Information about the origins of Coimbatore is scarce. During the early period it was inhabited by only Irulas -forest dwellers. A second Chola empire arose in the mid-9th century, and gained the territory encompassing Coimbatore. They established a planned layout, with the Koniamman temple in the center. It is also found that in early days this area was ruled by tribals, Kosars tribe being the prominent one among them. They had their headquarters at Kosampathur, which probably later became the present Coimbatore.
Coimbatore was also the trading zone for the early visitng romans. vellalore near coimbatore is a trading hub. From the Cholas, then to the of Karnataka in 1291. By the early 14th century, the region was ruled by the Muslim rulers of Madurai under the Delhi Sultanate. The Muslim rule in Madurai was ended in the late 14th century by the newly formed Vijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara reign brought new settlers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In the 1550s, the military governors of the Vijaynagara Empire took control of Madurai, with Coimbatore belonging to their territory. After the downfall of Vijayanagara Empire, the Madurai Nayaks established their state as an independent kingdom, with other Vijayanagar offshoots forming new kingdoms in Vellore, Tanjore, Gingee, Chandragiri and Mysore. The Nayaks introduced the Palayakkarars, who were military governors of their respective regions. By the 1700s, frequent fighting between Madurai and Mysore forces in the Coimbatore region resulted in the region being ruled by Mysore. At this time Coimbatore was still a village of around 3000 people.
In the 1760s, the Mysore throne was usurped in a coup by General Hyder Ali. Ali was hostile to the British, who were gaining a foothold in the area with the help of Arcot Nawab. A series of wars between the British and the Mysore forces continued till Tipu Sultan's death in 1799, when the Mysore throne was handed over to the earlier Mysore rulers. At that time the British annexed the Coimbatore region into the Madras Presidency. When Hyder Ali acquired Coimbatore, the population was around 3000. The village dwindled to 1500 by Tipu's death.
Coimbatore played a prominent role in the Second Poligar War against the British in 1801, when the first attack was done against the British Columns stationed in Coimbatore by the Poligars of Salem, Coimbatore and Dindigul region along with some Malabar and Mysore rebels.
In 1804 Coimbatore was established as a capital for the newly formed Coimbatore district and in 1848, it was accorded the municipality status. Sir Robert Stanes, a British entrepreneur and philanthropist, became the first Chairman of the Coimbatore City Council and also founded the Stanes School in 1862, a major higher secondary school that is still a prominent educational institute of the district.
In 1981 Coimbatore became a corporation with annexation of the Singanallur municipality.
Coimbatore is situated in the extreme west of Tamil Nadu, near the state of Kerala. It is surrounded by mountains on the west, with reserve forests and the (Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve) on the northern side. The eastern side of the district, including the city is predominantly dry. The entire western and northern part of the district borders the Western Ghats with the Nilgiri biosphere as well as the Anaimalai and Munnar ranges. A western pass to Kerala, popularly referred to as the Palghat Gap provides its boundary.
Because of its close proximity to the Western Ghats, the district is rich in fauna.
Many lakes and ponds were constructed near the river in ancient times. The city of Coimbatore has nine lakes (wetlands). In most of the urban ecosystems, these wetlands are the major life-supporting component with high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrate species. The Coimbatore Urban wetlands harbours more than 125 species of resident and migratory birds, with August – October being the peak season. Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Open Billed Stork, Ibis, Spot-billed Duck, Teal, Black Winged Stilt are some of the migratory birds that visit Coimbatore wetlands regularly.
Apart from the species common to the plains, wild elephants, wild boars leopards, tigers, bison, various species of deer, Nilgiri Tahr, sloth bear and black-headed Oriole can also be found. The Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (88 km) in the Western Ghats at an altitude of 1,400 meters covers an area of 958 km². Among the region’s livestock animals are Kangeyam breed bulls (cross-bred by Mandradiar family in 17th century to suit the terrain). This breed, which helped the region gain a foothold in the dairy industry, are found only in Coimbatore and neighbouring districts. More than 20% of the district is classified as forest, lying in the west and north. The forests here are abundant in commercially significant trees such as teak, sandalwood, rosewood and bamboo. The Nilgiris slope of the Mettupalayam range is rich in sandalwood trees and bamboo. They vary from rich tropical evergreen forests of Punachi range to jungles of shrubs in southern ranges.
Apart from the high altitude regions of Western ghats, most of the forest area has come under Lantana invasion. The locals refer to it as Siriki chedi.