Nairobi skyline. (Photo by Eric Wagobera Jnr)
Nairobi skyline. (Photo by Eric Wagobera Jnr)

I have always been an adherent admirer of this mighty metropolis since my first visit in 2013. The towering buildings, its impressive roads, and her zealous inhabitants have all riveted me into falling for the East and Central Africa’s major economic, technology and transportation hub. With a population soaring up to 3.3 million, Nairobi has been Kenya’s capital since 1905 when it replaced the coastal city of Mombasa as the seat of the British East Africa Protectorate as Kenya was called by then. Throughout the decades, Nairobi has rapidly developed at a faster pace while leaving her neighbors Kampala and Dar es Salaam lagging behind.

Nairobi’s rapid rise is attributed to the presence of major international firms and the booming tourism industry. Still, Nairobi lies on the major transit route used by her landlocked neighbors to export and import their goods through the Mombasa port. Here are some interesting facts that you should know about this “green city in the sun”:

It’s the only capital city with a national park!

A giraffe in Nairobi national park

Because of this, Nairobi has been fondly called “The world’s wildlife capital”. Any visitor on a short stay would love to enjoy a quick safari experience by visiting this national park that is located just 10 kilometers’ short drive from the central business district. The park is notable for its short savannah grasslands and acacia trees which shelter several wildlife animals including the cheetahs, giraffes and the big 5 (lions, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, and rhinos). In the recent months, the park has made headlines due to the cases of lions streaking out of the park and into the nearby residential areas.

Hosts Africa’s largest urban slum

Kibera slums, Nairobi

Though cities in Africa have host slums, none has a bigger one than Kibera an informal settlement just 5 kilometers away from the CBD! Some facts estimate that there are about 250,000 inhabitants in Kibera whose size is 2.5 sq. km. Kibera is mainly composed of tiny mud-walled shacks that measure about 12ft x 12ft and these can cost around $7 a month. Though it’s the third largest slum in the world, Kibera is now undergoing a major upgrade to provide its inhabitants with proper housing units.

Unusually pleasant Equatorial weather

A sunny Nairobi city. (Photo by Eric Wagobera Jnr)

Despite being 194 kilometers from the equator crossing, Nairobi maintains a fairly warm and pleasant climate whose temperatures average 25°C. Unlike other cities in the sub-Saharan Africa where the weather is terribly hot, Nairobi’s high altitude landscape has served to its advantage. The city sits at an altitude of 5889ft or 1795 meters above the sea level. This has aided Nairobi in fending off the scorching sun’s heat and to maintain a cool climate. Recently, expats ranked Kenya as having the sixth best climate in the world.

Seat of eminent international agencies

UN Headquarters, Nairobi
UN Headquarters, Nairobi

Being a fast developing city with modern infrastructure, many well-known international agencies and companies have established their Africa headquarters in Nairobi. This is the reason for its large concentration of expatriates from the west. This setting has facilitated Nairobi as a host to many international events like the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Arts Expo and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Nairobi also serves as Africa regional headquarters for the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), British Council, International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Africa Office and soon the Oxfam.

The unique multiculturalism of Nairobi

Maasai market, Nairobi
Maasai market, Nairobi

Remarkably, Nairobi being a regional center for business, learning and a technology hub, has attracted a numerous people from all over Africa and beyond. Most of them are expatriates, students, and the business community. It is for this reason that Nairobi is a major ethnically diverse metropolis even whereby some of its low-income areas have defined themselves by ethnicity. The cosmopolitanism of Nairobi is made up of several major Kenyan ethnic groups such as the Kikuyu, Luo, Kalenjin, Luhya, Kisii, Kamba, Maasai, Nandi, etc. Other ethnic groups like the Indians, Europeans, Somalis, and Arabs also have maintained a significant presence since the colonial times.

Besides the above five interesting facts, Nairobi is also surrounded by many captivating sceneries within its immediate environs such as the Ngong hills, the Eastern rift valley, Uhuru park (with an artificial lake in the city centre), Lake Naivasha, national parks like Hells Gate, Aberdare, Ol Donyo Sabuk, Amboseli, Maasai Mara and Mount Kenya.