Without adventure civilization is in full decay.
— Alfred North Whitehead, 1861 - 1947




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 ushered in a military council government. AZIZ was subsequently elected president in July 2009. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and white and black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities, and is having to confront a growing terrorism threat by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).


Mauritania is a country in northwest Africa. Geographically part of the Maghreb, Mauritania borders Algeria, Senegal and Mali, along with the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Read more about Mauritania in our Mauritania travel guide »

A travel warning has been issued for Mauritania

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MauritaniaHotel Halima 

Quartier Tevragh Zeinah 668

Price (US$): $132 - $190 / night

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Location. Hotel Halima is located in central Nouakchott, close to University of Nouakchott and Stade Olympique. Additional area points of interest include Nouakchott Beach. Hotel Features. Hotel Halima features a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas. This Nouakchott property has event space consisting of banquet facilities and a ballroom. For a surcharge, the property offers a roundtrip airport shuttle (available 24 hours). Guest… more »

MauritaniaHotel Emira 

Carrefour Av de Nouadhibou
et du president moctar Daddah
Nouakchott BP 3176

Price (US$): $89 - $163 / night

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Location. Located in central Nouakchott, Hotel Emira is near the airport and close to Stade Olympique, Nouakchott Beach, and University of Nouakchott. Hotel Features. In addition to 2 restaurants, Hotel Emira offers a coffee shop/café and a grocery. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves a complimentary cooked to order breakfast. Guests can enjoy a complimentary evening social on select days. This 3 star property has a 24 hour business… more »

MauritaniaEl Amane Hotel 

Avenue Gamal Abdel Nasser

Price (US$): $92 - $163 / night

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Location. Located in central Nouakchott, El Amane Hotel is near the airport and close to University of Nouakchott, Stade Olympique, and Nouakchott Beach. Hotel Features. El Amane Hotel features a restaurant. For a surcharge, the property offers a roundtrip airport shuttle (available on request). Guest parking is complimentary. Additional property amenities include currency exchange, self parking, and a safe deposit box at the front desk. Guestrooms. 23 guestrooms at El Amane Hotel feature… more »

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Full name
Islamic Republic of Mauritania

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

Geographic coordinates

20 00 N, 12 00 W

Area comparative

slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico

Border countries

Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km


754 km


desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty


mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills

Lowest point

Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m

Highest point

Kediet Ijill 915 m

Natural resources

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


3,205,060 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

mixed Moor/black 40%, Moor 30%, black 30%


Muslim 100%


Arabic (official and national), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French, Hassaniya

Government type

military junta


28 November 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 28 November (1960)

Chief of state

President Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ (since 5 August 2009); note - AZIZ, who deposed democratically elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDELLAHI in a coup and installed himself as President of the High State Council on 6 August 2008, retired from the military and stepped down from the Presidency in April 2009 to run for president; he was elected president in an election held on 18 July 2009

Head of government

Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed LAGHDAF (since 14 August 2008)

Internet country code


Internet users

75,000 (2009)


28 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Nouadhibou, Nouakchott

Other countries in the region