Nouakchott, Mauritania

By | November 24, 2021

According to abbreviationfinder, Nouakchott is the capital of Mauritania, with 881,000 residents. It is a young city, created in the 50s in the territories that an old French military base occupied. Located on the shores of the Atlantic, it is where black Africa and the Arab world converge. The scene of its carpeted beaches with fishing boats is unforgettable. Also noteworthy is the color of its markets and, above all, the kindness of its people.


Its name means the camel well, although it is also called the city of shells and the city of the winds.


In its origins Nouakchott appeared as a small village framed by a desert environment. It was expanded during the droughts of the 1970s, becoming a tent city to house refugees from rural areas. A small industrial area near the bay contains an electric power station and the first water desalination plant in Africa.

With the passage of time it ended up gaining importance as a post for the caravan routes that headed north from Dakar. With the independence of the country in 1957, the city of Nouakchott was elected capital, at which point it experienced one of its greatest growth rates.


Nouakchott is located very close to the Atlantic coast, about 435 from Dakar, Senegal’s capital.

The subsoil is full of shells that replace gravel in construction. The sea breeze softens the extreme climate of this nomadic city between the dunes and the sea.

The Mauritanian coast has a great variety of marine species thanks to the cold current of the Canary Islands, its extensive Atlantic beaches are the greatest natural wealth in the country.

One of the city’s biggest problems is the lack of growth planning, which has been notable in recent decades. The reasons for this significant population growth are:

  • The phenomenon of regrouping in the provincial capitals in desert areas.
  • The attraction: the more residents a place concentrates, the more attractive it is.

In the 1980s, after a great drought that ruined the ranchers (the country’s main source of income), they came to settle in the city to find a new job. The modification of the marine currents on the coast, due in large part to the construction of the port, entails a rapid destabilization of the coastal cordon of dunes.

Economic development


Nouakchott is, by far, the largest city in the Sahara, a very charming place that is not dangerous for tourists.

Places of interest

In Nouakchott, the avenue Gamal-Abdel-Nasser, the central and lively commercial hub of the city, divides the capital into two zones. To the north, you can admire the luxurious villas of the residential neighborhood and its high ocher-colored walls. You can also enjoy the freshness in the shade of its gardens. To the south, in total anarchy, stretches a very poor shanty town. It is recommended to visit the Ksar district, the oldest in the city, which saw the nights of the French aviator and writer Saint-Exupéry pass. Take the arid dirt road to reach the immense beach and its sea of dunes. You should not miss the picturesque atmosphere that characterizes the return of the fishermen in the middle of the afternoon. This enclave offers a beautiful panorama of the city. You can live unique moments with its residents, accepting an invitation to have tea in one of its private rooms.

Social development

Transport and communication

The city has an international airport and a very close port


Traditional architecture was used for the constructions of flat-roofed cubist houses where the minarets of mosques emerge, such as that of the Great Mosque built by Saudi Arabia.

Traditional markets are very active. In the Great Central Market and the Coal Market there are numerous goldsmith’s workshops that work with gold, silver, ivory, horn and copper.

The Museum of Traditions is very interesting, you can see collections of prehistoric remains, arrowheads, copper needles, plates of schists and medieval collections and ethnographic objects from the life of Mauritania, jewels, tea chests, nomadic life, metal weapons, leather goods, ceramics…

Among the most traditional handicrafts Mauritanians are carpets, silver jewelery and handicrafts in bronze. One of the most popular products in the country are water pipes and leather, especially saddles.

Within the city, its university, known under the name of Nawakšut, and some old mosques erected by the Almoravids stand out. The fishing port of great activity, when the boats arrive at sunset, has an intense color and an attraction of incomparable sunsets.


There are two main mosques in Nouakchott, the Moroccan and the Saudi, to which non-Muslims cannot access, although access can be obtained by asking the imam of them. See population of Mauritania.


The football is the most popular sport and to practice traditionally Mauritanians have the Mauritanian Football League, which consists of 12 football teams. There are three competitions a year (the national league and the president’s cup) but due to the bad economy and the lack of interest from the government, the football sector in Mauritania is in bad shape.

Within the traditional sport we have that due to the influences of Islam in male / female relationships, two types of games have been created.

  • First: practiced by women are: es-sig, krour, Em-Ehmeidech, Chnague, lewzar, Sigueye, Salar among others. These sports are practiced in cool places (tents, houses) or in the shade of trees.
  • Second: practiced by men are: Em-Edghougha, Heiber, Towd, Dhamette, Khreibga, Diaro among others. These sports are practiced in open areas in the open air. There are also sports practiced only by children.

Nouakchott, Mauritania