Fast Facts

Population:
3,069,000
Capital:
Nouakchott; 600,000
Area:
1,030,700 square kilometers (397,955 square miles)
Language:
Hassaniya Arabic, Wolof, Pulaar, Soninke, French
Religion:
Muslim
Currency:
Ouguiya
Life Expectancy:
54
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $1,700
Literacy Percent:
42
Flag: Mauritania
Map: Mauritania

Part of French West Africa until independence in 1960, Mauritania is influenced by Arab as well as African cultures. Crop growing is largely confined to the floodplain of the Sénégal River, straining relations with the country of Senegal over use of the river. Some of the world's richest fishing grounds lie off the coast. The population still largely depends on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood, even though recurring droughts forced most nomads and many subsistence farmers into the cities. The country has been further strained by internal racial divisions between blacks and Arabs.

ECONOMY

Industry: Fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum

Agriculture: Dates, millet, sorghum, rice; cattle

Exports: Iron ore, fish and fish products, gold

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