Mauritius and its capital city, Port Louis, are closely linked in history. Port Louis was chosen, as from 1732, to be the port of the then Ile de France (former name of Mauritius). This was the ideal choice as Port Louis had the characteristics of a natural harbour with a strategic position in the Indian Ocean.
Bertrand François Mahé de Labourdonnais, first governor of Mauritius, started the construction of Port Louis in 1735.
Port Louis has the credit of being the birthplace of regional democracy in Mauritius, one century before the legislative assembly was created. The first municipality in the island was established in Port Louis in 1790 during the period of the French revolution. Thomas Enouf had been the first “Maire de Port-Louis” in 1790 and was succeeded by ten other French mayors. However, this municipality was abolished in 1803.
During what was known as the “période républicaine”, from 1790 to 1803, the name of the town changed on two occasions. From 1790 to 1793, the town was known as Port Louis. Port Louis became “Port de La Montagne” in 1794 and this name was changed to “Port Nord-Ouest” from 1795 to 1803.
When General Decaen took over as governor of the island in 1803, the town was named as “Port Napoléon”. In 1810 when the island became British colony, Governor Robert Farquhar gave back its original name of Port Louis to the town. The municipal administration, established during the French period and abolished in 1803, was replaced by a district administration.
In 1850, when Sir George Anderson became governor, local democracy was introduced with the first municipal elections being held in that year and Louis Léchelle becoming the first mayor of Port Louis. The Council had at that time 18 elected members. In 1903 the number of elected members was reduced to 12, that is three councillors for each of the four wards. In 1969 the number of councillors was increased to 30 and Port Louis was then divided into six wards, with five elected members for each ward. The number of elected members of the City Council, as per the Local Government Act 2011, is presently 32 - 4 councillors for each of the eight wards.