MAURITANIA

Country Description: Mauritania is a developing country in northwestern Africa. It is a Muslim country with a conservative dress code. Women are expected to wear sleeved garments, to have dress lengths below the knee, and not to wear shorts.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. 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., 6100 Third Avenue, 37th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016, telephone (212) 737-7780. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Mauritanian embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Surface travel between Mauritania and the former Western Sahara is dangerous, because of the continuing conflict between Morocco and the Polisario movement. Although a ceasefire is presently in place, several violations have occurred, and the area cannot be considered safe. Travelers are at risk of being caught up in hostilities between Morocco and the Polisario movement. There are reports of thousands of unexploded mines in the western Sahara area and in areas of Mauritania adjacent to the western Sahara border. Exploding mines are occasionally reported and have caused death and injury. Surface travel between Mali and Mauritania can be dangerous since the border region has historically been plagued by banditry and, in recent years, has been the scene of insurgency. Surface travel between Mauritania and Senegal is restricted to various designated border crossing-points: N'Diago, Diama, Rosso, Jerd El Mohguen, Tekane, Lekseiba, Boghe (Brakna), M'Bagne, Kaedi (Gorgol); Tifounde Cive; Maghama; and Goraye (Guidimaka).

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Mauritania are limited. Medicines are difficult to obtain. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. In some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty crime occurs. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. State Department pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Road Safety and In-Country Travel: The road conditions in Mauritania are poor, particularly in the interior, and in-country travel is difficult. The size of the territory and desert conditions make road maintenance and repair particularly difficult. Mauritania possesses only about 1,785 km. of surfaced roads; 710 km. of modern unsurfaced roads and 5,138 km. of tracks. There are four major roads in Mauritania, between Nouakchott and Rosso, Akjoujt, another linking Aleg Boghe and Kaedi, and the Road of Hope. Americans traveling overland for long distances in Mauritania should be sure to have an appropriate four-wheel drive vehicle, a local guide, and adequate supplies of water.

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.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott between the Presidency Building and the Spanish Embassy, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Mauritania. The postal address is B.P. 222, Nouakchott, Mauritania. The phone number is (222-2) 526-60, and the fax number is (222-2) 515-92.

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