Mauritania has allied with the West in international issues such as the US-led 'war on terror'. It was one of 3 Arabic nations to have diplomatic ties with Israel, until these were broken in 2009.
Entirely desert except for a fertile strip along the river-bank border with Senegal in the south, Mauritania's economy is nevertheless heavily reliant on drought-prone agriculture, and upon harvesting some of the richest fishing waters in the world along the North Atlantic coast.
Despite having rich offshore reserves of oil and natural gas - upon which hopes of future wealth are pinned - these riches remain largely unrealized to date, and Mauritania remains among the world's poorer countries.
Christians in Mauritania
While the majority of Christians in Mauritania are expatriate or visiting workers, there are now a small number of Mauritanian believers. However, any attempts to share the gospel must circumvent government efforts to keep Christianity and the country's almost entirely Muslim population well apart.
Efforts have been made outside the country to provide the first full translation of the Bible in Hassaniya Arabic, while some evangelistic radio programmes are broadcast into the country from neighbouring Senegal.