Nouakchott is the capital city of Mauritania. It is located near the West African Atlantic coast and was developed as the capital of Mauritania after it gained independence in 1960.
In the past Mauritania lay on one of the most lucrative trade routes in West Africa. It came under control of the Almoravid dynasty of Morocco, and later of the Arabs. Ultimately, France took control of Mauritania and maintained it till Mauritania's independence in 1960.
During the Saharan droughts in the 1970's, Nouakchott became a major refugee center. Also, rapid urbanization and mass migration to the city resulted in an increase in the city's population. Today, the city has a population of at least 600,000 people.
The city is focussed around a square called the Place de l'Independence. The University of Nouakchott is located in the city, founded in 1981. There is an industrial area in the city along with a port near the town.
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