5 Interesting Facts About Mauritania


Mauritania is an unpopular African country on the Atlantic coast. It has a population of 4.4 million, of which 1 million live in the capital and largest city Nouakchott.

The country serves as a geographical and cultural link between the North African Maghrib (which encompasses Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and Sub-Saharan Africa’s westernmost area.

First explored by the Portuguese in the 15th century, Mauritania was taken over by France in the 19th century and became part of the French West African colony. In 1960, the country gained its independence.


  • Mauritania has one of the world’s largest ship graveyard

A major interesting fact to know about the country is its large ship graveyard, currently one of the largest in the world!

An old ship cemetery is a location where ancient ships, which have reached the end of their service life, are abandoned to naturally disintegrate, as the name indicates. Ornamentally called as “ship graveyard”, indicates an area in which several ships, boats or the hulls of wrecked vessels rot and deteriorate. Nouadhibou is Mauritania’s second-largest city and the country’s economic center. These massive city shorelines are the holding point of this ship graveyard.


  • Mauritania is one of the last countries in the world to abolish slavery

A presidential decree abolished slavery in Mauritania in 1981. A criminal law was not passed to enforce the ban. However, after immense “international pressure”, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo passed a law in 2007 that allows slaveholders to be prosecuted.


  • More than 60% of Mauritania is pure dessert

The Sahara desert has completely occupied the north of the country. Mauritania has a desert or semi-desert covering about three-quarters of its area.  Since the 1960s, the desert has been expanding because of a prolonged, severe drought that began in the 1960s. However, government aids and multiple international organizations are stepping in to stop this advance.

Thirty non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have provided training and supervision to help the villagers restore 5,500 hectares of degraded land. Three forests are being managed collectively and more than 430 hectares of sand dunes have been stabilized.


  • Having an “eye of the world”

From space, it is possible to see a huge eye-shaped depression in the deserts of Mauritanian. Imagine looking down on the Earth from space and seeing an eye staring back at you from the surface of the planet. Well it is possible thanks to the ‘Richat Structure’.

The Richat Structure has a diameter of around 40 km and resembles a bull’s eye in appearance. Scientists are still skeptical about the exact reason for its creation, but it is believed to have been caused by the corrosive action of rocks.


  • Fat is beauty

Mauritanians practice the tradition of “leblouh” or “gavage” which means to “fatten up” despite food shortages and droughts. Typically, girls begin this process at the age of five or younger. Predictions state that the heavier a girl is, the better her chances of getting married. As a rule, parents are ecstatic when their daughters gain weight.8. Mauritania is one of only two countries in the world to not use a decimal currency! The other is Madagascar.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 Popular South African Festivals

5 Popular South African Festivals

5 Interesting Facts About Mauritania About Mauritania is an unpopular African

You May Also Like