Modern forms of transport are still undeveloped. There are few paved roads, only one freight railroad, two deep-water ports, and two airports that can handle international traffic.
In 2002, of some 7,720 km (4,797 mi) of roads, 830 km (516 mi) were paved; there were only three paved highways, from Nouakchott north to Akjoujt and south to Rosso, continuing to Saint-Louis, Senegal. A 1,000-km (620-mi) east-west road between Nouakchott and Néma, started in 1975, was completed in 1985. A track continues north from Akjoujt to Bir Mogreïn, then branches northwest into Western Sahara and northeast into Algeria. Mauritania had about 12,200 passenger cars and 18,700 commercial vehicles in 2000.
The 704-km (437-mi) railway links the iron mines at Zouérate, near Fdérik, with the port at Point-Central, 10 km (6 mi) south of Nouadhibou. A 40-km (24-mi) spur was built in 1981 to accommodate the planned new mine at El-Rhein. There is a wharf at Nouakchott; work on the construction of a deepwater port, financed by China, was completed in 1986. This "Port of Friendship" is the main commercial port and receives about 90% of imported goods. Nouadhibou, also a port, underwent extensive reconstruction, restoration, and equipment renewal in 1991. Other important ports and harbors include Bogue, Kaedi, and Rosso. The Senegal River offers over 220 km (137 mi) of year-round transport.
In 2001, there were 26 airports, 10 of which had paved runways. The only airports that can handle long-distance jets are at Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. There are smaller airports at Ayoûn-el-'Atroûs, Akjoujt, Atar, Fdérik, Kaédi, Kifa, and Néma. Air Mauritanie (60% state owned) provides domestic flights as well as service to the Canary Islands and Senegal. The multinational Air Afrique also operates within Mauritania. In 2001, 155,700 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.