Port Louis is the largest city and capital of the small island nation Mauritius, which is located in the southwest Indian Ocean. The city had a population of 148,416 people in 2010. Port Louis, located on the northwest coast of the main island, is an important financial services center and tourist destination. Due to tourism and a manufacturing economy based around the port, which includes the production of chemicals, textiles, plastics, and pharmaceuticals, Port Louis is one of the most prosperous African cities.
The history of Port Louis goes back to its founding and settling in the 17th century by Dutch mariners who named it Noordt Wester Haven. In 1736 the French took control of the island and renamed the city after French King Louis XV. The French used Port Louis as a port of call for ships that, on their passage between Asia and Europe, needed to go around the Cape of Good Hope inSouth Africa. The island was also used for sugar production. Enslaved people, imported from Madagascar, were summoned to work on the sugar plantations.
Data and facts
- Capital landmarks: Citadel Fort Adelaide, Bank of Mauritius Tower, Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre, and Caudan Waterfront Casino.
- Including municipal city limits plus nearby communities, Port Louis’ land area measures 18 square miles (47 square kilometres) with an estimated population of 149,194 residents in 2015.
- At the country level, Mauritius has a population equal to 1.3 million inhabitants as of July 2016. The nation’s total land territory is 784 square miles (2,030 square kilometres).
- Population density is more concentrated within the Mauritian capital city Port Louis with an average of 8,300 inhabitants per square mile (3,200 per square kilometre).
- For Mauritius overall, population density drops significantly to an average of 1,700 people per square mile (700 per square kilometre).
- Mauritius won its independence from the United Kingdom on March 12, 1968. Mauritians celebrate each March 12 as their Independence Day alternatively called Republic Day.
Local governance of Port Louis is overseen by a municipal council. The City Council of Port Louis was first established in 1830 and is currently one of five municipal councils responsible for the urban areas in Mauritius, as organized under Local Government Act 2011. Twenty-four councillors are elected democratically to administer the council. Councillors then elect a Lord Mayor and a Deputy Lord Mayor. Functions of the council are performed through Departments of Administration, Finance, Land Use and Planning, Public Infrastructure, Public Health, Welfare, Parks and Gardens, and City Library. Services delivered by the local government include pre-school, kindergarten, and vocational schools, health protection, housing regulation, some road services, refuse collection, cemeteries, some environmental and consumer protection services, and economic promotion activities. Other services are provided to the city by the central government. These include police services through the Mauritius Police Force, which maintains two divisions responsible for the Port Louis area (Metropolitan Divisions North and South). There is also a specific Port Police, composed of the Harbour Police and Bulk Sugar Terminal Police. Their roles include providing security to cargo and facilities in the port area and enforcing laws related to harbor regulations, customs, quarantine, immigration, and drug trafficking.
The economy is dominated by its port, which handles Mauritius' international trade. The port was founded by the French who preferred Port Louis as the City is shielded by the Port Louis/Moka mountain range. Manufacturing is dominated by clothing and textiles, but also includes chemicals, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Tourism is also important. The development of the Caudan Waterfront, central to Port Louis, with shopping and cinema facilities, appeals to tourists visiting the city. Port Louis is home to the biggest port facility in the Indian Ocean region and one of Africa’s major financial centers
Port Louis is the second most important financial center in Africa after Johannesburg. It is the city with the highest per capita income in Africa.
Port Louis is the financial center of Mauritius, which has established itself as safe and trusted location for conducting business due to its strong democracy, political stability, and multilingual population. Located in Port Louis is the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Also in Port Louis are over ten commercial banks that serve both domestic and offshore clients, insurance companies, pension funds, mutual funds, leasing companies, and foreign exchange dealers. The oldest bank based in Port Louis is the Mauritius Commercial Bank, which was founded in 1838. The Bank of Mauritius is the central bank of the country. The Bank of Mauritius Tower is the tallest building in the country, Measuring 124 m (407 ft) from ground level.
According to a new World Bank report, Inclusiveness of Growth and Shared Prosperity add that economic growth and declining inequality are equally important for the reduction and possible eradication of poverty in Mauritius.
“I’m sure this report will be an important tool in helping our current efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, more particularly those aimed at eradicating poverty in all its forms and everywhere,” Prithvirajsing Roopun, Mauritius Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment said in his opening remarks during the report launch.
Policies designed to upgrade infrastructure, support research, development, and innovation, advance public-sector efficiency, and further improve the business environment are deemed key to boosting productivity, according to a new World Bank report.
Construction for the light rail transit transport system began in the Fall of 2017, with the government of Mauritius awarding the contract to Mumbai-based design and construction firm of Larsen & Toubro. The Mauritius Metro Express is expected to link Port Louis to Rose Hill by September 2019 and the line will be extended until Curepipe by September 2021.
"In an era where the world is being driven by technology, it is essential that Mauritius, as a small island State, embrace the use of the latest technology and innovation to pave the way forward towards a modern economy" - The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement yesterday afternoon during the launching of the I-Council at the District Council of Moka in Quartier Militaire. The project, I-Council, funded to the tune of about Rs 7 million, is a first of its kind.
Mauritius has achieved the most outstanding Telecom Maturity Index (TMI) in Africa with a score of 49. This comes as a result of massive investment from the government into improving connectivity in the island.
Mauritius Telecom has invested more than Rs 5 billion (approx. US$75m) to roll out fibre across the island, and the project which was expected to be complete in 2020 was way ahead of schedule and saw completion last year. Mauritius is the sixth country in the world with 100% Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and citizens can benefit from broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s at affordable prices.
Social Wellness and Culture
The education system in Mauritius is largely based on the British system since Mauritius was a former British colony. It consists of a 3+6+5+2 system of formal education. The education system in Mauritius is categorized into 4 main sectors – pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary. Pre-primary schools accept students from the age of three. Children from the age of five to eleven go to primary school. They are admitted to a standard I and gradually moves on to standard 6. Primary education ends with a national examination which is the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE). Students passing CPE gains admittance to secondary schools, those with excellent results are admitted in National secondary schools. Secondary education is normally a 7-year study, starting from Form I to Form VI. The National Assessment at Form III is carried out in the third year of Secondary education. Varied subjects are taught and as from Form IV, students are streamlined according to subjects they choose. At the end of the 5th year of study at the secondary level, students sit for the Cambridge School Certificate (SC) examination. Passing the SC exam, allows them to continue another 2-year study ending with the Higher School Certificate (HSC) exam.
The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is responsible for public healthcare. Anwar Husnoo is the minister of health. The five regions each have their own Health Advisory Board. Healthcare, which is financed through general taxation, is free for Mauritian citizens. More than 650 doctors, 2,700 nurses, 50 dentists, and 20 pharmacists are employed in the public system. There are also 17 private clinics which between them have over 600 beds. As from 2020, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, telemedicine became a mainstream healthcare delivery method through the medicine.mu platform
The constitution guarantees freedom of expression and of the press. Television is the most popular medium. State-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio and TV generally reflect government thinking. MBC is funded by advertising and a TV license fee. Daily newspapers and weeklies offer balanced coverage in several languages. They are often critical of both the government and the opposition parties. Two media groups - Le Mauricien Ltd and La Sentinelle Ltd - dominate the press scene.
Though Mauritius is located near the African continent, its culture is quite distinct owing to its British and French colonial heritage and the predominant Indian population. The diversity of the city of Port Louis is reflected in its architecture, cuisine and festivals. Thaipusam is an important Hindu festival celebrated in Mauritius, celebrated by the Tamil community. Other popular festivals include Diwali, Eid, Ugadi, Christmas and Chinese New Year. The city has predominantly modern architecture, but it is also common to spot gleaming high-rises beside colonial buildings. There are several cultural venues and theatres in Port Louis that host classical music, drama and jazz performances.
The most famous and oldest museum in Port Louis and Mauritius is the Natural History Museum, Port Louis Museum, or Mauritius Institute. It exhibits of the impressive fauna of Mauritius, with a gallery devoted to birds and terrestrial animals, a second focusing on marine species, and a third focused on the dodo, the famous Mauritian bird which became extinct during the Dutch occupation.
The Blue Penny Museum is located at the Caudan Waterfront, and is dedicated to the history and art of the island. Its collection includes antique marine maps, paintings, sculptures, engravings, and stamps, including examples of the famous orange-red one penny and deep blue two pence stamps.
The Mauritius Photography Museum, located in a small 18th-century white-washed French colonial building, is a private museum that displays artefacts and documents about Mauritian photography and the early days of cinematography.
The China Heritage Museum, located in Chinatown, displays historical items representing the daily life of the Chinese community.
Popular sports activities in Port Louis are the Thoroughbred horse races held at the Champ de Mars Racecourse, which is the second oldest horse race track in the world. Gambling on the horse races can be done both with bookies and the tote, available at multiple locations inside the grandstand.