Chinguetti, town, central Mauritania, on the Adrar Plateau east of Atar. Founded in the 8th cent., it was a center on several trans-Saharan trade routes by the 13th cent. and also attracted Sunni pilgrims traveling to Mecca. A center as well for Islamic learning in science, religion, mathematics, and law, Chinguetti had some 30 libraries of ancient learning and Quranic texts and some 20,000 inhabitants at its height. Now threatened by increasing desertification, the town still has five libraries, with some 1,300 medieval manuscripts, as well as the Chinguetti Mosque, with its massive square minaret.
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