Economy in Mauritania

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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 poor because of the heavy debt service burden rapid population growth and vulnerability to climatic conditions.  Offshore oil deposits began to developed in 2004.  It is uncertain how much of an impact this new industry will have on the average population.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$4.1 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1 750 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 26%

industry: 31%

services: 43% (1996)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 4.7% (1996)

Labor force:

total: 465 000 (1981 est.); 45 000 wage earners (1980)

by occupation: agriculture 47% services 29% industry and commerce 14% government 10%

Unemployment rate: 23% (1995 est.)


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—capacity: 105 000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 143 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 63 kWh (1995)

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


total value: $494 million (f.o.b. 1996)

commodities: fish and fish products iron ore gold

partners: Japan 22% Italy 16% France 14%


total value: $457 million (c.i.f. 1996)

commodities: foodstuffs consumer goods petroleum products capital goods

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

Debt—external: $2.5 billion (1995)

Economic aid:

recipient: ODA $NA

Currency: 1 ouguiya (UM) = 5 khoums

Exchange rates: ouguiyas (UM) per US$1—~300 (April 2005) 169.880 (January 1998) 148.916 (1997) 137.222 (1996) 129.768 (1995) 123.575 (1994) 120.806 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

June 30, 2005 change by greenleaf

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