Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs. The people of Nairobi are popularly nicknamed 'Nairobians'.
Founded in 1899 as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907 and eventually the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963. During Kenya's colonial period, the city became a centre for the colony's coffee, tea and Sisal industry. The city lies on the Nairobi River, in the south of the nation, and has an elevation of 1795 m above sea level.
Nairobi is the most populous city in East Africa. Nairobi is currently the 13th largest city in Africa, based on population and fourth largest in infrastructure development and its size.
Nairobi is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa politically and financially. Home to many companies and organizations, including the United Nations Environmental Programme and the UN Office in Africa, Nairobi is established as a hub for business and culture. The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa, ranked fourth in terms of trading volume and capable of making 10 million trades a day. The Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) defines Nairobi as a prominent social centre.
Geography The city occupies 684 square kilometers (260 sq mi) and 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. Both mountains are visible from Nairobi on a clear day.
The Nairobi River and its Tributaries traverse through the Nairobi Province. Nobel peace price 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 and Gigiri in the north, a distance of about 20 kilometres (12 mi).
The city is centered 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 center all surround the square.At 1,795 meters (5,889 ft) above sea level, Nairobi enjoys a moderate climate. Under the koppean classification climate, Nairobi has a sub tropical highland climate. The altitude makes for some chilly evenings, especially in the June/July season when the temperature can drop to 10 °C (50 °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, due to Nairobi's close proximity to the equator.
Tourism Nairobi is not a prime tourist destination, but it does have several tourist attractions.
National Parks. The Nairobi national park is unique, in being the only game-reserve of this nature to border a capital city, or city of this size. The park contains many animals including lions, giraffes, and black rhinos. The park is home to over 400 species of bird. The Nairobi safari walk is a major attraction to the Nairobi national park as it offers a rare on-foot experience of the animals.
Giraffe Centre Located in Langata, about 5km from Nairobi, Giraffe Center was found to protect the endangered giraffes. It was started by Jock Leslie-Melville. Rothschild giraffe, giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi, living only in the grasslands of East Africa are found here. The place is also a home for a warthogs roaming freely along with the giraffes. One can enjoy feeding the giraffes from a raised platform.
Museums. The National Museum of Kenya is the largest in the city. It houses a large collection of artifacts, including the full remains of a Homo erectus boy. Other prominent museums include the Nairobi Railway Museum and the Karen Blixen Museum. Other notable sites include Jomo Kenyatta’s mausoleum, Kenya National theater and the Kenya National Archives. Art galleries in Nairobi include the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art (Ramoma) and the Mizizi Arts Centre.
Bomas of Kenya; Located in Langata, Bomas of Kenya is a village showcasing the rich cultural values of the different tribal groups of Kenya. It was established in 1971 by the government as a contribution to the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation.
Hotels; Nairobi is nicknamed the Safari Capital of the World, and has many spectacular hotels to cater for safari-bound tourists. Five star hotels in Nairobi include the Nairobi Serena, Laico Regency (formerly Grand Regency), Windsor (Karen), Holiday inn, East African Safari Club (Lilian Towers), The Stanley Hotel, Safari Park & Casino, InterContinental, Panari Hotel, Hilton, and the Norfolk Hotel.
Nairobi is also home to the largest ice rink in Africa: the Solar ice rink at the Panari Sky Centre. The rink, opened in 2005, covers 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) and can accommodate 200 people.
Shopping Malls in Nairobi include; The Yaya Center (Hurlingham), Sarit Center (Westlands), Westgate Shopping Mall(Westlands), ABC Place (Westlands), The Village Market(Gigiri), Junciton Shopping Centre(Ngong Road), Prestige Plaza(Ngong Road), Crossroads Shopping Centre(Karen), and T-Mall(Langata). Nakummatt, Uchumi and Tuskys are the largest supermarket chains with modern stores through-out the city.
The Nairobi Java house is a popular chain of restaurants with multiple branches located around the city including one at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Wilson Airport is a small, busy airport to the south of Nairobi. It handles small aircrafts that generally operate within Kenya, although some offer services to other East African destinations.
Eastleigh was the original landing strip in the pre-jet airline era. It was used as a landing point in the 1930s and 1940s British passenger and mail route from Southamptom toCape Town. This route was served by flying boats between Britain and Kisumu and then by land-based aircraft on the routes to the south. The airport is now a military base.