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Nakuru, is the fourth largest city in Kenya and the capital of Nakuru County in Kenya and former capital of the Rift Valley Province. It has 307,990 inhabitants, making it the largest urban centre in the Kenyan mid-west with Eldoret in Uasin Gishu following closely behind. Nakuru lies about 1,850 m above sea level.

HISTORY

The history of Nakuru can perhaps be traced to the prehistoric period due to the archaeological discoveries located about 8 km from the Central Business District at the Hyrax Hill reserve. Nakuru is Kenya’s 4th largest urban centre with a population of 307,990. However, the modern town, as with many others in Kenya, derives its name from the Maasai speaking people of Kenya. Nakuru was established by the British as part of the White highlands during the colonial era and it has continued growing into a cosmopolitan city. It received township status in 1904 and became a municipality in 1952.

The history of Kenya as a country is closely intertwined with that of Nakuru as a town and a district which is now a county. The first and second presidents of Kenya maintained their semi-official residents within the city, Jomo Kenyatta, and Daniel arap Moi. The city for a long time has been the hotbed of Kenyan politics and it was home to a variety of colourful politicians including the late Kariuki Chotara, Kihika Kimani and the late Mirugi Kariuki and Koigi Wamwere.

In 2006, the then MP, Mirugi Kariuki was killed in a plane crash in Marsabit on his way to a peace meeting. The crash also killed five other members of parliament. The ensuing by-election was contested and won by his son, William Kariuki Mirugi of the Narc-Kenya party. At the age of 27, Hon. William Kariuki Mirugi became one of the youngest members of parliament to represent Nakuru Town Constituency. He was however defeated by Lee Kinyanjui during the 2007 general elections beating his close rival Pastor Mike Brawan. The 2007 post-election violence also took a toll on the town, with dozens of buildings burnt to the ground by various factions.

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE

The city of Nakuru is situated in Nakuru County, Kenya. Nakuru County has predictable weather patterns with temperatures ranging between 10°C during the cold months (July and August) and 20°C during the hot months (January to March). The county receives between 700mm and 1200mm of rainfall annually, with average annual rainfall being an approximated 800mm. Nakuru has two rainy seasons; April, May and August (long rains) and October and December (short rains).

POPULATION

Nakuru County is home to 1, 603, 325 people (male – 50.2 and female – 49.8), according to the 2009 National Census. It is a cosmopolitan county, with its population originating from all the major tribes of Kenya.

The Kikuyu and the Kalenjin are the dominant communities in Nakuru, making about 70 of the county’s population. Both communities are mainly engaged in farming, livestock rearing and trade business.

Other communities such as Luo, Luhyia, Kamba, Meru and Kisii are also present in Nakuru County especially in the urban centres. Majority of these people migrated here for business and employment. The government is the main employer in the county.

LANGUAGE

The Kikuyu people speak Gikuyu; a language widely spoken across the country even in major towns where a majority of people speak Kiswahili.

On the other hand, Kalenjin community comprises several sub-tribes; Tugen, Nandi, Pokot, Keiyo, Kipsigis, Sabaot, Terik and Marakwet – all speaking in Kalenjin language. Many Kikuyus and Kalenjins also speak Kiswahili and English and are among the most educated ethnic groups in Kenya.

CURRENCY: Kenyan Shilling (KSh)

 ECONOMY

Small-scale agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are the backbone of the economy of Nakuru. The area surrounding the city is known for its vast agricultural potential with numerous small farms and also vast agricultural enterprises.The main crops grown around Nakuru and marketed in the city include coffee, wheat, barley, maize, and beans. These crops are stored in massive silos at the outskirts of the city by the National Cereals and Produce Board and Lesiolo Grain Handlers Limited. The crops provide the primary raw material for the manufacturing industries found in Nakuru and Nairobi. These industries include flour milling and grain ginneries. Dairy farming is a key economic activity and provides the inputs for various milk processing plants around the city. According to a UN study released in 2011, Nakuru is Africa’s fastest growing city and the fourth in the world.

The city is also a centre for various retail businesses that provide goods and services to the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. A large public market lies to the west of the town on the main thoroughfare to the capital, Nairobi.

Nakuru is the home of AmaloGroup Limited. AmaloGroup Limited is a premier Tech Company registered in Kenya.

EDUCATION

There are 898 primary schools and 334 secondary schools in Nakuru County, serving 358,556 pupils and 25,475 students respectively. The county’s Teacher to Pupil Ratio is 1: 49 for public primary schools and 1:36 for public secondary schools.

Some of the top high schools in Nakuru County include Moi High School Kabarak, Molo Academy, Nakuru High School, Bahati Girls Secondary School, Naivasha Girls Secondary School and Rongai Secondary School.

Universities and other institutions of higher learning in the county include Egerton University, Mt Kenya University Campus, Kabarak University, Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI) and Kenya Institute of Management (KIM).

HEALTH FACILITIES

Nakuru has numerous healthcare facilities serving the residents of the county. Main hospitals include the Rift Valley Provincial Hospital, Nakuru War Memorial Hospital, Valley Hospital and Nairobi Women’s Hospital (Nakuru).

TOURISM

Nakuru is home to Lake Nakuru, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes, which forms part of the Lake Nakuru National Park. The park has large numbers of flamingoes that can be seen foraging in the shallow lake. The park also has many wild animals that can be seen during a safari. Apart from the animals numerous other sites of interest are accessible from Nakuru. These include Menengai Crater, a dormant volcano. Small fumaroles and steam vents can regularly be observed within the forested caldera from above. The second largest surviving volcanic crater in the world, it plunges 483 m down from the rim and the summit is accessible by foot or vehicle 8 km from the main road to Nyahururu. The wood-covered crater ground is a nature reserve.

Although Lake Bogoria and Lake Baringo are in Baringo County, they are easily accessible from Nakuru. These are major tourist attraction sites too.

Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site, discovered by the Leakeys in 1926, is considered a major Neolithic and Iron Age site. The adjoining museum features finds from various nearby excavations.

CUISINE

City of Nakuru food culture includes a variety of international cuisines and local. Influenced by local tribes from different regions in the country, Asia and Europe.

CULTURE

Home to a population of approximately 1,.7 million people Nakuru is a cosmopolitan county, and melting pot for many cultures. Kikuyu and the Kalenjin are the dominant communities in Nakuru, both constituting about 70 of its population majority of whom are engaged in farming, livestock rearing and trade business.

Other communities such as Luo, Luhyia, Kamba, Meru and Kisii are also present in Nakuru County especially in the urban centres. Majority of these people migrated here for business and employment.A smaller population of the descendants of white settlers and Indians who remained in Kenya after independence are also present and involved in large scale farming, ranching and business.

Bomas of Kenya –Nakuru not only depicts the county’s diverse cultures but also strives to preserve them.

To experience these cultures tour operators in Nakuru County organize for home stays and day tours to the villages.

RELIGION

Majority of Nakuru County residents are Christians, with a fewer number of Muslims and Hindus being present in main towns. The Kikuyu people speak Gikuyu; a language widely spoken across the country even in major towns where a majority of people speak Kiswahili.

On the other hand, Kalenjin community comprises several sub-tribes; Tugen, Nandi, Pokot, Keiyo, Kipsigis, Sabaot, Terik and Marakwet – all speaking in Kalenjin language. Many Kikuyus and Kalenjins also speak Kiswahili and English and are among the most educated ethnic groups in Kenya.

The Kikuyu had their traditional god , called Ngai – before the advent of Christianity, residing at the top of Mount Kenya, while the Kalenjins believed in a supreme god, Asis, represented in the form of the sun. The two communities have abandoned their traditional beliefs for Christianity.

There are many Christian denominations in Nakuru County including but not limited to the  Roman Catholic which has the highest devotees, African Inland Church (AIC) the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).

TRANSPORT

Air

Dondori road C86 linking the city to the central kenya

Streets and highways

Rail