MauritaniaMauritania is a country in western Africa.

Mauritania, or Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country of northwestern Africa. It is bordered by Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Senegal, and the Atlantic Ocean. Mauritania covers 398,000 square miles (1,030,700 km 2 ). It lies largely in the Sahara, where the climate is hot and extremely dry. Only in certain sections of the extreme south, in the sub-Saharan region called the Sahel, is rainfall usually sufficient for cultivation. Nomadic herding provides a meager livelihood throughout most of the country. Farming, generally at a subsistence level, is practiced in the south, mainly along the Senegal River. Millet, sorghum, rice, and dates are the chief crops. Of increasing importance is the mining of iron ore for export. Commercial fishing and petroleum production have considerable potential. Modern manufacturing industries and transportation facilities are few.

Mauritania is among the most sparsely settled of all independent nations, with a population density of 4.7 persons per square mile (1.8 per km 2 ). Nouakchott is Mauritania's capital. Most of Mauritania's people are Maures (Moors), who are mainly nomads and are of mixed Arab-Berber origin. Blacks form about 20 per cent of the population and live primarily in the south. Islam is the state religion. Arabic is the official language, but French is widely spoken. Primary school and secondary school each last six years. About 35 per cent of the people are literate. The principal institution of higher learning is the University of Nouakchott.

The constitution of 1991 provides for a president elected for a six-year term. The president appoints the prime minister, who appoints a cabinet called the Council of Ministers. The legislature, which is elected, consists of the 95-member National Assembly and the 56-member Senate. \

Facts in brief about Mauritania
Capital: Nouakchott.
Official language: Arabic. National languages—Arabic, Poular, Soninke, Wolof.
Area: 395,955 mi2 (1,025,520 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 800 mi (1,287 km); east-west, 780 mi (1,255 km). Coastline—414 mi (666 km).
Elevation: Highest—Kediet Ijill, 3,002 ft (915 m) above sea level. Lowest—16 ft (5 m) below sea level.
Population: Current estimate—3,342,000; density, 8 per mi2 (3 per km2); distribution, 60 percent rural, 40 percent urban. 2000 census—2,508,159.
Chief products: Agriculture—dates, gum arabic, livestock (cattle, sheep, goats), rice, sorghum. Manufacturing—fish processing, petroleum refining. Mining—iron ore, gypsum, gold.
Flag: Mauritania's flag has a yellow star over a yellow crescent on a green background. The green color and the star and crescent stand for Mauritania's ties to Islam and the rest of northern Africa. The yellow stands for the country's ties to nations south of the Sahara.
Money: Basic unit—ouguiya. Five khoums equal one ouguiya.