|Area||total: 1,030,700 sq km |
land: 1,030,400 sq km
water: 300 sq km
|Population||2,828,858 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||Hassaniya Arabic (official), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (official), French|
Mauritania is a country in Africa. Geographically part of the Maghreb, Mauritania borders Algeria, Senegal and Mali, along with the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Mauritania is about desert and ocean, and sometimes both at the same time. Although twice the size of France, it has only 3 millions inhabitants. You can imagine how remote some places can be.
Mauritania is an Islamic Republic. Don't be afraid of this political status; Mauritanians are not extremists and are, as most desert people, incredibly friendly. The poorest nomad family will always welcome you as a friend with some tea and biscuits.
The main attractions are the desert in Adrar and Tagant areas (around Atar), and the ocean in Banc d'Arguin (a natural reserve with dunes ending in the sea, full of millions of birds and protected by UNESCO).
Adrar is exactly how you've always imagined the Sahara: endless ergs (dunes) and regs (rocky desert) with tabular small mountains. No need to go to the Moon or to Mars if you know the Mauritanian desert!
Travelling is becoming easier, with charter flights from France to Atar through the winter, and guides and tourist agencies are quite easy to find.
Places other than Banc d'Arguin and Adrar are slightly more adventurous.
There are charter flights from France to Atar and regular flights from Europe to Nouakchott. A charter flight costs around 400 euros.
One can go to Mauritania by land from Morocco and from Senegal.
Public transport exist between main cities. However if you really want to enjoy Mauritania, renting a 4x4 is almost mandatory and not so expensive if you share the cost.
Despite being an Islamic country there are a number of fun bars in the capital. However there are only two nightclubs, one of which is located inside the French Embassy compound.
Homosexuality is punishable by death.
Following the 2005 coup, the security situation in Mauritania has been unreliable. Potential visitors should take care.