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Mauritania Economy

    Economy—overview: A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a substantial buildup of foreign debt. The government has begun the second stage of an economic reform program in consultation with the World Bank, the IMF, and major donor countries. Short-term growth prospects are uncertain because of the heavy debt service burden, rapid population growth, and vulnerability to climatic conditions.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$4.7 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 4.2% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,890 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 26%
    industry: 31%
    services: 43% (1996)

    Population below poverty line: 57% (1990 est.)

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 0.7%
    highest 10%: 30.4% (1988)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.7% (1996)

    Labor force: 465,000 (1981 est.); 45,000 wage earners (1980)

    Labor force—by occupation: agriculture 47%, services 29%, industry and commerce 14%, government 10%

    Unemployment rate: 23% (1995 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $329 million
    expenditures: $265 million, including capital expenditures of $75 million (1996 est.)

    Industries: fish processing, mining of iron ore and gypsum

    Industrial production growth rate: 7.2% (1994)

    Electricity—production: 150 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 80%
    hydro: 20%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 150 million kWh (1996

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: dates, millet, sorghum, root crops; cattle, sheep; fish products

    Exports: $562 million (f.o.b., 1997)

    Exports—commodities: fish and fish products, iron ore, gold

    Exports—partners: Japan 22%, Italy 16%, France 14%

    Imports: $552 million (f.o.b., 1997)

    Imports—commodities: foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, capital goods

    Imports—partners: France 30%, Algeria 10%, Spain 7%, China 6%, US 3%

    Debt—external: $2.5 billion (1995)

    Economic aid—recipient: $227.9 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 ouguiya (UM) = 5 khoums

    Exchange rates: ouguiyas (UM) per US$1—204.600 (January 1999), 151.853 (1997), 137.222 (1996), 129.768 (1995), 123.575 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)