Ancient Ksours of 
Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata (1996)

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UNESCO (France) 1983. The Mosque of Chinguetti (Mauritania).

Founded in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the caravans crossing the Sahara, these trading and religious centres became focal points of Islamic culture. They have managed to preserve an urban fabric that evolved between the 12th and 16th centuries. Typically, houses with patios crowd along narrow streets around a mosque with a square minaret. They illustrate a traditional way of life centred on the nomadic culture of the people of the western Sahara. 
  • UNESCO (France) 1983. The Mosque of Chinguetti (Mauritania). 
Mauritania is often considered a bridge between the sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb.. Each of these influences meets the north and the south of the Country. Their confluence makes the whole wealth and originality of the Mauritanian culture. It has shaped the history, the society and the political situation of Mauritania, either through islamisation, arabization, or through convergences of interests (economic, political or social...) between the different ethnic groups that live in the country. 

Mauritania shelters a majority of Moorish blacks, and an important minority of different tribes of sub-Saharan Africa: Soninke or Sarakolles, Pulaar, Hal Pulaaren - ‘Peuls and Toucouleurs’ - and Wolof. 

  • French West Africa 1947. Mauritanian Woman. 

French West Africa 1947. Mauritanian Woman.

Mauritania 1983. Mauritanian Ksours. 18 um. Chinguetti. Mauritania 1983. Mauritanian Ksours. 44 um. City Wall of Ouadane. Mauritania 1983. Mauritanian Ksours. 30 um. Ruins of Tichitt. Mauritania 1983. The Mauritanian Ksours. 24 um. Sair Case and Decorated Panels in Oualata.

French West Africa 1947. Rifle Dance in Mauritania.

For a long time, this population was essentially nomadic (until 1960 and the independence). It is one of the most characteristic cultural features of Mauritania. The ancient cities welcoming the caravans - the "Ksours" - testify this inheritance. It is notably the case of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt, and Oualata. 

The political and economic agenda of Mauritania is dominated by fight against poverty. Concerning development, its main priorities are the stability of the medium-term growth, a social sustainable development (education, human rights, access to basic health services, etc.), the establishment of egalitarian and pacific ethnic relations, and a better integration into the international community. Mauritania is unfortunately one of the countries in the world with more limited resources. Close to the half of its population lives below the poverty line. 

  • French West Africa 1947. Rifle Dance in Mauritania. 
Mauritania 2003. Mauritanian Ksours. 100 um. Mosque of Chinguetti. Mauritania 2003. Mauritanian Ksours. 880 um. Mosque of Tichitt. Mauritania 2003. Mauritanian Ksours. 220 um. Mosque of Ouadane. Mauritania 2003. Mauritanian Ksours. 660 um. Oualata.

In its justification for inscription the UNESCO states that these four ancient cities constitute exceptional examples of settlements built to serve the important trade routes of the Sahara Desert, and which were witness to cultural, social and economic contacts for many centuries. 


Sources and links:

Other World Heritage sites in Mauritania (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Mauritania section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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