Mauritania Population, Main Cities and Geography

By | January 27, 2023

Mauritania: population and cities



According to Countryaah website, Mauritania has about 4.5 million residents. Life expectancy in Mauritania is around 60 years, and infant mortality is 7.8% of live births.

Ethnic composition

The population of Mauritania is roughly composed as follows:

– more than 30% light-skinned Moors

– more than 30% Haratin (black Africans belonging to the Moorish-Arab culture)

– more than 30% black Africans (Wolof, Toucouleur, Saracolé, 1% Fulbe, Bambara, Soninke etc.)

– approx. 5,000 Europeans (mostly French).


The Islam is the state religion Mauritania. Over 99% of the population belong to it (mostly Malakite Sunnis). There is also a very small Christian minority, which comprises around 0.3% of the population

National language

The official language of the country is Arabic; French is used as a commercial and educational language. The Mauritanians of Arab or Berber descent speak the Arab Hassaniya dialect. There are also various Niger and Congo languages such as Solinke, Pular and Wolof.

Social situation

As far as social legislation and the health system are concerned, these are completely inadequate in Mauritania. Despite the general compulsory schooling for 6 to 11 year olds, around 25% of children do not go to school at all. About 57% of women and 40% of men are illiterate. Schools may only be attended by children who have complete pedigree papers. As a result, orphans and street children are denied access to school education. Around 20% of 10 to 15 year old children have to work. Child slavery is also very common.

Unemployment is also a major problem. She drove hundreds of thousands of Mauritanians to leave their country in search of work. Water and housing shortages are further problems in the country. They are particularly evident in the capital, Nouakchott.

Many different ethnic groups still practice female genital cutting in Mauritania. It is estimated that around 70% of women and girls are affected. In response to this, a law was passed in 2005 that punishes this “intervention in the sexual organs of a female child” if the child has suffered damage from it “. The Association des Imams et des Oulémas also opposed this cruel tradition and in 2006 issued a fatwa (= Islamic judgment).

Capital and other cities


The capital of the administrative region of the same name extends in the western Sahara in a date palm oasis. The economic center of the north of the country is the birthplace of the former Mauritanian President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya (born 1941), who ruled the country from 1984 to 2005. Atar is mostly used by tourists as a starting point for excursions, but with its old town (Ksar) and the old residential and craft district, it also offers interesting insights into the history and the present of the country. According to Abbreviation Finder, MRT stands for Mauritania in English. Click to see other meanings of this 3-letter acronym.


The former capital of the Almoravids is now a sanctuary, as the tomb of Iman El-Hadrami is located there.


Chinguetti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 together with the caravan sites Ouadane, Oualata and Tichitt, has existed since the 13th century when it was launched at the crossroads of several Sahara caravan routes. The new establishment quickly developed into a central trading post, but also an important place of Islamic learning. Today the ancient city delights with its well-preserved ruins that go back to Chinguetti’s wedding. In addition to travelers interested in architecture, there are also Islamic scholars, because they particularly wanted to admire the libraries. In the old town alone there are five old libraries in which, among other things, Koran texts dating back to the Middle Ages are stored.


Around 15,000 people live in Néma, a town in southeast Mauritania on the border with Mali. The city is known as the end point of the Route de l’Espoir, the only major road in Mauritania that leads in a west-east direction. Near the city is Qualata, the former refuge for scholars.


The former Port-Étienne is the second largest city and the most important economic center of Mauritania. Around 84,000 people currently live in the city, which also has an international airport. The district with the largest population is Numerowat. The business district Nouadhibous is the Ville (French: city), which extends mainly on the Boulevard Médian and is determined by banks, shops and the police.


The capital of Mauritania is Nouakchott (Nuwahsut) with a population of about 950,000 (Foreign Office), but those who know the country speak of over 2 million residents. The city is located in the south-west of the country directly on the The capital is the absolute opposite of most large cities. There are only a few entertainment options such as cinemas, theaters or restaurants. The old town is well worth seeing for tourists. The place was built in 1960 on the foundations of an old Moorish village.


The historic town of Oualata, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996, together with Chinguetti, Ouadane and Tichitt, extends into the southeast of Mauritania and was once one of the most important trading centers for caravans. At that time it played a particularly important role in the gold and salt trade. Oualata also served as an important meeting point for travelers on their pilgrimage to Mecca. Today’s Oualata is rather sleepy, looks deserted and is only inhabited by just under 3,000 people. This is also due to the difficult accessibility of the city. But every year around 20 students from different countries make the way to Oualata to visit the ancient madrasa, the city’s renowned Islamic school. The house paintings in Oualata are particularly worth seeing.


The city, founded in 1680 by the Moors “Idawali”, is characterized by a very special architecture with geometric drawings. The largest palm grove in Mauritania is also located here.

Mauritania: Geography and Map

Area and boundaries

Mauritania covers an area of 1,030,700 km². Check topmbadirectory for politics, flags, famous people, animals and plants of Mauritania. Thereof:

  • ForestAround 10% of the country is forested.
  • Meadow and pasture landAround 38% of the land is used as meadow or pasture land.
  • Fields and fieldsAround 0.2% of the land is used as arable land or fields, especially for growing vegetables, millet, rice and dates.
  • DesertAbout 50% of the country consists of desert.

Mauritania shares a border with the following four states.

Algeria with a length of 463 km,

Mali with a length of 2,237 km,

Senegal with a length of 813 km and

Western Sahara with a length of 1,561 km.


Mauritania has a coast to the Atlantic Ocean with a length of 755 km.

Tidal range in Mauritania

At the Banc d’Arguin, the mean tidal range is between 0.6 and 2.1 m.


The world’s highest tidal range can be found in the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where it is up to 16 m, and at spring tide even over 20 m. The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which is called Nova Scotia in German and whose capital is Halifax. On the German North Sea coast it varies between 1 m and 3 m. In the western Baltic Sea, on the other hand, the tidal range is only 0.3 m, while it is barely noticeable in the eastern Baltic Sea. For detailed explanations of ebb and flow, see Tides, Ebb and Flow.

Longitude and latitude

Mauritania extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from 14 ° 30´ to 27 ° 30´ N Δλ = from 004 ° 54´ to 017 ° 03´ W.

You can find detailed information on this subject under Longitude and Latitude.

Legal time

For Mauritania, the following value applies to Central European Time (CET), i.e. the time without summer time. A minus sign means that it is earlier there, a plus sign that it is later than CET:

Δ t (CET) = – 1 h (= GMT)

Further and detailed explanations of the time can be found under Time zones, time.

The highest point of the sun in Nouakchott

Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott is located at a northern latitude of around φ = 18 °.

If the declination δ of the sun has the value of 18 ° north and the image point of the sun is therefore exactly above the city, the sun is perpendicular there. This happens exactly twice a year, roughly 21 days before June 21st and then again 21 days after June 21st (for details see position of the sun).


If the image point of the sun and thus the declination δ is north of the latitude of Nouakchott, the sun is not in the south at noon, as in our latitudes, but in the north. In this case, the sun moves from east to north to west, where, like us, it sets.


The highest point in the country is the Kediet Ijill with a height of 910 m.


The longest river in the country is Senegal with a length of around 1,430 km.


The country includes several smaller lakes. The largest of these is Lac Rkiz.


The small island Île Tîdra is in front of the country.

The Sahara

The Sahara covers an area of around 9 million km², making it the largest dry desert in the world. However, only about 20% of the Sahara is what can be described as a sandy desert. In contrast, 80% of it is a stone or rubble desert. The Sahara in northern Africa stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Nile and on the other side further to the Red Sea in the east. In the north it is bounded by the Maghreb – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, in the south lies the Sahel zone. Countries in which parts of the Sahara are located: Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Chad and Tunisia. The few residents of the Sahara are Arabs, Berbers and Moors as well as small groups of Tubu or Tuaregs.

The Atlantic

Mauritania borders the Atlantic Ocean in the west of the country with a length of around 755 km.

Mauritania Population