Mauritania: Chronology and Statistics

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, or Mauritania, is a country in northwest Africa. Its coast faces the Atlantic Ocean on the west, with Senegal on the south-west, Mali on the east and south-east, Algeria on the north-east, with the Moroccanannexed territory of Western Sahara on the north-west. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast. It is named after the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania. [From the Wikipedia Mauritania entry.]


28 November 1960: the former French colony achieves its independence as the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a one-party state ruled by President Moktar Ould Daddah.

1974: Mauritania gives up the franc for its own national currency, the ouguiya.

1975: Mauritania reaches an agreement over Western (formerly Spanish) Sahara with Morocco and Spain. The following year its annexation of the south of the territory leads to resistance from the Polisario Front.

July 1978: Colonel Moustapha Ould Mohamed Saleh leads a coup. A ceasefire is agreed with the Polisario.

5 August 1979: Mauritania relinquishes its claim to Western Sahara.

December 1980: Army chief of staff Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya forms a military government. A proposed democratic constitution is abandoned.

December 1984: Ould Taya leads a coup.

April 1986: the publication of the “Manifesto of the oppressed black Mauritanian? leads to unrest and repression.

February 1989: Mauritania is involved in the creation of the Arab Maghreb Union.

April 1989: frontier clashes with Senegal leave several hundred dead on each side.

August 1989-April 1992: diplomatic relations with Senegal suspended.

12 July 1991: a referendum approves a constitution allowing multiparty politics. Arabic becomes the sole official language.

17 January 1992: the opposition alleges fraud after Ould Taya’s victory in the presidential election. The same happens after the parliamentary and municipal elections.

1995-99: protests follow the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.

December 2000: Mauritania leaves the Economic Community of West African States.

June 2003: failed coup against President Ould Taya.

3 August 2005: following a successful coup, Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall becomes president for a transitional term of two years.

Capital: Nouakchott

Area: 1,030,700 square km

Terrain: 90% desert

Population: 2.7 million

Annual population growth: 2%

Population density: 2.5 per square km

Human Development Index rank: 152 (of 177)

Population living below the poverty line: 46.3 %

Life expectancy at birth: 52 years

Infant mortality rate: 120 per 1000

HIV prevalence rate: 0.6 %

Literacy rate: 51.2% (men 59.5% ; women 43.4%)

GDP: $1.2bn

GDP per capita (purchasing power parity): $1,776

GNP per capita: $420

External debt: $2.2bn

Growth rate: 6.6%

Landlines and mobile phones per capita: 1 per 141.4

Main trading partners: Algeria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Brazil, China, France

Currency: the ouguiya ($1 = 263.51 ouguiya)

Main resources:

- mining and industry (30%) : iron ore, gypsum
- agriculture (24%): livestock, rice, sorghum, maize, – fishing (octopus)
- tourism

Foreign aid per capita: $85.20

Sources: World Bank; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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