Mauritania - Consular Information Sheet
August 21, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mauritania is a developing country
in northwest Africa. Islamic ideals and beliefs in the country
encourage conservative dress; sleeved garments are recommended
and people should avoid wearing shorts.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a visa are required,
as is evidence of a yellow fever vaccination. Travelers should
obtain the latest information and details from the
Embassy of the Republic of Mauritania, 2129 Leroy Place N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 232-5700, or from 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 Mauritania@un.int. Overseas, inquiries should
be made at the nearest Mauritanian embassy or consulate.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: As a result of a past border conflict
between Morocco and Western Sahara, there are reports of unexploded
landmines in areas of Mauritania adjacent to Western Sahara. Exploding
mines are occasionally reported and have caused death and injury.
In addition, groups of tourists have been held up and robbed along
the borders with Morocco and Algeria. Surface travel between Mali
and Mauritania can be dangerous, as the border region has historically
been plagued by banditry. In 1999, thirteen Mauritanians and Malians
were killed in a border clash, prompting the establishment of
a special Mauritanian-Malian-Senegalese police coordination program
force to provide greater border security. Groups traveling to
the Moroccan, Algerian, or Malian borders should check with the
U.S. Embassy and/or local authorities to inform them of their
itineraries and check the advisability of the planned trip routes.
The beach area around Nouakchott should be avoided at night.
During the day, beach-goers should travel in large groups or stay
in popular areas, as there have been a number of incidents of
theft and violence in the past two years.
Political gatherings and street demonstrations have been known
to occur periodically. During periods of political unrest, students
frequently throw rocks at passing cars. Due to the potential for
violence, U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies
and marches, as well as the University and other schools.
Surface travel between Mauritania and Senegal is restricted to
various designated border crossing-points: N'Diago, Diama, Rosso,
Jerd El Mohguen, Tekane, Lekseiba, Boghe, M'Bagne, Kaedi, Tifounde
Cive, Maghama, and Goraye.
CRIME: Crime in Mauritania is on the rise. Most incidents
involve petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and crimes of opportunity
which often result from improperly secured valuables left in plain
sight inside a vehicle. Residential burglaries, robberies, and
assaults also occur. Violent crimes and crimes involving the use
of weapons are rare, but increasing. In remote areas, renting
a vehicle and hiring a driver is advisable. When renting a vehicle,
keep all doors and windows closed and locked while driving.
Although U.S. citizens are generally welcomed in Mauritania,
there were reports of anti-American incidents (threats and stoning
of vehicles) following the 1998 U.S. and British-led intervention
in Iraq. Some Muslim extremists have occasionally perceived Christian
non-governmental organizations as a threat. However, political
violence and religious extremist groups are closely monitored
by local authorities and, to date, have not posed a direct threat
to U.S. interests in Mauritania.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens
may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A
Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey.
The pamphlet is available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Mauritania are
limited. At local pharmacies, some medicines are difficult to
obtain; travelers are advised to bring their own supplies.
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 medical evacuation.
U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred
outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased.
Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment
for medical services outside the United States. However, many
travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that
will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency
services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars
(US). Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often
face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior
to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas
healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for
expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage
for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the
event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,
or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Malaria prophylaxis and vaccination
against hepatitis A and B, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid,
and meningococcal meningitis are recommended. Cholera certification
may be required for entry. Children's immunizations should be
Further information on vaccinations and other health precautions
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);
fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
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
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor to Nonexistent
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor to Nonexistent
Road conditions in Mauritania are generally poor, particularly
in the interior, and overland travel is difficult. The country's
size and harsh climate make road maintenance and repair especially
problematic. Mauritania possesses 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, each of which links important cities in Mauritania: Nouakchott
and Rosso; Nouakchott and Akjoujt; Aleg Boghe and Kaedi; and Nouakchott
and Nema (the Road of Hope). Americans traveling overland for
long distances in Mauritania should be sure to have an 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
Traffic patterns differ considerably from American-style "Rules
of the Road" and many Mauritanians drive without any regard
to traffic signs or rules. Drivers and passengers should exercise
great caution and wear seat belts at all times. Motorcycle and
bicycle riders should wear helmets and protective clothing.
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
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 offenses. Persons violating
Mauritanian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Mauritania are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Local currency may not be imported
or exported. Credit cards, primarily American Express, can only
be used at a few hotels in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service at present, or economic authority to operate such
service, between the U.S. and Mauritania, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mauritania's Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards
for oversight of Mauritania's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_html or telephone (202)
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in
or visiting Mauritania are encouraged to register at the Consular
Section of the U.S. Embassy in Mauritania and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Mauritania. The U.S. Embassy Nouakchott
is located between the Presidency building and the Spanish Embassy.
The postal address is B.P. 222, Nouakchott, telephone (222) 25-26-60,
25-26-63, 25-11-41, or 25-11-45, and fax (222) 25-15-92.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 25, 2000
to update information on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security,
Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, and Traffic Safety and