The ouguiya is the official currency of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Mauritania is a coastal country in northwestern Africa. Along with the Malagasy ariary, the Mauritanian ouguiya is one of only two world currencies that have yet to be decimalised. The subunit of the ouguiya is the khoum, with 5 khoums equal to 1 ouguiya. The ouguiyua was introduced in 1973 as a replacement for the CFA franc at an exchange rate of 1 ouguiya: 5 francs. It is currently issued by the Banque Central de Mauritanie.
After obtaining independence from France in 1960, the West African CFA franc became the official currency of Mauritania. The West African CFA is a multinational currency introduced in 1946 to be used by French protectorates in West Africa. Although many countries continue to use the CFA franc as their official currency, several have since adopted their own national currency as a replacement. Mauritania adopted the Ouguiya in 1973. In that year, coins were minted in denominations of 1 khoum and 1, 5, 10 and 20 ouguiya. The current series of coins is minted by the Kremnica Mint in Slovakia. The banknotes issued in 1973 were in denominations of 100, 200 and 1000 ouguiya, with a 500-ouguiya note added in 1979. Banknotes are printed by Giesecke & Devrient in Munich, Germany.
Mauritania is one of the poorest nations in the world. Although it is rich in natural resources, most of the population is in poverty, and those who were not forced into cities by severe draught now rely on subsistence farming for their livelihood. After agriculture, mining is the second-largest industry in the country. Iron ore accounts for more than 50 percent of total exports. Gold and copper is also abundant in the country, and mining companies are vying for rights to open mines in the interior of Mauritania. In addition, the coastal regions of Mauritania are considered some of the best deep sea fishing areas in Africa. In 1999, the government made a big step in helping the economy by signing a joint agreement with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but so far, the country has failed to meet the 5 percent annual growth goal. New oil deposits found in 2001 may play a key role in the economic future of Mauritania if the country can solve its issues with privatisation.