Mauritania is located in the Western part of North Africa. It is bordered by Atlantic Ocean, Algeria, Mali, and Senegal. Mauritania derived its name from the ancient Kingdom of Mauritania which existed between 3rd and 7th century. Most of the country is in the Sahara with the population concentration in the south. The capital city, Nouakchott, is the largest city in the country and the most populous, a home to about 30% of the country’s 3.5 million people.
The Four Biggest Cities In Mauritania
Nouakchott, meaning “place of the winds” is both the capital and the largest city in Mauritania and also one of the largest in the Sahara. It is the Mauritania’s administrative and the economic center. Nouakchott was initially a small village of little significance until 1958 when it was selected as the capital of Mauritania. It was built to accommodate a maximum of 15,000 people but the effects of drought, famine, and increased desertification in the 70s drove many people towards Nouakchott leading to a massive urban growth and overcrowding. Nouakchott currently has a population of over one million people. The slum areas of the city are under poor conditions with few amenities to meet the high demands. Nouakchott is Mauritania’s economic hub and home to deepwater port and two international airports. It is also an educational center with country’s main university and other institutions of higher learning.
Nouadhibou is Mauritania’s major commercial center and its second largest city. The city has a population of about 73,000 inhabitants expanding to over 100,000 in the larger metropolitan area. Nouadhibou is located few kilometers from the border between Mauritania and Western Sahara. It is divided into four major parts including the city center and the residential area. The major attractions in Nouadhibou include graveyards, markets, and monk seals. The port is the world’s largest ship graveyard providing a final resting place for over 300 ships. Fishing is the primary economic activity in Nouadhibou while the biggest industry is iron ore.
Néma is located in the Southeast Mauritania close to the border with Mali. The urban population of Néma is approximately 60,000 while the surrounding rural area served by the city has a population of almost 150,000 inhabitants. Néma is connected to the capital city, Nouakchott, by the famous Road of Hope. The hospital in Néma has only ten doctors. However, there are numerous NGOs providing health services in the city including Sante Sud and Peace Corps. The common means of transport in Néma is by road with constant traffic towards the border with Mali.
Kaédi is the administrative center for the Gorgol Region of Mauritania. It is among the most diverse cities in Mauritania consisting of various ethnic groups. It is a center for local farmers with agriculture as the primary economic activity. Kaédi is also known as a market town and medical center. The unusual architecture of the Kaédi Regional Hospital constructed in 1989 is a major tourist attraction. Kaédi was deeply affected by ethnic clashes of 1989 and is yet to recover fully.
General Characteristics Of Mauritania's Cities
Almost all the cities of Mauritania have witnessed a high rate of population growth in the last two decades leading to overcrowding and spread of slums. The large population has led to the poor housing and poor hygiene. Crime rates in the urban areas have gone high because of lack of meaningful employment among the youths. Pollution of all kind characterizes the cities despite government efforts to control pollution.