Nouakchott, Mauritania

Nouakchott derived from Berber word; Nawaksu meaning (“place of the winds”) is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahara. The city also serves as the administrative and economic center of Mauritania. Nouakchott was a small village of little importance until 1958, when it was chosen as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania. It was designed and built to accommodate 15,000 people, but droughts and increasing desertification since the 1970s have displaced a vast number of Mauritanians who resettled in Nouakchott. This caused massive urban growth and overcrowding, with the city having an official population of just under a million as of 2013. The resettled population inhabited slum areas under poor conditions, but the living conditions of a portion of these inhabitants have since been ameliorated. The city is the hub of the Mauritanian economy and is home to a deep-water port and one of the country’s two international airports. It hosts the University of Nouakchott and several other more specialized institutes of higher learning.