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Africa :: Mauritania
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Mauritania
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Mauritania
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Map of Mauritania
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Introduction ::Mauritania
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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. Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA seized power in a coup in 1984 and ruled Mauritania with a heavy hand for more than two decades. A series of presidential elections that he held were widely seen as flawed. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council that oversaw a transition to democratic rule. Independent candidate Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDALLAHI was inaugurated in April 2007 as Mauritania's first freely and fairly elected president. His term ended prematurely in August 2008 when a military junta deposed him and ushered in a military council government. Meanwhile, the country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and White and Black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities.
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Geography ::Mauritania
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Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
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20 00 N, 12 00 W
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total: 1,030,700 sq km
country comparison to the world: 29
land: 1,030,700 sq km
water: 0 sq km
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slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
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total: 5,074 km
border countries: Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km
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754 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
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desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
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mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
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lowest point: Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m
highest point: Kediet Ijill 915 m
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iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
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arable land: 0.2%
permanent crops: 0.01%
other: 99.79% (2005)
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490 sq km (2002)
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11.4 cu km (1997)
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total: 1.7 cu km/yr (9%/3%/88%)
per capita: 554 cu m/yr (2000)
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hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
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overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; limited natural fresh water resources away from the Senegal, which is the only perennial river; locust infestation
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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most of the population concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country
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People ::Mauritania
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3,129,486 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
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0-14 years: 41% (male 643,436/female 638,793)
15-64 years: 55.7% (male 818,778/female 923,046)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 44,836/female 60,597) (2009 est.)
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total: 19.2 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 20 years (2009 est.)
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2.399% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
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34.11 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
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9.16 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
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-0.96 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
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urban population: 41% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 63.42 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 35
male: 68.65 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 58.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 60.37 years
country comparison to the world: 182
male: 58.22 years
female: 62.59 years (2009 est.)
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4.45 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
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0.8% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
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14,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
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fewer than 1,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
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degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and Rift Valley fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
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noun: Mauritanian(s)
adjective: Mauritanian
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mixed Moor/black 40%, Moor 30%, black 30%
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Muslim 100%
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Arabic (official and national), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French, Hassaniya
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 51.2%
male: 59.5%
female: 43.4% (2000 census)
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total: 8 years
male: 8 years
female: 8 years (2006)
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2.9% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 149
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Government ::Mauritania
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conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
conventional short form: Mauritania
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
local short form: Muritaniyah
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military junta
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name: Nouakchott
geographic coordinates: 18 07 N, 16 02 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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12 regions (regions, singular - region) and 1 capital district*; Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh Ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Inchiri, Nouakchott*, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza
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28 November 1960 (from France)
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Independence Day, 28 November (1960)
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12 July 1991
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a combination of Islamic law and French civil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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18 years of age; universal
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chief of state: President Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ (since 5 August 2009) note - AZIZ, who deposed democratically elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDELLAHI in a coup and installed himself as President of Military High Council of State on 6 August 2008, was elected president in an election held 18 July 2009
head of government: Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed LAGHDAF (since 14 August 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: following the August 2008 coup, the Military High Council of State pledged to hold a new presidential election which was subsequently scheduled and held on 18 July 2009; under Mauritania's constitution, the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 18 July 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
election results: percent of vote - Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ 52.6%, Messaoud Ould BOULKHEIR 16.3%, Ahmed Ould DADDAH 13.7%, Other 17.4%
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bicameral legislature consists of the Senate or Majlis al-Shuyukh (56 seats; 53 members elected by municipal leaders and 3 members elected by Mauritanians abroad to serve six-year terms; a portion of seats up for election every two years) and the National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (95 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 21 January and 4 February 2007 (next to be held in 2009); National Assembly - last held 19 November and 3 December 2006 (next to be held in 2011); note - it is unclear when the Senate elections originally scheduled for 2009 will be held
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Mithaq (coalition of independents and parties associated with the former regime) 37, CFCD (coalition of political parties) 15, representatives of the diaspora 3, undecided 1; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Mithaq 51 (independents 37, PRDR 7, UDP 3, RDU 3, Alternative (El-Badil) 1), CFCD 41 (RFD 16, UFP 9, APP 6, Centrist Reformists 4, HATEM-PMUC 3, RD 2, PUDS 1), RNDLE 1, UCD 1, FP 1
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Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Court of Appeals; lower courts
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Alternative or El-Badil [Mohamed Yahdhi Ould MOCTAR HACEN]; Centrist Reformists (independent moderate Islamists) [Mohamed Jamil MANSOUR]; Coalition for Forces for Democratic Change or CFCD (coalition of political parties including APP, Centrist Reformists (independent moderate Islamists), HATEM-PMUC, PUDS, RD, RFD, UFP); Democratic Renewal or RD [Moustapha Ould ABDEIDARRAHMANE]; Mauritanian Party for Unity and Change or HATEM-PMUC [Saleh Ould HANENA]; Mithaq (coalition of independents and parties associated with the former regime including Alternative or El-Badil, PRDR, UDP, RDU); National Pact for Democracy and Development or PNDD-ADIL (independents supporting President Abdellahi) [Yahya Ould Ahmed Ould WAGHEF]; National Rally for Freedom, Democracy and Equality or RNDLE; National Rally for Reform and Development or Tawassoul (moderate Islamists) [Mohamed Jemil Ould MANSOUR]; Popular Front or FP [Ch'bih Ould CHEIKH MALAININE]; Popular Progressive Alliance or APP [Messoud Ould BOULKHEIR]; Rally of Democratic Forces or RFD [Ahmed Ould DADDAH]; Rally for Democracy and Unity or RDU [Ahmed Ould SIDI BABA]; Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal or PRDR [Boullah Ould MOGUEYA]; Socialist and Democratic Unity Party or PUDS; Union for Democracy and Progress or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS]; Union of Democratic Center or UCD [Cheikh Sid'Ahmed Ould BABA]; Union of the Forces for Progress or UFP [Mohamed Ould MAOULOUD];
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General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CGTM [Abdallahi Ould MOHAMED, secretary general]; Independent Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CLTM [Samory Ould BEYE]; Mauritanian Workers Union or UTM [Mohamed Ely Ould BRAHIM, secretary general]
other: Arab nationalists; Ba'thists; Islamists
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ABEDA, ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, CAEU, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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chief of mission: Ambassador Ibrahima DIA
chancery: 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-5700 through 5701
FAX: [1] (202) 319-2623
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chief of mission: Ambassador Mark M. BOULWARE
embassy: 288 Rue Abdallaye, Rue 42-100 (between Presidency building and Spanish Embassy), Nouakchott
mailing address: BP 222, Nouakchott
telephone: [222] 525-2660 through 2663
FAX: [222] 525-1592
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green with a yellow five-pointed star above a yellow, horizontal crescent; the closed side of the crescent is down; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam
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Economy ::Mauritania
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Half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though many of the nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for nearly 40% of total exports. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. Before 2000, drought and economic mismanagement resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In February 2000, Mauritania qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and nearly all of its foreign debt has since been forgiven. In December 2007 donors pledged $2.1 billion at a triennial Consultative Group review. A new investment code approved in December 2001 improved the opportunities for direct foreign investment. Mauritania and the IMF agreed to a three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement in 2006 and Mauritania made satisfactory progress, but IMF and World Bank suspended their programs in Mauritania following the August 2008 coup; following the July 2009 Presidential elections, the IMF and World Bank agreed to meet with the Goverment to discuss a resumption. Oil prospects, while initially promising, have largely failed to materialize. The Government continues to emphasize reduction of poverty, improvement of health and education, and privatization of the economy.
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$6.308 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
$6.094 billion (2007 est.)
$6.034 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$3.161 billion (2008 est.)
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3.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
1% (2007 est.)
11.4% (2006 est.)
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$2,100 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
$2,000 (2007 est.)
$2,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 12.5%
industry: 46.7%
services: 40.7% (2008 est.)
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1.318 million (2007)
country comparison to the world: 134
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agriculture: 50%
industry: 10%
services: 40% (2001 est.)
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30% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177
20% (2004 est.)
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40% (2004 est.)
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lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 29.5% (2000)
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39 (2000)
country comparison to the world: 70
37.3 (1995)
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revenues: $770 million
expenditures: $770 million (2007 est.)
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7.3% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 27
12% (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
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$NA
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dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn; cattle, sheep
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fish processing, oil production, mining of iron ore, gold, and copper; gypsum deposits have never been exploited
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2% (2000 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
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415.3 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
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386.2 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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12,830 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
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21,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
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30,620 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
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20,610 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
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100 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 149
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
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28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
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$-184 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
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$1.395 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 140
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iron ore, fish and fish products, gold, copper, petroleum
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China 39.9%, France 10.4%, Spain 7.1%, Italy 7%, Netherlands 5.5%, Belgium 4.8%, Cote d'Ivoire 4.1% (2008)
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$1.475 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 160
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machinery and equipment, petroleum products, capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
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France 16.3%, China 8.4%, Netherlands 6.2%, Spain 5.9%, Belgium 5.2%, US 4.9%, Brazil 4.4% (2008)
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$NA
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ouguiyas (MRO) per US dollar - NA (2007), 271.3 (2006), 267.04 (2005), 265.8 (2004), 263.03 (2003)
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Communications ::Mauritania
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76,400 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 152
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2.092 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 120
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general assessment: limited system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations; mobile-cellular services expanding rapidly
domestic: Mauritel, the national telecommunications company, was privatized in 2001 but remains the monopoly provider of fixed-line services; fixed-line teledensity 2 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular network coverage extends mainly to urban areas with a teledensity of 60 per 100 persons; mostly cable and open-wire lines; a domestic satellite telecommunications system links Nouakchott with regional capitals
international: country code - 222; satellite earth stations - 3 (1 Intelsat - Atlantic Ocean, 2 Arabsat) (2008)
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AM 1, FM 14, shortwave 1 (2001)
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1 (2002)
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.mr
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15 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 217
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45,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 173
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Transportation ::Mauritania
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27 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 125
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total: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2009)
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total: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 2 (2009)
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728 km
standard gauge: 728 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
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total: 11,066 km
country comparison to the world: 135
paved: 2,966 km
unpaved: 8,100 km (2006)
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some navigation possible on Senegal River
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Nouadhibou, Nouakchott
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Military ::Mauritania
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Mauritanian Armed Forces: Army, Mauritanian Navy (Marine Mauritanienne; includes naval infantry), Islamic Air Force of Mauritania (Force Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie, FAIM) (2008)
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18 years of age (est.); conscript service obligation - 2 years; majority of servicemen believed to be volunteers; service in Air Force and Navy is voluntary (2006)
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males age 16-49: 740,675
females age 16-49: 744,709 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 450,289
females age 16-49: 544,598 (2009 est.)
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male: 34,546
female: 35,272 (2009 est.)
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5.5% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 14
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Transnational Issues ::Mauritania
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Mauritanian claims to Western Sahara remain dormant
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