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                                                   Mauritania (July 18, 2005)
                                                   Consular Information Sheet
                                                   U.S. Department of State

Country: Mauritania
Title: Consular Information Sheet
Issued: July 18, 2005
Source: U.S. Department of State


July 18, 2005

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mauritania is a developing country in
northwestern Africa. Arabic is the official language, but French is widely
used and several local languages are also spoken. Tourist facilities in the
capital, Nouakchott, are adequate, but limited or non-existent elsewhere.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on Mauritania at for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a visa are required, as
is evidence of a yellow fever vaccination. See our Foreign Entry
Requirements brochure for more information on Mauritania and other
countries. For the most current visa information, contact the Embassy of the
Republic of Mauritania, 2129 Leroy Place N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008,
tel. (202) 232-5700, website:, or the
Mauritanian Permanent Mission to the U.N., 211 East 43rd Street, Suite
2000, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 986-7963 or 8189, and e-mail Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest
Mauritanian embassy or consulate.

For entry and exit requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the
prevention of international child abduction, read our information at For Customs
Information see

SAFETY AND SECURITY: On June 4, 2005, members of the terrorist
group GSPC attacked a military outpost based at Lemgheitty in the extreme
northeastern part of the country near the Algerian and Malian borders and
killed or wounded about 35 soldiers. American citizens are urged to avoid
travel in areas along Mauritania's border with Algeria, and its northern
border with Mali.

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                                                     Consular Information Sheet
                                                     U.S. Department of State

Travel is otherwise generally safe within most of Mauritania, a vast, scenic,
and fascinating country. However, all travelers must exercise prudence and
caution. Travelers should not venture into the Sahara unless accompanied
by an experienced guide and even then only if equipped with sturdy vehicles
and ample provisions. The U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott continues to
receive reports of banditry along the borders between the Western Sahara
and Mali. Landmines also remain a danger along the border with the
Western Sahara. Travelers planning overland trips from Mauritania to
Morocco, Algeria, Senegal or Mali should check with the U.S. Embassy in
Nouakchott before setting out. For more information about travel in
Mauritania, please see the section “Traffic Safety and Road Conditions,”

In Nouakchott and other major cities in Mauritania, police routinely conduct
road blocks at which they may ask for proof of identify and drivers’
licenses. Americans visiting Mauritania should be prepared for such
inquiries and carry their identification cards at all times. It is best to drive
cautiously and be prepared to stop at short notice.

Political gatherings and street demonstrations occur periodically. During
periods of political unrest, demonstrators have been known to throw rocks at
passing cars. An increased police presence and additional vehicle controls
may also be expected. U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds and maintain
security awareness at all times.

Although U.S. citizens are generally welcomed in Mauritania, there were
reports of anti-American incidents such as threats and stoning of vehicles,
following the 1998 U.S. and British-led intervention in Iraq, and
demonstrations outside the Embassy during the 2003 U.S. intervention in
Iraq. Some Muslim extremists have occasionally perceived Christian non-
governmental organizations as a threat. However, local authorities closely
monitor political violence and religious extremist groups.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should
regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at
where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel
Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

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                                                    Consular Information Sheet
                                                    U.S. Department of State

Up-to-date information of safety and security can also be obtained by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and
Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available
from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except
U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for
their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general
information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect
themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s
pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad at

CRIME: Crime in Mauritania is moderate but steadily increasing. Most
incidents are in the cities and larger towns, and are petty crimes such as pick
pocketing and the theft of improperly secured and openly visible valuables
left in vehicles. There are some residential burglaries, robberies, rapes, and
assaults, but they have rarely involved the American community. Most
criminal activity occurs at night, and walking alone at night is not advisable.
Violent crimes and crimes involving the use of weapons are also rare, but
increasing. In Nouakchott, you should avoid the beach at night. During the
day, beach-goers should travel in large groups or stay in popular areas, since
there have been a number of thefts and violent incidents reported there in the
past several years.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad
of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the
nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while
overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest
U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff
can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact
family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the
responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to
understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if

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                                                    U.S. Department of State

See our information on Victims of Crime at

facilities in Mauritania are limited. There are few modern clinics or
hospitals beyond the capital and a few major towns. At local pharmacies,
some medicines are difficult to obtain; travelers are advised to bring their
own supplies.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Chloroquine-resistant P.
falciparum malaria is a severe form of the disease that is found in many parts
of western Africa, including Mauritania. Because travelers to Mauritania are
at high risk for contracting malaria they should take one of the following
anti-malarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam - tm), doxycycline, or
atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone – tm). The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention have determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate
anti-malarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease.
In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect
repellents, may help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a
fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one
year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the
physician their travel history and what anti-malarial drugs they have been

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food
and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet
site at For information about outbreaks of
infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO)
website at Further health information for travelers is
available at

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to
traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and
whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

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                                                   U.S. Department of State

Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at

country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly
from those in the United States. The information below concerning
Mauritania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally
accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Public transportation is not very safe, and road conditions in Mauritania are
generally poor, particularly in the interior. Overland travel is difficult and
roadside assistance is almost nonexistent. The country’s size and harsh
climate make road maintenance and repair especially problematic.
Mauritania has only about 2,070 km (1,286 miles) of surfaced roads, 710 km
(441 miles) of unsurfaced roads and 5,140 km (3,194 miles) of unimproved
tracks. There are four major roads, linking Nouakchott to Akjoujt and Atar
to the north; Rosso to the south; Aleg, Kaedi, and Boghe to the southeast,
and eastward to Nema (the “Road of Hope”). A new highway between
Nouakchott to Nouadhibou is under construction.

The traditional route to Nouadibou has been along the beach during low tide,
and some travelers may continue to use this route until the new highway is
opened. Visitors to coastal fishing villages and other points of interest use
the beach, as well as smugglers and others who try to avoid the security
checkpoints that are often erected along the asphalt roads. Visitors to the
beach should exercise caution: with the noise of the surf, pedestrians might
not hear oncoming vehicles and could be in danger.

U.S. citizens traveling overland for long distances in Mauritania should be
sure to have a suitable four-wheel drive vehicle, a local guide, an adequate
supply of water, and a second fuel reservoir. A second vehicle is
recommended in case of breakdown. Visitors are urged not to travel alone
into the desert.

Driving in Mauritania is treacherous, and we encourage you to hire a trained
local driver. Traffic patterns differ considerably from American-style “rules
of the road,” and many Mauritanians drive without regard to traffic signs or
rules. Roadway obstructions and hazards caused by drifting sand, animals,

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                                                    Consular Information Sheet
                                                    U.S. Department of State

and poor roads often plague motorists; when combined with the number of
untrained drivers and poorly maintained vehicles, heightened caution is
imperative at all times. Drivers and passengers should drive defensively and
always wear their seat belts. Motorcycle and bicycle riders should wear
helmets and protective clothing. Nighttime driving is discouraged.

For additional information about road travel in Mauritania, see the
Department of State, Bureau of Administration’s Post Report on Mauritania
at Please
also refer to our Road Safety page at

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air
service between the U.S. and Mauritania, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not formally assessed Mauritania’s Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards.
For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Mauritanian customs authorities may
enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items
such as firearms, narcotics, alcoholic drinks and pork products. You should
contact the Embassy of Mauritania in Washington, DC for specific
information regarding customs regulations.

The local currency is the ouguiya, and it may not be imported or exported.
Credit cards can be used only at a few hotels in the capital, Nouakchott, and
the northwestern city of Nouadhibou. ATMs are very rare, even in
Nouakchott. Major foreign currencies are easily changeable in banks and
numerous currency exchanges. Credit card fraud is a problem, so it is
advisable to pay hotel bills in cash.

Islamic ideals and beliefs in the country encourage conservative dress.
Sleeved garments and below-the-knee skirts are recommended, and people
should avoid wearing shorts.

Please see our information on customs regulations at .

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                                                    Consular Information Sheet
                                                    U.S. Department of State

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is
subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ
significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the
protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for
breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar
offences. Persons violating Mauritanian laws, even unknowingly, may be
expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in Mauritania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect
long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with
children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is
a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information visit http://

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of
children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of
Children’s Issues website at

traveling in Mauritania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S.
Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration
website,, and to obtain updated
information on travel and security within Mauritania. Americans without
Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy
or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is
located between the Presidency building and the Spanish Embassy on Rue
Abdallaye. The postal address is B.P. 222, Nouakchott, telephone (222)
525-2660/2663, 525-1141/45, or 525-3038 (ext. 5441), and fax (222) 525-
1592. You may contact the Consular Section by e-mail at


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 17, 2005, to update
the section on “Safety and Security.”

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                                                             Mauritania (July 18, 2005)
                                                             Consular Information Sheet
                                                             U.S. Department of State

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