Nouakchott (/nwækˈʃɒt, nwɑː-/; French: [nwakʃɔt]; Arabic: نواكشوط; Berber: Nwakcoṭ, originally derived from Berber: Nawākšūṭ, "place of the winds")[2] is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahel.[3] The city also serves as the administrative and economic center of Mauritania.

City view of Nouakchott
Map of Mauritania showing Nouakchott
Nouakchott (Arab world)
Nouakchott (Africa)
Coordinates: 18°05′09″N 15°58′43″W[1]
Country Mauritania
Capital districtNouakchott
  Council presidentFatimatou Abdel Malick
  Total1,000 km2 (400 sq mi)
7 m (23 ft)
 (2019 census)
  Density1,200/km2 (3,000/sq mi)

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.

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