Located on the Northwest Coast of the main island, Port Louis is the central collecting and clearing point for all imports and exports from Mauritius and the country’s capital. In the 17th century, the first settlement was founded by Dutch mariners, who named it Noordt Wester Haven. Later on, the French took control and renamed the city after French King Louis XV. The French used Port Louis as a port of call for ships that needed to go around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa on their passage between Asia and Europe. However, when the Suez Canal opened in 1869, Port Louis was bypassed by the new shipping route, regaining its importance only in the 20th century due to conflicts in the Middle East that resulted in the closing of the canal. While the fuel of its economy during the colonial period consisted mainly of sugar exports, today the city is dominated by tourism and manufacturing economy based around the port, making Port Louis one of the most prosperous African cities.
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