Mauritania boat
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Mauritania boat

© Creative Commons / Ferdinand Reus

Mauritania Travel Guide

Key Facts

1,030,700 sq km (397,955 sq miles).


3.4 million (2013).

Population density

3.3 per sq km.




Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960.

Head of state

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz since 2009.

Head of government

Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf since 2008.


220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are usual.

Mauritania is a mysterious, little-known Saharan country, where temperatures in the dry desert heat can reach 57°C (135°F). Much of the land is dry and inhospitable and many locations are difficult to reach without long journeys in 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Ouadâne, an oasis settlement in the north concealed by waves of coloured sand dunes, contains 3,000 manuscripts and an ancient mosque, justifying its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Northern Mauritania also contains the seventh holiest city of Islam, Chinguetti.

In the Middle Ages, Mauritania hosted the Almoravid movement that spread Islam throughout north Africa. The country has a colourful, indigenous nomad Moorish population.

The coast is an 800km (500 mile) sandy beach, devoid of most vegetation but supporting an astonishingly large and varied population of birds. The Parc National du Banc d'Arguin is a stopover for birds migrating between Europe and Africa.

Though it remains one of the world's poorest countries, exploitation of Mauritania's offshore reserves of oil and natural gas could bring prosperity in the future.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 31 January 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • the province of Tiris Zemmour (except the town of Zouérat)
  • the province of Adrar (east of Atar)
  • the provinces of Tagant and Hodh el Chargui
  • within 50km of the Malian border
  • within 25km of the Western Sahara border (except the Noukchott - Nouadhibou corridor)

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of the country, including the Nouakchott - Nouadhibou corridor.

Since the identification of a case of Ebola in Mali, some border controls have been introduced. Check local advice to see whether the border you plan to use is open.

There is a general threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.

Demonstrations have taken place in the capital Nouakchott. Some have involved clashes between police and demonstrators resulting in the use of tear gas. You should avoid all demonstrations.

There’s no British Embassy in Mauritania. If you need consular assistance while you are in Mauritania, contact the British Embassy in Rabat or any EU Embassy in Nouakchott. See
Consular assistance