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Location of Nairobi
Province Nairobi Area
Mayor Dick Wathika
- % water
150 km²
- Total ( 2001)
- Density
List of metropolitan areas by population
Established 1899
Time zone MSK ( UTC+3)
Calling code 02
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya. Nairobi has the highest population in East Africa, with an estimated population of between 3 and 4 million. Since its foundation as a railway camp in 1899, Nairobi has grown to become the largest city in Kenya, and one of the largest cities in Africa.

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Geography and climate
Business and economy
Central business district and skyline
Social conditions

History - Contents

Nairobi skyline
Nairobi skyline
Nairobi was founded in 1899 as a supply depot for the Uganda Railway which was being constructed between Mombasa and Uganda. It was named after a water hole known in Maasai as Ewaso Nyirobi, meaning "cool waters".It was totally rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the burning of the original town.Nairobi replaced Mombasa as the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate in 1905. The railway brought wealth into the city, which made it grow dramatically. It then became Kenya's second largest town after Mombasa.As the British colonialists started to explore the region, they started using Nairobi as their first port of call. This prompted the colonial government to build several grand hotels in the city. The main occupants were British game hunters.Nairobi continued to grow under British rule, and many British peoples settled within the city's suburbs. The continuous expansion of the city began to anger the Maasai people, as the city was devouring their land to the south. It also angered the Kikuyu people, who wanted the land returned to them.In 1919, Nairobi was declared to be a municipality. Between the years of 1920 and 1950, the number of white settlers within Nairobi rose from 9,000 to 80,000. There was, however, friction that existed between these settlers and the local peoples. Nairobi was granted city status in 1954.After the end of World War II, this friction developed into the Mau Mau rebellion. Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's future president, was jailed for his involvement, even though there was no evidence linking him to the rebellion.Pressure exerted from the locals onto the British resulted in Kenyan independence in 1963. Nairobi was the capital and largest city of the Republic of Kenya. After independence, Nairobi grew rapidly, and this growth put pressure on the city's infrastructure. Power cuts and water shortages were a common occurrence.In 1998, the US Embassy in Nairobi was bombed in August 1998 by Osama bin Laden's terrorist group Al-Qaida. See: 1998 U.S. embassy bombings.

Culture - Contents

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city, with many immigrants from former British colonies. This is highlighted in the number of churches, mosques temples and gurdwaras within the city.Nairobi has the informal title of "The City in the Sun".

Geography and climate - Contents

Nairobi Skyline viewed from the West
Nairobi Skyline viewed from the West
The city is located at 1°16′S 36°48′E and occupies around 150 km². It is situated about 1660 metres (5450 feet) above sea level.Nairobi is situated between the cities of Kampala and Mombasa. It is beside the Rift valley. The Ngong hills are towards the west, Mount Kenya is towards the North and Mount Kilimanjaro is towards the south-east. As Nairobi is adjacent to the Rift Valley, earthquakes and tremors occasionally occur.At 1660 metres, Nairobi enjoys a fairly moderate climate. The altitude makes for some chilly evenings but it is never too cold. The sunniest and warmest part of the year is from December to March, when temperatures average the mid-twenties during the day. The temperature usually peaks at 30°C. There are two rainy seasons but rainfall is only moderate. The cloudiest part of the year is just after the first rainy season, when, until September, conditions are usually overcast with drizzle.

Business and economy - Contents

Nairobi is the headquarters of sevaral international companies and organizations. This makes it one of the most influential cities in Africa. Goods manufactured in Nairobi include clothing, textiles, building materials, processed foods, beverages and cigarettes.Nairobi has a large tourist industry, being both a tourist destination and a transport hub.

Nairobi is not a prime tourist destination, but it does have several tourist attractions. The most famous is the Nairobi National Park. It is the only national park to border a capital city, or city of this size. The park contains many animals including lions and giraffes. Nairobi also has more species of birds than any other capital city in the world.Nairobi has several museums. These include the Nairobi Railway Museum and the National Museum of Kenya, which houses many artefacts including the full remains of a homo erectus boy.Nairobi hotels include the Panari Hotel, the Hilton, the Grand Regency and the Norfolk Hotel, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the city.Nairobi has just opened the largest ice rink in Africa in the Panari Sky Centre. The rink is 15,000 metres squared and can accommodate 200 people.

Places of interest
  • Nairobi National Park
  • Karen Blixen Museum
  • National Archives
  • Bomas of Kenya
  • Giraffe Centre

Transport - Contents

Nairobi Traffic
Nairobi Traffic
Nairobi is served primarily by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. It is the largest airport in the region and handled 4 million passengers in 2004. This airport is usually the first port of call for most tourists visiting Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania Wilson Airport is a small, busy airport to the west of Nairobi. It handles small aircraft that generally operate within Kenya. Eastleigh Airport was the original landing strip in the pre- jet airline era. It was used in a landing point on the 1930s and 1940s British passenger and mail route from Southampton to Cape Town. This route was served by flying boats between Britain and Kisumu and then by land-based aircraft on the routes to the south. Matatus — privately-owned minibuses — are the most popular form of local transport, and generally transport up to 12 people. In 2004, a law was passed in which all matatus had to include seat-belts, speed governors, and all be painted in a uniform white with yellow band across it[ citation needed]. Many deaths had been caused by dangerous driving and overcrowding in matatus.Nairobi was founded as a railway town, and the Kenya Railways (KR) main headquarters are still situated there, near the city centre. The line runs through Nairobi, from Mombasa to Kampala. Its main use is freight traffic, but regular nightly passenger trains connect Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu. A number of morning and evening commuter trains connect the centre with the suburbs, but the city has no proper light rail, tramway or subway lines. A JKI airport shuttle rail service is being contemplated. Most peoples travel by matatu, bus, car, or by foot and bicycle, and the city is very frequently jammed.

Central business district and skyline - Contents

Nairobi grew around the central business district. It takes a rectangular shape, around the Uhuru Highway, Haille Selasse Avenue, Moi Avenue and University Way. It includes many of Nairobi's important buildings, including the City Hall and Parliament Building. The city square is also located within the perimiter.A feature of the central business district that strikes foreign tourists the most is the skyline. Nairobi's skyline has been compared to many European and American cities. This is due to a construction boom after indepencance, and another construction boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Most of the skyscrapers in this region are the headquarters of businesses and corporations, such as I&M.The United States Embassy bombing took place in this district, prompting the new embassy building to be located in the suburbs.The district is bordered to the south-west by Nairobi's largest park: Uhuru Park. The Mombasa to Kampala railway runs to the south-east of the district.

List of Nairobi's tallest skyscrapers
Nairobi Two Tallest Towers
Nairobi Two Tallest Towers
  • Times Tower (140m)
  • Kenyatta International Conference Centre (105m)
  • NSSF Building (103m)
  • I&M Bank Tower (99m)
  • Government Office Conference Hall (98m)

Social conditions - Contents

Between 500,000 and a million people in Nairobi live in the Kibera slum, the largest and poorest slum in Africa.
Between 500,000 and a million people in Nairobi live in the Kibera slum, the largest and poorest slum in Africa.
Between 500,000 to a million people in Nairobi live in Kibera, the largest and poorest slum in Africa [1], which dates from a 1920 settlement for Nubian soldiers ("Kibera" is the Nubian word for "forest"). The slums cover two square kilometres [2].
View of Jomo Kenyatta Statue and The High Court Building.
View of Jomo Kenyatta Statue and The High Court Building.
Nairobi has struggled with rising crime, earning a reputation for being a dangerous city and the nickname "nairobbery." In 2001, the United Nations International Civil Service Commission rated Nairobi as among the most insecure cities in the world, classifying the city as "status C." The head of one development agency cited the "notoriously high levels of violent armed robberies, burglaries and carjackings." [3]Crime has risen within Nairobi, as many people have left the countryside for the city. They then have no money, and have no option but to settle in slums such as Kibera.Most large houses now have a watchguard and dogs to patrol their grounds during the night. Tourists are advised not to show valuables in broad daylight within the city centre, and to stay away from the city centre at night.As well as crime, the threat of terrorism remains high since the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings. Upon arrival and departure from Nairobi, tourists are thoroughly screened.
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