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Moving to Nouakchott

As one of the largest cities of the Sahara, Nouakchott is a multicultural hub due to the strong French colonial influence. If you are thinking about moving to Nouakchott, check this article for info on visas, an introduction to the city itself, and some facts on the local desert climate.

About the City

One of the Sahara's largest cities, Nouakchott has a population of just under a million, but estimates vary, since many inhabitants follow a nomadic lifestyle. Those moving to Nouakchott will find a small community of expats, but it's fairly easy to meet others if you wish.

As the capital of Mauritania, Nouakchott is a cultural and business hub, with most of the country's banking institutions set there. However, it is still a fishing village at heart, with a mostly cash-based economy. 

There's still a strong French colonial influence in Nouakchott, with many locals speaking both Arabic and French. You'll often see a slightly European influence on some of the city's architecture, with other buildings such as the Grande Mosquée, a focal point of the town, having a Berber influence.

Nouakchott is a cultural center for Mauritania, and a great place to learn about the country's traditions and history, with small museums and performance spaces to enjoy.

The Climate in Nouakchott

Those who move to Nouakchott will need to adapt to a hot desert climate, and it tends to be warm and sunny all year round, with average high temperatures ranging between 29°C and 35°C during the day.

During the winter months of December to February, it can drop as low as 14°C, but you'll still enjoy eight to nine hours of sunshine a day.

Being at the heart of the Sahara Desert, there are barely any rainy days - around seven on average throughout the whole year in the north - although the south will occasionally have wet and humid periods. The nights can be cold in the winter, as lowest temperatures are around 10°C.

Visas for Mauritania

Anyone visiting Mauritania, besides citizens from a few selected African countries, needs to apply for a visa at a Mauritanian embassy. If you don't have an embassy in your country, then you can usually apply to your nearest one.

It can be a long process, so it's best to apply as soon as possible, and to make sure you have at least six months validity left on your passport. The levels of visa cover transits and stays of up to one month, one to three months, or three month to one year, with tourist/business, diplomatic, and official visas available.

When applying for a visa, you'll need to send off an application form, passport photograph, your passport, a flight and hotel confirmation, yellow fever certificate, and a letter of invitation from the organization you'll be working for when in Mauritania.

Whether you're moving to Nouakchott, or just visiting, it's important to note that you need a return ticket in order to enter the country. 

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Sharon McGinnis

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