Nouadhibou (; Arabic: نواذيبو, romanized: Nwādībū, Berber: Nwadibu, formerly in French: Port-Étienne) is the second largest city in Mauritania and serves as a major commercial center. The city has about 118,000 inhabitants. It is situated on a 65-kilometre peninsula or headland called Ras Nouadhibou (Berber: Ighef Nwadibu), Cap Blanc, or Cabo Blanco, of which the western side has the city of La Güera. Nouadhibou is consequently located merely a couple of kilometers from the border between Mauritania and Morocco. Its current Mayor is Elghassem Ould Bellali, who was installed on 15 October 2018.

The town was established as a small fishing port, controlled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the French.[1]

In 1907 by decree of the governor-general of French West Africa Ernest Roume, it was renamed Port-Étienne after the former French Minister of the Colonies Eugène Étienne.[2] After Mauritania became independent in 1960, the town name changed to Nouadhibou.

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.[3]

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-controlled coast and around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the second half of 2005.

The city is reputedly also a center of trading of meteorites found in the Sahara.[4]

Population history Population of the commune of Nouadhibou (2000—2013) Year Population 2000[5]
72,337
2013[5]
118,167
^ Wilaya de Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Garde Nationale ^ Jean Abel Gruvel, Les pêcheries des côtes du Sénégal et des rivières du Sud, A. Challamel, Paris, 1908, p. 13 ISBN 2-11-091134-4 ^ "Nouadhibou". www.astronautix.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved Mar 13, 2019. ^ "Meteorite smugglers anger scientists". BBC. London. 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2007-06-23. ^ a b Mauritania, citypopulation.de
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