Nouakchott (/nwɑːkˈʃɒt/, Arabic: نواكشوط Nuwākshūṭ, originally derived from Berber Nawākšūṭ, "place of the winds") is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahara. The city is the administrative and economic centre 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 since the 1970s have displaced a vast number of Mauritanians, who resettled in Nouakchott. This caused rapid urban growth and overcrowding, with the city having an estimated population of 2 million in 2008 despite the official figures being under a million. The resettled population inhabited slum areas under poor conditions, but the living conditions of a portion of these inhabitants have since been ameliorated. Nouakchott is the hub of the Mauritanian economy and is home to a port that handles 500,000 tonnes of cargo per year and one of the country's two international airports (the other is Nouadhibou, the country's second largest city and a major port, in the north. A significant part of the population had led a nomadic lifestyle, but massive droughts in the 1970s and following years brought about significant urbanization, with many former nomads setting up tents and relocating within the city. The city hosts the University of Nouakchott and several markets. Wikipedia
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