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Fort Saint Louis seen from the sea

Fort-de-France is the capital of Francemarker's Caribbeanmarker département d'outre-mer of Martiniquemarker. With a population of 134,727 inhabitants (1999 census) in the urban area, 90,347 of whom live in the city (commune) of Fort-de-France proper, it is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean. Exports include sugar, rum, tinned fruit, and cacao.


Fort-de-France lies on the island's west coast at the northern entrance to the large Fort-de-France Baymarker, at the mouth of the Madame River. The city occupies a narrow plain between the hills and the sea but is accessible by road from all parts of the island.


In 1638, Jacques Duparquet, first governor of Martinique, decided to have Fort Saint Louis built to protect the city against enemy attacks. The fort was soon destroyed, and rebuilt in 1669, when Louis XIV appointed the Marquis of Baas as governor general. Under his orders and those of his successors, particularly the Count of Blénac, the fort was built with a Vauban design.

Originally named Fort-Royal, the administrative capital of Martinique was over-shadowed by Saint-Pierremarker, the oldest city in the island, which was renowned for its commercial and cultural vibrancy as "The Paris of the Caribbean".The name of Fort-Royal was changed to a short-lived "Fort-La-Republique" during the French Revolution, and finally settled as Fort-de-France sometime in the 19th century. The old name of Fort-Royal is still used today familiarly in its Creole language form of "Foyal", with the inhabitants of the city being "Foyalais".

The city had its share of disasters, being partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1839 and in 1890 by fire. At the turn of the 20th century, however, Fort-de-France became economically important after the volcanic eruption of Mount Peléemarker destroyed the town of Saint-Pierremarker in 1902. The city, however, never lived up to the cultural reputation of the doomed city.

Until 1918, when its commercial growth began, Fort-de-France had an inadequate water supply, was partly surrounded by swamps, and was notorious for yellow fever. Now the swamps are drained to make room for extensive suburbs.

Naval base

Fort Saint Louis in Fort-de-France is a French naval base, as is Degrad des Cannes (French Guianamarker).


In addition to Fort Saint Louis, there are three other forts:

Other sites of interest include :

A statue commemorating Martinique-born Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon, is in the gardens of La Savane. It was vandalized in the 1990s, presumably by individuals who faulted her for supporting the reestablishment of slavery on the island.


Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airportmarker is located in a suburb outside Fort-de-France.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Fort-de-France is twinned with:

External links

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