The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is located in North Africa’s Maghreb region. Covering an expansive area of just over 1 million square kilometers, it is the 11th largest country in Africa. 90% of this vast land is covered by arid desert. The Atlantic Ocean borders Mauritania to the west and the rest of the nation is surrounded by Western Sahara, Algeria, Mali and Senegal.
Of the 3.5 million Mauritanian residents, almost all belong to the Sunni Muslim religion and 98% are descended from African and Arab ethnic groups. The predominant tribal groups in the country are Bambara, Fula and Soninke, although there are small communities of expats from overseas. The official language of Mauritania is French, however Modern Standard Arabic is one of the most common dialects, and local languages such as Hassaniya, Puulaar, Soninke and Serer are widely spoken throughout the country.
Mauritania owes its dry, dusty climate to the trade winds which blow into the country from the deserts in the north-east of Africa all year round. The Harmattan is an extremely hot, dry wind from the east of Africa, contributing to the country’s dusty conditions. During the winter months, there are a few small showers of rain, but throughout the rest of the year the weather is consistently hot and dry. The coolest part of the country is Selibabi, situated in the extreme south. This region experiences stormy showers throughout the winter season and receives around 635mm of rain between the months of June and September.
A long term visa for Mauritania lasts between one and three years, after which it can be renewed. Expats intending on moving to Mauritania must provide certain documents and evidence before they can obtain a visa. One of the most important things to be in possession of before applying for a visa is a current passport, with at least six months of validity left.
A residential visa is required by all foreigners moving to the country with the exception of diplomatic passport holders from Egypt, Qatar, Morocco, Turkey and Bulgaria. To be issued a residential visa, expats must provide the Mauritanian embassy with either a business letter or letter of invitation confirming the nature of their business and confirmation of financial security. A certificate of vaccination must also be presented, with confirmation of clean health. Applicants may be subject to an interview in person at their relevant Mauritanian consulate.