Kisumu is a port city in Kisumu County, Kenya at 1,131 m (3,711 ft), with a population of 394,684 (2009 census). It is the third largest city in Kenya, the principal city of western Kenya, the immediate former capital of Nyanza Province and the headquarters of Kisumu County. It has a municipal charter but no city charter. It is the largest city in Nyanza region and second most important city after Kampala in the greater Lake Victoria basin.
The port was founded in 1901 as the main inland terminal of the Uganda Railway and named Port Florence. Although trade stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s, it is again growing around oil exports.
Kisumu literally means a place of barter trade “sumo”. The city has “Friendship” status with Cheltenham, UK and “sister city” status with Roanoke, Virginia and Boulder, Colorado, USA.
When the whites first settled in the area in the late 19th century, Kisumu became a trading post – attracting the Luo people from as far as Migori and Siaya County. The Kisumu region was then occupied by the Luo community. A person going to Kisumu at that time would say, “Adhi Kisuma” to mean I’m going to trade. Derived from the word “Kisuma”, the word for a trading post in Luo is “Kisumo”. The current name Kisumu is an English corruption of the word “Kisumo”.