Area : 397,954 sq mi km2
Population : 3,270,065 inhabitants
9 hrs 30 mins. Time difference: no time difference in winter, - 1 h in the summer.
Nouakchott airport is located on the edge of the city. The taxi journey will cost between RMO 200 and RMO 500. There are buses that can take you into town for RMO 20 if you walk a short way to the main road, otherwise, some hotels will offer a free shuttle service.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to the provinces of Tiris Zemmour, Adrar, Tagant, Hodh el Chargui, Dakhlet-Nouadhibou and Inchiri (with the exception of the Nouakchott - Nouadhibou corridor). Travel to the rest of the country is discouraged unless completely necessary. There is no British Embassy in Mauritania, should you need assistance you will need to contact the EU embasy or the British Embasy in Rabat. On the coast near Nouakchott, be very careful if you go swimming as sea conditions can become dangerous quickly.
Arabic and French are the two official languages. Hassaniya is spoken almost everywhere. Soninke, Wolof and Fulani are some of the most spoken dialects.
Passports must be valid for at least six months after the return date.
Sunni Muslims in the whole country (Islamic Republic).
The official currency is the Ouguiya (MRO). £1 Sterling = 397 MRO.
Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) are only accepted in larger hotels. Cash can only be withdrawn from the BMCI bank, in Nouakchott, on presentation of a credit card, but you won't find any ATM machines here. It is best to bring cash and travellers cheques in Euros or Dollars, which you will have to declare on arrival in the territory. Keep the receipts of any exchange transactions you make, as they may be requested when you leave. Banks are generally open from Sunday to Thursday, from 7:30am to 2:30pm.
Flying from Nouakchott to the other main cities is quick, comfortable and relatively cheap. There are, however, neither regular flights nor fixed times. It is recommended that you rent a chauffeur-driven car when you're out there, particularly in the desert. If you are driving your own vehicle, you will be subject to many identity checks, without paying tax. If you take bush-taxis, they might be cheap, but expect poor comfort and an overcrowded vehicle. If you go away on a trip to a remote area, remember to take enough water, food and petrol cans with you. For the more daring adventurers, hitch-hiking can be convenient, however, tour operators do offer 4x4 tours (for the duration of one or several days), as well as camel and hiking tours across deserts and various landscapes. Note that these tours are punctuated by stops in the ancient cities.
Areas to cross as part of a convoy only::
The northeast part of the country, above the Oualata-Tichit-Ouadane-Zouerate line, is a desert zone where crimes have been committed over the past few years. The local authorities must be informed in advance of any trips taken to this zone.
The 7 mile long track across the no man's land separating the Western Sahara from Mauritania. People have been able to take the route since the 1st of January 2000 provided that they respect the authorised times (between 8:00 am and 6:00pm). There are landmines along the track and it is imperative that you do not stray from it.
The newly tarred road from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott opened on 25th May 2005, except for two stretches from PK 72 to PK 120 and PK 350 to PK 390. However, you will not find any fuel supplies on the way and the emergency call booths are not yet in use.
Vaccinesagainstyellow fever, hepatitises A and typhoid are strongly recommended. Take an international health booklet, which can often be found at Nouakchott airport, as there have been cases of sporadic meningitis.
Malaria: plan on taking an aniti-malaria treatment, particularly if you are near the river area in the south; The country is listed in zone 2. Ask your doctor for more information several days before your departure and take mosquito repellent products and a mosquito net with you.
Drink a lot of water, even at night, in order to keep cool in the heat, but favour bottled water and avoid ice cubes. Be aware that a source of Rift Valley fever ? a haemorrhagic deadly fever - has been identified in the south of the country. The contamination of the livestock and the weather conditions favourable to a spreading of the disease mean that you should be very vigilant.
Useful phone numbers:
In Nouakchott: National hospital centre (525 21 35/military hospital (525 70 15).
In Nouadhibou: Centro Asistencial del Instituo Social de la Marina (5254 183)
220 V. European electric plugs.
Tourism in Mauritania is in full expansion. In 1996, only 217 tourists visited the country, compared with 40,000 in 2002. They mainly come from Europe, France in particular.
It is custom to leave a tip of 12% in bars and restaurants.
To call Mauritania from the UK: dial 00 + 222 + no. of the person you are trying to reach.
To call from Mauritania to the UK: dial 00 + 44 + no. of the person you are trying to reach, without the initial 0.
8 Carlos Place Mayfair, London W1K 3AS
Tel.: 020 7478 9323.
Fax: 020 7478 9339.
01 45 48 23 88.
British Embassy in Rabat, Morocco
28 rue Prince Sidi Mohamed Souissi 10105 (BP 45) Rabat.
Tél: (212) (37) 63 33 33
Fax: (212) (37) 758 709.