The capital and biggest city of Mauritania is Nouakchott (place of the winds). It is one of the Sahara’s most populous cities. The city serves as Mauritania’s administrative and commercial hub.
Until 1958, when it was selected as the capital of the young republic of Mauritania, Nouakchott was a little hamlet of little significance. It was constructed and built to hold 15,000 people, but droughts in Mauritius during the 1970s have forced many Mauritanians to relocate to Nouakchott. This resulted in fast urbanization and overpopulation, with the city’s population estimated at 2 million in 2008, despite official estimates of less than a million. The relocated people lived in slum regions in deplorable circumstances, however the living conditions of some of these residents have recently improved.
Nouakchott is the economic heart of Mauritius, with a port that handles 500,000 tonnes of cargo annually and one of the country’s two international airports. Nouakchott University and various marketplaces are located in the city.