Mauritania People - 2021


SOURCE: 2021 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Population

4,079,284 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 128

Nationality

noun: Mauritanian(s)

adjective: Mauritanian

Ethnic groups

Black Moors (Haratines - Arab-speaking slaves, former slaves, and their descendants of African origin, enslaved by white Moors) 40%, White Moors (of Arab-Berber descent, known as Beydane) 30%, Sub-Saharan Mauritanians (non-Arabic speaking, largely resident in or originating from the Senegal River Valley, including Halpulaar, Fulani, Soninke, Wolof, and Bambara ethnic groups) 30%

Languages

Arabic (official and national), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French; note - the spoken Arabic in Mauritania differs considerably from the modern standard Arabic used for official written purposes or in the media; the Mauritanian dialect, which incorporates many Berber words, is referred to as Hassaniya

printed major-language sample:
كتاب حقائق العالم، المصدر الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Religions

Muslim (official) 100%

Demographic profile

With a sustained total fertility rate of about 4 children per woman and almost 60% of the population under the age of 25, Mauritania's population is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future. Mauritania's large youth cohort is vital to its development prospects, but available schooling does not adequately prepare students for the workplace. Girls continue to be underrepresented in the classroom, educational quality remains poor, and the dropout rate is high. The literacy rate is only about 50%, even though access to primary education has improved since the mid-2000s. Women's restricted access to education and discriminatory laws maintain gender inequality - worsened by early and forced marriages and female genital cutting.

The denial of education to black Moors also helps to perpetuate slavery. Although Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981 (the last country in the world to do so) and made it a criminal offense in 2007, the millenniums-old practice persists largely because anti-slavery laws are rarely enforced and the custom is so ingrained.  According to a 2018 nongovernmental organization's report, a little more than 2% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which includes individuals sujbected to forced labor and forced marriage, although many thousands of individuals who are legally free contend with discrimination, poor education, and a lack of identity papers and, therefore, live in de facto slavery.  The UN and international press outlets have claimed that up to 20% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which would be the highest rate worldwide.

Drought, poverty, and unemployment have driven outmigration from Mauritania since the 1970s. Early flows were directed toward other West African countries, including Senegal, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, and Gambia. The 1989 Mauritania-Senegal conflict forced thousands of black Mauritanians to take refuge in Senegal and pushed labor migrants toward the Gulf, Libya, and Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mauritania has accepted migrants from neighboring countries to fill labor shortages since its independence in 1960 and more recently has received refugees escaping civil wars, including tens of thousands of Tuaregs who fled Mali in 2012.

Mauritania was an important transit point for Sub-Saharan migrants moving illegally to North Africa and Europe. In the mid-2000s, as border patrols increased in the Strait of Gibraltar, security increased around Spain's North African enclaves (Ceuta and Melilla), and Moroccan border controls intensified, illegal migration flows shifted from the Western Mediterranean to Spain's Canary Islands. In 2006, departure points moved southward along the West African coast from Morocco and then Western Sahara to Mauritania's two key ports (Nouadhibou and the capital Nouakchott), and illegal migration to the Canaries peaked at almost 32,000. The numbers fell dramatically in the following years because of joint patrolling off the West African coast by Frontex (the EU's border protection agency), Spain, Mauritania, and Senegal; the expansion of Spain's border surveillance system; and the 2008 European economic downturn.

Age structure

0-14 years: 37.56% (male 755,788/female 748,671)

15-24 years: 19.71% (male 387,140/female 402,462)

25-54 years: 33.91% (male 630,693/female 727,518)

55-64 years: 4.9% (male 88,888/female 107,201)

65 years and over: 3.92% (male 66,407/female 90,707) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 75

youth dependency ratio: 69.5

elderly dependency ratio: 5.6

potential support ratio: 18 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 21 years

male: 20.1 years

female: 22 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 187

Population growth rate

2.02% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Birth rate

28.49 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

Death rate

7.54 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 101

Net migration rate

-0.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135

Population distribution

with most of the country being a desert, vast areas of the country, particularly in the central, northern, and eastern areas, are without sizeable population clusters; half the population lives in or around the coastal capital of Nouakchott; smaller clusters are found near the southern border with Mali and Senegal as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 56.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.84% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.372 million NOUAKCHOTT (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

766 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 7

Infant mortality rate

total: 52.05 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 57.96 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 45.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 64.86 years

male: 62.43 years

female: 67.37 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 204

Total fertility rate

3.59 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

Contraceptive prevalence rate

17.8% (2015)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.7% of population

rural: 68.4% of population

total: 84.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.3% of population

rural: 31.6% of population

total: 15.6% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

4.6% (2018)

Physicians density

0.19 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 83.5% of population

rural: 25.2% of population

total: 56% of population

unimproved: urban: 16.5% of population

rural: 74.8% of population

total: 44% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.3% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 88

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

8,500 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111

HIV/AIDS - deaths

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

12.7% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 132

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

19.2% (2018)

country comparison to the world: 21

Education expenditures

1.9% of GDP (2019)

country comparison to the world: 163

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 53.5%

male: 63.7%

female: 43.4% (2017)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: 9 years

female: 10 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 21.1%

male: 18.8%

female: 24.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 65

NOTE: The information regarding Mauritania on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Mauritania 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Mauritania 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.