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Commune and town
A street in Nouadhibou
A street in Nouadhibou
Nouadhibou is located in Mauritania
Location in Mauritania
Coordinates: 20°56′N 17°2′W / 20.933°N 17.033°W / 20.933; -17.033Coordinates: 20°56′N 17°2′W / 20.933°N 17.033°W / 20.933; -17.033
Country Flag of Mauritania.svg Mauritania
Region Dakhlet Nouadhibou Region
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2013 census)
 • Total 118,167

Nouadhibou (Arabic: نواذيبو‎; formerly Port-Étienne) is the second largest city in Mauritania and serves as a major commercial centre. The city itself has about 118,000 inhabitants expanding to over 140,000 in the larger metropolitan area. It is situated on a 65-kilometre peninsula or headland called Ras Nouadhibou, Cap Blanc, or Cabo Blanco, of which the western side, with the city of La Güera, is part of Western Sahara. Nouadhibou is consequently located merely a couple of kilometers from the border between Mauritania and Western Sahara.


The city is divided into four major areas: the city centre, including the airport; Numerowatt to the north; Cansado, the main residential area, to the south; and a dormitory town for Port Minéralier in the far south, from which iron ore mined in Zouerat is exported.

Ships in Nouadhibou's habour

Attractions in Nouadibou include the Table Remarquable, several markets, a ships' graveyard and Mediterranean monk seals.

The port of Nouadhibou is the final resting place of over 300 ships and hence the world’s largest ship graveyard. Unlike the arrival en masse of ships at Mallows Bay, here the number of craft has built up over time, as corrupt officials accepted bribes from boat owners to allow them to dump their vessels in the area.

The major economic activity is fishing; however, the largest industry is processing iron ore that is transported by train from the interior mining towns of Zouérat and Fdérik.

On 30 June 1973, at the time of the second-longest solar eclipse in the 20th century, an Aerobee rocket was launched at Nouadhibou for solar research.[1]

From February 2006 onwards Nouadhibou has become the departure point for African migrants trying to reach the Canary Islands. This extremely dangerous route to reach the European Union has become popular as a result of increased emigration controls along the Moroccan coast and around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the second half of 2005.

The city is reputedly also a centre of trading of meteorites found in the Sahara.[1]


Paved roads[edit]

Nouadhibou is linked with the Coastal Motorway RN2 to the capital Nouakchott (a distance of 450 km) and by highway to the Moroccan border in the north (a distance of 70 km).


Nouadhibou also is connected by railway to the iron mines in Zouérat, 670 km to the east. The freight trains can be as long as 3 km, reputedly the longest in the world. The railway also carries passengers and calls at Choum.


The city is served by Nouadhibou Airport.


  1. ^ "Meteorite smugglers anger scientists". London: BBC. 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 

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