Port Louis is the largest port and a commercial hub of Mauritius, a small island country in the Western Indian Ocean. It is located on the northwest coast of the island and covers an area of 1,555 acres (about 6.3 km2) with a population of about 150 thousand.
Port Louis was an inhabited place before coming of the Europeans. The Dutch landed there in 1598 and decided to make the city a calling place for trade to South Africa. In 1736 the French named Port Louis after Louis XV, the king of France. French influence became part of the culture and lifestyle of the city. The port was very useful as a calling place for ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa while traveling between Europe and East Asia.
Being the capital city of Mauritius, Port Louis serves as the center of commerce, and trade. In recent years, with the rapid development in industry, Port Louis has over one hundred factories; in particular, the city has become the Export Processing Zone of textile mills. The city also boasts of its large sugar dock, which is one of the most modernized special sugar dock in the world. The islands agriculture has a strong focus on sugarcane growing, thus sugar refining accounts for a large proportion of the industry.
The population of the city is now largely made up of the descendants of laborers who were hired for labor from India in the 19th century. Slaves were previously introduced by the French who colonized the island in the 18th century. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, many Indian and Chinese workers were brought to work here and cultivate sugar cane.
Manufacturing is dominated by garments and textiles, but also includes chemicals, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Port Louis also harbors some major schools. The Royal College of Port Louis and the Loreto College of Port Louis are two of the best secondary schools of the country. The Mauritius Institute, which studies the island's flora and fauna and operates a natural history and an art museum, is located here.
Tourism is important, as are high-tech services. The hill-top Citadel dominates the city, which is laid out in a rectangular pattern. Attractions include the Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis Bazaar, the Mauritian Chinatown and the old Port Louis theatre. The capital has also three museums which are: the Mauritius Natural History Museum, the Blue Penny Museum and the Mauritius Stamp Museum. Port Louis offers a wide range of activities such as windsurfing, kayaking, boating, and undersea walking, among others.
By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer
Comment on this article!