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29 - 06 December 2006 
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History of Kisumu

Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and the headquarters of Kisumu District. The city is situated on the north tip of Winam gulf, which in itself is part of Kavirondo Gulf, an arm of Lake Victoria. Kisumu is the principal lake port of Kenya and manufactures include refined sugar, frozen fish, textiles, beer, and processed sisal. Farm products include: grain, cotton, sugar, corn, peanuts and sesame. 


The city is the historic western terminus of the railroad from the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria. The railroad from Mombasa reached Kisumu in 1901. The city was formerly called Port Florence. The first train steamed into Port Florence station in 1903. By the 1930's and 40's, the city had become a leading East African centre for investment, administration and the military.


Before the jet airline era, the city was a landing point on the British flying boat passenger and mail route from Southampton to Cape Town. Kisumu linked Port Bell and Nairobi.


The city’s rise in growth and prosperity slowed down temporarily in 1977, with the collapse of the East African Community. However, the city is growing with the reformation of the community in 1996 and with its designation as a "city." The port has been stimulated by the transformation of international business and trade, as well as by the shipments of goods destined for Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Congo.


Kisumu is one of the fastest growing cities in Kenya. Surrounded by an agriculturally rich neighborhood mainly supporting large-scale sugar industry and rice irrigation, its contribution to the National economy is significant. It is a natural base for visiting and doing business in Western Kenya.


The city is a business and transportation hub, with service by road, rail, ship and air. There is also Mount Elgon National Park, Kakamega Forest, Saiwa Swamp and Lake Victoria. There are also attractions on the outskirts of the city such as Hippo Point.



By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer

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