What is the Currency of Mauritania?

By John Misachi on November 29 2017 in Economics

The Mauritanian ouguiya.

What is the Currency of Mauritania?

The Islamic Republic Mauritania is an Arabic country and a former French colony located in West Africa. It is the 11th largest country in Africa and has rich deposits of iron ore, gold, and copper, that are its major exports products. The country continues to experience slow economic growth due to the underdevelopment of the financial sector. However, the ongoing privatization plans being implemented by the government are aimed to spur the country’s development plans. The expansion of the financial sector is one of the areas that has been given great priority in the ongoing plans. Combined efforts by the Central Bank and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector have instituted banking reforms that will make the Mauritania Ouguiya, the official currency, competitive against the US dollar.

Overview of Mauritania Ouguiya

The Mauritania Ouguiya is the official currency of Mauritania. It is denoted by MRO and divided into 5 khoums (the Arabic word for one fifth) presented by the symbol UM. Ouguiya was adopted as the Mauritania’s official currency in 1973 replacing the CFA Franc, which was the currency used in all the twelve French colonies in Africa. It replaced the French Franc at the rate of 5 to 1. The Khoum and 1 ouguiya are hardly used in Mauritania due to their low value. The Ouguiya is one of the two currencies circulating in the world that is not divided into decimals, the other being Malagasy Ariary.


Ouguiya coins were introduced in 1973 in various denominations ranging from 1 to 20. The introduction of the coins came a year after the khoums were minted. Khoum was only minted in 1972 because the 1 ouguiya was worth 5 francs, and a khoum was equal to the franc which could not be subdivided further. The latest coins to be minted are the 2003 and 2004 coins which includes 1 ouguiya minted by the Kremnica Mint of Slovakia. In 2009, the coinage slightly changed with the reduction of the 1 ouguiya plated composition and an issue of the bi-metallic 20 ouguiya and a subsequent issue of 50-bi-metallic ouguiya in 2010. These are the only coins in use in Mauritania with the 1 ouguiya having reduced in value thus no longer circulating.


The issuance of banknotes commenced in 1973 with the printing of notes done by the Central Bank of Mauritania in three denominations including 100, 200, and 1000 ouguiya. In 1974, the second printing was done by the Giesecke & Devrient in Munich. In 1979, the 500 note was introduced and the highest denomination, the 5000 note, was introduced in 2009. In 2011, the 2000 note was introduced and circulated. In 2004, new banknotes were printed in different fonts. The vignettes on the back of the notes have been remodeled to accommodate the reduced size of the banknotes. All the notes except for 100 and 200 have Arabic numbers in a holographic patch at right front. The serial numbers have two-character prefix, a seven digit serial number, and one character suffix all appearing on one surface.

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