St. Peter's Square at the Vatican © Ettore Ferrari
The Vatican and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania have agreed on an exchange of ambassadors. The West African country was one of the few states with which the Vatican had not previously maintained full diplomatic relations.
This was announced by the Holy See press office on Friday. Since 1973, there has been a papal delegate for Mauritania. U.S. Michael Banach, apostolic nuncio to Senegal, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, currently holds the position.
The Holy See currently has full diplomatic relations with 180 states. Only by a delegate, the pope is represented in Brunei, Burma, Laos, Somalia and Vietnam, as well as in countries and territories of the Arabian Peninsula, the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. For China there is a diplomatic managing director who resides in Taiwan. The Vatican has no diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, Bhutan, North Korea, Oman, Tuvalu and Saudi Arabia.
Improved human rights situation in Mauritania
In Mauritania, 100 percent of the 3.7 million inhabitants officially belong to Sunni Islam, which is the state religion. The Pontifical Yearbook indicates for the country 4.000 Catholics. Mauritania's only diocese, headquartered in the capital Nouakchott, is led by 71-year-old Martin Albert Happe from Sendenhorst in Westphalia, Germany.
The human rights situation in Mauritania has improved since Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was elected president in 2009, according to international observers. Deficits remain, however, in the application of protection rights. Social problems result from the lingering effects of slavery, which was officially abolished in 1980, a high illiteracy rate, and widespread child labor. Criticism from human rights organizations continues to concern the situation of women and homosexuals.