Port Louis is the capital and largest city of Mauritius, on the northwest coast of the island. It is the country’s economic, cultural and political centre, and most populous city, with a population of around 150,000.
The city was already in use as a harbour in 1638, when the Dutch first settled on the island. In 1735, under the French government, it was named Port-Louis, in honour of King Louis XV (1710 – 1774). It became the administrative centre of the colony, then called Île de France. Port-Louis was a major reprovisioning halt for French ships during their passage between Asia and Europe. The port was occupied by the British during the Napoleonic Wars from 1800-1815, and it remained an important port of call until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual, and this is obvious on the streets of Port Louis. There are Hindu temples and Hindi language and culture. Here is a vibrant Chinatown, the traditional location of homes and shops of the Chinese community. It used to be dominated by descendants of the Hakka Chinese, who first came to Mauritius in 1826. The large Jummah Mosque dates from the 1850s and has a unique architecture, combining Indian, Creole and Islamic elements. And there are still many examples of colonial architecture dating back to the French period, like Government House.