguagesArabic (official), Pulaar, Soninke, French, Hassaniya, Wolof
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 51.2%
male: 59.5%
female: 43.4% (2000 census)
Government - Mauritania:
Country nameconventional long form: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
conventional short form: Mauritania
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
local short form: Muritaniyah
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Nouakchott
geographic coordinates: 18 07 N, 16 02 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions12 regions (regions, singular - region) and 1 capital district*; Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh Ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Inchiri, Nouakchott*, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza
Independence28 November 1960 (from France)
National holidayIndependence Day, 28 November (1960)
Constitution12 July 1991
Legal systema combination of Islamic law and French civil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDELLAHI (since 19 April 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Zeine Ould ZEIDANE (since 20 April 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second consecutive term); election last held 11 March 2007 with a runoff between the two leading candidates held on 25 March 2007 (next to be held 2012); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: percent of vote - (second round) Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDELLAHI 52.8%, Ahmed Ould DADDAH 47.2%
Legislative branchbicameral legislature consists of the Senate or Majlis al-Shuyukh (56 seats; members elected by municipal leaders to serve six-year terms; a portion of seats up for election every two years) and the National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (95 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 21 January and 4 February 2007 (next to be held 2009); National Assembly - last held 19 November and 3 December 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Al-Mithaq (coalition of independents and parties associated with the former regime) 37, CFCD (coalition of political parties) 15, representatives of the diaspora (yet to be chosen) 3, undecided 1; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Al Mithaq 51 (independents 37, PRDR 7, UDP 3, RDU 3, Alternative (El-Badil) 1), CFCD 41 (RFD 16, UFP 9, APP 6, Centrist Reformists 4, HATEM-PMUC 3, RD 2, PUDS 1), RNDLE 1, UCD 1, FP 1
Judicial branchSupreme Court or Cour Supreme; Court of Appeals; lower courts
Political parties and leadersAl-Mithaq (coalition of independents and parties associated with the former regime including Alternative or El-Badil, PRDR, UDP, RDU); Alternative or El-Badil; Centrist Reformists (independent moderate Islamists); Coalition for Forces for Democratic Change or CFCD (coalition of political parties including APP, Centrist Reformists (independent moderate Islamists), HATEM-PMUC, PUDS, RD, RFD, UFP); Democratic and Social Republican Party or PRDS; Democratic Renewal or RD; Mauritanian Party for Unity and Change or HATEM-PMUC; National Rally for Freedom, Democracy and Equality or RNDLE; Popular Front or FP [Chbih Ould CHEIKH MALAININE]; Popular Progressive Alliance or APP [Messoud Ould BOULKHEIR]; Rally of Democratic Forces or RFD [Ahmed Ould DADDAH]; Rally for Democracy and Unity or RDU [Ahmed Ould SIDI BABA]; Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal or PRDR [Boullah Ould MOGUEYA] (formerly ruling Democratic and Social Republican Party or PRDS); Socialist and Democratic Unity Party or PUDS; Union for Democracy and Progress or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS]; Union of Democratic Centre or UCD; Union of the Forces for Progress or UFP
Political pressure groups and leadersArab nationalists; Bathists; General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CGTM [Abdallahi Ould MOHAMED, secretary general]; Independent Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CLTM [Samory Ould BEYE]; Islamists; Mauritanian Workers Union or UTM [Mohamed Ely Ould BRAHIM, secretary general]
Diplomatic representation in the uschief of mission: Ambassador Tijani Ould Mohamed EL KERIM
chancery: 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-5700, 5701
FAX: [1] (202) 319-2623
Diplomatic representation from the uschief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge dAffaires Charles H. TWINING
embassy: 288 Rue Abdallaye (between Presidency building and Spanish Embassy), Nouakchott
mailing address: BP 222, Nouakchott
telephone: [222] 525-2660/525-2663
FAX: [222] 525-1592
Flag descriptiongreen 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
Economy - Mauritania:
Economy overviewHalf the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though many of the nomads and 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 nearly 40% of total exports. The nations coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The countrys first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In the past, drought and economic mismanagement resulted in a buildup of foreign debt, which now stands at more than three times the level of annual exports. In February 2000, Mauritania qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and in December 2001 received strong support from donor and lending countries at a triennial Consultative Group review. A new investment code approved in December 2001 improved the opportunities for direct foreign investment. Ongoing negotiations with the IMF involve problems of economic reforms and fiscal discipline. In 2001, exploratory oil wells in tracts 80 km offshore indicated potential extraction at current world oil prices. Mauritania has an estimated 1 billion barrels of proved reserves. Substantial oil production and exports began in early 2006 and averaged 75,000 barrels per day for the year. Meantime the government emphasizes reduction of poverty, improvement of health and education, and promoting privatization of the economy.
Gdp purchasing power parity $8.124 billion (2006 est.)
Gdp official exchange rate $1.569 billion (2006 est.)
Gdp real growth rate14.1% (2006 est.)
Gdp per capita ppp $2,600 (2006 est.)
Gdp composition by sectoragriculture: 25%
industry: 29%
services: 46% (2001 est.)
Labor force786,000 (2001)
Labor force by occupationagriculture: 50%
industry: 10%
services: 40% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate20% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line40% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 30.2% (2000)
Distribution of family income gini index39 (2000)
Inflation rate consumer prices 7% (2003 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $421 million
expenditures: $378 million; including capital expenditures of $154 million (2002 est.)
Agriculture productsdates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn; cattle, sheep
Industriesfish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum
Industrial production growth rate2% (2000 est.)
Electricity production176.7 million kWh (2004)
Electricity consumption164.3 million kWh (2004)
Electricity exports0 kWh (2004)
Electricity imports0 kWh (2004)
Oil production75,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil consumption24,200 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil exportsNA bbl/day
Oil importsNA bbl/day
Oil proved reserves0 bbl (1 January 2005)
Natural gas production0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas consumption0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas proved reserves0 cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Exports$784 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports commoditiesiron ore, fish and fish products, gold
Exports partnersChina 26.3%, Italy 11.8%, France 10.2%, Belgium 6.8%, Spain 6.7%, Japan 5.4%, Cote dIvoire 4.6% (2006)
Imports$1.124 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports commoditiesmachinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
Imports partnersFrance 11.9%, China 8.2%, US 6.8%, Belgium 6.7%, Italy 5.9%, Spain 5.5%, Brazil 4.1% (2006)
Debt external$2.5 billion (2000)
Economic aid recipient$305.7 million (2002)
Currency code ouguiya (MRO)
Exchange ratesouguiyas per US dollar - 271.3 (2006), 267.04 (2005), 265.8 (2004), 263.03 (2003), 271.74 (2002)
Communications - Mauritania:
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Telephones main lines in use34,900 (2006)
Telephones mobile cellular1.06 million (2006)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: limited system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations (improvements being made)
domestic: mostly cable and open-wire lines; a recently completed domestic satellite telecommunications system links Nouakchott with regional capitals
international: country code - 222; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), 2 Arabsat
Radio broadcast stationsAM 1, FM 14, shortwave 1 (2001)
Television broadcast stations1 (2002)
Internet country
Internet hosts32 (2006)
Internet users100,000 (2006)
Transportation - Mauritania:
Airports25 (2006)
Airports with paved runwaystotal: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 (2006)
Airports with unpaved runwaystotal: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
Railways717 km
standard gauge: 717 km 1.435-m gauge (2006)
Roadwaystotal: 7,660 km
paved: 866 km
unpaved: 6,794 km (1999)
Ports and terminalsNouadhibou, Nouakchott
Military - Mauritania:
Military branchesMauritanian Armed Forces: Army, Mauritanian Navy (Marine Mauritanienne; includes naval infantry), Air Force (Force Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie, FAIM) (2007)
Military service age and obligation18 years of age (est.); conscript service obligation - 2 years; majority of servicemen believed to be volunteers; service in Air Force and Navy is voluntary (2006)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 18-49: 606,463
females age 18-49: 607,955 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 18-49: 370,513
females age 18-49: 384,269 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures percent of gdp5.5% (2006)
Disputes internationalMauritanian claims to Western Sahara remain dormant
This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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