Nouakchott Travel Guide

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Nouakchott is the capital of Mauritania. When Mauritania was still part of French West-Africa it did not have a capital city; most of its inhabitants were nomads. Nouakchott was founded at the independence in 1960. Since it has grown at an incredible rate and now a third of the population of the country lives in the city; that means 800,000 people  (some reports suggest however that the population is 2.3 Million in 2008).

The city is quite spread out -no high buildings- and does not have a lot of monuments. There is a good beach nearby, with high waves and a somewhat dangerous undertow. There is a market that is good fun but not good value for money and there are a few mosques you might want to have a look at, but that's about it. When you're here, you'll end up walking in the streets, and go down to the endless beach. Inside Nouakchott, the city centre is active and with entertaining market activities going on, mainly in the early hours of the day. The Cinquième district is an even better market, where handicrafts can be seen or bought. Prices are high here, and the handicrafts, being of very good quality, are unfortunately not worth the price. Of buildings to be seen, Nouakchott is too young to offer anything of high age. The mosque donated by Saudi Arabia in the town centre, is impressive. So is the Moroccan one, further south.

Nouakchott does provide you with the opportunity to get your first impressions of life in Mauritania. Even when they are living in the city a nomad is still a nomad. You will see tents pitched in gardens or along the streets and the tea ceremony that played a pivotal role in desert life, is still the centre of every day life.

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