Located in the homonymous district, Port Louis is the capital and largest city of Mauritius. It is listed as the main port of the island, it had a population of 147,688 residents in 2003.
According to abbreviationfinder, Port Louis was founded in 1735 by French settlers, although today it is a city inhabited by descendants of Indian, Chinese, African and European immigrants.
The Dutch took possession of Mauritius in 1638. During the first years of their arrival, they occupied two points on the island, the bay of the Grand Harbor known at that time as Warwyck Haven and Port Louis, which was called Noord-Wester Haven (North West Port in Dutch). The place changed its name several times, depending on who occupied the island.
At the beginning of the French colonization, the place was called Port Louis. The origin of the name is unclear. Some researchers claim that it was named after King Louis XV (Louis XV). Others suppose that the site was named in memory of Port Louis in Brittany. In 1729, Nicolás Maupin became the first administrator of the entire island. Under his administration, Port Louis became the administrative capital and main port, to the detriment of Port Bourbon (Grand Harbor). The French East India Company sent the engineer Cossigny in 1732 to help build fortifications and the port of the city.
The major construction works were carried out under the command of Bertrand François Mahé de Labourdonnais. This arrived on the island in 1735 and in less than ten years, Port Louis was endowed with defense constructions, as well as hospitals, granaries, etc. The capital took shape thanks to the work of African slaves and some artisans who arrived from the Indian city of Madras.
From 1767 to 1790, the island of France passed under the royal guardianship. The last years of the administration of the East India Company were marked by inattention from the authorities and the crown.
From 1772 to 1781, the port was enlarged, allowing Port Louis to become a strategic base for French operations in India and during the United States’ war of independence. In 1804, the city took the name of Port Napoleon, in honor of the newly crowned emperor.
The city’s population is basically made up of the descendants of workers employed by the French East India Company in the 19th century. Slaves had already been introduced a century earlier by the British and French who tried to conquer the island.
In 1835, when slavery was abolished, hundreds of Chinese and Indian laborers arrived, employed in agricultural jobs, such as gathering sugar cane to make rum.
Currently the population is made up of 50% Indians, the majority followers of the Hindu faith, a large percentage of Africans and a minority of Chinese and Indo-Europeans. See population of Mauritius.
The city’s industry is dominated by textiles, although chemicals such as plastics and pharmaceuticals are also of great importance.
Most of the city’s inputs come from port activity, which handles most of the Mauritian trade. The port has become a dynamic port, in 2005 some 300,000 transshipment movements were calculated by the port authorities.
Tourism is another of the activities that generates the most income for the city, the number of tourists has increased considerably in recent years, which has allowed a diversification of the local industry.
Places of interest
The Aapravasi Ghat, a group of buildings declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Plaine Verte, inaugurated on October 5, 1805 under French rule.
Following the coast, and leaving Port-Louis behind, are the famous beaches of Pointe-aux-Piments, Bala-clava, Montchoisy, Trou-aux-Biches and Perebère. To the west the coastline stretches from Port-Louis to Morne Brabant. In all this part of the island, the sea and the mountains embrace each other permanently, the white sand beaches and the green slopes, the lost villages and the great hotels. There you will find the longest beaches: Tamarin, Wolmar and Flic en Flac (12 km). Rivière Noire is famous for having made Mauritius the world number one in deep-sea fishing.
Around Le Morne, the beaches are splendid and the marine fauna is very rich. Further to the east, beaten by the sea and whipped by a powerful wind, the coastline contrasts with the quiet beaches of other coasts. The east coast is ideal for surfing in summer (June-September) when the sea and the Southeast trade winds are most virulent. This coastline, with its changing terrain, has great surprises in store for you: it goes abruptly from rocky shores to beautiful stretches of beach and even to impressive cliffs.
South of Trou d’Eau Douce, the rugged coastline opens for 11 km. of beach that forms a long band of fine sand. Be sure to go to the Island of the Deer (Ile aux Cerfs), a true gem located in the most beautiful lagoon in the world. Among the protected areas is the Gorges de la Riviere Noire National Park, in the extreme south-west of the island. Other reserves include Le Pouce, and the islands of Ronde, Serpente, Aigrettes and Bois.