Geographic and Governmental Profile of Mauritania

Background
Independent from France in 1960, Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) in 1976 but relinquished it after three years of raids by the Polisario guerrilla front seeking independence for the territory. Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA seized power in a coup in 1984 and ruled Mauritania with a heavy hand for more than two decades. A series of presidential elections that he held were widely seen as flawed. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council that oversaw a transition to democratic rule. Independent candidate Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDALLAHI was inaugurated in April 2007 as Mauritania's first freely and fairly elected president. His term ended prematurely in August 2008 when a military junta led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ deposed him and ushered in a military council government. AZIZ was subsequently elected president in July 2009 and sworn in the following month. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and white and black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities, and is having to confront a growing terrorism threat by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Location
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates
20 00 N, 12 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Africa
Area
total:
1,030,700 sq km
rank:
29
land:
1,030,700 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
Land boundaries
total:
5,074 km
border countries:
Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km
Coastline
754 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate
desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
Terrain
mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m
highest point:
Kediet Ijill 915 m
Natural resources
iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
Land use
arable land:
0.2%
permanent crops:
0.01%
other:
99.79% (2005)
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Irrigated land
450 sq km (2002)
Total renewable water resources
11.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
1.7 cu km/yr (9%/3%/88%)
per capita:
554 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; limited natural freshwater resources away from the Senegal, which is the only perennial river; locust infestation
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
most of the population is concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country
Country name
conventional long form:
Islamic Republic of Mauritania
conventional short form:
Mauritania
local long form:
Al Jumhuriyah al Islamiyah al Muritaniyah
local short form:
Muritaniyah
Government type
military junta
Capital
name:
Nouakchott
geographic coordinates:
18 04 N, 15 58 W
time difference:
UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
13 regions (wilayas, singular - wilaya); Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Gorgol, Guidimaka, Hodh ech Chargui, Hodh el Gharbi, Inchiri, Nouakchott, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour, Trarza
Independence
28 November 1960 (from France)
Constitution
12 July 1991
Legal system
mixed legal system of Islamic and French civil law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ (since 5 August 2009); note - AZIZ, who deposed democratically elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDELLAHI in a coup and installed himself as President of the High State Council on 6 August 2008, retired from the military and stepped down from the presidency in April 2009 to run for president; he was elected president in an election held on 18 July 2009
head of government:
Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed LAGHDAF (since 14 August 2008)
cabinet:
Council of Ministers
elections:
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 18 July 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
election results:
percent of vote - Mohamed Ould Abdel AZIZ 52.6%, Messaoud Ould BOULKHEIR 16.3%, Ahmed Ould DADDAH 13.7%, other 17.4%
Legislative branch
bicameral legislature consists of the Senate or Majlis al-Shuyukh (56 seats; 53 members elected by municipal leaders and 3 members elected for Mauritanians abroad to serve six-year terms; a portion of seats up for election every two years) and the National Assembly or Al Jamiya Al Wataniya (95 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections:
Senate - last held in November 2009; National Assembly - last held on 19 November and 3 December 2006 (election scheduled for 16 October 2011 postponed, now scheduled for 31 March 2012)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPM (Coalition of Majority Parties) 45, COD 7, RNRD-TAWASSOUL 4; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPM 63 (UPR 50, PRDR 7, UDP 3, HATEM-PMUC 2, RD 1), COD 27 (RFD 9, UFP 6, APP 6, PNDD-ADIL 6), RNRD-TAWASSOUL 4, FP 1
Judicial branch
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Court of Appeals; lower courts
Political parties and leaders
Alternative or El-Badil [Mohamed Yahdhi Ould MOCTAR HACEN]; Coalition of Majority Parties or CPM (parties supporting the regime including PRDR, UPR, RD, HATEM-PMUC, UCD); Coordination of Democratic Opposition or COD (coalition of opposition political parties opposed to the government including APP, RFD, UFP, PNDD-ADIL, Alternative or El-Badil); Democratic Renewal or RD [Moustapha Ould ABDEIDARRAHMANE]; Mauritanian Party for Unity and Change or HATEM-PMUC [Saleh Ould HANENA]; National Pact for Democracy and Development or PNDD-ADIL [Yahya Ould Ahmed El WAGHEF] (independents formerly supporting President Abdellahi); National Rally for Freedom, Democracy and Equality or RNDLE; National Rally for Reform and Development or RNRD-TAWASSOUL [Mohamed Jamil MANSOUR] (moderate Islamists); Popular Front or FP [Ch'bih Ould CHEIKH MALAININE]; Popular Progressive Alliance or APP [Messoud Ould BOULKHEIR]; Rally of Democratic Forces or RFD [Ahmed Ould DADDAH]; Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal or PRDR [Mintata Mint HDEID]; Socialist and Democratic Unity Party or PUDS; Union for Democracy and Progress or UDP [Naha Mint MOUKNASS]; Union for the Republic or UPR; Union of Democratic Center or UCD [Cheikh Sid'Ahmed Ould BABA]; Union of the Forces for Progress or UFP [Mohamed Ould MAOULOUD];
Political pressure groups and leaders
General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CGTM [Abdallahi Ould MOHAMED, secretary general]; Independent Confederation of Mauritanian Workers or CLTM [Samory Ould BEYE]; Mauritanian Workers Union or UTM [Mohamed Ely Ould BRAHIM, secretary general]
other:
Arab nationalists; Ba'thists; Islamists
International organization participation
ABEDA, ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, CAEU, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Mohamed Lemine El HAYCEN
chancery:
2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 232-5700 through 5701
FAX:
[1] (202) 319-2623
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Jo Ellen POWELL
embassy:
288 Rue Abdallaye, Rue 42-100 (between Presidency building and Spanish Embassy), Nouakchott
mailing address:
BP 222, Nouakchott
telephone:
[222] 525-2660 through 2663
FAX:
[222] 525-1592
Flag description
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; the gold color stands for the sands of the Sahara
National symbol(s)
star and crescent
National anthem
name:
"Hymne National de la Republique Islamique de Mauritanie" (National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania)
lyrics/music:
Baba Ould CHEIKH/traditional, arranged by Tolia NIKIPROWETZKY
adopted 1960; the unique rhythm of the Mauritanian anthem makes it particularly challenging to sing
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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