Part of the Mississippi River Delta waterway, the Port of Iberia is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Greater Baton Rouge in Louisiana. The Port of Iberia is also about 115 kilometers (72 miles) northwest of the Port of Terrebonne. In 2010, the Port of Iberia was home to over 30.6 thousand people.
The Port of Iberia has a rich historical mix that includes French, Spanish, and Acadian (Cajun) cultures. The Port of Iberia has long been an important center for processing and shipping in South Louisiana. The parish seat of Iberia Parish, New Iberia is home to Shadows-on-the-Teche, an antebellum mansion where the Union Army was headquartered while the city was occupied. The Port of Iberia offers enjoys healthy commerce and trade and a vibrant culture.
Long before the Port of Iberia existed, the indigenous Chitimacha people were building settlements around the local bayous of southern Louisiana. While the last traces Roman Empire were disappearing, Chitimacha settlements were growing.
French explorers arrived in the area of the future Port of Iberia in the early 18th Century. Most of the people they found were killed or enslaved, but some Chitimacha continue to live in the Chitimacha Reservation. Today, about 350 people live on the reservation, and some 950 Chitimacha are included as Tribal members.
In 1779, colonists from Malaga (an Andalusian community in Spain) traveled Bayou Teche to settle around Spanish Lake. They named their new village Nueva Iberia (New Iberia) after their homeland. After the Louisiana Purchase, American settlers called the future Port of Iberia New Town.
The US government established a post office in New Iberia in 1814. In 1839, it was incorporated as Iberia. In 1847, the Louisiana State Legislature renamed the town New Iberia, resolving confusion that had continued for years.
Union troops occupied the Port of Iberia during the American Civil War, wintering there in 1862-1863. The troops foraged for supplies in the swamps surrounding New Iberia.
Iberia Parish was created in 1868, and the Port of Iberia was made the parish seat. Until 1884, only a courthouse represented the parish. In 1884, a new courthouse was built was active until 1940.
The Port of Iberia is in Louisiana's Acadiana Region. The rich coastal marshes of the Gulf of Mexico roll into rich farmlands and forests. Natural resources are plentiful in the Port of Iberia area. Among these are seafood, salt, oil, sulfur, and natural gas. The Acadiana region is considered the home of the famous Cajun culture as well as Louisiana crawfish, sugar cane, rice, and Tabasco.
The Port of Iberia is in the Bayou Teche Region of the Atchafalaya River Basin, the United States' biggest existing wild swamp. The River Basin is a major attraction for bird watchers and sportsmen from around the world.