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History of Nairobi

The birth of Nairobi

The birth of Nairobi as a city is the result of the railway construction by the British. Halfway on the route from the coast to Lake Victoria, the railway engineers found a swampy place, named by the Masai as ‘EnkareNeerobi’- place of cool waters. The Chief Engineer of the Railways decided that this was a suitable place to build railway repair yards and workshops. Soon a tent city of traders, adventurers and settlers grew.

With the completion of the railway, the headquarters of the colonial administration was moved from Mombasa to the cooler, small settlement of Nairobi. Now, as the capital of the British Protectorate, the future of the city on the swamp was assured. Once the railway was up and running, wealth began to flow into the city. Immediately, the colonialists began to show an interest in touring the country, and a stay in the relatively cool capital became a standard part of the trip to Kenya. The colonial government built some grand hotels to accommodate the first tourists to Kenya – big game hunters, lured by the attraction of shooting the country’s almost naively tame wildlife.

Nairobi quickly became a tent city and a supply depot, and soon enough developed into the administrative nerve-centre of the Uganda Railway. The place became a convenient and relatively cool place for the Indian railway laborers and their British overlords to pause midway before tackling the arduous climb into the highlands.

Nairobi through the 1900s

The town was totally rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the subsequent burning down of the original town. By 1907, Nairobi was a humming commercial center and replaced Mombasa as capital of the British East Africa. The city expanded, supported by the growth in administrative functions and in tourism, initially in the form of British big game hunting. As the British colonialists explored the region, they began using Nairobi as their first stop. This prompted the colonial government to build several grand hotels in the city for British tourists and big game hunters.

Nairobi Today

Nairobi is Kenya’s capital city; it has risen in a single century from uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. The railway complex and the building around it rapidly expanded and urbanized until it became the largest city of Kenya and the country’s capital. The name “Nairobi” comes from the Maasai phrase EnkareNyorobi, which translates to “the place of cool waters”. However, Nairobi is popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun.”

Culture, Food and Game

Nairobi is a city that never seems to sleep. The entire town has boundless energy, and is a thriving place where all of human life can be found. This is a place of great contrasts where race, tribe and origin all become the face of a unique Nairobi character.
This is not a modern capital separated from the great wilderness that surrounds it. Just 20 minutes from the city centre is Nairobi National Park which seats on a 113 sq KM of plains, cliffs and forest. The Park is home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe, Rhino, Cheetah, and a large number of Lions are also found here.

From wildlife to nightlife, Nairobi is a city unlike any other. With a fantastic music scene, excellent international restaurants and an endless and colourful array of shops and markets, there is plenty to offer visitors. The city has not lost its sense of the past. It has excellent museums and the historical home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa open to visitors.

Hospitality and MICE
Nairobi is not only the administrative and commercial capital of Kenya, but is a regional banking, diplomatic and aviation hub in East and Central Africa region. It is a major gateway to Kenya, the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa Region.

Nick-named the Green City in the Sun, Nairobi is the only third-world city to host the global headquarters of a major United Nations agency. The city hosts the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) headquarters in the Gigiri Diplomatic District. Nairobi is also the only capital city in the world to host a national park within its boundaries. The Nairobi National Park is situated less than 15 km from the city center and hosts some of the big five such as the lion and the cheetah.

Due to its status as a regional hub, Nairobi plays host to numerous national, regional and international meets that include presidential and diplomatic delegations, executive and humanitarian conferences and trade exhibitions.
This has seen the progressive development of a world-class hospitality industry that boasts of star-rated, award-winning hotels, pubs and restaurants within and around the Nairobi Metro Region. These facilities offer unmatched product and service offerings in the region tailor-made to suit individual needs ranging from the Presidential entourage to the budget tourist.


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