GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) US$5.4 billion; per capita $2,000 (2002). Share of industry in GDP 31%; agriculture – 25%; services – 44%. The economically active population is 750 thousand people, 53% of which is employed in agriculture.
The mining industry is the backbone of the economy. The manufacturing industry is poorly developed and is represented mainly by the fish processing enterprises of Nouadhibou (their share in the creation of GDP is ca. 4%, 2002).
Agriculture is in a state of chronic crisis due to almost complete dependence on adverse natural and climatic conditions (less than 1% of the land concentrated along the coast of the Senegal River receives sufficient rainfall for growing crops), poor technical equipment, and a lack of qualified personnel. The economy is carried out by medieval methods. Yields are low and fluctuate annually due to recurring long-term droughts. Domestic production does not meet the needs of the population in grain, most of which are imported in significant amounts.
According to businesscarriers, the coastal waters of Mauritania are among the richest areas in the world in terms of fishing. The share of marine fisheries in the creation of GDP in con. 1990s was 13%. The industry employs approx. 25 thousand people However, in the future, there was a decline in the fishing industry, its share in the creation of GDP decreased. In 2000, the industry was in a pre-crisis state, and the most valuable species of fish products were on the verge of extinction. The reason is barbaric fishing methods and the inability of the state to ensure effective control over the actions of fishing vessels fishing in Mauritanian waters. Besides, ok. 40% of the Mauritanian fleet is in poor condition.
Animal husbandry, which is the main occupation of the rural population, suffers from frequent and sometimes long-term droughts. Nevertheless, the number of livestock remains approximately at the same level.
Rail transport is represented by the only railway connecting the centers of iron ore production in the area of Zouerate with the ore port of Nouadhibou, with a length of 853 km. The throughput capacity of the road is 15 million tons of iron ore. Diesel-electric traction is used.
The total length of roads is approx. 8 thousand km, of which only 1.9 thousand km are paved (late 1999).
Seaports are in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.
The main water artery – r. Senegal is 210 km long. It has 3 large ports (in the cities of Guraye, Kaedi, Roso) and 4 berths with a ferry crossing. The annual passenger turnover is 87.6 thousand people, the cargo turnover is 11 thousand cars.
Two international airports (in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou) and 23 regional ones. The national airline “Er-Moritani” carries out air transportation of passengers and cargo within the country and to neighboring states.
There are 570 thousand radio receivers in the whole country (1997), 87 thousand television sets (1998), telephones – 26 thousand numbers (2000), incl. 7.1 thousand mobile; 27 thousand personal computers, 7 thousand Internet users (2001).
Domestic trade is regulated by the Mauritanian Chamber of Commerce for Agriculture, Livestock, Industry and Mines; industry and trade associations (NAFTEC, Mauritanian Fisheries Society, National Import-Export Society); General Confederation of Mauritanian Businessmen.
Foreign tourists are interested in historical and cultural sites, hunting grounds and national parks, a number of which are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Program.
The country’s leadership has proclaimed the improvement of finances, the general rise of the economy, and the provision of social justice as the main directions of socio-economic policy. Primary attention is given to solving the food problem. However, the emphasis is on the extraction of iron ore and the development of fisheries (in order to receive foreign exchange earnings) to the detriment of other sectors of the economy, the rise of which would help create new jobs and provide employment for the population.
Another problem is the concentration of large financial resources in the hands of the ruling elite. As a result, there is no domestic market in banking, fishing, mining.