The World Factbook (1990)/Mauritania

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Mauritania


World Factbook (1990) Mauritania.jpg

See regional map VII



Geography


Total area: 1,030,700 km²; land area: 1,030,400 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico

Land boundaries: 5,074 km total; Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km

Coastline: 754 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: edge of continental margin or 200 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: armed conflict in Western Sahara; boundary with Senegal

Climate: desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty

Terrain: mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills

Natural resources: iron ore, gypsum, fish, copper, phosphate

Land use: 1% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 38% meadows and pastures; 5% forest and woodland; 56% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; desertification; only perennial river is the Senegal


People


Population: 1,934,549 (July 1990), growth rate 3.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 49 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 18 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 96 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 44 years male, 49 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 7.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Mauritanian(s); adjective—Mauritanian

Ethnic divisions: 40% mixed Maur/black, 30% Maur, 30% black

Religion: nearly 100% Muslim

Language: Hasaniya Arabic (national); French (official); Toucouleur, Fula, Sarakole, Wolof

Literacy: 17%

Labor force: 465,000 (1981 est.); 45,000 wage earners (1980); 47% agriculture, 29% services, 14% industry and commerce, 10% government; 53% of population of working age (1985)

Organized labor: 30,000 members claimed by single union, Mauritanian Workers' Union


Government


Long-form name: Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Type: republic; military first seized power in bloodless coup 10 July 1978; a palace coup that took place on 24 December 1984 brought President Taya to power

Capital: Nouakchott

Administrative divisions: 12 regions (régions, singular—région); Adrar, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, El ’Açâba, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh Ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Inchiri, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza; note—there may be a new capital district of Nouakchott

Independence: 28 November 1960 (from France)

Constitution: 20 May 1961, abrogated after coup of 10 July 1978; provisional constitution published 17 December 1980 but abandoned in 1981; new constitutional charter published 27 February 1985

Legal system: based on Islamic law

National holiday: Independence Day, 28 November (1960)

Executive branch: president, Military Committee for National Salvation (CMSN), Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), dissolved after 10 July 1978 coup; legislative power resides with the CMSN

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Suprême)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Col. Maaouiya Ould Sid‘Ahmed TAYA (since 12 December 1984)

Political parties and leaders: suspended

Suffrage: none

Elections: none; last presidential election August 1976; National Assembly dissolved 10 July 1978; no national elections are scheduled

Communists: no Communist party, but there is a scattering of Maoist sympathizers

Member of: ACP, AfDB, AIOEC, Arab League, CCC, CEAO, CIPEC (associate), EAMA, EIB (associate), FAO, G-77, GATT, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB—Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OMVS (Organization for the Development of the Senegal River Valley), UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Abdellah OULD DADDAH; Chancery at 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 232-5700; US—Ambassador William H. TWADDELL; Embassy at address NA, Nouakchott (mailing address is B. P. 222, Nouakchott); telephone [2222] 52660 or 52663

Flag: 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


Economy


Overview: A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent drought in 1983. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore that account for almost 50% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production in recent years. 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.

GDP: $1.0 billion, per capita $520; real growth rate 3.6% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.4% (1988 est.)

Unemployment rate: 50% (1988 est.)

Budget: revenues $358 million; expenditures $334 million, including capital expenditures of $79 million (1988 est.)

Exports: $424 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—iron ore, processed fish, small amounts of gum arabic and gypsum, unrecorded but numerically significant cattle exports to Senegal; partners—EC 57%, Japan 39%, Ivory Coast 2%

Imports: $365 million (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, capital goods; partners—EC 79%, Africa 5%, US 4%, Japan 2% External debt: $2.3 billion (December 1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 4.4% (1988 est.)

Electricity: 189,000 kW capacity; 136 million kWh produced, 70 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: fishing, fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum

Agriculture: accounts for 29% of GDP (including fishing); largely subsistence farming and nomadic cattle and sheep herding except in Senegal river valley; crops—dates, millet, sorghum, root crops; fish products number-one export; large food deficit in years of drought

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $160 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.1 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $490 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $277 million

Currency: ouguiya (plural—ouguiya); 1 ouguiya (UM) = 5 khoums

Exchange rates: ouguiya (UM) per US$1—83.838 (January 1990), 83.051 (1989), 75.261 (1988), 73.878 (1987), 74.375 (1986), 77.085 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Communications


Railroads: 670 km 1.435-meter standard gauge, single track, owned and operated by government mining company

Highways: 7,525 km total; 1,685 km paved; 1,040 km gravel, crushed stone, or otherwise improved; 4,800 km unimproved roads, trails, tracks

Inland waterways: mostly ferry traffic on the Senegal River

Ports: Nouadhibou, Nouakchott

Merchant marine: 1 cargo ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,272 GRT/1,840 DWT

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 30 total, 29 usable; 9 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 4 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 17 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: poor system of cable and open-wire lines, minor radio relay links, and radio communications stations; 5,200 telephones; stations—2 AM, no FM, 1 TV; satellite earth stations—1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT and 2 ARABSAT, with a third planned


Defense Forces


Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary Gendarmerie, paramilitary National Guard, paramilitary National Police, paramilitary Presidential Guard, paramilitary Nomad Security Guards

Military manpower: males 15-49, 410,153; 200,212 fit for military service; conscription law not implemented

Defense expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (1987)