City of Lafayette – 124,276
Lafayette Parish – 235,851
The city of Lafayette is located at the intersection of I-10 and I-49 between New Orleans and Houston—only 35 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Lafayette is located in the center of Lafayette Parish, which is in the heart of Acadiana.
Acadiana is made up of 22 South Louisiana parishes unique primarily because of the strong French Acadian culture, language and traditions. Lafayette is the hub of the eight-parish heart of Acadiana. It includes the parishes of Acadia, Iberia, Evangeline, Lafayette, Vermilion, St. Mary, St. Martin, and St. Landry. Lafayette is the focal point of this eight-parish metro-retail area of more than 600,000 people. It is the financial, service, medical, educational, cultural, energy, and entertainment and consumer capital of Acadiana.
Many of the residents of Lafayette parish are called Acadians or “Cajuns.” The name comes from the Acadian settlers who, in 1755, were forced to leave their native Canada and find a home elsewhere. Their French-Canadian customs, language and Catholic religion came with them as did their love for merriment, strong work ethic, and ability to live off the land. About 45 percent of the people in Acadiana still speak French as a second language.
The Lafayette area was first settled in 1763 when exiled Acadians from Nova Scotia reached Louisiana. Many were assigned lands in and near Lafayette on the Vermilion River. Little had been done to settle the Teche region because of the fierceness of the Attakapas Indians, the earliest inhabitants of this region, who were feared by other Indians because they were cannibals.
In 1821 early settler Jean Mouton, a successful cotton planter, donated over five arpents of land to trustees of the Catholic congregation. The church was blessed in 1821 in the name of St. John. Mouton conceived the idea of laying out a town called Vermilionville named for the river on which it was situated. Vermilionville quickly became the center of religious and social activities.
Vermilionville was originally incorporated in 1836 and reincorporated in 1869. In 1884 the act of incorporation was amended to change the name to Lafayette.
Lafayette Parish has been as we know it today since 1823, one of the smallest parishes in the state with an area of 178,560 acres or 279 square miles. Lafayette Parish was named for the Marquis de Lafayette who fought in the American Revolution.
Lafayette Parish is bounded on the north by St. Landry Parish, on the east by St. Martin and St. Mary Parishes, on the south by Vermilion Parish, and on the west by Acadia Parish.
Lafayette’s geography provides a wide range of weather. Typically a warm, moist climate, Lafayette enjoys a long growing season with plenty of rainfall. The Gulf of Mexico provides hot and humid weather in the summer with afternoon showers and thunderstorms nearly every day from June to August. Average rainfall is 61 inches annually but the parish still averages 214 days of sunshine per year. Lafayette does get a brief taste of winter with January temperatures falling into the 30s and 40s overnight in most occasions. Some nights may dip below freezing, but Lafayette only averages five days annually of sub-freezing weather. Snowfall is rare with measurable snow every few years or so.
Spring and fall offer pleasant conditions with average temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the day and temperatures in the 50s and 60s at night. Typically, the spring is moist with severe weather possible. Autumn is usually the driest part of the year. Being close to the Gulf of Mexico, Lafayette is prone to hurricanes. Hurricane season lasts from June1 to Nov. 30.