History of Kumasi

Published on 27th February 2007

Kumasi is the capital city of the Ashanti region of Ghana located in the south-central part of the country, about 250 km (by road) northwest of Accra. The city is popularly known as "The Garden City" because of its various species of flowers and plants.

In the south-central part of the country, Kumasi is approximately 300 miles north of the Equator, 100 miles north of the Atlantic's Gulf of Guinea, and 100 miles west of the Prime Meridian. With a population of 1,517,000 (2005), it is the second-largest city in Ghana.  

Kumasi exists in the forest region of West Africa, but there is evidence that the area around it has been kept cleared since the Neolithic. The city rose to prominence in 1695 when it became capital of the Ashanti Confederacy due to the activities of its ruler Osei Tutu. 

A relatively young city, Kumasi was founded in the early 19th century by King Osei Tutu. The king named the city after the KUM tree, which he planted as a symbol of victory for the Ashanti Empire over the British.

The ruler of Kumasi, known as the Kumasehene, also served as ruler of the Confederacy. Parts of the city, including the Royal Palace, were destroyed by British troops in the Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War of 1874.  

The city holds an important place in the history of the Ashanti people, as legend claims that it was here Okomfo Anokye received the Golden stool, an embodiment of the soul of the Ashanti nation. Near the palace grounds a copper sword was said to have been driven into the ground by an ancient priest, which  no one has been able to remove by any means. 

Due to large gold deposits that have been mined in the area, Kumasi has been among the wealthier cities in Ghana. Today's major exports are hardwood and cocoa. Kumasi has 50 percent of the timber industry in Ghana, with more than 4,000 employed in the business.

Features of the city include the large Kumasi Central Market, Fort Kumasi and the Kumasi Hat Museum. Royal Asante attractions include the Kumasi National Cultural Centre, the Okomfo Anokye Sword, the Asantehene's Palace (built in 1972), and the Mahniya Palace. It is also home to a zoo, and to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana (formerly the Kumasi College of Technology). 


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