Mauritania Population

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Mauritania is 4,005,475, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 4,005,475
Population growth rate 2.09%
Birth rate 30.40 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall 61.91 years
Men 59.65 years
Women 64.23 years
Age structure
0-14 years 38.24%
15-64 years 57.96%
65 years and above 3.81%
Median age 20.10 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.93
Population density 3.89 residents per km²
Urbanization 61.80%
70% Arab-Berber Moors (Bidhan and Haratin); Black Africans (7% Wolof, 5% Toucouleur, 3% Sarakolé, 1% Fulbe; Bambara, Soninke etc.)
Muslim 100%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.527
HDI ranking 161st out of 194

People in Mauritania

Mauritania forms a border from North Africa to Black Africa. This is what the area of ​​Africa south of the Sahara is called. North Africa is inhabited by peoples with lighter skin color, predominantly Arabs and Berbers. Darker-skinned people live in sub-Saharan Africa. Both groups meet in Mauritania.

Moors and Black Africans

There are two main groups of people in Mauritania. 70 percent are Moors and have Arab-Berber roots. They speak Hassania, an Arabic dialect. Of these 70 percent, about half belong to the Bidhan (White Moors), the other half to the Haratin. The Haratin are descendants of former slaves. Haratin means “the liberated”.

They all speak Arabic and feel part of the Arabic culture. They live more in the north of the country. Your society is structured strictly hierarchically. Right at the top are the warriors (Hassan) and the religious leaders (marabouts) as nobility. They are followed by the Zenaga (descendants of the people who pay tribute to the nobility) and then the craftsmen. At the bottom are the Haratin.

The remaining 30 percent of the population of Mauritania belong to black African peoples. These are called Soudans. They live mainly along the Senegal River, in the south of the country. These peoples include the Tukulor, the Fulbe, the Soninke, the Wolof and the Bambara. No more precise figures are available, they are no longer published because that led to race riots. An estimate from 1982 says: 18 percent Tukulor and Fulbe, four percent Soninke, one percent Wolof.

To this day there are slaves in Mauritania. It was not until 2007 that a law made slavery a criminal offense. Even today, slavery secures the power of the elite of the white Moors. The slaves are almost always Haratin.

The children of Mauritania

Every woman in Mauritania has more than four children on average. That is much. With us, each woman has an average of only 1.4 children. Children and young people in Mauritania make up a large proportion of the population. A little less than half of the population is under 18 years of age.

Infant mortality is 3.3 percent, child mortality 5.2 percent (as of 2018, ours: 0.2 and 0.3 percent). That means: more than three out of 100 newborn children die, more than five out of 100 do not celebrate their first birthday. The numbers have been going down over the past few decades, but they’re still too high.

Urban and countryside

54 out of 100 people in Mauritania live in the city, 46 out of 100 in the countryside. More and more people are moving to the cities. While in 1957 90 percent of the population lived as nomads, today it is only a few percent. A quarter of all Mauritanians live in Nouakchott alone.

Languages in Mauritania

The Moors, majority of the population in Mauritania, speak Hassania. It’s an Arabic dialect. It is written in Arabic script. Arabic is also the country’s official language.

French has been preserved as a commercial language from the colonial times. Like Arabic, it is also the language of instruction.

The black African peoples of the Soudans speak their own languages. The Tukulor and Fulbe speak Fulfulde. The Soninke speak Soninke and the Wolof speak Wolof.

Religions in Mauritania

Almost all Mauritanians are Muslims, so they belong to Islam. Islam is the state religion, it is also called in the official country name: Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Islamic law and Sharia apply.

Mauritania Overview

Mauritania, located in Northwest Africa, is renowned for its vast desert landscapes, ancient Saharan culture, and rich nomadic heritage. Its capital city, Nouakchott, is a bustling coastal metropolis known for its lively markets and vibrant street life. Mauritania is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage site of Chinguetti, a historic desert town known for its ancient libraries and stunning desert architecture. The country’s diverse landscapes range from the endless sand dunes of the Sahara Desert to the rugged mountains of the Adrar Plateau, offering travelers a glimpse into a traditional way of life deeply rooted in nomadic customs and Islamic traditions.

  • Capital City: Nouakchott
  • Population: Approximately 4.6 million
  • Area: 1,030,700 square kilometers
  • Full Country Name: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • Currency: Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRU)
  • Language: Arabic (official), French, Hassaniya Arabic
  • ISO Country Codes: MR, MRT

Bordering Countries of Mauritania

Mauritania is bordered by four countries: Algeria, Mali, Senegal and Western Sahara. To the north of Mauritania lies Algeria, a country with a long and rich cultural history. Algeria offers visitors plenty to explore from its stunning coastal cities to its ancient ruins and mosques. To the east of Mauritania lies Mali, an African nation renowned for its vibrant culture with many traditional villages and bustling markets. Here visitors can explore the fascinating Dogon Country and visit some of the oldest mosques in Africa.

To the south of Mauritania lies Senegal, a country known for its beautiful beaches along its Atlantic coast as well as its bustling capital city of Dakar. Senegal also offers visitors plenty to explore such as wildlife reserves where you can spot wild animals like lions and elephants or national parks like Niokolo-Koba National Park which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finally, to the west of Mauritania lies Western Sahara, a disputed territory between Morocco and Algeria that is home to some fascinating archaeological sites such as Tifariti Fortress or Smara Palace.

Overall, Mauritania borders four countries that offer something unique for travelers looking to explore this part of Africa further than just Mauritania itself. From Algeria’s coastal cities or Mali’s vibrant culture – there are plenty opportunities for exploration in these bordering countries. Whether it’s Senegal’s wildlife reserves or Western Sahara’s archaeological sites – there are plenty of ways to experience this part of Africa.


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