Fort-de-France (fôr-də-fräNs) [key], city (1999 pop. 94,049), capital of the French overseas dept. of Martinique, West Indies. It is a popular tourist resort and a free port, exporting mainly bananas, sugar, and rum. It was settled in 1762 by the French, who built Fort-Royal by the strategically situated harbor. Yellow fever hampered its prosperity, however, and Fort-de-France did not gain importance until after 1902, when the city of Saint-Pierre was destroyed by an eruption of Mont Pelée. Drainage of the swamps to control disease further stimulated Fort-de-France's growth. Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon I, was born across the bay from the city.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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