City (pop., 2000: 558,195; 2005 est.: 743,500), capital of Mauritania. It is on a plateau near the Atlantic coast of western African, north-northeast of Dakar, Senegal. It was a small village until Mauritania was granted full independence from France in 1960. Then the city was developed as the capital of the new nation. It was a major refugee centre during the Saharan droughts of the 1970s and grew rapidly. A port facility was built nearby for the export of petroleum and copper.