City view of Nouakchott
|• Council president||Fatimatou Abdel Malick|
|• Total||1,000 km2 (400 sq mi)|
|Elevation||7 m (23 ft)|
|• Density||1,200/km2 (3,000/sq mi)|
Nouakchott ( // ; Arabic : نواكشوط; Berber : Nwakcoṭ, originally derived from Berber : Nawākšūṭ, "place of the winds") is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahel. The city also serves as the administrative and economic center of Mauritania.
Nouakchott was a mid-sized village of little importance until 1958, when it was chosen as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania. At the time, it was designed and built to accommodate 15,000 people. However, beginning in the 1970s, a vast number of Mauritanians began moving to Nouakchott because environmental conditions in their home villages had become too harsh due to drought and increasing desertification. As of 2013, the city had a population of just under a million people. Many of the newcomers settled in slum areas of the city that were poorly maintained and extremely overcrowded. However, more recently, the living conditions of some of these inhabitants have improved.
The city is the hub of the Mauritanian economy. It is home to a deepwater port and Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport, one of the country's two international airports. It also hosts the University of Nouakchott and several other more specialized institutions of higher learning.
Nouakchott was a large, fortified fishing village (ksar) in pre-colonial times and under French rule. As Mauritania prepared for independence, it lacked a capital city and the area of present-day Nouakchott was chosen by Moktar Ould Daddah and his advisors. Ould Daddah desired for the new capital to be a symbol of modernity and national unity which ruled out existing cities or towns in the interior. The village was selected as the capital city for its central location between Saint-Louis, Senegal, the city from which the colony of Mauritania was governed, and Nouadhibou. Its location also meant that it avoided the sensitive issue of whether the capital was built in an area dominated by the Arab-descended Moors or Black Africans. 369:
Construction began in March 1958 to enlarge the village to house a population of 15,000 and the basics were completed by the time that the French granted independence on 28 November 1960. 369Nouakchott was planned with the expectation that commerce and other economic activities would not take place in the city. Nouakchott's central business district was planned with broad streets and a grid-like structure; the new Cinquième Quartier (Fifth District) was located close to this area and became the location of a large open-air market and residential area within a few years. During the 1960s, the city obtained its own local government. By the 1970s, these new areas had grown so much that they replaced the old ksar in terms of importance, as they also hosted the governmental buildings and state enterprises. :
The city was attacked twice in 1976 by the Polisario Front during the Western Sahara conflict, but little damage was caused by the guerrillas. The city has had massive and unconstrained growth, driven by the North African drought, since the beginning of the 1970s; hundreds of thousands moved there in search of a better life. The official censuses showed 134,000 residents in 1977 and 393,325 in 1988, although both figures were probably smaller than reality. 370 The population is now estimated to consist of at least one third of the country's population of 3.2 million and the 2013 census showed a population of 958,399.:
Located on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara Desert, it lies on the west coast of Africa. With the exception of Friendship Port and a small fishing port, the coastal strip is mostly left empty and allowed to flood. The coastline includes shifting sandbanks and sandy beaches. There are areas of quicksand close to the harbour. 168 Owing to the rapid build-up, the city is quite spread out, with few tall buildings. Most buildings are one-story.[ citation needed ]Nouakchott is largely flat and only a few meters above sea level. It is threatened by the sand dunes advancing from its eastern side which pose a daily problem. There have been efforts to save particular areas, including work by Jean Meunier. :
Nouakchott is built around a large tree-lined street, Avenue Gamal Abdel Nasser, which runs northeast through the city centre from the airport. It divides the city into two, with the residential areas in the north and the medina quarter, along with the kebbe, a shanty town formed due to the displacement of people from other areas by the desert. 50–57 Other major streets are named (in French) for notable Mauritanian or international figures of the 1960s: Avenue Abdel Nasser, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, Avenue Kennedy, and Avenue Lumumba, for example.:
The kebbe consists of cement buildings that are built overnight and made to look permanent to avoid destruction by the authorities. In 1999, it was estimated that more than half of the city's inhabitants lived in tents and shacks, which were used for residential as well as business purposes. 116−17The city is broken into nine arrondissements, sub-divided into alphabetised Îlots. These are Teyarett, Ksar, Tevragh Zeïna, Toujournine, Sebkha, El Mina, Dar Naïm, Arafat and Riad. The Sebkha (Cinquième) Arrondissement is home to a large shopping area. :
Nouakchott features a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh) with hot temperatures throughout the year, but cool winter night temperatures. Due to the city's oceanside location, Nouakchott is generally not quite as hot as other cities with this climate. Still, the city can experience very hot days. While average high temperatures are relatively constant at around 33 °C (91 °F), average low temperatures can range from 25 °C (77 °F) during the summer months to 13 °C (55 °F) during the winter months. Minimum temperatures can be as low as 10 °C (50 °F) during winter nights in Nouakchott. Average rainfall in the city is 95 mm (3.7 in) a year.
|Climate data for Nouakchott (1981–2010, extremes 1934–2012)|
|Record high °C (°F)||39.9|
|Average high °C (°F)||29.1|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||21.5|
|Average low °C (°F)||14.5|
|Record low °C (°F)||3.9|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||0.7|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||0.2||0.3||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.3||0.8||2.6||3.0||0.7||0.2||0.3||8.3|
|Average relative humidity (%)||36||39||43||49||54||60||70||72||69||55||44||35||52|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||232.5||220.4||260.4||270.0||282.1||240.0||238.7||254.2||228.0||260.4||243.0||217.0||2,946.7|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||7.5||7.8||8.4||9.0||9.1||8.0||7.7||8.2||7.6||8.4||8.1||7.0||8.1|
|Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst|
Nouakchott is divided into three administrative regions (wilayat) led by governors appointed by the central government, each of which contains three departments (moughataa):
Separate from the wilayat, a directly elected regional council was established in Nouakchott in 2018, which took over the roles of promoting social and economic development from the communauté urbaine of Nouakchott which it replaced. Fatimatou Abdel Malick was elected council president in September 2018.
Nouakchott was initially divided into four departments in 1973. In 1986 the current nine departments were created.
Formerly a district, in 1990 Nouakchott became a region of Mauritania.On 25 November 2014, it was split into the three current regions and its governor Mahi Ould Hamed became the first governor of Nouakchott-Nord.
For comparison, its population was only 20,000 in 1969. Part of the difficulty in estimating the city's population is that part of it is nomadic, setting up tents in suitable locations, then packing up when the need strikes. Some estimates put the 2008 population at over 2 million, estimated to be close to one-third of the country's population.The 2013 census gave the city's population as 958,399.
In 2009, the government of Mauritania announced that it would begin a process of clearing the slum on the outskirts of Nouakchott, as 24,000 families would eventually be relocated to planned housing in the city. The process was scheduled to begin with the relocation of 9,000 families from the outskirts into the poor Arafat department neighbourhood of "Kosovo", popularly named for its high crime rate and poor services. The government planned to begin moving families in June 2009, despite concerns from aid agencies that needed infrastructure could not be put in place in the receiving neighbourhood.In 2013, it was reported that "slums have been replaced by social dwellings for the poorest", with the World Bank reporting that the plan met with substantial success, resulting in access to improved services for 181,035 people in the slum areas.
Nouakchott is the center of the Mauritanian economy, with three-quarters of service sector enterprises located in the city as of 1999 [update] with 90% of the city's economic activity consisting of informal transactions. Some inhabitants have multiple addresses and maintain strong ties with their regions of origin, at times returning for labor.
Nouakchott has a Chinese-built deepwater port that opened in 1986. It was designed for a capacity of 500,000 tons deadweight (DWT) of cargo a year, but has been handling 1,500,000 tons (DWT) by 2009. China agreed in 2009 to invest US$282 million in the port, aiming to extend the main quay by over 900 m (3,000 ft). As of 2011, the World Bank was investigating funding a new shipping container facility at the port.
Air service is provided by Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport, which replaced the previous Nouakchott International Airport in June 2016.
The Cairo–Dakar Highway leg from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou was paved in 2004, although the Nouakchott-Rosso leg was paved before independence. 1,100-kilometre (680 mi) road (Route d'Espoir (Road of Hope)) connects the city with Néma via Boutilimit and Kiffa. :235 In the city, there is a public transport and commuter system, with vehicles serving major boulevards.A
The city is home to the University of Nouakchott Al Aasriya, the main university in Mauritania, opened in 1981. As of 1995, it had 70 professors and 2800 students.
Other higher education facilities include the Lebanese International University of Mauritania, the National School of Administration, the College of Science and Technology and the Higher Scientific Institute. 105:
There are many primary and secondary schools, among the most prominent are the American International School of Nouakchottand the Lycée Français Théodore Monod.
Attractions in Nouakchott include the National Museum of Mauritania, the National Library and the National Archives.The city hosts several markets, including the Marocaine market and the beaches. One beach is devoted to fishing boats where fish can be bought fresh at the Fish market. Nouakchott is a principal selling place of native Saharan meteorites.
Among the places of worship, they are predominantly Muslim mosques. : Roman Catholic Diocese of Nouakchott (Catholic Church), Protestant churches, Evangelical Churches.There are also Christian churches and temples
Nouakchott hosts nine of the thirteen teams of the Mauritanian Premier League.
Nouakchott is twinned with:
Citizens of Mauritania have various transportation methods. Railways and highways connect major cities in the country. Mauritania is a coastal country so there are many ports along its coast and there are a few big rivers that run through the country. Lastly, there are 26 airports spread out throughout the country.
The Armed Forces of Mauritania is the defence force of Islamic Republic of Mauritania, having an army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, and presidential guard. Other services include the national guard and national police, though they both are subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior. As of 2018, the Mauritanian armed forces budget was 3.9% of the country's GDP.
Nouadhibou is the second largest city in Mauritania and serves as a major commercial centre. The city itself has about 118,000 inhabitants expanding to over 140,000 in the larger metropolitan area. It is situated on a 65-kilometre peninsula or headland called Ras Nouadhibou, Cap Blanc, or Cabo Blanco, of which the western side, with the Moroccan city of La Güera, is part of Western Sahara. Nouadhibou is consequently located merely a couple of kilometres from the border between Mauritania and Morocco de facto, Western Sahara de jure. Its current mayor is Elghassem Ould Bellali, who was installed on 15 October 2018.
Zouérat is the largest town in northern Mauritania and the capital of Tiris Zemmour region, with an approximate population of 44,649 (2013). It lies at the eastern end of the Mauritania Railway to Nouadhibou.
Air Mauritanie was the national airline of Mauritania from 1962 until it ceased operations in 2007 due to financial difficulties. It was based at Nouakchott International Airport, from where it operated domestic services, as well as flights to African destinations and Paris. The carrier had its headquarters in Nouakchott.
Super D1 is the top division of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. It was created in 1976.
Mauritania Airways S.A. was an airline based in Nouakchott, Mauritania, operating out of Nouakchott International Airport.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Mauritania:
Arafat is a suburb of Nouakchott and urban commune in western Mauritania. It is the capital of Nouakchott-Sud Region and has a population of 102,169.
Dar-Naim is a suburb of Nouakchott and urban commune in western Mauritania. It is the capital of Nouakchott-Nord Region and has a population of 61,089.
Sebkha is a suburb of Nouakchott and urban commune in western Mauritania. It has a population of 63,474.
Rugby union in Mauritania is a minor but growing sport.
Mauritania Airlines previously Mauritania Airlines International, is an airline based in Nouakchott, Mauritania, serving as flag carrier of the country. The company was set up in December 2010 in response to the demise of Mauritania Airways. In April 2018, it was announced the airline had rebranded from Mauritania Airlines International to Mauritania Airlines. It is also the only airline so far operating in Mauritania.
The mass media in Mauritania is undergoing a shift into a freer journalistic environment, while becoming increasingly open to private sector.
Nouakchott-Nord is a region in Mauritania. It comprises the three northwestern departments of Mauritania's capital city Nouakchott: Dar-Naim, Teyarett and Toujouonine. The capital is at Dar-Naim and Nouakchott International Airport was located within its borders.
Nouakchott-Ouest is a region in Mauritania. It comprises the three northeastern departments of Mauritania's capital city Nouakchott: Ksar, Sebkha and Tevragh-Zeina. Its headquarters are at Tevragh-Zeina and the Presidential Palace is located within its borders.
Nouakchott-Sud is a region in Mauritania. It comprises the three southern departments of Mauritania's capital city Nouakchott: Arafat, El Mina and Riyad. Its headquarters are at Arafat and Nouakchott's deep-water port is located within its borders.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Nouakchott, Mauritania.
Ismail Ould Bedde Ould Cheikh Sidiya is a Mauritanian politician who served as the 15th Prime Minister of Mauritania from 5 August 2019 to 6 August 2020. He headed the Ministry of Housing, Town Planning and Regional Development from 2009 to 2014, as well as once being president of the Nouadhibou Free Zone. He was one of the founding members of the Union for the Republic party.
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