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Mauritania vs. Algeria

Demographics

MauritaniaAlgeria
Population
4,005,475 (July 2020 est.)
42,972,878 (July 2020 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 37.56% (male 755,788/female 748,671)
15-24 years: 19.71% (male 387,140/female 402,462)
25-54 years: 33.91% (male 630,693/female 727,518)
55-64 years: 4.9% (male 88,888/female 107,201)
65 years and over: 3.92% (male 66,407/female 90,707) (2020 est.)
0-14 years: 29.58% (male 6,509,490/female 6,201,450)
15-24 years: 13.93% (male 3,063,972/female 2,922,368)
25-54 years: 42.91% (male 9,345,997/female 9,091,558)
55-64 years: 7.41% (male 1,599,369/female 1,585,233)
65 years and over: 6.17% (male 1,252,084/female 1,401,357) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 21 years
male: 20.1 years
female: 22 years (2020 est.)
total: 28.9 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 29.3 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
2.09% (2020 est.)
1.52% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
29 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
20 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
7.5 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
4.4 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
-0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
-0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
total population: 92.9 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 102.7 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 47.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 43.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
total: 17.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 64.5 years
male: 62.1 years
female: 67 years (2020 est.)
total population: 77.5 years
male: 76.1 years
female: 79.1 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
3.65 children born/woman (2020 est.)
2.59 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
0.2% (2019 est.)
<.1% (2019 est.)
Nationality
noun: Mauritanian(s)
adjective: Mauritanian
noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups
black Moors (Haratines - Arab-speaking slaves, former slaves, and their descendants of African origin, enslaved by white Moors) 40%, white Moors (of Arab-Berber descent, known as Beydane) 30%, Sub-Saharan Mauritanians (non-Arabic speaking, largely resident in or originating from the Senegal River Valley, including Halpulaar, Fulani, Soninke, Wolof, and Bambara ethnic groups) 30%
Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%

note: although almost all Algerians are Berber in origin (not Arab), only a minority identify themselves as primarily Berber, about 15% of the total population; these people live mostly in the mountainous region of Kabylie east of Algiers and several other communities; the Berbers are also Muslim but identify with their Berber rather than Arab cultural heritage; Berbers have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy; the government is unlikely to grant autonomy but has officially recognized Berber languages and introduced them into public schools

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
5,700 (2019 est.)
22,000 (2019 est.)
Religions
Muslim (official) 100%
Muslim (official; predominantly Sunni) 99%, other (includes Christian and Jewish) <1% (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
<500 (2019 est.)
<200 (2019 est.)
Languages
Arabic (official and national), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French

note: the spoken Arabic in Mauritania differs considerably from the modern standard Arabic used for official written purposes or in the media; the Mauritanian dialect, which incorporates many Berber words, is referred to as Hassaniya

Arabic (official), French (lingua franca), Berber or Tamazight (official); dialects include Kabyle Berber (Taqbaylit), Shawiya Berber (Tacawit), Mzab Berber, Tuareg Berber (Tamahaq)
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 53.5%
male: 63.7%
female: 43.4% (2017)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.4%
male: 87.4%
female: 75.3% (2018)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 9 years
male: 9 years
female: 10 years (2019)
total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2011)
Education expenditures
2.6% of GDP (2016)
NA
Urbanization
urban population: 55.3% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 4.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 73.7% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 2.46% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 98.7% of population
rural: 68.4% of population
total: 84.4% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.3% of population
rural: 31.6% of population
total: 15.6% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 99.2% of population
rural: 97.4% of population
total: 98.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 0.8% of population
rural: 2.1% of population
total: 1.1% of population (2017 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 83.5% of population
rural: 25.2% of population
total: 56% of population
unimproved: urban: 16.5% of population
rural: 74.8% of population
total: 44% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 96.9% of population
rural: 93.4% of population
total: 96% of population
unimproved: urban: 3.1% of population
rural: 6.6% of population
total: 4% of population (2017 est.)
Major cities - population
1.315 million NOUAKCHOTT (capital) (2020)
2.768 million ALGIERS (capital), 899,000 Oran (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
766 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
112 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
19.2% (2018)
3% (2012)
Health expenditures
4.4% (2017)
6.4% (2017)
Physicians density
0.18 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
1.79 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
12.7% (2016)
27.4% (2016)
Demographic profile

With a sustained total fertility rate of about 4 children per woman and almost 60% of the population under the age of 25, Mauritania's population is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future. Mauritania's large youth cohort is vital to its development prospects, but available schooling does not adequately prepare students for the workplace. Girls continue to be underrepresented in the classroom, educational quality remains poor, and the dropout rate is high. The literacy rate is only about 50%, even though access to primary education has improved since the mid-2000s. Women's restricted access to education and discriminatory laws maintain gender inequality - worsened by early and forced marriages and female genital cutting.

The denial of education to black Moors also helps to perpetuate slavery. Although Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981 (the last country in the world to do so) and made it a criminal offense in 2007, the millenniums-old practice persists largely because anti-slavery laws are rarely enforced and the custom is so ingrained.  According to a 2018 nongovernmental organization's report, a little more than 2% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which includes individuals sujbected to forced labor and forced marriage, although many thousands of individuals who are legally free contend with discrimination, poor education, and a lack of identity papers and, therefore, live in de facto slavery.  The UN and international press outlets have claimed that up to 20% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which would be the highest rate worldwide.

Drought, poverty, and unemployment have driven outmigration from Mauritania since the 1970s. Early flows were directed toward other West African countries, including Senegal, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, and Gambia. The 1989 Mauritania-Senegal conflict forced thousands of black Mauritanians to take refuge in Senegal and pushed labor migrants toward the Gulf, Libya, and Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mauritania has accepted migrants from neighboring countries to fill labor shortages since its independence in 1960 and more recently has received refugees escaping civil wars, including tens of thousands of Tuaregs who fled Mali in 2012.

Mauritania was an important transit point for Sub-Saharan migrants moving illegally to North Africa and Europe. In the mid-2000s, as border patrols increased in the Strait of Gibraltar, security increased around Spain's North African enclaves (Ceuta and Melilla), and Moroccan border controls intensified, illegal migration flows shifted from the Western Mediterranean to Spain's Canary Islands. In 2006, departure points moved southward along the West African coast from Morocco and Western Sahara to Mauritania's two key ports (Nouadhibou and the capital Nouakchott), and illegal migration to the Canaries peaked at almost 32,000. The numbers fell dramatically in the following years because of joint patrolling off the West African coast by Frontex (the EU's border protection agency), Spain, Mauritania, and Senegal; the expansion of Spain's border surveillance system; and the 2008 European economic downturn.

For the first two thirds of the 20th century, Algeria's high fertility rate caused its population to grow rapidly. However, about a decade after independence from France in 1962, the total fertility rate fell dramatically from 7 children per woman in the 1970s to about 2.4 in 2000, slowing Algeria's population growth rate by the late 1980s. The lower fertility rate was mainly the result of women's rising age at first marriage (virtually all Algerian children being born in wedlock) and to a lesser extent the wider use of contraceptives. Later marriages and a preference for smaller families are attributed to increases in women's education and participation in the labor market; higher unemployment; and a shortage of housing forcing multiple generations to live together. The average woman's age at first marriage increased from about 19 in the mid-1950s to 24 in the mid-1970s to 30.5 in the late 1990s.

Algeria's fertility rate experienced an unexpected upturn in the early 2000s, as the average woman's age at first marriage dropped slightly. The reversal in fertility could represent a temporary fluctuation in marriage age or, less likely, a decrease in the steady rate of contraceptive use.

Thousands of Algerian peasants - mainly Berber men from the Kabylia region - faced with land dispossession and economic hardship under French rule migrated temporarily to France to work in manufacturing and mining during the first half of the 20th century. This movement accelerated during World War I, when Algerians filled in for French factory workers or served as soldiers. In the years following independence, low-skilled Algerian workers and Algerians who had supported the French (known as Harkis) emigrated en masse to France. Tighter French immigration rules and Algiers' decision to cease managing labor migration to France in the 1970s limited legal emigration largely to family reunification.

Not until Algeria's civil war in the 1990s did the country again experience substantial outmigration. Many Algerians legally entered Tunisia without visas claiming to be tourists and then stayed as workers. Other Algerians headed to Europe seeking asylum, although France imposed restrictions. Sub-Saharan African migrants came to Algeria after its civil war to work in agriculture and mining. In the 2000s, a wave of educated Algerians went abroad seeking skilled jobs in a wider range of destinations, increasing their presence in North America and Spain. At the same time, legal foreign workers principally from China and Egypt came to work in Algeria's construction and oil sectors. Illegal migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Malians, Nigeriens, and Gambians, continue to come to Algeria in search of work or to use it as a stepping stone to Libya and Europe.

Since 1975, Algeria also has been the main recipient of Sahrawi refugees from the ongoing conflict in Western Sahara. More than 1000,000 Sahrawis are estimated to be living in five refugee camps in southwestern Algeria near Tindouf.

Contraceptive prevalence rate
17.8% (2015)
57.1% (2012/13)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 75
youth dependency ratio: 69.5
elderly dependency ratio: 5.6
potential support ratio: 18 (2020 est.)
total dependency ratio: 60.1
youth dependency ratio: 49.3
elderly dependency ratio: 10.8
potential support ratio: 9.3 (2020 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook