Country information

Location: Mauritania lies on the Atlantic coasts of West Africa and is bordered by the Western Sahara, Algeria, Mali and Senegal.
Area: 1,030,700 sq. km
Capital: Nouakchott
Population: 2,9 million (approximately)
Languages: French, English, Hassaniya Arabic, Wolof, Pulaar, Soninke
Religion: Islam
Government: Republic
Currency (-ies): Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRO)
International direct dialling code: 00 222
Time: GMT
Public Holidays: 1st January, 1st Mai, 25th Mai, 28th November
Working days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday
Working time: from 8.00am to 04.00pm
History: 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. 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. Mauritania remains, in reality, a one-party state. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions between its black minority population and the dominant Maur (Arab-Berber) populace.