Popularly referred to as the Green City in the Sun, Nairobi is the capital and the largest city of Kenya. The name Nairobi 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 had a population of 4.3 million in the 2019 census, while the metropolitan area has a population of 9.4 million.
Nairobi was founded in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa, as a rail depot on the Uganda Railway. During Kenya’s colonial period, the city became a center for the colony’s coffee, tea, and sisal industry. The town quickly expanded and replaced Mombasa as the capital of Kenya in 1907.
Today, Nairobi is an established hub for business and culture. The east African city is home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organizations, including the United Nations Environment Program. The Nairobi Securities Exchange 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.
In 1919, Nairobi was declared to be a municipality. The site of Nairobi was originally part of an uninhabited swamp. Between 1902 and 1910, the town’s population rose from 5,000 to 16,000, The mega city grew around administration and tourism. By the outset of the First World War, Nairobi was established as a European settler colony through immigration.
Nairobi had just over 24,000 residents in 1921, of which 12,000 were native Africans. However, the next decade saw serious growth in native African communities in Nairobi, where they went on to constitute a majority of the cities population for the first time.
After independence, Nairobi grew rapidly, 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.
Many of Africa’s largest companies are headquartered in Nairobi. Safaricom, the largest company in Kenya by assets and profitability is headquartered in the city. KenGen, which is the largest African stock outside South Africa is also based in the city. Kenya Airways, Africa’s fourth largest airline, uses Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as a hub.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is an international airport in Nairobi, the airport has scheduled flights to destinations in over 50 countries. Originally named Embakasi Airport, the airport’s name was changed in 1978 to honor Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president and prime minister. The airport served over 10 million passengers in 2019, making it the seventh busiest airport on the continent.
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 General Motors, Toyota Motors, and Coca-Cola.
Nairobi’s downtown area or central business district is bordered to the southwest by Uhuru Park and Central Park. Most wealthy Kenyans live in Nairobi, However half of the population has been estimated to live in slums. Kibera is one of the largest slums in Africa and is situated west of Nairobi.
Throughout the 2000s, Nairobi had struggled with rising crime, earning a reputation for being a dangerous city and the nickname, Nairobbery, is a name which persists till date. 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.
Crime had risen in Nairobi as a result of unplanned urbanization, with a minimal number of police stations and 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.
Most crimes in Nairobi occur around the poor neighborhoods where it gets dangerous during night hours. Since 2006, crime decreased in the city, due to increased security and an improved police presence.
In conclusion, Nairobi was founded in 1899, it is one of the greatest cities in Africa. Nairobi is the capital and the largest city of Kenya and has a metropolitan area population of over 9.4 million inhabitants in 2019. The city is referred to as the Green City in the Sun and is Home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organizations.