Mauritania

Key Country Facts

Population: 5 million
Historical & Interesting Facts:

An incredible natural phenomenon can be seen by satellite in Mauritania called the Eye of Africa.

Top Activities and Places to Visit:

On the Atlantic coast, spend time at the Arguin Bank National Park and rest along the beach. At times, no one can be seen for miles - there is just sand, water, birds here and there, and the sound of the ocean. The beach is very tranquil, making it a perfect getaway place to truly experience quiet and enjoy pure nature.

An incredible natural phenomenon can be seen by satellite in Mauritania called the Eye of Africa. It is a large, circular shaped dome that looks similar to a bullseye but is blue-green in color. Scientists originally thought this was caused by an asteroid impact, but now they believe it is a geologic dome formed by various rocks over millions of years.

Other Information:

The top exports are iron ore, copper ore, gold, molluscs, and non-fillet frozen fish

Country Information: The capital of Mauritania is Nouakchott and the country’s population is about 5 million. The government declares the entire population is Muslim. The main language is Arabic followed by French. The time zone is 4 hours ahead of EST.

Away from city life, travelers can brave the Sahara desert, which is especially beautiful during sunrise or sunset when temperatures are lower. Heading to the Terjit Oasis will give travelers a break from the heat and let visitors relax by the water under an array of palm trees.

Jim’s Perspectives:

Where to start? I’m so conflicted about this place because I had such a wonderful time … in this disaster of a country!

Of the 183 countries I’ve visited to date, I think it’s the poorest I’ve visited.

Let’s start with the good:

  • The Azalia Marhaba hotel was pretty decent; the best hotel in Nouakchott (New-AK-chot), however some new 5 star hotels are coming.
  • My guide couldn’t have been more hospitable
  • The tour of the goat and came farms were eventful
  • The port du peche (fish market) was awesome

The not-so-good:

  • The city is a disaster.  In fairness, Nouk has only been a capital for ~ 60 years, but who did the urban planning in this place?!
  • The city has grown so rapidly … the streets are made of mud and sand
  • Are their driving lessons or tests in this country?  They suck at it.
  • Speaking of driving … have you ever wondered where ALL used Mercedes cars go to die?  It’s Mauritania. Not kidding when I say that 3/4 of the cars on the roads are 1982 vintage Mercedes beater cars.
  • Q) What are those large barrels being carried by donkeys?  A) Water
  • A full 5/6 of the population has no running water, and many don’t have electricity.
  • The trash lining the streets is appalling.  Seriously, the worst in Africa.
  • And, c’mon, can’t someone clean up the dead goats and cows stinking up the street? Are there no sanitation standards in this country?
  • And, most of the traditional music I heard on the radio sounded worse than the camel grunts at the market. The guitars were cool but the screeching voices were just awful.

The issue of Mauritania and child slavery is of international concern.

Typical street in Mauritania. Notice the old Mercedes and donkey pulling delivery cart.
Trash is piled up everywhere in downtown Nouakchott
Having some fun at the beach with some locals … shoot the cork!
At the goat and livestock market

Jim's Mile Marker

UN Recognized Countries

193

Countries Visited

192

Featured Destination

AZERBAIJAN