Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun".
Nairobi was founded in 1899 as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda. The town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907. Nairobi eventually became the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963.
The city has an estimated population of 4 million. Nairobi occupies 684 square kilometers and is currently the 13th largest city in Africa. It is one of the most prominent cities in Africa both politically and financially.
Nairobi is an established hub for business and culture and is home to many companies and organizations. It id home to the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office in Africa.
A number of international events have been held in the city among them being the annual Nairobi Marathon, sponsored by Standard Chartered bank. This has become a signature sports event that brings together runners and supporters from all over the country as well as foreign participants to Nairobi, the beautiful capital city of Kenya and home of the greatest distance runners in the world.
Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital.This is the home of safari, a place to start your African safari tour from.
Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi is one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities.
Nairobi is a city that never seems to sleep. The entire town has a boundless energy, and is thriving place where all of human life can be found.
This is a place of great contrasts where race, tribe and origin all become facets of a unique Nairobi character.
The city has not lost its sense of the past, with an excellent museum and the historical home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa open to visitors.
This is not a modern capital separated from the great wilderness that surrounds it. Just outside the city is Nairobi National Park, 113 sq. kms of plains, cliffs and forest. The park is home to large herds of zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe and more. Rhino, Cheetah, and a large number of Lions are all found here, living wild within 20 minutes of the centre of town.
History of Nairobi
The area Nairobi currently occupies was essentially uninhabited swamp. This was until a supply depot of the Uganda Railway was built by the British in 1899. It linked Mombasa to Uganda. The location of the camp was chosen due to its central position between Mombasa and Kampala. It was also chosen because its network of rivers could supply the camp. The water and its elevation would make it cool enough for residential purposes. This was not only the thousands of Indian laborers who came to Kenya seeking to be employed to work on the railway line, but also for the British settlers. With such an apt location, it had soon grown big enough to become the railway’s headquarters.
The city was first incorporated in 1900 as the Township of Nairobi. The regulations governing it were published on the 16th April, 1900. This was under the powers vested in Sir Arthur Hardinge, H M Commissioner at Zanzibar by Article 45 of the East Africa Order-in-Council.
The regulations defined the township of Nairobi as “the area comprised within a radius of one-mile-and-a-half from the present office of H.M. Sub-Commissioner in Ukamba”. It authorized the Sub-Commissioner to nominate annually a number of the leading residents or merchants to act with him as a Committee.
On 24th of July a Five Man Committee met in the Sub Commissioner’s office to tackle the problem of the town ranging from:- a myriad of bazaars, no street lighting, unplanned shops going up daily, no proper streets, no conservancy, no refuse collection, no police and no money.
The committee obtained its plans, marked out plots and roadways in the commercial area and sought Government’s permission to cut wood for scantlings to build the new shops and other necessary establishments.
The Nairobi Club was formed in January in 1901 and a racecourse came up at about the same time. There was only one school at the time but the Roman Catholics were busy with the construction of a church and a school beside the railway line. In December of 1901 the committee was given the rights to make new by-laws “for the preservation of the public health and good order within the township” and prescribing penalties for breach of their observance.
By 1903 the use of the railway as a medium of exporting produce as well as importing equipment had become noticeable, and there was some talk of finding permanent markets in South Africa. Nairobi was growing at a fast pace and new people arrived with every ship that docked at Mombasa. There was a little post-office halfway down Government Road, near the new municipal offices, which had been opened the previous year, these offices were grandly known as “Town Hall.”
They proposed to have the Bazaar properly laid out and have the buildings assessed to enable a rate of taxation to be fixed, funds procured would go towards forming a police force, a system of street lighting and conservancy purposes. Nairobi continued to flourish as there was an impressive array of commerce and growth at the Bazaar as hotels, banks and Trading Centers were established. National Bank of India was the first to be established, next was Heubner & Company.
Nairobi becomes the Capital City
In 1905, Nairobi replaced Mombasa as capital of the British protectorate, and the city grew around administration and tourism, initially in the form of big game hunting. As the British occupiers started to explore the region, they started using Nairobi as their first port of call. They were encouraged to settle in the country, and Nairobi was their natural choice due to its cool climate and fertile soils. British authorities hoped the Settlers would develop a modern economic sector.
In 1919, the Nairobi Township community formally became the Nairobi Municipal Council. Its boundary was extended to include surrounding part-urban settlements. The boundary was again extended in 1927 to cover 30 square miles.
In July 1920 it was proposed that a more distinctive title be adopted for the chief of the municipality of Nairobi the capital of the protectorate. The title Mayor was suggested. It was not until 1923 that the title was officially applied.
Top Things to Do in Nairobi
Nairobi was once famous for all the wrong reasons. It is now emerging as a hip and edgy city, buzzing with culture, art, and development. There are many things to do in Nairobi. All on the doorstep of some of the world’s most incredible national parks.
Great African Wildlife
For elephant lovers, there’s no better place to visit than the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This is an institution that has been caring for and rehabilitating baby elephants since the late 1970s. Most of the elephants living at the sanctuary were rescued after being orphaned at an age when they were too young to survive alone. Once they are old enough, the elephants are released back into the wild. Between 11 a.m. and noon each day, visitors are allowed to observe the elephants at feeding time and hear about the trust's work.
Natural Wonder - The Great Rift Valley
Just outside the city, on the road to the Masai Mara, you will travel along the Great Rift Valley escarpment. This is the Mau escarpment with several view points that allow you great views of the floor. The Great Rift Valley is truly a beautiful site as it stretches all the way from Lebanon to Mozambique. Stop to have a cup of tea or a cold drink at one of the wooden shops on the cliff edge and take in the incredible views of the valley below.
The Nairobi National Park
On the outskirts of the city lies the world-famous Nairobi National Park. This is home to a variety of animals including lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and leopards. It's also one of the best places to see the endangered black rhino. What really makes this park unusual is that you have the Nairobi skyline as a backdrop. It’s not uncommon to see animals as you drive along the highway to and from the airport. This is the only national park within a city in the world.
Just south of the city, near Lake Magadi, you will find Ologesailie, an important archaeological site. Several fossils, tools, and artifacts have been found here dating back more than 600,000 years. This is to the time of our earliest ancestors who inhabited the area between 490,000 and 1.2 million years ago.
For an insight into Kenyan culture, Bomas of Kenya is a great place to start. Kenya is a diverse country and the project was set up to preserve Kenyan culture and values by educating visitors in traditional ways of life. This is done through music and dance performances, as well as by exhibiting the various types of bomas (enclosed homesteads) that people live in. Visitors will learn about the customs of some of the ethnic groups found in Kenya while there, too.
Best Day Trip
A few hours outside of Nairobi you’ll find one of the world’s most visually iconic African safari destinations, Amboseli National Park. Lying at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is just over the border in Tanzania, Amboseli is famous for having one of the healthiest elephant populations in Africa; visitors can see herds of up to a hundred of these beautiful creatures at a time. If you are lucky and it’s a clear day, you should see Kilimanjaro as well.
Off the Beaten Path
To get away from the tourist crowds, head to City Park Hawkers, a local fruit and vegetable market in town. It’s great to wander around the market to observe everyday Nairobian life, but the real treat lies within. Hidden away behind some of the stalls, you will find small restaurants serving ugali and delicious nyama choma for the workers. So, do as the locals do and grab yourself a spot of lunch.
Most Iconic Experience
When in Nairobi, find yourself a bargain at one of the Maasai Markets. The Maasai Market takes place at a different location around town each day, selling all kinds of African trinkets including jewelry, bags, leather goods, clothes, and wood carvings. But be warned, the touts are usually in full force and will follow you around offering to “help,” but really, they are taking a commission from the stall owners. You can pick up a few bargains here but only if your negotiation skills are up to scratch. For a slightly calmer experience, visit the fixed Maasai Market at the Galleria Mall.
Kenyans know how to party, so when the sun goes down there are plenty of places to drink and dance the night away. A great place to spend an evening is the Westlands part of town, where you’ll find several cool venues including The Alchemist, which is a bar and event space with live music, DJs, and tasty food. Or you can try Brew Bistro, which is famous for its excellent craft beers.
Make a visit to the Karen Blixen Museum at the foot of the Ngong Hills in Karen. The museum was once the home of Karen Blixen, the Danish author of Out of Africa, after whom the suburb is named. A visit to the museum will give you an interesting insight into Kenya’s colonial past.
Nairobi is a city full of contrasts. It's old enough so you can feel its past and multi-ethnic enough so you can experience Kenyan culture, yet Nairobi is modern enough to get Internet access. It's a city that blends people from all cultures and walks of life. Adorned with modern skyscrapers, world class restaurants, fully equipped hospitals, modern shopping malls, schools, abundant private and public transportation, and universities and colleges that provide local and international curriculum - you will find it all in Nairobi. The city is also home to numerous local and international businesses and organizations. Nairobi bustles with activity. It's a city that never sleeps; the rhythm is fast, day and night. There's always something to do and see in Nairobi and its people are friendly and hospitable.
Although Nairobi has many positive features, like any other large city, Nairobi has its fair share of problems and faces enormous challenges that range from congested roads and streets to crime and poverty in the neighboring slums of Kibera and Mathare
|Languages spoken||English, Kiswahili|
|Currency used||Kenya Shillings|
|Area (km2)||696 km²|