Mauritania By | Saturday, September 8  2012 at  15:56

Facts

Form of Government
Military junta
President is the Chief of State
President is elected to serve a five-year term

Government structure
Chief of State is the president, Head of government/Prime Minister, Bicameral Parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for service (males 450,289, females 544,598)
Expenditures: 5.5% of GDP
Branches: Army, Mauritanian Navy (Marine Mauritanienne; includes naval infantry), Islamic Air Force of Mauritania (Force Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie, FAIM).

Former Rulers
1960 - 1978: Moktar Ould Daddah (Acting Head of state to August 20, 1961)
1978- 1979: Mustafa Ould Salek, Chairman of the Military Committee for National Recovery.
1979 - 1980: Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Louly, Head of State and Chairman of the Military Committee for National Salvation
1980 to 1984: Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidallan
1984 – 1992: Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya
1992 -2005: Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, President
2005- 2007: Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, Chairman of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy
2007 -2008 Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, President
2008 – 2009 Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the High Council of State
2009 - 2009 Ba Mamadou dit M'Baré (interim)

Capital
Nouakchott
Altitude: 8 metres
Population: 709,856

Population
Size: 3,340,627 (2011)
Life expectancy: 60.37 years
Gender Make-Up: 49.51 per cent males, 50.49 per cent females

GDP per capita
$2,571 (2011)

$2,445 (2010)

Geography
Area: 1,030,700sqkm
Land boundaries: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara

Major Languages
Arabic (official and national), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof, French, Hassaniya

Religious portfolio
Islam almost 100 per cent

National Make-up
Mixed Moor/black 40%, Moor 30%, Black 30%

Natural Resources
Iron ore, Gypsum, Copper, Phosphate, Diamonds, Gold, Oil, Fish

Main exports
Fish and fish products, Iron ore, Gold

Land Use
Arable land: 0.2%
Permanent crops: 0.01%
Other: 99.79% (2005)

Monetary Unit/Currency
Ouguiya

Dialling Code
+222

Internet Code
.mr

Transport
Main Port: Port of Nouakchott
Airport: Nouakchott International Airport.

Modern issues


Environmental
Salination, a process that is reducing the volumes of drinking water.
Poaching is another serious environmental issue that Mauritania is grappling with
Overgrazing
Desertification due to overgrazing as competition for scarce grass increases
Locust invasion

Political

There were mass protests, including a ‘day of rage’, against Ould Abdelaziz’s government, spilling over from neighbouring countries, which demanded political and social reforms

Ould Abdelaziz is lucky to have escaped an attack on his life! Mauritania's army blew up a car packed with explosives in February 2011

Politics heavily influenced by the military leadership
Unequal access to resources amongst the diverse groups tops the national agenda.
Slavery, repatriation and compensation of victims of 1989-90 purge of the Afro-Mauritanians remain unresolved.
Political parties now allowed.

Economic
Heavy dependence on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood.
Most of nomads and subsistence farmers forced into towns by devastating droughts of the 1970s and 1980s.
Rich iron ore deposit accounts for nearly 40% of total exports.
The country’s coastal waters are among the richest in fish population, but overfishing by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue.
Oil prospects, while initially promising, have largely failed to materialise.
The government continues to emphasise reduction of poverty, improvement of health and education, and privatisation of the economy

Ould Abdelaziz has been warming up with a few potential ‘partners’, namely controversial Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Having cut diplomatic ties with Israel, Mauritania has now signed two cooperation agreements in mining and infrastructure sectors

Social
Unemployment- up to 30 per cent of the population is unemployed.
Refugees- thousands of Mauritanian victims of violence still live in other countries, especially Senegal and Mali.
Corruption-corruption watch reports indicate that citizens of Mauritania perceive their government as corrupt.

The poor nation also suffers from severe tensions between the Arab and black populations. There have been protests by ethnic black Mauritanians who have rallied to denounce a census they feel aims at depriving them of their citizenship, but which the government called false rumours.

Foreign Affairs
Mauritania continues to suffer from terrorist attacks, and there is said to be a growing presence of al Qaeda-linked militants

Mauritania’s foreign affairs revolve around unresolved legal status of Western Sahara and Morocco claim to the country.
Mauritania’s membership to Africa Union suspended after 2008 coup.
Mauritania enjoys diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
U S and France have cordial relations with Mauritania.
Mauritania recognises Israel as a sovereign state.

The Major Conflicts

Military Coup
When: 2005
Who: Mauritanian military
Why: Change the government.
Outcome: Ending 21 years of Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya's rule

Military Coup War
When: 2008
Who: Head of the Presidential Guards
Why: Takeover government.
Outcome: Rule of the military council ten presidential elections.

What to see
Ouadâne- this is an oasis settlement in the north where there visitors have a chance to peruse through 3,000 manuscripts and an ancient mosque
Chinguetti- this is the seventh holiest city of Islam in Northern Mauritania
Mauritania coast is an 800km sandy beach, a nest to a variety of birds.

Sports
Popular Sports
Football
Golf
Rugby
Chess
Tennis
Swimming
Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Yoann-Jean Langlet: Football midfielder and a member of the national team
Bilal Sidibe: Football defender and a member of the national team

Quirks
The traditional drink in Mauritania is a glass of Arab tea with mint. It is the custom to have three glasses of this sweet and very strong tea over about an hour