Previously a part of French West Africa, Mauritania gained independence in 1960. Topographic mapping was undertaken by the French Institut Géographique National (IGN) and its predecessors, and IGN has continued to support the mapping of the country, with the agreement renewed in 1989. IGN cooperates with the Division de la Topographie et de la Cartographie (DTC) of the Ministère d’Equipement, at Nouakchott. The basic scale series is the 1:200,000, appearing as a Carte regulière from the early 1950s, with publication of the first edition continuing until the late 1970s. The series is on the UTM projection, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid and is complete in 104 sheets. Most are in the one-degree format, but some are extended in coastal or border areas. Sheets covering the west and south are in four to six colors with 40 m contours, while 54 sheets covering the Saharan areas are published as four-color Fonds topographiques without contours. Some sheets have the designation Types régions desertiques, but all give special attention to desert landforms and surface materials in dry areas.
1:50,000 scale mapping was undertaken in 1956-57, but was confined to the boundary with Senegal, and comprises only 25 sheets.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Mauritania exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (12 sheets, complete coverage, published 1979-1986); 1:500,000 (29 sheets, complete coverage, published 1980-1987); 1:200,000 (175 sheets, primarily complete coverage, published 1981-1986) and 1:100,000 (137 sheet, primarily north and western coverage, published 1979-1981). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector formats from East View Geospatial.
Earth science mapping is the responsibility of the Direction des Mines et de l’Industrie (DMI), Nouakchott, but mapping has been compiled by the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM). A mineral plan for the Republic was published in 1975 by BRGM with DMI, and this included a 1:2,000,000 scale map of mineral deposits. BRGM has also been more recently active in mineral prospecting.
Additional organizations producing thematic mapping include the Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM), which has published some soil, sedimentological and geophysical mapping, and SCET International which produced a map of potential productivity for pastoral agriculture in the southeast of the country, with funding from the European Development Fund. A small thematic atlas was published in 1977 by Editions du Jaguar in its Atlas jeune Afrique series.
The best general map of the country was published in its third edition by IGN in 1993 in the Pays et villes du Monde series.