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A deepwater port on the Bonny River in the Niger delta, Port Harcourt is an important industrial and commercial centre and the operational headquarters of the Nigerian oil industry. Known as The Garden City because of its beautiful parks, trees and gardens, Port Harcourt is the capital of Rivers State. The city itself has no historical significance however the ports of Bonny and Brass are nearby and are historically connected with the slave trade. These ports now serve as oil ports and terminals.
Port Harcourt was founded by British settlers in 1912 and named after the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1910 - 1915) Lewis, Viscount Harcourt. The port's main purpose initially was to export coal after it was discovered in Enugu. Still an important merchant port, Port Harcourt's exports now include petroleum (Nigeria's oil reserves are among the largest in the world), coal, tin, palm products, cocoa and groundnuts. In a space of 50 years, Nigeria has become the world's sixth largest oil exporter, radically transforming this port city in the Niger Delta into an oil capital.
The town is an excellent base from which to explore local villages and towns. Ex-pats from Britain, France, America and Holland live in Port Harcourt and work in the oil industry. The local people include the Elk, Kalabari and Ibos.
The State Museum features local masks and carvings. Theatre and dance productions can be enjoyed at the Cultural Center on Bonny Street and tourists can purchase local handicrafts at the Cultural Centre Store. The clear water and sandy beaches of Azumint Blue River is where visitors can rent canoes and stop for a barbeque at the beachside picnic site, complete with chairs, table and grills.