Cape Girardeau (, French: Cap-Girardeau [kap ʒiʁaʁdo] (listen); colloquially referred to as "Cape") is a city in Cape Girardeau County and Scott County in the U.S. state of Missouri. According to 2019 United States Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city proper was 40,559, with the surrounding metropolitan area totaling 134,051 residents.
The city is the economic center of Southeast Missouri and also an emerging college town as the home of Southeast Missouri State University. It is located approximately 100 miles (161 km) southeast of St. Louis and 150 miles (241 km) north of Memphis.
The city is named after Jean Baptiste de Girardot, who established a temporary trading post in the area around 1733. He was a French soldier stationed at Kaskaskia between 1704 and 1720 in the French colony of La Louisiane. The "Cape" in the city name referred to a rock promontory overlooking the Mississippi River; it was later destroyed by railroad construction. As early as 1765, a bend in the Mississippi River, about 60 miles (97 km) south of the French village of Ste. Genevieve, had been referred to as Cape Girardot or Girardeau (both pronounced the same in French).
The settlement of Girardeau is said to date from 1793 when the Spanish government, which had acquired Louisiana in 1764 following the French defeat in the Seven Years' War, granted Louis Lorimier, a French-Canadian, the right to establish a trading post.