capital of mauritania.
Nouakchott is located 4 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, just south of central Mauritania. Three years before Mauritania's independence from France in 1960, Nouakchott, then just a village, was selected as the capital of the future independent Mauritania. City architects planned for a potential 15,000 inhabitants. By 1967, 20,000 people had moved to Nouakchott. As a result of Saharan droughts in recent decades, hordes of people have moved to the city, and as of the early twenty-first century more than 800,000 people inhabited Nouakchott, around 25 percent of the Mauritanian population.
Nouakchott, Mauritania's administrative and economic center, is home to all ethnicities. North of Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, a city of 100,000 people, also is a center of trade. Fishing, light industry, and handicraft manufacturing centers are located in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. Foreign investment remains crucial for increased economic growth as population size and skilled labor are limited.
From any point in Nouakchott, Islamic prayer calls can be heard emanating from the mosques five times a day. Nouakchott has two large markets with men and women vendors lined up selling items such as fabric, electronics, Qurʾans, meats, vegetables, and rice. One of the markets is located in the Cinquième district, where more of the Pulaar population live and sell their products. The other large market, in the Capitale district, is mainly populated with black and white Maure vendors and shoppers. Nouakchott has restaurants of all types, a movie theater, internet cafés, beautiful mosques, a university, and an international airport.
Nouakchott (nwäkshôt´), city (1991 est. pop. 500,000), capital of Mauritania and Nouakchott dist., W Mauritania, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. Nouakchott was a small village until 1957, when it was chosen as the capital of Mauritania, in part because of the aquifer there. A large-scale construction program began in 1958, when Mauritania became an autonomous republic with the French Community. Today Nouakchott is Mauritania's largest city and its administrative center. Its ocean port, which is c.4 mi (6.4 km) from the city proper, has modern storage facilities, especially for petroleum; a deepwater harbor was built in the 1980s. Handicrafts are made, and light industry is carried on in the city. Nouakchott is located on a major highway and has an international airport. The city's growth has depleted the aquifer on which it depends; construction of a pipeline to the distant Senegal River is planned. Some historians believe that nearby stood the ribat (monastery) from which the Muslim Almoravids set out on their conquests of Africa and Spain in the 11th cent.