Terrain shapes and bedrock
The coastal area of the Atlantic consists of beach
tracks, lagoons and dunes. The material transport takes
place southwards by means of the Canary stream. Inside the
beach is a wide coastal plain that reaches 50 m above sea
level. The sedimentary deposits on the coast turn east into
an upland area. Northern Mauritania is an area with many
faults and insel mountains; highest reaches Kediat Idjil,
915 m above sea level. Even further to the north, the Sahara
takes over with huge sand dunes with northeast-southwest
The eastern part of Mauritania is part of the huge
bowl-shaped inland basin el-Djouf, where the landscape can
almost be described as the stone desert. Southern Mauritania
belongs to the Sahel region, where plateaus and mountainous
areas dominate alongside rivers that occasionally only
supply water. The country's only permanent river is the
Senegal border river in the south.
COUNTRYAAH, Mauritania has a dry desert or steppe climate. Daytime
temperatures in the desert areas can reach 50 °C in the
summer, with considerably cooler nights. In winters, the
daytime temperature can reach up to 20 °C, while the
nighttime temperature can go below freezing. On the coast,
the temperature differences are less extreme.
The rainfall is insignificant in the desert and coastal
areas; Nouakchott has an average annual rainfall of 140 mm.
The most precipitation receives the savannah areas in the
south, more than 500 mm per year.
Plant-and animal life
Eastern Mauritania belongs to the Sahara and is
vegetation-free or has desert vegetation with ephedra, some
tamarisk, amaranth and grass. At the Senegal River furthest
south there is a narrow tree belt with acacias and
grasslands. Although the coast is also desert-like, there
are some wetlands here, which are visited by resting
migratory birds during parts of the year. In total, about
1,100 species of hiding-seeded plants have been noted.
There are about 60 species of mammals, including the now
rare Dorcas gas cell and the endemic desert rat
Gerbiʹllus mauritaʹniae. Gold shawls and spotted hyena
are rare, while caracal is more widespread in the desert
areas. A few elephants occasionally enter Senegal. About 275
species of birds breed and about 550 are observed, including
many species of migratory birds from Europe. In the deserts,
larches, stonewashes and fly hens are typical features.
In 1996 Mauritania had two national parks, Diawling in
the delta of the Senegal River and Banc d'Arguin on the
northern Atlantic coast, as well as a couple of larger
nature reserves. Banc d'Arguin is an important resting and
wintering place for, among other things. ant snap, terns,
flamingo and pelican.