Camel herder with about 30 of Mauritania's 1.5 million camels at rest just outside Nouakchott, the capital of the country. Over a period of many years, due to deforestation and repeated droughts the Sahara keeps spreading south to the semi-arid Sahel region. Nouakchott, with a population of approximately 1 million inhabitants was built in the desert near the sea in the 1970's. Experts now worry that the water table will dry up by the middle of the 21st century.
Located in the semi-desertic Sahel region of West Africa, Mauritania is among the world's least developed food-deficit countries, ranked 159 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index. With 42 percent of the population living below the poverty line and with vast desert areas and scarce water resources, Mauritania ranks amongst the poorest countries in the world.