Mauritania Research Paper Example
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1.0 General Description
Islamic Republic of Mauritania, located in North Africa, is one of the largest nations of the region. Mauritania is the eleventh largest nation in the Africa with a territorial area of 10, 30, 700 square kilometre. Mauritania is adjoined by the Atlantic Ocean from west, bordered by the Western Sahara in north and by Mali in the east. Mauritania also shares its boundary with Algeria and Senegal. Nouakchott is the capital city of Mauritania and shelters more than one third of Mauritanian population. More than ninety percent of the Mauritania falls in the Sahara desert, and due to this reason a majority of Mauritanian population is concerted in the southern part of Mauritania where Precipitation is comparatively higher than northern parts (Mwakikagile, 2009).
Mauritania faces a number of problems with its neighbouring nations, especially after it got freedom from French in 1960. Mauritania possesses some natural resources, but the nation is currently known as one of the poorest nations of the world. Considering social and political significance of Mauritania, western nations consider Mauritania as their ally in fighting against terrorism, but considering criminalization of the society, almost all of European nations warn their citizens to refrain from visiting Mauritania. Crime is beyond control in some parts of Mauritania. United States of America and various other countries also have issued similar warnings.
2.0 Products and Trade
Trade activities are foundation of any global economy. Trade data shows imports of the country from other nations and export of the country to foreign nations. The difference between import and export refers to balance of payment. Mauritania, in year 2013, registered export of USD 2.73 billion which is slight higher than export that country made in the year 2012 i.e. USD 2.64 billion. The imports that country made in year 2013 is 3.36 billion, which is also slightly up from the imports country made in year 2012, which is USD 3.18 billion. Trade data shows that Mauritania has trade deficit of around USD 0.63 billion (Economy watch, 2015).
Major products exported by the country are: non-agglomerated iron ores; frozen salmonidae that excludes Pacific, Atlantic, Danube and trout; gold; concentrated ECSC excluding roasted iron; copper ores; molluscs & aquatic invertebrates. Top products, imported by the country in terms of value are: petroleum oils, bituminous minerals’ oil, wheat, broken rice, machinery parts, consumer goods and beet or refined sugar. Petroleum oils form a large percentage of around 70 percent of total import made by the country. Export of non-agglomerated iron ores contributes around fifty percent of total export made by the country (Economy watch, 2015).
China, Italy, Japan, France, Spain, Cote dIvoire, and Netherland are major export partners with share of 50.5 percent, 7.8 percent, 7.3 percent, 4.9 percent, 4.2 percent, 4.1 percent, and 4 percent in total exports respectively. Major imports partners of Mauritania are China, Netherland, U.S.A., France, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and Belgium with share of 13 percent, 10.5 percent, 7.8 percent, 7.8 percent, 5.6 percent, 5.5 percent, 5.1 percent, and 4.7 percent respectively. The trading data shows that China contributes significantly in trade activities of the Mauritania (World Bank, 2010).
3.0 Economic Data
The country has GDP rate of around 7 percent and undeveloped despite of presence of natural resources. The total GDP of the country is around USD 8.2 billion, and per capita GDP is around USD 1225. Mauritania’s economy can be segmented in two major sectors; agriculture sector and mining industry. Around fifty percent population of the country depends upon agriculture and livestock for their survival. Mining industry does not affect this population due to location of the agricultural land. During drought the production of crops decreased significantly, hence people raise animals (2015 Index of Economic Freedom: Mauritania, 2015).
Development activities in the region are low which resulted in poor development of the country and keep large population rely on agriculture activities. The country also have presence of small financial institutions but very few people have access and availing banking facility. However, recent economic activities in country are positively contributing towards GDP growth. Formation of new mines and growth in construction sector provided new job opportunities to the people. Favorable weather conditions are positively impacting fishing agreement that Mauritania signed with European Union. Availability of good deposits of gold, and iron ores facilitates export of the country and decreasing trade deficit.
In year 2001 country discovered presence of oil in Chinguetti field, however, climate condition of the country make extraction of oil difficult. The country is small oil producer and effect of oil on its overall economy is not much. The country may have more oil reserves but unfavorable environment make situation difficult and extraction of oil expensive. Despite of all odds, effective monetary policies are bringing economic stability in the country and giving impressive budgetary performance. Macroeconomic stability is reducing pressure of inflation.
According to national survey the unemployment rate in the country is 10 percent, which was conducted in year 2012. The government successfully reduced the unemployment rate from 32 percent (2008) to 10 percent in four years.However, majority of the non-agricultural jobs are available in informal sectors and 53 percent of those jobs are vulnerable (Ntah and Boukar, 2014). The country is performing well in the field of education, safe drinking water to citizens, and sanitation. Gender discrimination is low in the country and equal opportunities are given to men and women.
4.0 Social Indicators
With a population of nearly 3.5 million, Mauritanian society consists of forty percent black moors, thirty percent white moors and thirty percent black Africans. Mauritania is also often in news for its infamous slavery and slave trade. The official and only practiced religion in Mauritania is Islam. Arabic is the national, as well as official language while Pulaar, Wolof and French are other languages of Mauritania. The country has fortieth rank in terms of population in the world with a population growth rate of 2.26. Almost forty two percent of Mauritanian population resides in urban areas and the current growth rate of urbanization is 2.91 (Mauritania, 2015).
Mauritania faces and struggles to come out of poverty. Currently twenty to twenty five percent Mauritanian population live on less than a dollar every day. The society also struggles to come out of slavery problem according to estimates, more than four percent Mauritanians are enslaved every year against their will. This data is alarming as a total of twenty percent Mauritanian population is enslaved. This horrific data makes the country a target for various national, international human rights organizations and NGO’s. Slavery is a major problem in the society of Mauritania. It creates various other problems in the society. Poverty and social stratification is proportionately and directly related to the slavery. Other major social issues are poverty, human trafficking, sex trade, and female genital mutilation. The government has to look into all these issues in order to make the society a better place to live. Mauritanians will have to face the above said issues collectively (Blauer and Laure, 2008).
5.0 Current Political Situation
The nation is currently ruled by President Mohamed Abdel Aziz who overthrew the Mauritanian government in year 2008. He participated in presidential election and eventually won the same in absence of any opposition. Yahya Ould Hademine is the prime minister of Mauritania. Mauritania is currently governed by its newest constitution that was drafted in the year 1991. The country claims to be a republic, but it has yet to see major elements of a republic. The government is not capable of fulfilling its duty and responsibility towards its people (International Monetary Fund, 2002).
Mauritania is separated into fifteen administrative regions for effective monitoring. The administration is highly centralised and all the control lies in hands of the central government. However, a number of local bodies are given some roles to play in the ruling and administrating the system of the country. Ministry of interior leads the government and instructs their governors on various issues. The government is divided into various departments and the country is administered by these departments. Though the ruling system of Mauritania is highly centralised, some efforts have been done in order to decentralise powers by the government. A number of municipal and local body elections have been done in Mauritania after the implementation of newly made constitution.
6.0 Cultural Norms
The culture of the country is mix and influenced by west, Araba and African culture. In year 1860, French were ruling the country. Mauritania was formed after demolition of various kingdoms such as Adrar, Walo-Walo, The Arab-Berber Emirates of Trarza, and Taganet. The population of country can be classified in two major categories i.e. black African and Arab. The culture of the nation is absolutely influenced by ancient Islamic practices. The government and the society is run as per Islamic laws and practices. Culture is also substantially influenced by Arabic and African culture. Geography affects culture in every country and Mauritania is no exception. It affects the food habits and daily lifestyle of people of Mauritania in a significant manner (Farhaoui, 2013).
The central government deals with all kinds of policies of Mauritania. It looks after internal, as well as well external policies. Mauritanian government shares a sweet and sour relationship with its neighbouring countries. Some altercations took place with morocco in the past. Currently the government is making efforts to make pleasant ties with other neighbouring nations through diplomatic channels. Trade and commerce plays a significant role in foreign policies and the Mauritanian government has accordingly modified its policies. Mauritania shares similar relations with Algeria, and both nations wish to make a better relationship by forgetting problems of the past (International Business Publications, 2007)
Currently, Mauritania faces a number of issues of various types. There are various social, political and economic problems of serious type. Slavery makes a bad image of country in other parts of the world. The government, as well as the society will have to work closely in order to provide a concrete solution. Slavery is a curse that needs to be resolved. A social overhauling is required and social stratification needs to be addressed. Crime should be controlled in order to make a positive image of the country among tourists. The government and society need to understand that such things deteriorate the problem, instead of providing any solution.
Mauritania is rich in natural resources. The government just need to concentrate on utilising these resources. The country has oil and other products. The oil is yet to be exploited. Mauritania can seek professional help of other nations in this regard. Strong trade and commerce can improve the situation in poverty alleviation. Seashores can be developed and utilised for external trades. Country needs to improve its trade balance by increasing exports in various areas. Mining, fishing and infrastructure are potential areas that need more focus of the government.
Currently trade and business laws are outdated, and the government is not corporate friendly. Laws are traditional and the Mauritanian government should try to change these laws. Legal system is not only sluggish, but is corrupt and exploits businesses by delaying the processes. The abundance of crime in the society discourages local and outsiders from doing business. Banking sector is neglected and only five percent people have access to banking services which is bad for any economy. The highly centralised government control should be loosened and government should be decentralised in order to make the process easy and smoother. The society needs improvement in many ways. There are some major problems and unless these problems are addressed, nothing significant can be expected in the Mauritania.
2015 Index of Economic Freedom: Mauritania. (2015). Retrieved March 26, 2015, from Heritage Foundation: http://www.heritage.org/index/country/mauritania
Blauer, E., and Laure, J. (2008). Mauritania. New York: Marshall Cavendish.
Exports and Imports for Mauritania 2009. (2010). Retrieved from World Bank: http://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/Country/MRT/Year/2009/Summarytext
Farhaoui, F. (2013). Mauritania and Newly Emerging Economies in Africa Turkey and China. USA: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).
Fast Facts: Public and private school comparison. (2013). Retrieved March 26, 2015, from National Center for Education statistic .
Fund, I. M. (2002). Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.
International Business Publications, U. (2007). Mauritania Foreign Policy and Government Guide, Volume 1. USA: Int'l Business Publications.
Mauritania. (2015). Retrieved from United Nation Data: http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx?crName=mauritania
Mauritania Trade Statistics, Export Statistics, Export Partners and Products, Import Statistics, Import Partners and Products . (2015, March 17). Retrieved from Economy watch: http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/Mauritania/Trade_Statistics/
Mwakikagile, G. (2009). A Profile of African Countries. Tanzania: Intercontinental Books.
Ntah, M.N.,and Boukar, S. (2014, August 25). Mauritania. Retrieved March 26, 2015, from African Economic Outlook: http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/countries/north-africa/mauritania/
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