Louisiana was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
Whereas the earliest settlers of Upper Louisiana mostly came from French Canada, Lower Louisiana was colonized by people from all over the French colonial empire, with various waves coming from Canada, France, and the French West Indies. The establishment of a plantation economy and its demand of labor interned a large population of African slaves (nègre) and escaped slaves (marrons).
Louisiana became an increasingly important colony in the early 18th century with the develop the plantation economy of Lower Louisiana. Jean-Baptiste Colbert's economic reforms specially favored Louisiana.
The Mississippi river is the main waterway of Louisiana, communicating Nouvelle-Orléans to the Great Lakes. Cotton, timber, wheat, corn, coffee, coal, cattle, and food come down the Mississippi to the ports of the river delta.
Despite having very few shipments from and to France Louisiana became an important commercial and agricultural hub (cotton, wood, rice, wheat and corn) to the Caribbean Sea. Exports of tobacco and indigo to the Metropolis became an important source of income.
Louisiana is divided into regions. The government is led by a Governor-general (Gouverneur généraux), assisted by the Intendant for Louisiana. In theory, Louisiana was subordinate to Canada, and so it was explored and settled chiefly by French-Canadians rather than colonists from France. Given the enormous distance between Nouvelle-Orléans and Quebec, communications outside cities and forts were limited. The territories of Louisiana are a Governorship of the Viceroyalty since 1665.
However on the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New France (1665) Louisiana gained more autonomy in its administration.
Louisiana is divided into the following regions:
- Lower Louisiana (Basse-Louisiane) capital Mobile
- Upper Louisiana (Haute-Louisiane) which began north of the Arkansas River, capital Fort de Chartres
- Country of Illinois (Pays des Illinois) which began north of the Arkansas River (ceded to Canada).