Lafayette is located along Interstate 10, between New Orleans and Houston, Texas. It is 35 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, known for its abundance of seafood and recreational opportunities, and 15 miles west of the Atchafalaya Basin, America’s largest river swamp.
Lafayette is the government seat for Lafayette Parish, which is located in the hub of the nine-parish region in the heart of Acadiana which includes Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Jeff Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion Parishes.
A large number of the 230,000 Lafayette Parish residents are called Acadians or “Cajuns.” The name comes from the Acadian settlers who were forced to leave Canada in 1755 and migrated to this region in search of a new home. The Cajuns are famous for their style of cooking, which includes well-seasoned dishes like gumbo, crawfish etouffée, and jambalaya.
Downtown Lafayette initiated a revitalization effort in the 1990s and today is once again the cultural center of the city. The continuing proliferation of restaurants, galleries, shops, museums, bars, and weekly live music events is evident in the vibrant core of greater Lafayette.
Today, about 45 percent of the people in Acadiana still speak French as a second language, although the “Cajun French” dialect has words unique to the area, like “cher,” “canaille,” “boucherie,” and “ca c’est bon.”
Though the area is predominantly Catholic, every major religion is represented in Lafayette, including Protestant, Jewish, and Islamic religions.
Lafayette received its name in 1884 to commemorate the Marquis de La Fayette who fought in the American Revolution. It was originally named Vermilionville in 1821 by its founder, French speaking Jean Mouton.
The 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de La Fayette was celebrated community-wide in 2007.
Two nationally recognized telecommunication providers have established Lafayette as one of the most connected cities in the nation. LUS Fiber, a division of the municipally owned Lafayette Utilities System, and Cox Communications offer TV, Internet, and phone services to homes and businesses in the city. The cumulative networks’ expanded bandwidth plays a key role in Lafayette’s economic development and has garnered regional, state, and national interest. Cox is an established presence with its significant national support base and LUS Fiber is the first Louisiana municipal broadband system to offer communication services over a 100 percent fiber optic network.