Interesting facts about Mauritania

mauritania flag

Mauritania is a country in Western Africa.

The official name of the country is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara in the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mali in the east and southeast, and Senegal in the southwest.

The official language is Arabic.

As of 1 January 2017, the population of Mauritania was estimated to be 4,220,883 people.

With an area of 1,030,000 square kilometers (400,000 square miles), Mauritania is the 28th largest country in the world, and the 11th largest in Africa.

Nouakchott is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahara. The city also serves as the administrative and economic centre of Mauritania.


Approximately 90% of Mauritania’s land is within the Sahara and consequently, the population is
concentrated in the south, where precipitation is slightly higher.

Mauritania’s terrain is generally a flat plain with occasional ridges and cliff-like outcroppings.

Kediet ej Jill at 915 meters (3,002 feet) above sea level is the highest peak in Mauritania. The mountain and its surrounding area are rich in iron deposits. Due to the magnetic field, compasses cannot function on the mountain. Similar magnetic fields allowed the discovery of other deposits in the region in the 1960s. [Photo: Kediet ej Jill – seen from space.]

kediet ej jill

Mauritania has 754 kilometers (468 miles) of coastline.

Mauritania’s coast is essentially one long sandy beach that’s almost devoid of vegetation, but supports an astonishingly varied population of birds.

Mauritania has 2 national parks.

The Banc d’Arguin National Park is one of Mauritania’s top attractions. Fringing the Atlantic coast, the park comprises sand-dunes, coastal swamps, small islands and shallow coastal waters. It is a major breeding site for migratory birds. A wide range of species include flamingos, broad-billed sandpipers,
pelicans, and terns. The park’s vast expanses of mudflats provide a home for over two million migrant
shorebirds from northern Europe, Siberia, and Greenland. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989.

banc d'arguin national park

Mauritania has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata are founded in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the caravans crossing the Sahara, these trading and religious centers became focal points of Islamic culture. They have managed to preserve an urban fabric that evolved between the 12th and 16th centuries. Typically, houses with patios crowd along narrow streets around a mosque with a square minaret. They illustrate a traditional way of life centred on the nomadic culture of the people
of the western Sahara. These four towns are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.


The most famous landmark in the capital, Port de Pêche, is a colorful and buzzing boardwalk and fishing port on the west side of Nouakchott. Not only is the view from the pier breathtaking, but the activities of the fisherman coming in after a long day at sea is enchanting. Hundreds of local men drag pounds of nets from their sailing vessels onto the shore to the fish mongers, who skillfully fillet the catches to sell at the nearby market.

port de peche

Mosque Saudique is a mosque in Nouakchott. The mosque was built by Saudi money. The city’s skyline is dominated by tall, slender minarets of this religious site and tourist landmark.

mosque saudique

The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara and Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature in the Sahara near Ouadane, west–central Mauritania. From space, this natural curiosity forms a distinct and unmistakable bull’s-eye that once served as a geographical landmark for early astronauts as they passed over the Sahara. Once thought to be an impact crater due to its circularity, the unusual formation is now widely believed to have been caused by the erosion of what was once a geological dome. Over time, desert weather has caused the dome to gradually shed layers, resulting in the structure’s remarkable flatness.

richat structure

The country derives its name from the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BC to the 7th century in the far north of modern-day Morocco and Algeria.

In the Middle Ages, Mauritania was the cradle of the powerful Almoravid dynasty, which spread Islam
across North Africa and later controlled Islamic Spain.

French colonization at the beginning of the 20th century brought legal prohibitions against slavery
and an end to interclan warfare.

In 1960, the Republic of Mauritania became independent of France.


A majority of the population of Mauritania 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 is rich in mineral resources, especially iron and ore.

The nation’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue.

Oil was discovered in Mauritania in 2001 in the offshore Chinguetti field. Although potentially
significant for the Mauritanian economy, its overall influence is difficult to predict.

Mauritania suffers from several human rights issues, including slavery, as at least 4% of the population (155,600 people) are enslaved against their will.

Mauritania was the last country to legally abolish slavery; it only became punishable as a criminal act in 2007.

The most popular sport in Mauritania is football.

Filming for several documentaries and films has taken place in Mauritania, including Fort Saganne (1984), The Fifth Element (1997), The Books Under the Sand (1997), Life without Death (1997), Winged Migration (2001), Heremakono (2002), and Timbuktu (2014).

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