Zebras in Nairobi

How Nairobi Became One Of The Fastest Growing Cities In The World

Nairobi is the capital of Kenya, and in regards to cities, it’s relatively new. The city has only been officially recognized since 1954 (CNN) but ever since its initial development it has turned itself into one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. Kenya itself is around two times the size of the state of Nevada, making it one of the most diverse countries in regard to landscape. In Nairobi specifically, residents living in the city are still in close proximity to wildlife, as the city is positioned in between Eastern African cities Somalia and Tanzania, two safari saturated areas. Residents can literally go outside and feel like they’re living in a safari forest urban hybrid, which is one of the reasons it’s becoming one of the fastest cities in the world. 

“Despite its youth, Nairobi’s growth rate has been one of the highest of any African city, with major real estate projects and skyscrapers regularly popping up on the skyline. There’s a lot of entrepreneurship going on here. Everybody is busy creating a life. I come from Mombasa. When I come to Nairobi, I find myself in a different landscape. Here people are moving fast, and people want to get things done. Also, the vibrancy of the city, wharf and business and tourism and hospitality, every part of Nairobi is fast,”  says Najib Balala, Kenya’s minister of tourism.

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As stated by Balala, Nairobi has become one of the most influential cities in Africa, it not only holds a slew of international headquarters for various companies and organizations, but also holds the most amount of retail locations/malls in Kenya as a whole, which to remind you is TWO TIMES the size of Nevada. That’s a lot of retail for one city. According to CNN Travel, the cities population has doubled within the past thirty years. It’s quick and timely growth as a metropolitan hub can be traced back to the arrival of railroads in Africa back in 1895, before the city was even officially recognized. 

According to the BBC, in 1895 the British were focused on building railroads from Mombasa, a city on Kenya’s coast, to Uganda for trading purposes. When they got to the area that is now Nairobi, the location was elevated so high above sea level that construction made it a stopover point on the track due to its vast availability of food and water resources. Once this stopover point was created, the entire area quickly developed to keep up with the high demand of trading and business. On the entirety of the railroad track, Nairobi became the first, and at the time only, place that was developing industrialized buildings, every other stop on the tracks was just landscapes of wildlife and forest land. 

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Fast forward to today, Nairobi’s head start at industrialized development has now resulted in the city becoming not only Kenya’s capital, but the safari capital of the entire continent of Africa. This title was given to the city based on the beautiful National park that exists there. According to CNN, the park is 52 square miles and home to over 400 different types of wild birds as well as other safari wildlife such as leopards, lions, tigers, rhinos, etc. The best part? While residents get to experience the beauty that is Africa’s natural wildlife, they also witness a beautiful city landscape as their background. The ability for Nairobi to maintain a healthy contrast of the city and the natural world, is what makes it such an advanced civilization overall. 

“The greenery and the ecosystem support Nairobi as a healthy city. Look at the freshness of this weather! We say that half the land of Nairobi is Nairobi National Park. The other land is Karura Forest. Nature is the heartbeat of Nairobi and its wildlife has helped to attract travelers to Kenya for many years,” Balala said to CNN Travel.