Shanghai celebrates Mauritania Pavilion Day

13:24, July 20, 2010      

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Actors perform during a ceremony to mark the National Pavilion Day for the Islamic Republic of Mauritania at the 2010 World Expo in shanghai, east China, July 19, 2010. (Xinhua/Liu Ying)

Monday marks the pavilion day of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The northwestern African country covers an area of over a million square kilometers, but more than 80 percent of that is devoured by the Sahara desert.

At the Shanghai Expo, the ancient trade center is not only presenting its glory day's of yester-year, but also its modern development. Let's take a look.

Mauritania Pavilion exhibits a dialogue between two different kinds of cities: the ancient desert cities treasured with traditional lifestyle, and the modern capital city of Nouakchott.

Listed on UNESCO's cultural heritage list in 1996, the ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata was founded in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the caravans crossing the Sahara. These trading and religious centers 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 centered on the western Sahara's nomadic culture.

To get rid of the boiling heat, a tent is preferred by the local people. Even in the capital, tents are easily seen everywhere.

Since the mid 20th century, the center of Mauritania has moved to the costal capital Nouakchott, a home of more than one million people. Water is the key problem for the densely populated city.

Senior consultant of Mauritania pavilion, said, "The water system was constructed with the help of China. It can satisfy the water demand of some 1 million people in the capital. The system can be used until around 2050. The water is from the Senegal river. Stretching 160 kilometers, the system cost between 4-and-500 million US dollars."

Since its debut in Montreal in Canada in 1967, this is the forth time that Mauritania has taken part in the World Expo. To echo the theme "Better City, Better Life", Mauritania's answer is sent through reproducing the ancient desert city and the development of today's modern capital.



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