Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, is a stark, dusty desert outpost on the edge of the Sahara. I'm told that sand dunes often shift into the city covering roads and streets which for the most part are unpaved. Driving is chaotic and crowded with handicapped beggars sitting in the middle of the streets reaching towards the car windows on both sides. Camels and donkeys are also common along the roads. The city is on the Atlantic and it's biggest tourist draw is probably the fish market. Expats and diplomats can also visit nice beaches on the weekends but there are few amenities so they usually have to take a lot with them. Most of the city's buildings are single story and with the dirt roads, appear much like early towns of the American West. The people are a mix of Sub-Saharan African and Tuareg tribes with small French, Arab and Lebanese communities controlling much of the country's commerce.
|Map of Mauritania|
Last year CNN ran a program which claimed that Mauritania is the world's last stronghold of slavery, with 10 to 20 percent of the population being held as slaves. Here is a link with pictures: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/03/world/mauritania.slaverys.last.stronghold/index.html
Some social scientists have protested the program's use of the term slavery, indicating it is more a form of racism with one people considering itself superior to another and trying to enforce this superiority. This seems to me like splitting hairs.
Here are a few more links on Mauritania: