Kukawa (previously Kuka) is a town and Local Government Area in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, close to Lake Chad.
The town was founded in 1814 as capital of the Kanem-Bornu Empire by the Muslim scholar and warlord Muhammad al-Amin al-Kanemi after the fall of the previous capital, Ngazargamu, conquered in 1808 in the Fulani War. The town had great strategical importance, being the southern terminal of an important trans-Saharan trade route to Tripoli. The town was visited in 1892 by the French explorer Parfait-Louis Monteil, who was checking the borders between areas of West Africa assigned to the French and the British. The town was captured and sacked in 1893 by the Sudanese warlord Rabih az-Zubayr, and then by the British in 1902.
Historically the city was much larger than today, with a population estimated by the British at 50,000-60,000 in the late nineteenth-century.
Towns in the Kukawa Local Government Area include Cross Kauwa and Baga.
Coordinates: 12°55′N 13°34′E / 12.917°N 13.567°E