Which cities are the largest cities in East Africa? East Africa is comprised of 19 territories. The geography of East Africa is most times scenic and stunning.
It holds the tallest peaks of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya; the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria, and the world’s second deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika. In this article, we will tell you about the 10 largest cities (according to landmass) found in the eastern sub-region of the African continent.
Top 10 Largest Cities In East Africa
10. ZANZIBAR CITY, 15.5 km2
Zanzibar City, which is located in Tanzania, is the capital of Zanzibar and its largest city. It covers a total landmass of 15.5 km2. Zanzibar City is made up of two parts: Ng’ambo and Stone Town, which are divided by a large street called Creek Road.
Stone Road is the historical heart of the city because of its distinctive architecture and culture, while Ng’ambo is a contemporary, much larger area that is developed around Stone town.
9. BUJUMBURA, 127 km2
This is the largest city and main port of Burundi, formerly known as Usumbura. Bujumbura is found on the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika (the second deepest lake within the world) and lays on the mouth of the Ruzizi River and two smaller rivers. The city covers a total of 127 km2.
Bujumbura, which is governed by a community council, is divided into three (3) neighbourhoods, each with its own council leader and council. The city is known for shipping out mostly coffee, as well as cotton and tin ore. The University of Burundi, Hope Africa University, and Université du Lac Tanganyika are all located in the city.
8. KAMPALA, 189 km2
Kampala is one of the largest cities in East Africa. Ahead of Nairobi and Kigali, Kampala has regularly been ranked as East Africa’s best city to live in. Kampala is the largest city in Uganda, as well as its capital. It is reported to be among the fastest-growing cities of Africa.
The City of Kampala consists of a total area of 189 km2, comprising 13km2 of water and 176km2 of land. Kampala is a hilly place, with the highest point being the Summit of Kololo hill located in the centre of the city and the lowest point being at the shores of Lake Victoria south of the city.
The City was originally referred to as “The Hill of the Impala” by British colonial officers because of the presence of several species of antelope, especially the impala. The Baganda, who resided in this territory, then translated the name to “Akasozi ke’Empala”, shortened it to “K’empala” and finally “Kampala”.
Kampala boasts of prominent institutions such as Uganda Museum and the Ugandan National Theatre.
7. MOMBASA, 294.7 km²
Known as the white and blue city, Mombasa is Kenya’s oldest and second-largest city. The city is tourism based with an international airport, an extra-large port and a landmass of 294.7 km². Mombasa is a prosperous trading centre, especially considering its strategic location on the Indian Ocean.
The city is located on Mombasa Island and spreads into the surrounding mainlands. It is separated from the mainland by two creeks: Kilindini Harbour and Tudor Creek.
Mombasa has proved itself to be a major economic centre in Kenya. Inclusive of the coffee trade, the food and chemical industries, a steel mill, an aluminium rolling mill, an oil refinery and a cement plant, the city is also home to the most important seaport in East Africa, the Kilindini Harbour, which is also used by the neighbouring countries Tanzania and Uganda for their imports and exports.
6. KISUMU, 297 km2
Kisumu is another largest city in East Africa. Kisumu is the third-largest city in both Kenya and the Lake Victoria Basin.
With a land area of 297 km2, Kisumu is not far from the village of Kogelo, which happens to be the hometown of Barack Obama Senior, father to the Forty-Fourth President of the United States of America.
It is the largest and most prominent city in Western Kenya because it serves as a trading and transportation core for the Greater Lakes region, the second most important city after Kampala in the greater Lake Victoria Basin, and is now recognized as a “Millenium City” – the first of its kind in East Africa and the world at large, according to the United Nations.
There are so many points of interest in Kisumu, including the Town Clock, the Kisumu Museum, the Ndere Island National Park, an impala sanctuary, a bird sanctuary, Shopping malls and so many more.
5. NAIROBI, 696 km2
The name which comes from the Maasai phrase “Enkare Nairobi” and translates to “cool water” , is an allusion to the Nairobi River which flows through the city.
Nairobi, with an area of 696 km2, is found in the Greater Nairobi Metropolitan Region, which consists of 5 of the 47 counties in Kenya that produce about 60% of the entire nation’s GDP.
Nairobi, set up by the colonial officials in British East Africa in 1899, is positioned between Kampala and Mombasa. Mount Kilimanjaro is situated southeast of Kenya and Mount Kenya is towards the north. The city is home to one of Africa’s largest stock exchanges, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
The NSE is Africa’s 4th largest in terms of trading volumes and is also the 5th largest in terms of Market Capitalization as a percentage of GDP. Nairobi has a large tourist industry and is the centre of Kenya’s music scene.
Nairobi is filled with numerous green parks, the Kenya National Theatre, Kenya National Archives, art galleries and museums such as the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art (Ramona), the Mizizi Arts Centre, the Karen Blixen Museum and the Nairobi National Museum.
There is also Kuona Art Center for visual artists, the two large stadiums: Nairobi City Stadium and Nyayo National Stadium, various restaurants and universities.
4. KIGALI, 730 km2
Kigali, which was started in 1907, is the capital of Rwanda and is located in the country’s geographical heart. The City of Kigali covers a total area of 730 km2. Since 1962, the city has been Rwanda’s cultural, economic and transport hub.
It is made up of three districts namely Nyarugenge, Kicukiro and Gasabo.
Mwanza is the third largest city in East Africa. Mwanza City is located in Northwest Tanzania on the southern shoreside of Lake Victoria. It covers an area of 1325km2, of which 900km2 is covered by water and 425km2 is dry land.
Most of the 425km2 dry land area consists of forested land, valleys, cultivated plains, grassy and undulating rocky hill areas, while approximately 86.8Km2 is urbanized. It is also known as Rock City and is the second-largest city in Tanzania, after Dar es salaam.
2. DAR ES SALAAM, 1,493 km²
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s leading financial centre as well as its most prominent city for the arts, fashion, film, media and television, is the largest city in East Africa and the seventh-largest in Africa. The city was built by Sultan Majid bin Said of Zanzibar in 1865/1866 and the total area is 1,493 km².
Dar es Salam is one of the most developed cities in Africa. Dar es Salaam has five major districts and they are Ilala, Kigamboni, Kinondoni, Ubungo, and Temeke. Ilala contains almost all the offices of the government, the ministries, and the Central Business District. It is the core of transportation for the city, as the Julius Nyerere International Airport, Central Railway Station and Tazara Railway Station are all within the district’s boundaries.
The residential areas are mainly a middle- to high-income areas; Kigamboni is home to an economically diverse population and is a beachfront suburb on the peninsula; Kinondoni holds half of the city’s population and several high-income suburbs and is the most populated of the districts.
The Ubungo terminal serves as a transportation link to most large Dar es Salaam urban meeting points; Temeke is where both the light and heavy manufacturing industries are located. Temeke is believed to have the largest concentration of low-income residents due to industry and houses military, police officers as well as port officials.
The largest port in the country, the Port of Dar es Salaam, is also located in this district.
10. DODOMA, 2,669 km²
Dodoma is the largest city in East Africa. Dodoma, founded in 1906 by German colonists, became the official national capital of Tanzania in 1996. Of the total 2,669 square kilometres area, only 625 square kilometres of it is urbanized.
The city boasts of several universities, including the Open University of Tanzania, St John’s University of Tanzania, and the University of Dodoma.
Dodoma was chosen by the Tanzanian government as the new capital because of socio-economic reasons and to place the capital within the country.
It is no wonder that the cities in East Africa are major tourist sites. With so many points of interest and attractions, East Africa continues to prove spectacular and splendid.
We hope you visit East Africa and luck out in these astonishing cities.