Mauritania is a small and poor African country, located in the desert belt of the Sahara, at the western coast to the North Atlantic Ocean. It has boundaries to Western Sahara and Algeria to the north, Mali to the east and south, and Senegal to the south west. The country became independent from France in 1960 and had a series of one-party governments since then. At the moment it is governed by a military council headed by Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall. The country is inhabited by 30% black, 30% Moor and 40% mixed, all inhabitants are Muslim. The official language is Arabic, other used languages are Pulaar, Soninke, French, Hassaniya, and Wolof.
The country has an area of more than one square kilometers, 754kn of coastline, and three million inhabitants. The Capital is Nouakchott, which is located at the coast. As most of the country belongs to the Sahara, the climate is arid: constantly hot, dry, and dusty. It is mostly a barren, flat plain with some central hills.
The overall geology of the country shows four major geological domains. Running from the north to the sout along the western coast is the Mauritanian Coastal Basin covered by Mesozoic-Cenozoic sediments. To the east follows the Mauritanides Orogenic Belt, which is very rich in ores. It is followed to the east by the Taoudeni Basin, crystalline rocks of the Palaeoproterozoic to Archaean West African Craton, covered by up to 5,000m of Neoproterozoic to Devonian sediments. This West African Craton is uplifted to the north, forming the Reguibat Shield.
Because of the arid climate there is obviously no karstification at the moment. There are erosional caves all over, sea caves along the coast, river caves behind the coast, and most common wind caves. Many of those caves show cave paintings. The caves at the south east are inhabited by crocodiles, which developed this unique habit to survive in this difficult climate during the dry times. There are several artificial caves or dwellings around the country, which is typical for hot countries. Not one of those underground sites is developed for tourism. Obviously the country does not have many tourists and there is almost no infrastruture whatsoever.
The main income of the country are natural resources. The resources are abundant and widespread, but mining is rather difficult in this climate and remote location. The most important mining operations are various iron ore mines in the Reguibat Shield. The reserves are estimated 185 Million tons of hematite ore and 660 Million tons of magnetite ore.
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