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Hotels of Nairobi

A hotel in Nairobi is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Nairobi hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Nairobi are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Nairobi hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Nairobi hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Nairobi have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Nairobi
An upscale full service hotel facility in Nairobi that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Nairobi hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Nairobi
Full service Nairobi hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Nairobi
Boutique hotels of Nairobi are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Nairobi boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Nairobi may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Nairobi
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Nairobi travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Nairobi focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Nairobi
Small to medium-sized Nairobi hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Nairobi traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Nairobi hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Nairobi
A bed and breakfast in Nairobi is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Nairobi bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Nairobi B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Nairobi
Nairobi hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Nairobi hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Nairobi
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Nairobi hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Nairobi lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Nairobi
Nairobi timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Nairobi often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Nairobi on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Nairobi
A Nairobi motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Nairobi for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Nairobi motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Nairobi

Clockwise from top: Central business district, Nairobi National Park, Parliament of Kenya, Nairobi City Hall and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
Clockwise from top: Central business district, Nairobi National Park, Parliament of Kenya, Nairobi City Hall and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
Flag of Nairobi
Coat of arms of Nairobi
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "Green City in the Sun", "Nai", "Nairobbery", "Silicon Savannah" "Nairobae"
Nairobi is located in Kenya
Nairobi is located in Africa
Location in Kenya & Africa
Coordinates:  / -1.283; 36.817  / -1.283; 36.817
Country Kenya
County Nairobi County
Founded 1899
• Body Nairobi City County
• Legislature County Assembly
• Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko
• Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe
• City 696 km (269 sq mi)
Elevation 1,661 m (5,450 ft)
Population (2009)
• City 3,138,369
• Density 4,850/km (12,600/sq mi)
• Metro 6,547,547
Demonym(s) Nairobian
Time zone EAT/AST/MSK (UTC+3)
Area code(s) 020
Website nairobi.go.ke

Nairobi (/nˈrbi/; locally [naɪˈroːbi]) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The name comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to "cool water", a reference to the Nairobi River which flows through the city. The city proper has a population of 3,138,369, while the metropolitan area has a population of 6,547,547. The city is popularly referred to as the Green City in the Sun.

Nairobi was founded in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa, as a rail depot on the Uganda Railway. The town quickly grew to replace Machakos as the capital of Kenya in 1907. After independence in 1963, Nairobi became the capital of the Republic of Kenya. During Kenya's colonial period, the city became a centre for the colony's coffee, tea and sisal industry. The city lies on the River Athi in the southern part of the country, and has an elevation of 1,795 metres (5,889 ft) above sea level.

With a population of 3.36 million in 2011, Nairobi is the second-largest city by population in the African Great Lakes region after Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. According to the 2009 census, in the administrative area of Nairobi, 3,138,295 inhabitants lived within 696 km (269 sq mi). Nairobi is the 10th-largest city in Africa, including the population of its suburbs.

Home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), Nairobi is an established hub for business and culture. The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa and the second-oldest exchange on the continent. It is Africa's fourth-largest exchange in terms of trading volume, capable of making 10 million trades a day.

Nairobi: Nairobi Metropolitan Region

Nairobi County (Green) surrounding Nairobi Metro (Red)

Nairobi is found within the Greater Nairobi Metropolitan region, which consists of 5 out of 47 counties in Kenya, which generates about 60% of the entire nation's . The counties are:

Area County Area (km) Population
Census 2009
Cities/Towns/Municipalities in the Counties
Core Nairobi Nairobi County 694.9 3,138,369 Nairobi
Northern Metro Kiambu County 2,449.2 1,623,282 Kiambu, Thika, Limuru, Ruiru, Karuri, Kikuyu, Ruaka, Kahawa
North Eastern Metro Murang'a County 2,325.8 942,581 Gatanga, Kandara, Kenol/Kabati, Murang'a
Southern Metro Kajiado County 21,292.7 687,312 Kajiado, Olkejuado, Bissil, Ngong, Kitengela, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai
Eastern Metro Machakos County 5,952.9 1,098,584 Kangundo-Tala, Machakos, Athi River
Totals Nairobi Metro 32,715.5 7,490,128

Source: NairobiMetro/ Kenya Census

Nairobi: History

Nairobi: 1899–1925

How Nairobi looked in 1899, just a bunch of Tents and then a Railway Depot

The area was essentially uninhabited swamp until a supply depot of the Uganda Railway was built in 1899, which soon became the railway's headquarters. The city was named after a water hole known in Maasai as Enkare Nairobi, meaning "place of cool waters". It was completely rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the burning of the original town. The location of the Nairobi railway 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 with water and its elevation would make it cool enough for residential purposes. However, malaria was a serious problem, leading to at least one attempt to have the town moved.

Entrance to Nairobi Railway Station 1899

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. This prompted the colonial government to build several spectacular grand hotels in the city. The main occupants were British game hunters.

Nairobi continued to grow under the British and many British subjects settled within the city's suburbs. In 1919, Nairobi was declared to be a municipality.

Nairobi: 1925–1950

In February 1926, E. A. T. Dutton passed through Nairobi on his way to Mount Kenya, and said of the city:

Maybe one day Nairobi will be laid out with tarred roads, with avenues of flowering trees, flanked by noble buildings; with open spaces and stately squares; a cathedral worthy of faith and country; museums and of art; theaters and public offices. And it is fair to say that the Government and the Municipality have already bravely tackled the problem and that a town-plan ambitious enough to turn Nairobi into a thing of beauty has been slowly worked out, and much has already been done. But until that plan has borne fruit, Nairobi must remain what she was then, a slatternly creature, unfit to queen it over so lovely a country.

Nairobi: 1950–1975

The continuous expansion of the city began to anger the Maasai, as the city was devouring their land to the south. It also angered the Kikuyu people, who wanted the land returned to them. 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, with Nairobi as the capital of the new republic.

After independence, Nairobi grew rapidly and this growth put pressure on the city's infrastructure. Power cuts and water shortages were a common occurrence, though in the past few years better city planning has helped to put some of these problems in check.

Nairobi in 1973

On September 11, 1973 the Kenyatta International Conference Centre KICC was open to the public. The 28 storey building at the time was designed by the Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nøstvik and a Kenyan David Mutiso, the construction was done in three phases.Phase I was the construction of the podium, Phase II consisted of the main tower and Phase III involved the Plenary. Construction was completed in 1973; with the opening ceremony occurring in September 11 and being presided over by Kenya’s founding father President Kenyatta. This is the only building that says you know Kenya. It is the Iconic symbol of Kenya. No picture says “this is Kenya” if it does not have KICC in the background. It is the only building within the city with a helipad that is open to public. Of the buildings built in the Seventies, the KICC was the most eco-friendly and most environment conscious structure; its main frame was constructed with locally available materials Gravel, sand, cement and wood, it had wide open spaces which allowed for natural aeration and natural lighting. Cuboids made up the plenary hall, the tower consisted of a cylinder composed of several cuboids and the amphitheatre and helipad both resembled cones. The tower was built around a concrete core and it had no walls but glass windows, which allowed for maximum natural lighting. It had the largest halls in eastern and central Africa.

Nairobi: 1975–1999

Three years prior in 1972, the World Bank approved funds for further expansion of the then Nairobi Airport (now Jomo Kenyatta International Airport), including a new international and domestic passenger terminal building, the airport's first dedicated cargo and freight terminal, new taxiways, associated aprons, internal roads, car parks, police and fire stations, a State Pavilion, airfield and roadway lighting, fire hydrant system, water, electrical, telecommunications and sewage systems, a dual carriageway passenger access road, security, drainage and the building of the main access road to the airport (Airport South Road). The total cost of the project was more than US$29 million (US$111.8 million in 2013 dollars). On 14 March 1978, construction of the current terminal building was completed on the other side of the airport's single runway and opened by President Jomo Kenyatta less than five months before his death. The airport was renamed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in memory of its First President.

The United States Embassy, then located in downtown Nairobi, was bombed in August 1998 by Al-Qaida, as one of a series of US embassy bombings. It is now the site of a memorial park.

Nairobi: 2000–Present

Nairobi showing Fedha Towers, ICEA Building, the Nairobi Safari Club and Anniversary Towers

On 9 November 2012, President Mwai Kibaki opened the KES 31 billion Thika Superhighway.The mega-project in East and Central Africa started in 2009 and ended in 2011. It involved expanding the four-lane carriageway to eight lanes, building underpasses, providing interchanges at roundabouts, erecting flyovers and building underpasses to ease congestion. The 50.4 kilometre road was built in three phases: Uhuru Highway to Muthaiga Roundabout; Muthaiga Roundabout to Kenyatta University and; Kenyatta University to Thika Town.

Nairobi: Historical population data for Nairobi

Year 1969 1979 1989 1999 2009
NAIROBI 509, 286 827, 775 1, 324, 570 2, 143, 254 3, 138, 369

Nairobi: Geography

An aerial view of Nairobi, the central business district and Ngong Road
Kenyatta International Conference Centre with Times Tower in the background
Satellite View of Nairobi

The city is situated at  / -1.150; 36.650 (Nairobi, Kenya) and  / -1.450; 37.100 (Nairobi, Kenya) and occupies 696 square kilometres (270 sq mi).

Nairobi is situated between the cities of Kampala and Mombasa. As Nairobi is adjacent to the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, minor earthquakes and tremors occasionally occur. The Ngong Hills, located to the west of the city, are the most prominent geographical feature of the Nairobi area. Mount Kenya is situated north of Nairobi, and Mount Kilimanjaro is towards the south-east.

The Nairobi River and its tributaries traverse through the Nairobi County. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai has fought fiercely to save the indigenous Karura Forest in northern Nairobi which was under threat of being replaced by housing and other infrastructure.

Nairobi's western suburbs stretch all the way from the Kenyatta National Hospital in the south to the UN headquarters at Gigiri suburb in the north, a distance of about 20 kilometres (12 mi). The city is centred on the City Square, which is located in the Central Business District. The Kenyan Parliament buildings, the Holy Family Cathedral, Nairobi City Hall, Nairobi Law Courts, and the Kenyatta Conference Centre all surround the square.

Nairobi: Climate

Under the Köppen climate classification, Nairobi has a subtropical highland climate (Cfb/Cwb). At 1,795 metres (5,889 ft) above sea level, evenings may be cool, especially in the June/July season, when the temperature can drop to 9 °C (48 °F). The sunniest and warmest part of the year is from December to March, when temperatures average the mid-twenties during the day. The mean maximum temperature for this period is 24 °C (75 °F).

There are two rainy seasons, but rainfall can be moderate. The cloudiest part of the year is just after the first rainy season, when, until September, conditions are usually overcast with drizzle. As Nairobi is situated close to the equator, the differences between the seasons are minimal. The seasons are referred to as the wet season and dry season. The timing of sunrise and sunset varies little throughout the year for the same reason.

Nairobi southern suburbs. In the background is Wilson Airport

Nairobi: Districts and neighborhoods

Nairobi is divided into a series of constituencies with each being represented by members of Parliament in the National Assembly. These constituencies are: Makadara, Kamukunji, Starehe, Langata, Dagoretti, Westlands, Kasarani, and Embakasi. The main administrative divisions of Nairobi are Central, Dagoretti, Embakasi, Kasarani, Kibera, Makadara, Pumwani, and Westlands. Most of the upmarket suburbs are situated to the west and north-central of Nairobi, where most European settlers resided during the colonial times AKA 'Ubabini'. These include Karen, Langata, Lavington, Gigiri, Muthaiga, Brookside, Spring Valley, Loresho, Kilimani, Kileleshwa, Hurlingham, Runda, Kitisuru, Nyari, Kyuna, Lower Kabete, Westlands, and Highridge, although Kangemi, Kawangware, and Dagoretti are lower income areas close to these affluent suburbs. The city's colonial past is commemorated by many English place-names. Most lower-middle and upper middle income neighbourhoods are located in the north-central areas such as Highridge, Parklands, Ngara, Pangani, and areas to the southwest and southeast of the metropolitan area near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The most notable ones include Avenue Park, Fedha, Pipeline, Donholm, Greenfields, Nyayo, Taasia, Baraka, Nairobi West, Madaraka, Siwaka, South B, South C, Mugoya, Riverbank, Hazina, Buru Buru, Uhuru, Harambee Civil Servants', Akiba, Kimathi, Pioneer, and Koma Rock to the centre-east and Kasarani to northeast area among others. The low and lower income estates are located mainly in far eastern Nairobi. These include, Umoja, Kariokor, Dandora, Kariobangi, Kayole, Embakasi, and Huruma. Kitengela suburb, though located further southeast, Ongata Rongai and Kiserian further southwest, and Ngong/Embulbul suburbs also known as 'Diaspora' to the far west are considered part of the Greater Nairobi Metropolitan area. More than 90% of Nairobi residents work within the Nairobi Metropolitan area, in the formal and informal sectors. Many Somali immigrants have also settled in Eastleigh, nicknamed "Little Mogadishu".

360-degree Nairobi panorama

Nairobi: Kibera slum

Kibera slums being upgraded to New Apartment by the Kenyan Ministry of housing and United Nations Habitat

The Kibera slum in Nairobi (with an estimated population of at least 500,000 to over 1,000,000 people) was thought to be Africa's second largest slum. However, recent census results have shown that Kibera is indeed much smaller than originally thought.

Nairobi: Parks and gardens

central park Nairobi
Kenyatta Avenue with Uhuru Park between Upper Hill and the Nairobi CBD

Nairobi has many parks and open spaces throughout the city. Much of the city has dense tree-cover and plenty of green spaces. The most famous park in Nairobi is Uhuru Park. The park borders the central business district and the neighbourhood Upper Hill. Uhuru (Freedom in Swahili) Park is a centre for outdoor speeches, services, and rallies. The park was to be built over by former President Daniel arap Moi, who wanted the 62-storey headquarters of his party, the Kenya African National Union, situated in the park. However, the park was saved following a campaign by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

Central Park is adjacent to Uhuru Park, and includes a memorial for Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya. Other notable open spaces include Jeevanjee Gardens, City Park, 7 August Memorial Park, and Nairobi Arboretum.

The colonial 1948 Master Plan for Nairobi still acts as the governing mechanism when it comes to making decisions related to urban planning. The Master Plan at the time, which was designed for 250,000 people, allocated 28% of Nairobi's land to public space, but because of rapid population growth, much of the vitality of public spaces within the city are increasingly threatened. City Park, the only natural park in Nairobi, for example, was originally 150 acres, but has since lost approximately 50 acres of land to private development through squatting and illegal alienation which began in the 1980s.

Nairobi: Political divisions

The City of Nairobi enjoys the status of a full administrative County.

The Nairobi province differs in several ways from other Kenyan regions. The county is entirely urban. It has only one local council, Nairobi City Council. Nairobi Province was not divided into "districts" until 2007, when three districts were created. In 2010, along with the new constitution, Nairobi was renamed a County.

Nairobi County has seventeen constituencies. Constituency name may differ from division name, such that Starehe Constituency is equal to Central Division, Lang'ata Constituency to Kibera division, and Kamukunji Constituency to Pumwani Division in terms of boundaries.

Nairobi: Constituencies

Co-operative Bank of Kenya headquarters

Nairobi is divided into seventeen constituencies and eighty five wards, mostly named after residential estates. Kibera Division, for example, includes Kibera (Kenya's largest slum) as well as affluent estates of Karen and Langata.

Constituency Wards
Westlands Kitisuru · Parklands/Highridge · Karura · Kangemi · Mountain View
Dagoretti North Kilimani · Kawangware · Gatina · Kileleshwa · Kabiro ·
Dagoretti South Mutu-ini · Ngand'o · Riruta · Uthiru/Ruthimitu · Waithaka ·
Langata Karen · Nairobi West · Ngumo · South C · Nyayo Highrise ·
Kibra Laini Saba · Lindi · Makina · Woodley/ Kenyatta Golf Course · Sarang'ombe ·
Roysambu Roysambu · Garden Estate · Muthaiga · Ridgeways · Githurai · Kahawa West · Zimmermann · Kahawa
Kasarani Clay City · Mwiki · Kasarani · Njiru · Ruai
Ruaraka Babadogo · Utalii · Mathare North · Lucky Summer · Korogocho ·
Embakasi South Imara Daima · Kwa Njenga · Kwa Reuben · Pipeline · Kware ·
Embakasi North Kariobangi North · Dandora Area I · Dandora Area II · Dandora Area III · Dandora Area IV ·
Embakasi Central Kayole North · Kayole North Central · Kayole South · Komarock · Matopeni/ Spring Valley ·
Embakasi East Upper Savanna · Lower Savanna · Embakasi · Utawala · Mihang'o ·
Embakasi West Umoja I · Umoja II · Mowlem · Kariobangi South ·
Makadara Maringo/ Hamza · Viwandani · Harambee · Makongeni · Mbotela
Kamukunji Pumwani · Eastleigh North · Eastleigh South · Airbase · California ·
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Nairobi: Economy

Nairobi is a major financial capital of Africa. It is also one of the most modern cities in Africa.
I&M Bank headquarters in Nairobi.

Nairobi is home to the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), one of Africa's largest. The NSE was officially recognised as an overseas stock exchange by the London Stock Exchange in 1953. The exchange is Africa's 4th largest in terms of trading volumes, and 5th largest in terms of Market Capitalization as a percentage of GDP.

Nairobi is the regional headquarters of several international companies and organisations. In 2007, General Electric, Young & Rubicam, Google, Coca-Cola, IBM Services, Airtel, and Cisco Systems relocated their African headquarters to the city. The United Nations Office at Nairobi hosts UN Environment and UN-Habitat headquarters.

Several of Africa's largest companies are headquartered in Nairobi. KenGen, which is the largest African stock outside South Africa, is based in the city. Kenya Airways, Africa's fourth largest airline, uses Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as a hub.

Goods manufactured in Nairobi include clothing, textiles, building materials, processed foods, beverages, and cigarettes. Several foreign companies have factories based in and around the city. These include Goodyear, General Motors, Toyota Motors, and Coca-Cola.

Nairobi has a large tourist industry, being both a tourist destination and a transport hub.

Nairobi: Central business district and skyline

Nairobi has grown around its central business district. This takes a rectangular shape, around the Uhuru Highway, Haille Selassie Avenue, Moi Avenue, and University Way. It features many of Nairobi's important buildings, including the City Hall and Parliament Building. The city square is also located within the perimeter.

Most of the skyscrapers in this region are the headquarters of businesses and corporations, such as I&M and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. The United States Embassy bombing took place in this district, prompting the building of a new embassy building in the suburbs.

In 2011, the city was considered to be about 4 million residents. A large beautification project took place in the Central Business District, as the city prepared to host the 2006 Afri-Cities summit. Iconic buildings such as the Kenyatta International Conference Centre had their exteriors cleaned and repainted.

Nairobi downtown area or central business district is bordered to the southwest by Uhuru Park and Central Park. The Mombasa to Kampala railway runs to the southeast of the district.

Panorama of Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi CBD's main street

Nairobi: Upper Hill

Today, many businesses are considering relocating and /or establishing their headquarters outside the Central Business District area. This is because land is cheaper, and better facilities can easily be built and maintained elsewhere. Two areas that are seeing a growth in companies and office space are Upper Hill, which is located, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) from the Central Business District and Westlands, which is also about the same distance, away from the city centre.

Companies that have moved from the Central Business District to Upper Hill include Citibank and in 2007, Coca-Cola began construction of their East and Central African headquarters in Upper Hill, cementing the district as the preferred location for office space in Nairobi. The largest office development in this area is UAP Tower, a recently completed 33-storey tower at 163 meters high. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) are also located in Upper Hill at the Delta Center, Menegai Road. Earlier on, they were located in the Hill Park Building and CBA Building respectively(both also in Upper Hill), and prior to that in View Park towers in the Central Business District.

To accommodate the large demand for floor space in Nairobi, various commercial projects are being constructed. New business parks are being built in the city, including the flagship Nairobi Business Park.

Nairobi panorama, viewed from Westlands

Construction boom and real estate development projects

A view of Nairobi from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre

Nairobi is currently undergoing a construction boom. Major real estate projects and skyscrapers are coming up in the city. Among them are: Hass twin towers which will tower at 212m, Britam Tower (198m), Avic International Africa headquarters (176m), Prism tower (140m), Pan Africa insurance towers, Pallazzo offices, and many other projects. Shopping malls are also being constructed like the recently completed Garden city Mall, Centum's Two rivers Mall, The Hub in Karen, Karen waterfront, Thika Greens, and the recently reconstructed Westgate Mall. High-class residential apartments for living are coming up like Le Mac towers, a residential tower in Westlands Nairobi with 23 floors. Avic International is also putting up a total of four residential apartments on Waiyaki way: a 28-level tower, two 24-level towers, and a 25-level tower. Hotel towers are also being erected in the city. Avic International is putting up a 30-level hotel tower of 141m in the Westlands. The hotel tower will be operated by Marriot group. Jabavu limited is constructing a 35 floor hotel tower in Upper Hill which will be high over 140 metres in the city skyline. Arcon Group Africa has also announced plans to erect a skyscraper in Upper hill which will have 66 floors and tower over 290 metres, further cementing Upper hill as the preferred metropolis for multinational corporations launching their operations in the Kenyan capital.

Nairobi's tallest skyscrapers
Pinnacle Towers 274 m (899 ft)
UAP Tower 163 m (535 ft)
Times Tower 140 m (460 ft)
Teleposta Towers 120 m (390 ft)
Kenyatta International Conference Centre 105 m (344 ft)
NSSF Building 103 m (338 ft)
I&M Bank Tower 100 m (330 ft)
Nyayo House 84 m (276 ft)
Cooperative Bank House 83 m (272 ft)
National Bank House 82 m (269 ft)
Hazina Towers 81 m (266 ft)
Rahimtulla Tower 80 m (260 ft)

Nairobi: Tourism

A giraffe at Nairobi National Park, with Nairobi's skyline in background

Nairobi is one of the few cities in the world with a national park within its boundaries, making it a prime tourist destination as well, with several other tourist attractions. The most famous is the Nairobi National Park, the only game reserve of this nature to border a capital city, or any major city. The park contains many animals including lions, giraffes, and black rhinos. The park is home to over 400 species of birds. The Nairobi Safari Walk is a major attraction to the Nairobi National Park as it offers a rare on-foot experience of the animals.

Nairobi is home to several museums, sites, and monuments. The Nairobi National Museum is the country's national museum and the largest in the city. It houses a large collection of artefacts portraying Kenya's rich heritage through history, nature, culture, and contemporary art. It also includes the full remains of a homo erectus popularly known as the Turkana boy. Other prominent museums include the Nairobi Gallery, Nairobi Railway Museum, and the Karen Blixen Museum located in the affluent Karen suburb. Uhuru Gardens, a national monument and the largest memorial park in Kenya, is also the place where the first Kenyan flag was raised at independence. It is located along Langata road near the Wilson Airport.

The Sarova Stanley

Nairobi is nicknamed the Safari Capital of the World or the City Under the Sun, and has many hotels to cater for safari-bound tourists. Five-star hotels in Nairobi include the Nairobi Serena, Laico Regency (formerly Grand Regency Hotel), Windsor (Karen), Holiday Inn, Nairobi Safari Club (Lilian Towers), The Sarova Stanley Hotel, Safari Park & Casino, InterContinental, Panari Hotel, Hilton, and the Norfolk Hotel. Other newer ones include the Crowne Plaza Hotel Nairobi in Upper Hill area, the Sankara Nairobi in Westlands, Tribe Hotel-Village Market, House of Wayne, The Eastland Hotel, Ole Sereni, and The Boma located along Mombasa Highway. International chains apart from the Hilton, the Intercontinental group, and Serena Hotels are also setting up properties in Nairobi city. Upcoming establishments include Radisson Blu and the upscale boutique Bidwood Suite Hotel in Westlands, which are nearing completion. The Best Western Premier-Nairobi and The Villa Rosa Kempinski have been completed and opened.

Nairobi is also home to the largest ice rink in Africa: the Solar Ice Rink at the Panari Hotel's Sky Centre. The rink, opened in 2005, covers 15,000 square feet (1,400 m) and can accommodate 200 people.

Shopping malls in Nairobi include the Greenspan Mall (Donholm), Yaya Centre (Hurlingham), Sarit Centre (Westlands), Westgate Shopping Mall (Westlands), ABC Place (Westlands), The Village Market (Gigiri), Junction Shopping Mall (Ngong Road), Prestige Plaza (Ngong Road), Crossroads Shopping Centre (Karen), T-Mall (Langata), Garden City Mall and Thika Road Mall (TRM). Nakumatt, Uchumi, and Tuskys, Naivas are the largest supermarket chains with modern stores throughout the city.

Woodvale Grove, Westlands

The Nairobi Java House is a coffee house and restaurant chain with branches located around the city including one at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Other coffee chains include Art Caffe, Dormans Coffee House and Savannah, which is part of Sasini Tea.

Nairobi's night life is popular with tourists, young and old. From a collection of gourmet restaurants offering local and international cuisine, Nairobi has something to offer to every age and pocket. Most common known food establishments include The Carnivore and The Tamarind Restaurants which have outlets in Langata, City Centre, and the Village Market. For those more discerning travellers, one can choose from a wide array of local cuisine, Mediterranean, fast food, Ethiopian, and Arabian. The city's nightlife is mostly centred along friends and colleagues meeting after work especially on Fridays – commonly known as "Furahiday" (Happy Day), theme nights, events and concerts, and Shisha cafés. The most popular clubbing spots are centred in upmarket Westlands which has come to be known as "Electric Avenue", Karen, Langata, Hurlingham, and "uptown" venues in the city centre. Nairobians generally go out every day of the week and most establishments are open till late.

Other sites include Jomo Kenyatta's Mausoleum, Kenya National Theatre, and the Kenya National Archives. Art galleries in Nairobi include the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art (Ramoma), the Mizizi Arts Centre, and the Nairobi National Museum.

Nairobi: Places of interest

  • The Carnivore
  • Nairobi Mamba Village
  • Florida Discothèque (demolished)
  • Oloo's Children Center in Kibera Slums
  • Nairobi National Park
  • Nairobi National Museum
  • Uhuru Gardens
  • David Sheldrick Centre
  • Giraffe Centre
  • Bomas of Kenya
  • Karen Blixen Museum
  • The National Council of Churches of Kenya HQ, Hurlingham
  • The Karura Forest
  • Kenyatta International Conference Centre Rooftop and View of City Skyline
  • The Nairobi Arboretum
  • The Memorial Park Garden
  • United Nations Office at Nairobi
  • Utamaduni Craft Centre
  • City Park
  • Uhuru Park
  • Splash Water World
  • Ngong Racecourse
  • Karen Blixen Home

Nairobi: Demographics

Population of Nairobi between 1906 and 2009.

Nairobi has experienced one of the highest growth rates of any city in Africa. Since its foundation in 1899, Nairobi has grown to become the second largest city in the African Great Lakes, despite being one of youngest cities in the region. The growth rate of Nairobi is currently 4.1% a year. It is estimated that Nairobi's population will reach 5 million in 2025.

These data fit remarkably closely (r^2 = 0.9994) to a logistic curve with t(0) = 1900, P(0)=8500, r = 0.059 and K = 8,000,000. This suggests a current (2011) growth rate of 3.5% (the CIA estimate of 4.5% cited above would have been true in 2005). According to this curve, the population of the city will be below 4 million in 2015, and will reach 5 million in 2025.

Given this high population growth, owing itself both to urban migration and high birth rates, the economy has yet to catch up. Unemployment is estimated at 40% within the city, mainly in the high-density, low income areas of the city which can make them seem even denser than the higher-income neighborhoods.

Nairobi: Society and culture

Basilica of the Holy Family in Nairobi

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. The names of some of its suburbs, including Hurlingham and Parklands reflect Nairobi's early history of colonial occupation.

By the mid twentieth century, many foreigners settled in Nairobi from other parts of the British Empire, primarily India and parts of (present-day) Pakistan. These immigrants were workers who arrived to construct the Kampala – Mombasa railway, settling in Nairobi after its completion, and also merchants from Gujarat. Nairobi also has established communities from Somalia and Sudan.

There are a number of churches, mosques, temples, and gurdwaras within the city. Prominent places of worship in Nairobi include the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, All Saints Cathedral, Ismaili Jamat Khana, and Jamia Mosque.

Nairobi has two informal nicknames. The first is "The Green City in the Sun", which is derived from the city's foliage and warm climate. The second is the "Safari Capital of the World", which is used due to Nairobi's prominence as a hub for safari tourism.

There are a number of shopping malls in the Nairobi Area. These include: Garden city mall, Thika road mall (TRM), the West Gate mall, Prestige Plaza, the Village Market, the Sarit Centre, the Junction. A variety of amenities are provided at these malls and include: cinemas, fashion and apparel retailers, bookshops, electronics and grocery stores, coffeehouses, restaurants and bars.

Nairobi: Literature and film

Nairobi Cinema

Kwani? is Kenya's first literary journal and was established by writers living in Nairobi. Nairobi's publishing houses have also produced the works of some of Kenya's authors, including Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Meja Mwangi who were part of post-colonial writing.

Many film makers also practice their craft out of Nairobi. Film-making is still young in the country, but people like producer Njeri Karago and director Judy Kibinge are paving the way for others.

Perhaps the most famous book and film set in Nairobi is Out of Africa. The book was written by Karen Blixen, whose pseudonym was Isak Dinesen, and it is her account of living in Kenya. Karen Blixen lived in the Nairobi area from 1917 to 1931. The neighbourhood in which she lived, Karen, is named after her.

In 1985, Out of Africa was made into a film, directed by Sydney Pollack. The film won 28 awards, including 7 Academy Awards. The popularity of the film prompted the opening of Nairobi's Karen Blixen Museum.

Nairobi is also the setting of many of the novels of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Kenya's foremost writer.

Nairobi has been the set of several other American and British films. The most recent of these was The Constant Gardener (2005), a large part of which was filmed in the city. The story revolves around a British diplomat in Nairobi whose wife is murdered in northern Kenya. Much of the filming was in the Kibera slum.

Among the latest Kenyan actors in Hollywood who identify with Nairobi is Lupita Nyong'o. Lupita received an Oscar award for best supporting actress in her role as Patsy in the film 12 Years a Slave during the 86th Academy Awards at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles. Lupita is the daughter of Kenyan politician Peter Anyang' Nyong'o

Most new Hollywood films are nowadays screened at Nairobi's cinemas. Up until the early 1990s, there were only a few film theatres and the repertoire was limited. There are also two drive-in cinemas in Nairobi.

In 2015 and 2016, Nairobi was the focus point for the American television series Sense8 which shot its first and second seasons partly in the city. The TV series has high reviews in The Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

In 2015 Nairobi was also featured in the British thriller film Eye in the Sky (2015 film), which is a story about a lieutenant general and a colonel who faced political opposition after ordering a drone missile strike to take out a group of suicide bombers in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nairobi: Food

In Nairobi, there is a range of restaurants and, besides being home to nyama choma which is a local term used to refer to roasted meat, there are American fast food restaurants such as KFC, Subway, Dominos Pizza, Pizza Hut, Hardees and Burger King which are popular, and the longer established South African chains, Galittos, Steers, PizzaMojo, Spur Steak Ranches. Coffee houses, doubling up as restaurants, mostly frequented by the upper middle classes, such as Artcaffe, Nairobi Java House and Dormans have become increasingly popular in recent days. Traditional food joints such as the popular K'osewe's in the city centre and Amaica, which specialise in African delicacies are also widepsread. The Kenchic franchise which specialised in old-school chicken and chips meals was also popular, particularly among the lower classes and students, with restaurants all over the city and its suburbs. However, as at February 2016, Kenchic stopped operating its eatery businesses. Upscale restaurants specialising in specific cuisines, ranging from Italian, Lebanese, Ethiopian, French and seafood are more likely to be found in five star hotels and the wealthier suburbs in the West and South of the city.

Nairobi has an annual restaurant week (NRW) at the beginning of the year, January–February. Nairobi's restaurants offer dining packages at reduced prices. NRW is managed by Eatout Kenya which is an online platform that lists and reviews restaurants in Nairobi, and provides a platform for Kenyan foodies to congregate and share.

Nairobi: Music

Nairobi is the centre of Kenya's music scene. Benga is a Kenyan genre which was developed in Nairobi. The style is a fusion of jazz and Luo music forms. Mugithi is another popular genre in Kenya, with its origins in the central parts of the country. A majority of music videos of leading local musicians are also filmed in the city.

In the 1970s, Nairobi became the prominent centre for music in the African Great Lakes. During this period, Nairobi was established as a hub of soukous music. This genre was originally developed in Kinshasa and Brazzaville. After the political climate in the region deteriorated, many Congolese artists relocated to Nairobi. Artists such as Orchestra Super Mazembe moved from Congo to Nairobi and found great success. Virgin records became aware of the popularity of the genre and signed recording contracts with several soukous artists.

More recently, Nairobi has become the centre of the Kenyan hip hop scene, with Kalamashaka, Gidi Gidi Majimaji being the pioneers of urban music in Kenyan. The genre has become very popular amongst local youth, and domestic musicians have become some of the most popular in the region. Successful artists based in Nairobi include Jua Cali, Nonini, Camp Mulla, Juliani, Eric Wainaina, Suzanna Owinyo and Nameless. Popular Record labels include Ogopa DJs, Grand Pa Records, Main Switch, Red Black and Green Republik, Calif Records and Bornblack Music Group.

Many foreign musicians who tour Africa perform in Nairobi. Bob Marley's first-ever visit to Africa started in Nairobi. Acts that have performed in Nairobi include Lost Boyz, Wyclef Jean, Shaggy, Akon, Eve, T.O.K, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, Alaine, Konshens, Ja Rule, and Morgan Heritage, and Cabo Snoop. Other international musicians who have performed in Nairobi include the rocking show by Don Carlos, Demarco, Busy Signal, Mr. Vegas and the Elephant man crew.

Nairobi, including the coastal towns of Mombasa and Diani, have recently become the centre of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in Kenya, which includes Trance, Techno, House, Progressive, Drum & Bass, and Dubstep. Prominent international composers & DJs have graced their presence in these cities, including Kyau & Albert, Solarity, Ronski Speed, and Boom Jinx.

Many nightclubs in and around the city have witnessed a growth in the population that exclusively listen to Electronic Dance Music, especially amongst the younger generations. These youth also support many local EDM producers & DJs, such as Jahawi, Mikhail Kuzi, Barney Barrow, Jack Rooster, HennessyLive, Trancephilic5 As well as up and comers such as L.A Dave, Eric K, Raj El Rey, Tom Parker and more.

Gospel music is also very popular in Nairobi just as in the rest of Kenya, with gospel artistes having a great impact in the mostly Christian city . Artistes such as Esther Wahome, Eunice Njeri, Daddy Owen, Emmy Kosgei and the late Angela Chibalonza, among others, have a great pull over the general population while others like MOG, Juliani, Ecko dyda, DK Kwenye Beat have great influence over the younger generation. Their concerts are also very popular and they have as much influence as the great secular artistes.The most popular being Groove tours, TSO (Totally Sold Out) new year concerts.

Musical group Sauti Sol performed for U.S. President Barack Obama when he was in the city for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship summit.

Nairobi: Sport

Nairobi is the African Great Lakes region's sporting centre. The premier sports facility in Nairobi and generally in Kenya is the Moi International Sports Centre in the suburb of Kasarani. The complex was completed in 1987, and was used to host the 1987 All Africa Games. The complex comprises a 60,000 seater stadium, the second largest in the African Great Lakes (after Tanzania's new national stadium), a 5,000 seater gymnasium, and a 2,000 seater aquatics centre.

The Nyayo National Stadium is Nairobi's second largest stadium renowned for hosting global rugby event under the "Safaricom Sevens." Completed in 1983, the stadium has a capacity of 30,000. This stadium is primarily used for football. The facility is located close to the Central Business District, which makes it a convenient location for political gatherings.

Nairobi City Stadium is the city's first stadium, and used for club football. Nairobi Gymkhana is the home of the Kenyan cricket team, and was a venue for the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Notable annual events staged in Nairobi include Safari Rally (although it lost its World Rally Championship status in 2003), Safari Sevens rugby union tournament, and Nairobi Marathon.

Football is the most popular sport in the city by viewership and participation. This is highlighted by the number of football clubs in the city, including Kenyan Premier League sides Gor Mahia, A.F.C. Leopards, Tusker and Mathare United.

There are six golf courses within a 20 km radius of Nairobi. The oldest 18-hole golf course in the city is the Royal Nairobi Golf Club. It was established in 1906 by the British, just seven years after the city was founded. Other notable golf clubs include the Windsor Country Club, Karen Country Club, and Muthaiga Golf Club. The Kenya Open golf tournament, which is part of the Challenge Tour, takes place in Nairobi. The Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi is the centre of horse racing in Kenya.

Rugby is also a popular sport in Nairobi with 8 of the 12 top flight clubs based here.

Basketball is also a popular Sport played in the City's Primary, Secondary and College leagues. Most of the City's Urban youth and are basketball fans and watch the American NBA.

Nairobi: Education

The majority of schools follow either the Kenyan Curriculum or the British Curriculum. There is also International School of Kenya which follows the North American Curriculum and the German school in Gigiri. Kenya High School, one of the schools in Kenya, is located in Nairobi.

Nairobi: Higher education

Nairobi is home to several Universities and Colleges.

  • The University of Nairobi is the largest and oldest university in Kenya. It was established in 1956, as part of the University of East Africa, but became an independent university in 1970. The university has approximately 84,000 students.
  • Kenyatta University is situated 16 km (9.9 mi) from Nairobi on the Nairobi – Thika dual carriageway on 1,100 acres (4.5 km) of land. The university was chartered in 1985, offering mainly education-related courses, but has since diversified, offering medicine, environmental studies, engineering, law, business, statistics, agriculture, and economics. It has a student body of about 32,000, the bulk of whom (17,000) are in the main (Kahawa) campus. Currently it is one of the fastest growing public universities.
  • Strathmore University started in 1961 as an Advanced Level (UK) Sixth Form College offering Science and Arts subjects. The college started to admit accountancy students in March 1966, and thus became a university. In January 1993, Strathmore College merged with Kianda College and moved to Ole Sangale Road, Madaraka Estate, Nairobi.
  • United States International University – Nairobi was originally a branch of the United States International University, but became a fully autonomous university in 2005. It was first established in 1969. The university has accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, in USA, and the Government of Kenya. It is located in a quiet west side location of Kasarani area north-central Nairobi opposite the Safari Park Hotel.
  • In 2005, The Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi was upgraded to a health sciences teaching hospital, providing post graduate education in medicine and surgery including nursing education, henceforth renamed the Aga Khan University Hospital.
  • The Catholic University of Eastern Africa located in Langata suburb, obtained its "Letter of Interim Authority" in 1989. Following negotiations between the Authority of the Graduate School of Theology and the Commission for Higher Education (CHIEA), the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was established three years later, culminating in the granting of the Civil Charter to CHIEA on 3 November 1992.
  • The Technical University of Kenya (formerly Kenya Polytechnic) is the only Technical University in the country. Established in 1961 as the Kenya Technical Institute, the University was chartered by Mwai Kibaki in 2013 to become an independent institution of higher learning (It was previously a constituent college of the University of Nairobi). It offers highly technical degree courses in three faculties: Engineering and Built Environment, Applied Sciences and Technologies, and Social Sciences and Technologies.
  • KCA University (formerly the Kenya College of Accountancy), located in Ruaraka.
  • The Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA) is also another Institution of higher learning that is located in the town. It has several campuses around the town.
  • Pan African Christian University in Kasarani.
  • East Africa Institute of Certified Studies (well known as ICS College) is located at Stanbank House with branches in Mombasa and Kisumu.

Numerous other universities have also opened satellite campuses in Nairobi. The Railways Training Institute established in 1956, is also a notable institution of higher learning with a campus in Nairobi.

Nairobi: Infrastructure

Nairobi: Transport

Syokimau Railway Station

Major plans are being implemented in the need to decongest the city's traffic and the completion of Thika Road has given the city a much needed face-lift attributed to road's enhancement of global standards. Several projects have been completed (Syokimau Rail Station, the Eastern and Northern Bypasses) while numerous other projects are still underway. The country's head of state announced (when he opened Syokimau Rail Service) that Kenya was collaborating with other countries in the region to develop railway infrastructure to improve regional connectivity under the ambitious LAPPSET project which is the single largest and most expensive in the continent.

Kenya signed a bilateral agreement with Uganda to facilitate joint development of the Mombasa-Malaba-Kampala standard gauge railway. A branch line will also be extended to Kisumu.

Similarly, Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Ethiopia for the development of Lamu-Addis Ababa standard gauge railway. Under the Lamu-South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project, the development of a railway component is among the priority projects.

The development of these critical transport facilities will, besides reducing transport costs due to faster movement of goods and people within the region, also increase trade, improve the socio-economic welfare of Northern Kenya and boost the country's potential in attracting investments from all over the world.

The first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway project was launched on 31 May 2017 by the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta in a ceremony that saw thousands of Kenyans ride on the inaugural trip free of charge. The two passenger locomotives christened Madaraka Express currently operate daily trips between Nairobi and Mombasa with the fixed departure time of 9:00 AM.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

Nairobi: Airports

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the largest airport in East and Central Africa. Domestic travelers made up 40% of overall passengers in 2016. An increase of 32% in 5 yrs since 2012. JKIA had more than 7 million passengers going through it in 2016. In February 2017, JKIA received a Category One Status from the FAA boosting the airport's status as a Regional Aviation hub.

Wilson Airport; A general aviation airport handling smaller aircraft mostly propeller driven. In July 2016, construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower commenced at a cost of KES 163 Million (approximately USD 1.63 Million)

Eastleigh Airport; a military base airport. In its earlier years, it was utilised as a landing strip in the pre-jet airline era. It was mostly used as a British Passenger and mail route from Southampton to Cape Town in the 1930s & 1940's. This route was served by flying boats between Britain and Kisumu and then by land-based aircraft on the routes to the south.

Nairobi: Matatu

Matatus are the most common form of public transport in Nairobi. Matatu, which literally translates to "three cents for a ride" (nowadays much more) are privately owned minibuses, and the most popular form of local transport, and generally seat fourteen to twenty-four. Matatus operate within Nairobi, its environs and suburbs and from Nairobi to other towns around the country. The matatu's route is imprinted along a yellow stripe on the side of the bus, and matatus plying specific routes have specific route numbers. However, in November 2014 President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the ban on the yellow stripe and allowed matatus to maintain the colourful graphics in an effort to support the youth in creating employment. Matatus in Nairobi were easily distinguishable by their extravagant paint schemes, as owners would paint their matatu with various colourful decorations, such as their favourite football team or hip hop artist. More recently, some have even painted Barack Obama's face on their vehicle. They are notorious for their poor safety records, which are a result of overcrowding and reckless driving. Due to the intense competition between matatus, many are equipped with powerful sound systems and television screens to attract more customers.

A matatu

However, in 2004, a law was passed requiring all matatus to include seat belts and speed governors and to be painted with a yellow stripe. At first, this caused a furore amongst Matatu operators, but they were pressured by government and the public to make the changes. Matatus are now limited to 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph). However, many of the matatu vehicles have had their speed governors disabled, which is evident by them travelling at speeds well over 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).

In December 2010, the Government embarked on a policy to phase out matatus as a means of public transport. Consequently, no new matatus are licensed to operate from January 2011 while the current ones will be allowed to live out their lifespan; a move aimed at enhancing the safety of citizens and visitors as well. However, the matatus continue to occupy the road ways in large numbers contributing to the congestion of Nairobi.

Nairobi: Buses

Buses are increasingly becoming common in the city with some even going to the extents of installing complimentary WiFi systems in partnership with the leading mobile service provider. There are four major bus companies operating the city routes and are the traditional Kenya Bus Service (KBS), and newer private operators Citi Hoppa, Compliant MOA and Double M. The Citi Hoppa buses are distinguishable by their green livery, the Double M buses are painted purple, Compliant MOA by their distinctively screaming names and mix of white, blue colours while the KBS buses are painted blue.

Public Transport in Nairobi

Companies such as; Easy Coach, Crown Bus, Coast Bus, Modern Coast, Eldoret Express, Chania, the Guardian Angel, Spanish and Mash Poa run scheduled buses and luxury coaches to other cities and towns.

Nairobi: Trains

Nairobi was founded as a railway town, and the main headquarters of Kenya Railways (KR) is still situated at Nairobi railway station, which is located near the city centre. The line runs through Nairobi, from Mombasa to Kampala. Its main use is freight traffic connecting Nairobi to Mombasa 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 rapid transit lines. A proposal has been passed for the construction of a commuter rail line. The country's third president since independence, President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 launched the Syokimau Rail Service marking a major milestone in the history of railway development in the country. The opening of the station marked another milestone in efforts to realise various projects envisaged under the Vision 2030 Economic Blueprint. The new station has a train that ferries passengers from Syokimau to the city centre cutting travel time by half. Opening of the station marks the completion of the first phase of the Sh24b Nairobi Commuter Rail Network that is geared at easing traffic congestion in Nairobi, blamed for huge economic losses. Other modern stations include Imara Daima Railway Station and Makadara Railway Station.

The new Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway connects the port city of Mombasa and Nairobi. The new railway line has replaced the 1900 metre-gauge railway. The Nairobi Terminus is located at Syokimau, some 20 km from the city centre. Passengers travelling from Mombasa are usually transferred from the metre-gauge trains to the CBD.

Nairobi: Roads

Museum hill interchange, where uhuru highway links to forest road which is an extension of the Thika superhighway.Nairobi's tall skyscrapers can be seen on the background.
The A104 heading to Nairobi CBD

Nairobi is served by highways that link Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda and Arusha in Tanzania. These are earmarked to ease the daily motor traffic within and surrounding the metro area. However, driving in Nairobi is chaotic. Most of the roads are tarmacked and there are signs showing directions to certain neighbourhoods. The city is connected to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by the Mombasa Highway, which passes through Industrial Area, South B, South C and Embakasi. Ongata Rongai, Langata and Karen are connected to the city centre by Langata Road, which runs to the south. Lavington, Riverside, Westlands, etc. are connected by Waiyaki Way. Kasarani, Eastlands, and Embakasi are connected by Thika Road, Jogoo Road, and Outer Ring Road.

Highways connect the city with other major towns such as Mombasa, Machakos, Voi, (A109), Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Namanga Border Tanzania(A104) etc.

Nairobi is currently undergoing major road constructions to update its infrastructure network. The new systems of roads, flyovers, and bridges would cut outrageous traffic levels caused the inability of the current infrastructure to cope with the soaring economic growth in the past few years. It is also a major component of Kenya's Vision 2030 and Nairobi Metropolis plans. Most roads now, though, are well lit and surfaced with adequate signage.

Eastern Bypass, Nairobi

The proposed Nairobi Bypasses are currently under construction by the Kenyan government and financed by Chinese Government. Their construction seeks to ease congestion in Nairobi's downtown area and the surrounding suburbs. The Bypasses will comprise the:

  • Northern bypass – linking Limuru road to Thika Road
  • Eastern bypass – linking Mombasa road to Ruiru-Kiambu road near Kamiti prison
  • Southern bypass – run from Kikuyu to Mombasa road via Ngong road & Langata

Nairobi: Private Car Population Projection for Nairobi

YEAR 2004 2010 2015 2025
Number Of Private Cars 207,339 327,366 486,207 716,138

Nairobi: Water supply and sanitation

94% of the piped water supply for Nairobi comes from rivers and reservoirs in the Aberdare Range north of the city, of which the reservoir of the Thika Dam is the most important one. Water distribution losses – technically called non-revenue water – are 40%, and only 40% of those with house connections receive water continuously. Slum residents receive water through water kiosks and end up paying much higher water prices than those fortunate enough to have access to piped water at their residence. In the middle of a severe drought, the board of the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company was sacked July 2009 for "malpractices", following the publication of a report by Transparency International-Kenya and the Kenyan NGO Maji Na Ufanisi (Water and Development). The report had found cases of bribery for illegal connections, tampering with meter readings, and diversion of water from domestic users to industries in five cities, with the highest incidence of bribery in Nairobi.

Nairobi: Housing

Nairobi Metro Map
Nairobi County (red)
Kajiado County (green)
Machakos County (yellow)
Kiambu County (purple)

There is wide variety regarding standards of living in Nairobi. Most wealthy Kenyans live in Nairobi, but the majority of Nairobians are average and poor. Half of the population have been estimated to live in slums which cover just 5% of the city area. The growth of these slums is a result of urbanisation, poor town planning, and the unavailability of loans for low income earners.

Kibera is one of the largest slums in Africa, and is situated to the west of Nairobi. (Kibera comes from the Nubian word Kibra, meaning "forest" or "jungle"). The slums cover two square kilometres and are on government land. Kibera has been the setting for several films, the most recent being The Constant Gardener.

Other notable slums include Mathare and Korogocho. Altogether, 66 areas are counted as slums within Nairobi.

Many Nairobi non-slum-dwellers live in relatively good housing conditions. Large houses can be found in many of the upmarket neighbourhoods, especially to the west of Nairobi. Historically, British occupiers have settled in Gigiri, Muthaiga, Langata and Karen. Other middle and high income estates include Parklands, Westlands, Hurlingham, Kilimani, Milimani, Spring Valley, Lavington, Rosslyn, Kitisuru, and Nairobi Hill.

To accommodate the growing middle class, many new apartments and housing developments are being built in and around the city. The most notable development is Greenpark, at Athi River, Machakos County 25 km (16 mi) from Nairobi's Central Business District. Over 5,000 houses, villas and apartments are being constructed at this development, including leisure, retail and commercial facilities. The development is being marketed to families, as are most others within the city. Eastlands also houses most of the city's middle class and includes South C, South B, Embakasi, Buru Buru, Komarock, Donholm, Umoja, and various others.

Nairobi: Crime and law enforcement

Throughout the 1990s, Nairobi had struggled with rising crime, earning a reputation for being a dangerous city and the nickname "Nairobbery," a name which persists today. On 7 August 1998, the US Embassy was bombed, killing 224 people and injuring 4000. 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". In the United Nations report, it was stated that in 2001, nearly one third of all Nairobi residents experienced some form of robbery in the city. The head of one development agency cited the notoriously high levels of violent armed robberies, burglaries, and carjackings. Crime had risen in Nairobi as a result of unplanned urbanisation, with a minimal number of police stations and a proper security infrastructure. However, many claim that the biggest factor for the city's alarming crime rate is police corruption, which leaves many criminals unpunished. As a security precaution, most large houses have a watch guard, burglar grills, and dogs to patrol their grounds during the night. Most crimes, however, occur around the poor neighbourhoods where it gets dangerous during night hours.

In 2006, crime decreased in the city, due to increased security and an improved police presence. Despite this, in 2007, the Kenyan government and US State Department have announced that Nairobi is experiencing a greater level of violent crime than in previous years. Since then, the government has taken measures to combat crime with heavy police presence in and around the city while US government has updated its travel warning for the country.

Following a grenade attack in October 2011 by a local Kenyan man, with terrorist links, the city faced a heightened security presence. Fears spread over further promised retaliations by the Al-Shabaab group of rebels over Kenya's involvement in a coordinated operation with the Somalian military against the insurgent outfit.

There have been a spate of Blasts in Nairobi which started on 10 March 2012, where assailants threw grenades at a busy bus station and a blue-collar bar in Nairobi, killing nine and injuring more than 50. On 28 May 2012, 28 people were injured in an explosion in a shopping complex in downtown Nairobi, near Moi avenue. On 21 September 2013, Al-Shabaab-associated militants attacked the Westgate Mall. 67 people were killed.

Nairobi: Media

Nation Centre, headquarters of the Nation Media Group

Nairobi is home to most of Kenya's news and media organisations. The city is also home to the African Great Lakes region's largest newspapers: the Daily Nation and The Standard. These are circulated within Kenya and cover a range of domestic and regional issues. Both newspapers are published in English.

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, a state-run television and radio station, is headquartered in the city. Kenya Television Network is part of the Standard Group and was Kenya's first privately owned TV station. The Nation Media Group runs NTV which is based in Nairobi. East Africa Television Channel 5 is 24-hour music channel based in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and broadcasts in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. There are also a number of prominent radio stations located in Kenya's capital including KISS 100, Capital FM, East FM, Kameme FM, Metro FM, and Family FM, among others.

Several multinational media organisations have their regional headquarters in Nairobi. These include the BBC, CNN, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Deutsche Welle, and the Associated Press. The East African bureau of CNBC Africa is located in Nairobi's city centre, while the Nairobi bureau of the New York Times is located in the suburb of Gigiri. The broadcast headquarters of CCTV Africa are located in Nairobi.

Nairobi is also home to the East African School of Media Studies due to its large media focus.

Nairobi: The future of Nairobi

Nairobi has grown through three centuries. Its population projection in the 21st century is listed below.

YEAR 2009 2018 2023 2030
Population size 3,138,372 4,174,952 4,677,677 5,212,500

Nairobi: Twin towns – sister cities

Nairobi is twinned with:

Country City County/District/Province/Region/State Date
USA Denver Colorado 1975
USA Raleigh North Carolina
Brazil Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro state 2007
China Kunming Yunnan
China Pingxiang Jiangxi 2013
Mexico Mexico City Federal District 2007
Venezuela Colonia Tovar Aragua

Nairobi: Famous Nairobians

  • Uhuru Kenyatta, (born 1961), the 4th President of Kenya
  • Edi Gathegi, (born 1979), Hollywood actor.
  • Richard Dawkins, (born 1941), British ethologist and evolutionary biologist
  • Chris Froome, (born 1985), British cyclist, winner of the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Sharon Laws, (born 1974), British cyclist
  • Richard Leakey, (born 1944), paleoanthropologist
  • McDonald Mariga, (born 1987), footballer
  • Mercy Apondi Obiero, (born 1978), weightlifter
  • Christina Odone, (born 1960), British-Italian journalist
  • Wangechi Mutu, (born 1972), Brooklyn-based Kenyan artist and sculptor
  • Dennis Oliech, (born 1985), footballer
  • George Owino, (born 1981), footballer
  • Kiran Shah, (born 1956), actor and stuntman
  • Simon Shaw, (born 1973), English rugby union national team
  • Victor Wanyama, (born 1991), footballer
  • Roger Whittaker, (born 1936), British singer and songwriter
  • Evans Kidero, (born 1957), the 1st Governor of Nairobi
  • Peter Kenneth, (born 1965), politician
  • Kiran Shah, (born 1956) Kenyan-Indian actor and stuntman
  • Philippa Gregory, (born 1954) British novelist
  • Simon King, (born 1962) British television presenter and cameraman
  • Arap Bethke, (born 1980) Mexican actor
  • Gurinder Chadha, (born 1960) British film director
  • Charles Mnene, (born 1985) Kenyan-British actor
  • Zena Marshall, (born 1926) British actress

Nairobi: See also

  • International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology
  • Stanley Hotel, Nairobi
  • United Nations Environment Programme

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  • Daily Nation
  • The Standard
  • Latest News from Kenya
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