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Capital, prefecture and commune
A view from the ship arriving from Les Trois-Îlets
Blason ville fr Fort-de-France (Martinique).svg
Coat of arms
Fort-de-France 972.PNG
Location of the commune (in red) within Martinique
Location of Fort-de-France
Coordinates: 14°36′00″N61°05′00″W / 14.6°N 61.0833°W / 14.6; -61.0833 Coordinates: 14°36′00″N61°05′00″W / 14.6°N 61.0833°W / 14.6; -61.0833
Country France
Overseas region and department Martinique
Arrondissement Fort-de-France
Intercommunality CA Centre de la Martinique
  Mayor (2014–2020) Didier Laguerre
44.21 km2 (17.07 sq mi)
  Density1,800/km2 (4,700/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−04:00 (AST)
INSEE/Postal code
97209 /97200 and 97234 (Quartier de Balata)
Elevation0–1,070 m (0–3,510 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting : residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Fort-de-France (French pronunciation:  [fɔʁ də fʁɑ̃s] ) is the capital of France's Caribbean overseas department of Martinique. It is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean. Exports include sugar, rum, tinned fruit, and cacao.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Caribbean region to the center-east of America composed of many islands and of coastal regions of continental countries surrounding the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean is a region of The Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Martinique Overseas region and department in France

Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 376,480 inhabitants as of January 2016. Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast of Greater Antilles, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.



In 1638, Jacques Dyel du Parquet (1606–1658), nephew of Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc and 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.

Jacques Dyel du Parquet French governor

Jacques Dyel du Parquet was a French soldier who was one of the first governors of Martinique. He was appointed governor of the island for the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique in 1636, a year after the first French settlement had been established. In 1650 he purchased Martinique, Grenada and Saint Lucia. He did much to develop Martinique as a colony, including introduction of sugarcane.

Pierre Belain dEsnambuc Governor of Saint-Christophe

Pierre Belain, Sieur d'Esnambuc (1585–1636) was a French trader and adventurer in the Caribbean, who established the first permanent French colony, Saint-Pierre, on the island of Martinique in 1635.

Louis XIV of France King of France and Navarra, from 1643 to 1715

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who reigned as King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. Starting on 14 May 1643 when Louis was 4 years old, his reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV's France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.

Originally named Fort-Royal, the administrative capital of Martinique was over-shadowed by Saint-Pierre, the oldest city in the island, which was renowned for its commercial and cultural vibrancy as "The Paris of the Caribbean".

Saint-Pierre, Martinique Subprefecture and commune in Martinique, France

Saint-Pierre is a town and commune of France's Caribbean overseas department of Martinique, founded in 1635 by Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc. Before the total destruction of Saint-Pierre in 1902 by a volcanic eruption, it was the most important city of Martinique culturally and economically, being known as "the Paris of the Caribbean". While Fort-de-France was the official administrative capital, Saint-Pierre was the cultural capital of Martinique. After the disaster, Fort-de-France grew in economic importance.

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".

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

The city had its share of disasters, being captured by a British expedition in 1762, [1] partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1839 and devastated by fire in 1890. At the turn of the 20th century, however, Fort-de-France became economically important after the volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre in 1902.

Mount Pelée active volcano in the Lesser Antilles island

Mount Pelée is a volcano at the northern end of Martinique, an island and French overseas department in the Lesser Antilles island arc of the Caribbean. Its volcanic cone is composed of stratified layers of hardened ash and solidified lava. The volcano is currently in a quiescent state, which means it is not active, but still registering minor activity.

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.

Yellow fever viral disease

Yellow fever is a viral disease of typically short duration. In most cases, symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains particularly in the back, and headaches. Symptoms typically improve within five days. In about 15% of people, within a day of improving the fever comes back, abdominal pain occurs, and liver damage begins causing yellow skin. If this occurs, the risk of bleeding and kidney problems is also increased.


Fort-de-France, also known as the Fort of France, lies on Martinique's west coast at the northern entrance to the large Fort-de-France Bay, 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.

Fort Saint Louis seen from the sea Fort-Saint-Louis-06.jpg
Fort Saint Louis seen from the sea
The frigate Ventose can be seen behind the old fort Fort-Saint-Louis-05.jpg
The frigate Ventôse can be seen behind the old fort


Fort-de-France has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen Af), characterised by very warm to hot and humid weather year-round. The wettest months are from July to November when hurricanes are a frequent threat, although substantial rainfall occurs in all months.

Climate data for Fort-de-France (1981–2010 averages, extremes 1932–present)
Record high °C (°F)31.5
Average high °C (°F)27.5
Daily mean °C (°F)24.7
Average low °C (°F)21.9
Record low °C (°F)17.8
Average rainfall mm (inches)119.5
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)18.9313.6012.7711.5012.7016.4320.0019.5717.9018.1719.0017.60198.17
Mean monthly sunshine hours 203.6198.5223.8211.3208.1191.0200.7224.5206.1182.9184.4201.82,436.8
Source: Météo France [2] [3] [4]

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

Main sights

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 blamed her for supporting the reestablishment of slavery on the island. They removed the head and splashed the body with red paint. [5]


Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport is located in a suburb outside Fort-de-France and is accessible via the A1 autoroute.

See also

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Fort Saint Louis (Martinique) 17th-century fortress in Fort-de-France, Martinique

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Fort Desaix is a Vauban fort and one of four forts that protect Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique. The fort was built from 1768 to 1772 and sits on a hill, Morne Garnier, overlooking what was then Fort Royal. Fort Desaix was built in response to the successful British attack on Fort Royal in 1762 and was intended to prevent any future attacker from using Morne Garnier to site cannon that could then bombard Fort Royal from above.

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Charles de Courbon, comte de Blénac was governor general of the French Antilles three times in the 17th century. He was an experienced soldier and fought for the king during the Fronde before becoming a naval captain. Towards the end of the Franco-Dutch War he led the land forces that took Tobago from the Dutch before taking command of the French Antilles. During the Nine Years' War he was active in the struggle with the English and Dutch in the Windward Islands. He captured Sint Eustatius and Saint Kitts, and defended Martinique against a large English expedition in 1693.


    • Robson, Martin (2016). A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War. London: Taurus. pp. 171–173. ISBN   9781780765457.
  1. "Données climatiques de la station de Fort de France" (in French). Météo France. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  2. "Climat Martinique". Météo France. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  3. "Fort–de–France Desaix (972)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques 1981–2010 et records (in French). Météo France. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  4. "Statue of Empress Josephine". Lonely Planet. 15 January 2017.