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Nouakchott
نواكشوط
Mosque in Central Nouakchott.
Nouakchott is located in Mauritania
Nouakchott
Map of Mauritania showing Nouakchott
Coordinates: 18°6′N 15°57′W / 18.1°N 15.95°W / 18.1; -15.95Coordinates: 18°6′N 15°57′W / 18.1°N 15.95°W / 18.1; -15.95
Country  Mauritania
Capital district Nouakchott
Government
 - Mayor Didi Ould Bounaama
Area
 - Total 1,000 km2 (400 sq mi)
Population (1999)
 - Total 881,000
 - Density 881/km2 (2,281.8/sq mi)

Nouakchott (Arabic: نواكشوطor انواكشوط‎ (believed translation from Berber "The place of the winds", Nawākšūṭ)) is the capital and by far the largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahara. The city is the administrative and economic centre of Mauritania.

Contents

History

A tiny fishing town until 1958, Nouakchott was mentioned little during pre-colonial and colonial history. It is possible that the Berber Muslim Almoravids were originally from the area. Despite its name, based on a Berber expression meaning "place of the winds",[1] the city was selected as the capital city for its moderate climate and central location within the country.[2] It did, however, sit on one of the most valuable trade routes to West Africa.[1]

Street scene in Nouakchott

Mauritania was part of the larger French colony of French West Africa, and as such had no capital during the colonial period: Saint-Louis, in Senegal, held that position. In 1957, this small port town was chosen to be the capital of the new country, and an ambitious building program was begun to increase its population to 15,000, starting a year later.[3] In 1958, Mauritania was formed as an autonomous republic in the French Community, and in 1960 it became an independent country, with Nouakchott as its capital.

Since independence

The city was attacked in 1976 by the Polisario Front, as part of the Western Sahara independence movement.[4] Between 1988 and 1989, racial tensions between Arabs and blacks escalated. There was discrimination and relaliation by Arabs and blacks.[5] The were also three days of "bread riots" starting January 21, 1995.[5]

The city has had rapid growth, driven by the north African drought since the beginning of the 1970s: many have moved to the city in search of a better life.[1] The population is estimated to have been just under 1,000,000 in 2000, and to have grown to above 2,000,000 as of 2008.[6]

There is currently a large amount of Chinese investment in Mauritania, focused on the city.[1]

Geography

Nouakchott seen from Spot Satellite

Located on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara Desert, it lies on the west coast of Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. With the exception of Nouakchott Wharf and a deep water port, the coastal strip is mostly left empty and allowed to flood. The coastline includes shifting sandbanks, and a sandy beaches.[1] There are also areas of quicksand close to the harbour.[7] The city is being covered by the sand dunes advancing from its eastern side (salmon-coloured on image to left), which pose a daily problem.[8] There have been efforts to save particular areas, including work by Jean Meunier.[9] The city is largely flat.[4]

Due to the rapid build-up, the city is quite spread out, with few tall buildings. Most buildings are one-storey only.[4] It also often acts as an interface between urban Mauritanians and their nomadic fellow citizens.

Nouakchott is built around a large tree-lined street, Avenue Abdel Nasir, which runs northeast through the city centre from the airport. 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.[10]

The city is broken into numbered Arrondissements, sub-divided into alphabetised Îlots. The Cinquième Arrondissement is home to a large shopping area.[10]

Climate

Temperatures range between 34 °C (93.2 °F) and 13 °C (55.4 °F), and the average rainfall is 159 millimetres (6.3 in) a year.

Weather data for Nouakchott
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36
(97)
39
(102)
41
(106)
43
(109)
46
(115)
46
(115)
43
(109)
42
(108)
44
(111)
43
(109)
42
(108)
37
(99)
46
(115)
Average high °C (°F) 29
(84)
31
(88)
32
(90)
32
(90)
34
(93)
33
(91)
32
(90)
32
(90)
34
(93)
33
(91)
32
(90)
28
(82)
32
(90)
Average low °C (°F) 14
(57)
15
(59)
17
(63)
18
(64)
21
(70)
23
(73)
23
(73)
24
(75)
24
(75)
22
(72)
18
(64)
13
(55)
19
(66)
Record low °C (°F) 7
(45)
9
(48)
11
(52)
12
(54)
14
(57)
18
(64)
21
(70)
20
(68)
22
(72)
17
(63)
13
(55)
7
(45)
7
(45)
Precipitation mm (inches) 0
(0)
3
(0.12)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
3
(0.12)
13
(0.51)
104
(4.09)
23
(0.91)
10
(0.39)
3
(0.12)
0
(0)
159
(6.26)
Source: BBC Weather [11] 2009-08-18

Government

Aerial view of Nouakchott.

The town was first divided into districts (moughataa) in 1973. First it was divided into four. From 1986, the city has been split into nine districts.[12]

  • Arafat
  • Dar Naim
  • El Mina
  • Ksar
  • Riad
  • Sebkha
  • Tevragh-Zeina
  • Teyarett
  • Toujounine

Demographics

Market in Nouakchott.

For comparison, its population was only 20,000 in 1969 and 150,000 in 1980. Part of the difficulty in estimating the city's population is that part of it is literally nomadic, setting up tents in suitable locations, then packing up when the need strikes. Some estimates put the 2008 population at over 2 million; more conservative estimates put that number at 800,000, itself estimated to be close to one-third of the country's population.[6]

Slum resettlement

In 2009, the government of Mauritania announced that it would begin a process of clearing the slum on the outskirts of Nouakchott. 24,000 families would eventually be relocated to planned housing within the city. The process is 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 plans to begin moving families in June 2009 despite concerns from aid agencies that needed infrastructure cannot be put in place in the receiving neighbourhood.[13]

Infrastructure and administration

Street in Nouakchott

Nouakchott has a deep-sea port, opened in 1986, primarily used for imports. Annually, imports account for around 96.4% of traffic at the port. It handles 500,000[1]—800,000[14] tonnes of cargo a year. Recently, China has agreed to invest US$282 million in the port, aiming to extend the main quay, the deepwater Quay of Friendship, by 500m.[1] A 1,100 kilometers (684 mi) road connects the city with Néma via Boutilimit and Kiffa.[1] The city also features an international airport, Nouakchott International Airport.[15] Road transport is problematic, the main problem being overcrowded roads. Fuel for cars is also hard to obtain in Nouakchott.[16]

An agreement was signed on August 5, 2007 between Mauritania, Sudan, and China to build $630m Mauritania Railway linking the port of Nouakchott and phosphate mines at Bofal, about 430 km away. The line goes near the border with Senegal.

The city is home to the US Embassy.[17] As of 2000, it is the home to over 30 international or diplomatic institutions.[14]

Industry

Aalt, cement, insecticides, rugs, carpets, embroidery, and craft products are produced in Nouakchott, with the port also exporting copper.[18] As of 2000, there are over 30 small or middle-sized factories in the city.[14] Administration and financial enterprises are also important.[4]

Fresh water

Although the rocks beneath the city contained a vast reservoir of fresh water, known as the Trarza Lake, fresh water is running out due to the large growth of the city.[19] Engineers have warned it could run out by 2054, since it is not rain-fed, and is therefore non-renewable. The problem is particularly bad in the sandy shanty towns where the majority of the population lives.[19]

Many people already have to buy water, which is expensive compared with the average wage in the city.[19]

Education

The city is home to the Université de Nouakchott,[20] which is the only university in Mauritania and was opened in 1981. Approximately 8000 students study there, and it has a considerable impact on the city, according to some. Other higher education facilities include the National School of Administration, and the National Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies. There are many primary and secondary schools, and an American International School of Nouakchott.

Culture and religion

Nouakchott Stadium
Fish market at the Nouakchott beach.

Attractions in Nouakchott include Nouakchott Museum, several markets including Nouakchott Silver Market, and the beaches.[10] One beach is devoted to fishing boats where various species of fish can be bought fresh. The city also hosts the National Library and National Archives. Nouakchott is the principal location in Africa for world distribution of native Saharan meteorites.

There is a mosque donated by Saudi Arabia in the city centre, and a Morrocan mosque further south.[6] Although Islam is the state religion in Mauritania, Nouakchott includes the Cathedral of St. Joseph, a Catholic cathedral. It is home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nouakchott, founded in 1965.[21]

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Nouakchott is twinned with:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mauritania". OTAL. http://www.otal.com/mauritania/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-08.  
  2. ^ Cities of the World, Vol. 1, p331; Brian Rajewski, ed., for Eastword Publications Development Inc., Cleveland, Ohio; Gale Research, Detroit, 1999. ISBN 0-8103-7692-X.
  3. ^ Nouakchott. Questia. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Nouakchott. LookLex. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  5. ^ a b Mauritania:History. LookLex. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Nouakchott Travel Guide. World66. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  7. ^ Harbor in Nouakchott marks China-Mauritania freindship. China View. Published 2009-07-28. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  8. ^ Nouakchott, Mauritania. NASA Earth Observatory. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  9. ^ Sand: The Never-Ending Story. Michael Welland. 2009. p.168.
  10. ^ a b c The Rough Guide of West Africa. Jim Hudgens, Richard Trillo. 2003. pp.116–7
  11. ^ "Average Conditions Nouakchott, Mauritania". BBC Weather. http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_guides/results.shtml?tt=TT000400. Retrieved August 18 2009.  
  12. ^ "Actualité du dimanche 01juillet 2001". Ami.mr. http://www.ami.mr/fr/bulletin20010701.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-08.  
  13. ^ Mauritania: City versus slum. IRIN News, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 31 March 2009
  14. ^ a b c d Sister Cities. Official Gansu Website. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  15. ^ "Nouakchott International Airport (NKC)". AirGorilla. http://www.airgorilla.com/airports/africa/mauritania/nouakchott-nkc.html. Retrieved 25 August 2009.  
  16. ^ Nouakchott:Place of winds. LookLex. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  17. ^ About the Embassy. U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  18. ^ Nouakchott. Hutchinson encyclopedia. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  19. ^ a b c Desert capital struggles with water crisis. Medilinks. 2004. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  20. ^ Home. Université de Nouakchott. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  21. ^ Diocese of Nouakchott. Catholic-Hierarchy. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  22. ^ Madrid city council webpage "Mapa Mundi de las ciudades hermanadas". Ayuntamiento de Madrid. http://www.munimadrid.es/portal/site/munimadrid/menuitem.dbd5147a4ba1b0aa7d245f019fc08a0c/?vgnextoid=4e84399a03003110VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=4e98823d3a37a010VgnVCM100000d90ca8c0RCRD&vgnextfmt=especial1&idContenido=1da69a4192b5b010VgnVCM100000d90ca8c0RCRD Madrid city council webpage.  
  23. ^ Amman’s Relations with Other Cities. Municipality of Greater Annam. Accessed 25 August 2009.
  • Armelle Choplin et Riccardo Ciavolella, 2008. " Marges de la ville en marge du politique ? Logiques d’exclusion, de dépendance et d’autonomie à Nouakchott (Mauritanie) », Autrepart, n°45. (French)
  • Choplin A., 2006. Fabriquer des villes-capitales entre monde arabe et Afrique noire: Nouakchott (Mauritanie) et Khartoum (Soudan), étude comparée. Université Paris 1, 535 p. (French)
  • Choplin A., 2006. Le foncier urbain en Afrique: entre informel et rationnel, l’exemple de Nouakchott, Mauritanie, Les annales de géographie, n°647, pp. 69–91. (French)
  • Anne-Marie Frérot, Nouakchott, du puits nomade à la ville des pétroliers. Risques et représentations, Maghreb-Machrek, n°190, c.December 2006-2007. (French)
  • Philippe Tanguy, « L'urbanisation irrégulière à Nouakchott: 1960-2000 », Insaniyat, n°22, October - December 2003, (vol. VII, 4). (French)
  • Diagana I., 1993. Croissance urbaine et dynamique spatiale à Nouakchott, Thèse doct.: géographie: Lyon II, 314 p. (French)
  • Pitte J.-R., 1977. Nouakchott, capitale de la Mauritanie. Paris : Univ. de Paris-Sorbonne, p. 200. (French)
  • FallingRain Map - elevation = 7m

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Nouakchott is the largest city in and capital of Mauritania.

Get in

By plane

Flights connect Nouakchott with Dakar, Paris, Casablanca, Tunis and Las Palmas. Air Mauritanie, the longtime national carrier, went bust in 2007. It's worth asking around for the most recent information.

By road

From/to Nouadhibou (470 km, ca. 6 hours): the most comfortable option, a Mercedes taking 4 passengers, costs from 4000 ougiya. Sept-places are also available. It is also possible to arrange direct transport from Dakhla in Western Sahara. Ask in Hotel Sahara. The duration of the trip depends mostly on border formalities.

From/to Rosso: cars to Rosso (border with Senegal) depart from Garage Rosso south of town (taxi from the centre - ca. 500 oug). The journey takes approx. 3 hours and costs about 3000 oug in a Mercedes.

Get around

Taxis around town cost up to 200 oug, to the fishing port west of town (Port de Peche) - 300 oug.

See

Five kilometers west from central Nouakchott are beaches, the fishing wharf and two seaside hotels.

  • Head to the bustling fishing wharf 'port de peche' for a firsthand look at Mauritania's artisanal fishing industry. At evenings one can see teams of fishermen bring in the day's catch on brightly painted sea-canoes. The catch is sold on the sport and loaded onto donkey carts or ancient Renault 12's to be resold in town.

The Nouakchottois go to the beaches on weekend evenings (especially in the hot season). Swimming in the sea at Nouakchott can be dangerous due to the treacherous and strong current.

  • Franco-Mauritanian Cultural Center: movies, concerts, exhibits etc.
  • Stade Olympique: run laps at the stade olympique, or watch a soccer match.

Fishing: surf-casting is possible from the beaches near Nouakchott. Bring your own equipment. Some basic fishing supplies can be bought from lebanese-owned shops in Nouakchott. Travel in groups only for security reasons.

Buy

Traditional mauritanian handicrafts are available in hotels, at the museum, and in shops catering to tourists at the top of Avenue Kennedy. Silver jewelery - such as bracelets and earrings - make popular souvenirs. Rugs made of camel wool can also be purchased. Items from Mauritania's fast-disappearing nomadic lifestyle - camel saddles and wooden chests - can be purchased.

Unfortunately many items for sale in Nouakchott are of shoddy workmanship. Be prepared for some determined tracking down to find a quality piece. Dakar, Senegal is also a good place to purchase jewelery from moorish silversmiths.

  • Markets: the Marche Capitale and Marche Sixieme are the most interesting for purchasing local specialities and souvenirs. The Camel Market on the outskirts of town on the road to Boutilimit makes an original visit.[[
  • The Novotel (Tfeila) and Hotel Mercure set the standard for nice places to stay, but you will pay European prices.
  • Hotel Halima, just behind the Novotel, is slightly less expensive.
  • In central Nouakchott, the Hotel Houda and Atlas are not bad options. Other mid-range hotels include Park Hotel and Amane on Ave Nasser and Hotel Mouna north of the Novotel/Tfeila.
  • Auberge Menata, [1]. Owner speaks English. Help with renting a car and a guide. High reputation with former guests. Dorms with shared facilities from 2500 ougiya per person, tent from 1500 ougiya.
  • Auberge JMC, behind the Novotel, - rooms start from 10000 oug. WiFi available. It's not signposted - look for flowers on the front fence.
  • Residence Zahra, opposite Hotel Halima and the Russian embassy, has clean and spacious rooms with ac, bathrooms, TV and wireless internet from 12000 oug.
  • There is also a hotel out at the beach with "hut" rooms and a big dining room overlooking the water.

There are also a couple of camping places not far away.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

Nouakchott

  1. The capital of Mauritania.

Translations


Simple English

Nouakchott
نواكشوط
Coordinates: 18°6′N 15°57′W / 18.1°N 15.95°W / 18.1; -15.95
Country Mauritania
District Nouakchott
Government
 - Mayor Didi Ould Bounaama
Population (1999)
 - Total 881,000
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)

Nouakchott (Arabic: نواكشوط or انواكشوط) is the capital city of the n county of Mauritania. It is the largest city in that country and one of the largest cities on the Sahara Desert. The city is the administrative and economic centre of Mauritania. The Arabic name is said to mean "The place of winds" in the language of the Berber people.

The city is often a place where the urban Mauritanians and the nomadic people of the area can interact.

The population of Nouakchott is about 881,000 people. It is hard to know exactly how many people live in the city because many of them are nomadic. They find a good place to live, set up their tent for a short time and then move to somewhere else.

Although Islam is the state religion in Mauritania, Nouakchott includes the Cathedral of St. Joseph, a Catholic cathedral.

Nouakchott has a deep-sea port. It was opened in 1986. The port is mainly used for imports. The city also features an international airport. The city is home to the Université de Nouakchott. It is the only university in Mauritania. Things to see in Nouakchott include Nouakchott Museum, several markets including Nouakchott Silver Market, and the beaches.

Contents

History

Nouakchott has very little history. It was a tiny fishing town until 1958. It is possible that the Berber Muslim Almoravids came from the area. The city was selected as the capital city for its mild climate and its location near the center of the country.[1]

Mauritania was part of the larger French colony of French West Africa. During that time, Saint-Louis, in Senegal was the capital. In 1957, this small port town was chosen to be the capital of the new country. A building program was begun to grow its population to 15,000. In 1962, Nouakchott became the capital of an independent country.

The city has much growth. Because of the north African drought since the beginning of the 1970s many people have moved to the city.

Geography

Nouakchott is located on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara Desert. The city is very spread out. It has only a few tall buildings.

Nouakchott is built around a large tree-lined street, Avenue Abd an-Nasir. This street runs northeast through the city center from the airport. Other major streets are named (in French) for notable Mauritanian people, or international people of the 1960s: Avenue de Gaulle, Avenue Kennedy, and Avenue Lumumba, for example.

Temperatures range between 33°C (92°F) and 13 °C (56 °F). The average rainfall is 178mm (7in) a year.

References

  1. Cities of the World, Vol. 1, p331; Brian Rajewski, ed., for Eastword Publications Development Inc., Cleveland, Ohio; Gale Research, Detroit, 1999. ISBN 0-8103-7692-X.

Other websites

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