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Most Interesting Facts about Mauritania

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facts about mauritania

Mauritania is a sparsely populated country in West Africa. It is bordered by Western Sahara to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and south and Senegal to the southwest. It also has a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Mauritania was first explored by the Portuguese in the 15th century, but the French gained control in the 19th century and it became one of the colonies that constituted French West Africa. The country got independent in 1960. Let’s explore some more facts about Mauritania:

Interesting facts about Mauritania

1. Mauritania is the last country to abolish slavery. The country passed a law in 1981 but it only became punishable as a criminal act in 2007.

The practice of slavery is deeply rooted within the culture here. Therefore, it still prevails illegally. There are still more than 90,000 slaves in Mauritania, the largest of any place in the world.

2. The bay of Nouadhibou in Mauritania is home to one of the world’s largest ‘ship graveyards’. There are more than 300 ships that are dumped within the bay once they become unwanted.

bay of Nouadhibou
Source: http://www.slate.com/

3. Mauritania is a desert nation and 2/3 of the country is covered by the Sahara desert! The terrain here is mostly barren, flat desert, with some hills in the centre of the country.

4. There is a huge eye in the Mauritanian desert which is visible from space. Just imagine looking down on Earth from space and an eye staring back at you! Known as “The Richat Structure”, the diameter of this eye is around 40 km and it looks like a ‘bull’s eye’. The exact reason for its creation is still unknown but it is believed that the structure was formed due to continuous corrosion of rocks.

The Richat Structure
Source: https://www.atlasobscura.com/

5. You must have heard about some unusual beauty parameters around the world. The society stresses a lot on body weight and as I write this article, many people are sweating in gym to lose few extra kilos. But in Mauritania “Big is beautiful” and a girl is considered pretty only if she is fat. While you can say that a plus sized woman should be accepted in the society, body shaming of any kind is still wrong. And in Mauritania, slim girls are body shamed (this looks like a parallel universe).

Young girls are sent to camps where they are force fed until they become fat. If a girl is unable to continue eating, she is beaten up. This standard of beauty comes from their ancestors who thought that a fat wife was a symbol of a man’s wealth, proof that he had enough riches to feed her generously.

6. The country majorly being a desert does not have a lot of vegetation cover. The coast which is a single long sandy beach is famous for its barrenness. However you will find a lot of bird here who feed on the marine life.

7. There are two species of gerbils and six species of scorpions that are endemic to Mauritania.

8. Mauritania is one of only two countries in the world to not use a decimal currency! The other is Madagascar.

9. The country is rich in mineral resources, especially iron and ore. In fact the highest mountain, Mount Ijill is made almost totally of iron ore.

10. Offshore oil was recently discovered in Mauritania in 2001. It is now one of the country’s main exports.

11. Mauritania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 40% of its population below poverty line.

12. One of the longest trains in the world is found in Mauritania. It measures almost three kilometers long. The train runs from Zouerate to the coast of Nouadhibou.

Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Mauritania:

Chinguetti is one of the most popular places in the country. Known for its historic desert town architecture, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

While inland Mauritania is mostly a desert, the coast is full of vast and beautiful, deserted beaches. Drive along the coast and stop whenever you feel like. That coastal breeze will be amazing.

desert in mauritania
Source: https://www.dw.com/en/dozens-killed-as-migrant-boat-sinks-off-mauritania-coast/a-51537795

Tidjikja is one of the quietest towns of Mauritania which you should explore.It as a caravan town, and most of the travellers are nomadic.

Go birdwatching in the Parc National du Banc D’arguin. It is one of the largest bird sanctuaries and very popular amongst bird lovers all across the world. You can spot many migratory birds in the reserve. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

Parc National du Banc D’arguin
Source: https://panorama.solutions/

Visa Process:

Mauritania Visa Requirements for Indians

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