Nairobi is the capital of Kenya. It is one of the largest cities in Africa with a population of around 2.5 million. Nairobi's name comes from the Maasai Enkarenairobi, meaning "cool waters".
The city is located at and occupies around 150 sq km. It is situated about 1660 m (5450 ft) above sea level. The main languages spoken are Swahili and English.
Nairobi was founded in 1899 as a supply depot for the Uganda Railway which was being constructed between Mombasa and Uganda. It was totally rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the burning of the original town. Thereafter the settlement continued to grow, becoming the capital of the British East African Protectorate in 1907 and the capital of the newly independent Kenya in 1963.
Nairobi is served by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. 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.
Nairobi is unique in having a protected game reserve, Nairobi National Park, within its borders. Nairobi also has more species of birds than any other capital city in the world.
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
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".
Last updated: 09-02-2005 05:49:13