The city of Nairobi is fondly referred to as the green city under the sun. This is Kenya’s capital and the most populous city in the country. It has a population of 4.4 million people. The larger Nairobi metropolitan area has a population of 9.4 million people. It is also one of the 47 counties in the country and generates about 62% of the entire countries GDP.
This city has grown extensively and is one of the cities in Africa that is edgy and creative in the same space. Nairobi is incredible and has both its old charming buildings blending well with new towering skyscrapers.
Here are the top 19 facts about the city of Nairobi.
1. The Name Nairobi means cool waters
The name Nairobi is a Maasai phrase ‘Enkare Nairobi’ which translates to “cool water”. This was about the Nairobi River which flows through the city. The entire land where the city and its environs are used to be swampy and uninhabited. As the city continued to develop, the Maasais who owned vast grazing land were pushed the further sound to allow the expansion if the city.
2. The city was founded in 1899
Nairobi city was founded in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa. This was as a result of the rail depot of the Uganda Railway. The town grew fast and it soon replaced Mombasa as the capital of Kenya. After independence in 1963, Nairobi became the capital of the Republic of Kenya.
3. Nairobi became the capital in 1902
Between 1902 and 1910, the population in Nairobi rose from 5,000 to 16,000. The rise in numbers around the city was due to administrative activities and tourism. Most of the tourists that came were here for game hunting which was legal back then. In 1907, Nairobi replaced Mombasa as the capital of the East Africa Protectorate. In 1919, Nairobi was declared to be a municipality.
4. It is the headquarters of several international organizations in Africa
Nairobi City is home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organizations. Some of the international non-governmental organization include UNEP, UN, Embassies and consulates, Google Africa headquarters, General Electric, Young & Rubicam, Coca-Cola, IBM Services, and Cisco Systems. The regional offices include Safaricom.
5. There are several parks and open spaces
There are many parks and open spaces throughout the city. The city has dense tree-cover and plenty of green spaces. One of the most famous parks in Nairobi is Uhuru Park. The park borders the central business district and the neighbourhood Upper Hill.
It is a centre for outdoor speeches, services, and rallies. The park was By Wangari Maathai who later won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Other parks include Central Park, City Park, Jevanjee Gardens, Nairobi Arboretum and 7th August Memorial Park.
6. Nairobi is the hub of arts and culture in Kenya
Nairobi city is the cultural hub of arts and other high-end events and concerts. The Kenya National Theatre and the Kenya National Archives are found in the city. Several Art galleries can be found in the city too, including the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art, the Mizizi Arts Centre, Nairobi National Museum, The Karen Blixen Museum and Kuona Art Center for visual artists in Nairobi.
7. Matatu Culture is popular in Nairobi
Most cities around the world identify by their main mode of transport. London has red buses, New York has its taxi cabs, while Nairobi has its matatus. Matatu is a slang term for minibuses that are used as public transportation in the country. In Nairobi, these public buses and vans are the norm for the majority of the population.
What makes Matatus in Nairobi stand out is the unique outlandish art on their body. They are a sight to behold, especially for first-time visitors. Graffiti on pop culture, music icons and contemporary topics adorn the sides of the matatus. They are a cultural phenomenon.
8. This is the only city in the world with a National Park
Nairobi is the only national park that borders a capital city. The Park is on the city’s southern suburbs. While at the Park, one can see the wildlife with a backdrop of the city skyline. The Park is made of wide-open grasslands and is home to Giraffes, Rhinos, Zebras, Lions and Buffaloes.
9. Nairobi nightlife is vibrant
As mentioned earlier, one of the characteristics of a Nairobian is to party. It is no surprise therefore that the city has some of the most vibrant nightclubs. The nightclubs are always busy throughout the week and fill to the brim on weekends.
It is common to find a group of revellers club hopping. The nightlife in this city is something not to miss out on. Just outside the clubs, you will find street food vendors selling sambusas, sausages and other Kenyan delicacies.