Mauritania’s economy rests on deposits of iron ore and rich coastal waters that are under threat from over-fishing by foreigners. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, but Mauritanian life expectancy is significantly higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Although many children do not complete primary school, girls are as likely to achieve this milestone as boys. Mauritania returned to democratic governance in 2009 after a military coup the previous year. Longstanding ethnic tensions and the presence of extremist groups pose security challenges. Rising world food prices threaten economic and food security, as Mauritania imports about 70 percent of its food. USAID programs in Mauritania focus on minimizing the influence of extremist groups and responding to humanitarian emergencies.
Last updated: August 26, 2013