The city of Chinguetti was founded at the end of the 13th century. At that time, many scholars took up residence there and founded Koranic universities. As an important stopover point for the caravan trade, the city's population peaked in the 18th century when it reached 40,000 inhabitants. In the 20th century, with the decline of the trans-Saharan trade, the people who lived there made for Atar or Nouakchott. Today the city accounts for no more than 4,000 people and conceals an outstanding amount of cultural and architectural treasures. The 13th century mosque boasts a wonderfully preserved minaret and the many libraries of the city hold thousands of manuscripts, kept with great care despite the lack of financial means. Unfortunately though, the city is threatened by the advance of the desert and although it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, if nothing gets done about it, it could disappear under the sand in the next forty years.