Mauritanian Islamic Republic
[French] République Islamique de Mauritanie
[Arabic] Al-Jumhuriyah; al-Islamiyah al-Muritaniyah
CAPITAL : Nouakchott
FLAG : The flag consists of a gold star and crescent on a light green field.
ANTHEM : Mauritania (no words).
MONETARY UNIT : The ouguiya ( UM ), a paper currency of 5 khoums, issued by the Central Bank of Mauritania, replaced the Communauté Financière Africaine franc on 29 June 1973. There are coins of 1 khoum and 1, 5, 10, and 20 ouguiyas, and notes of 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 ouguiyas. UM 1 = $0.00374 (or $1 = UM 267) as of January 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is the legal standard.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; African Liberation Day, 25 May; Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic, 28 November. Movable religious holidays include Laylat al-Miraj, 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', 1st of Muharram (Muslim New Year), and Milad an-Nabi.
TIME : GMT.
Arabic is the official language. The Arabic spoken in Mauritania is called Hasaniya. Wolof, Peular, and Soninke are spoken in southern Mauritania and recognized as national languages; Wolof is also recognized as an official language. French is widely used, particularly in business, but its status as an official language was eliminated in the 1991 constitution.
In 2002 the active armed forces of Mauritania numbered approximately 15,750. The army had 15,000 personnel armed with 35 main battle tanks. The navy numbered 500 with seven patrol boats. The air force consisted of 250 personnel flying eight combat aircraft. Paramilitary personnel numbered 5,000 with 3,000 in the gendarmerie and a national guard of 2,000. Defense expenditures were $37.1 million or 3.7% of GDP.
Insurance was handled by 13 foreign companies until July 1974 when the Mauritanian government assumed full control of insurance and reinsurance. All insurance business was controlled by the Mauritanian Insurance and Reinsurance Co. There were two insurance companies in 1999.
The major indirect taxes are import duties, a turnover tax on exports and mining companies, a value-added tax (VAT), excise levies on petroleum, tobacco, a service tax, and a tax on vehicles. In 2003, the standard VAT rate was set at 14%. The major direct tax is an income tax on wages and salaries; a general income tax and a tax on the profits of industrial and commercial corporations are also imposed.
The Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, and Ranching is in Nouakchott. Youth organizations include the National Union of Students and Pupils of Mauritania and the Association of Scouts and Guides of Mauritania. The Lion's Club has active programs. The International Association of French-Speaking Women has a base in the country. The Red Crescent Society is active as well.
Since relinquishing its claim to Western Sahara, Mauritania has no territories or colonies.
Calderini, Simonetta. Mauritania. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1992.
Cotton, Samuel. Silent Terror: A Journey into Contemporary African Slavery. New York: Harlem Rivers Press, 1998.
Handloff, Robert E. (ed.). Mauritania, a Country Study. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1990.
Pazzanita, Anthony G. Historical Dictionary of Mauritania . 2d. ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996.