New Iberia (French: La Nouvelle-Ibérie; Spanish: Nueva Iberia) is the largest city and parish seat of, Iberia Parish in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The city of New Iberia is located approximately 21 miles (34 kilometers) southeast of Lafayette, and forms part of the Lafayette metropolitan statistical area in the region of Acadiana.
New Iberia dates its founding to the spring of 1779, when a group of some 500 colonists (Malagueños) from Spain, led by Lt. Col. Francisco Bouligny, came up Bayou Teche and settled around what became known as Spanish Lake (because they were the first Europeans to settle here).
The Spanish settlers called the town "Nueva Iberia" in honor of the Iberian Peninsula; French-speakers referred to the town as "Nouvelle Ibérie" while the English settlers arriving after the Louisiana Purchase called it "New Town." In 1814, the U.S. government opened a post office in the town, officially recognizing the name as New Iberia, but postmarks from 1802 show the town being called “Nova Iberia” (Latin for "new"). The town was incorporated as the "Town of Iberia" in 1839, but the state legislature amended the town's charter in 1847, recognizing New Iberia as the town's name.
During the American Civil War, New Iberia was occupied by Union forces under General Nathaniel P. Banks. The soldiers spent the winter of 1862–1863 at New Iberia and, according to historian John D. Winters of Louisiana Tech University in his The Civil War in Louisiana, "found the weather each day more and more severe. The dreary days dragged by, and the men grumbled as they plowed through the freezing rain and deep mud in performing the regular routines of camp life." Banks' men from New Iberia foraged for supplies in the swamps near the city.
In 1868, Iberia Parish was established, and New Iberia became the seat of parish government. At first, only rented space served for the courthouse, but by 1884 a new courthouse was completed on a landscaped lot in downtown New Iberia, at the present-day site of Bouligny Plaza. That courthouse served Iberia Parish until 1940.