The territory of Mauritania, crossed by the Tropic of Cancer and therefore including a large portion of the Sahara, is interested in the central section by two vast plateaus of Precambrian rocks (the Tagant and the Adrar), which only exceptionally exceed 500 m; the rest is occupied by sandy expanses, which to the West go as far as the flat coastal strip, while in the interior they cover the wide depression of al-Djouf, one of the harshest stretches of the great African desert, and towards the SE it dominates the basin of the ‘Hodh. The climate is characterized by very high average temperatures (25-30 ° C); rainfall, concentrated in the summer period, is minimal (less than 100 mm per year), accentuated on the coast and in the southern regions belonging to the Sahel, where in normal conditions rainfall is around 300-400 mm annually. Since the 1970s, in particular, these regions have been affected by recurrent periods of drought, with heavy repercussions on the life of the entire country. Consequently, in fact, the vegetal mantle has a certain consistency only in the southern regions, where the savannah dominates (acacias, especially those for rubber, and sparse baobabs); elsewhere it is completely absent or is represented by thorny shrubs and succulents.
Hydrography is absent or made up of uidian, only exceptionally traveled by water; the southwestern section of Mauritania includes part of the Senegal valley, and benefits from the river’s waters.
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 extension.
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.
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According to 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.