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Mauritania:
Geography

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Mauritania Page


Background
Definition
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 over 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. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and White and Black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities, although the new government is attempting to ameliorate some of these tensions.
Location
Definition
Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates
Definition
20 00 N, 12 00 W
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 1,030,700 sq km
land: 1,030,400 sq km
water: 300 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 5,074 km
border countries: Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km
Coastline
Definition
754 km
Maritime claims
Definition
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
Definition
desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
Terrain
Definition
mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m
highest point: Kediet Ijill 915 m
Natural resources
Definition
iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 0.2%
permanent crops: 0.01%
other: 99.79% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
490 sq km (2002)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
11.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 1.7 cu km/yr (9%/3%/88%)
per capita: 554 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; limited natural fresh water resources away from the Senegal, which is the only perennial river; locust infestation
Environment - international agreements
Definition
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
Definition
most of the population concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country


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