National Profiles > > Regions > Western Africa > Mauritania
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Region: Western Africa
2012 Population1: 3,796,141
Total Area (sq. miles)1: 397,955
Life Expectancy at Birth1: 61.0
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2012 US $)1: $2,740
Official Religion(s) Or Church(es) 2: Islam

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Largest Religious Groups (Mauritania)


Government Regulation of Religion Index: Average government regulation score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less regulation) Government Favoritism of Religion Index: Average government favoritism score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less favoritism) Social Regulation of Religion Index: Average social regulation score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less regulation) Religious Persecution: Average number of people physically abused or displaced due to their religion according to U.S. Department of State's 2005 and 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports (as coded by ARDA researchers). 0 = None; 1 = 1-10; 2 = 11-20; 3 = 21-100; 4 = 101-500; 5 = 501-1000; 6 = 1001-5000; 7 = 5001-10000; 8 = 10001-50000; 9 = 50001-100000; 10 = greater than 100000.


Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in the Maghreb region of western North Africa. It is the eleventh largest country in Africa, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, by Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest. The country derives its name from the ancient Berber Kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BC to the 7th century AD, in the far north of modern-day Morocco. Approximately 90% of Mauritania's land is within the Sahara Desert and consequently the population is concentrated in the south, where precipitation is slightly higher than the rest of the country. The capital and largest city of Mauritania is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast, which is home to around one-third of the country's 3.5 million people. The government of Mauritania was overthrown on 6 August 2008, in a military coup d'état led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. On 16 April 2009, General Aziz resigned from the military to run for president in the 19 July elections, which he won. About 20% of Mauritanians live on less than US$1.25 per day. Slavery in Mauritania has been called a major human rights issue, with over 150,000 people – proportionally the highest for any country – being enslaved against their will, especially enemies of the government. Higher estimates suggest 10% to 20% of the population (340,000 to 680,000 people) is enslaved. Additional human rights concerns in Mauritania include female genital mutilation and child labour.



Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

1.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank’s Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

2.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

3.  The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.

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