Nouâdhibou in detail


Known as Port Etienne by the French prior to independence, the site was valued for its calm waters, as opposed to the rough Atlantic-facing side of the peninsula. You can see vestiges of their colonial occupation in a handful of crumbling ruins, including a fort and underground tunnels near the port. Their legacy is even literary: Saint-Exupéry, the famous French pilot and author, penned his memoir Terre des Hommes here, when he was working for the aviation company Aéropostale.

Later, the area evolved into a transshipment point for the colossal amounts of iron ore mined in the desert and the country's primary commercial fishing port. The latter was expanded in 2014, however there's little to none of the catch being processed locally. Change, modernization and development could be coming. Ironically, the dumping ground of discarded ships, once blatantly ignored rusting ecological hazards, have become sites of reef revitalization.