Garden City of West Africa
Kumasi (or Coomassie) is a city in the Ashanti Region among the largest metropolitan areas in Ghana, as well as the commercial, industrial and cultural center of the historical Ashanti (Asante) Empire. It is also known as the “Garden City of West Africa,” in that it was carved out of a dense forest under the rule of King Osei Tutu, who is believed to have conducted land negotiations under a gum tree, whence came the town’s name. Kumasi remains today the seat of the king, where the “Golden Stool” resides as a symbol of royal authority and unity, with the palace of the Ashanti king being West Africa’s largest cultural center. After defeating the empire in 1874, the British opened new trade routes in the region, developing the city as a major commercial center. Parts of the city were destroyed during the Third Anglo-Ashanti War in 1874 and the city did not revive until the 1900s when cacao cultivation was introduced and the railroad from Sekondi was built. Most specialized craft villages are located near Kumasi and continue to create fine traditional products that became a significant source of income.