Mauritania boat
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Mauritania boat

© Creative Commons / Ferdinand Reus

Mauritania Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

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

Population

3.4 million (2013).

Population density

3.3 per sq km.

Capital

Nouakchott.

Government

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.

Electricity

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: 22 April 2014

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 www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the provinces of Tiris Zemmour, Adrar, Tagant, Hodh el Chargui, Dakhlet-Nouadhibou and Inchiri (with the exception of the Nouakchott - Nouadhibou corridor).

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of the country. This includes travel along the Nouakchott - Nouadhibou corridor comprising the north-south arterial road running between these two cities and passing through Nouamghar.

There is a general threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners. There is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French military intervention in Mali.

There have been reports that some southern border crossings have closed because of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea and neighbouring countries. You should check local advice before travelling.

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 have been reports that some southern border crossings have closed because of an Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea and neighbouring countries. You should check local advice before travelling.

For further details about confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola, see the NaTHNaC Outbreak Surveillance database and follow the WHO on twitter.

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

Edited by Jane Duru
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