Kumasi Makes the Perfect Pivot
for Delving into
Ghana’s Many Natural Areas,
and Has a History all its Own
Kumasi is one of Ghana’s most populous cities and is well-loved for its local collection of beautiful and exotic plants and flowers – hence the names ‘The Garden City’ and ‘Heart Beat’.
It boasts plenty of natural sightseeing opportunities as well as fun and modern attractions, yet the heart of the city remains in its pivotal location and its lengthy history.
As the second largest city in Ghana, it is and has since its foundation been an important component of the country’s prosperity and cultural heritage.
Playing home to just over a million and a half inhabitants, the city is primarily settled by members of the Ashanti tribe, though other ethnic and religious groups are represented, making the city a beneficial area for experiencing West African diversity. It is centrally located, though somewhat more inclined toward the coastal south, and is easily accessible from the Ghanaian capital of Accra.
Close proximity to major waterways including Lake Volta as well as remnants of the country’s lush green rain forests renders Kumasi an attractive base camp for daytime explorations into the Ghana wilderness.
Though use of the land in and around the Garden City may well date back several thousands of years, notable activity in the area began in the seventeenth century when the Ashanti tribe began to make connections with other local groups, some of which inevitably led to war.
Kumasi’s importance as a gateway to the Ghana interior and subsequent gold mines was underlined in its conflicts with British troops during the colonial era, and again when the people supported national measures to gain independence from Britain.
While the Ashanti tribe no longer rules over the territories of Kumasi, which are independent along with the rest of the nation, the tribe maintains its royal court in the north of the city. At the Manhiya Palace, the tribe’s royal members accept audiences and deliberate over matters of social and political importance. Far from being closed to the eyes or opinions of others, such meetings are attended by the public, and travelers – local and foreign – are welcome to observe the proceedings.
In its modern prosperity, the city serves as one of the most financially secure areas in Ghana, largely owing to its interests in local gold mines and trade in exported hardwoods and cocoa beans and processed cocoa products. As might be expected for a city flourishing in commerce, the ‘Heart Beat’ of Ghana’ features several extensive markets with everything from every day necessities to rare finds on offer.
Museums are popular diversions for visitors, and include the Kumasi Hat Museum as well as Fort Kumasi, which is a historic landmark first erected by the occupying British in 1896.
Local artisans, guides, and festival participants add to the genuine feel of the city and can transport visitors to an entirely different West African world.
The Garden City stands out in both international and national cities for its stability and grace among some of the wildest places on earth. As a central location for exploring all that Ghana has to offer, Kumasi gives visitors an authentic experience of the country’s people and passions.