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Largest counties in Kenya by size and population (updated for 2024)

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27th August 2010 is a special day in the history of Kenya. On this day, the new constitution was promulgated. One of the biggest changes was the shift from eight provinces to 47 counties. This allowed powers and funding to be transferred from the national to local governments. Following the shift, many people are curious to find out about the largest county in Kenya.

Largest county in kenya
The Kenya map silhouette with the national flag. Photo: @Getty Images (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Largest counties in Kenya by size and population
    • Biggest county in Kenya by size: top 12 list
      • 12. Taita-Taveta – 17,083.9 square kilometres
      • 11. Narok – 17,921.2 square kilometres
      • 10. Samburu – 20,182.5 square kilometres
      • 9. Kajiado – 21,292.7 square kilometres
      • 8. Kitui – 24,385.1 square kilometres
      • 7. Isiolo – 25,336.1 square kilometres
      • 6. Mandera – 25,797.7 square kilometres
      • 5. Tana River – 35,375.8 square kilometres
      • 4. Garissa – 45,720.2 square kilometres
      • 3. Wajir – 55,840.6 square kilometres
      • 2. Marsabit – 66,923.1 square kilometres
      • 1. Turkana – 71,597.8 square kilometres
    • Largest county in Kenya by population
      • 12. Narok – 1,157,873
      • 11. Uasin Gishu – 1,163,186
      • 10. Mombasa – 1,208,333
      • 9. Kisii – 1,266,860
      • 8. Machakos – 1,421,932
      • 7. Kilifi – 1,453,787
      • 6. Meru – 1,545,714
      • 5. Bungoma – 1,670,570
      • 4. Kakamega – 1,867,579
      • 3. Nakuru – 2,162,202
      • 2. Kiambu – 2,417,735
      • 1. Nairobi – 4,397,073
  • Which is the biggest county in Kenya?
  • Which is the smallest county in Kenya?
  • What are the 10 largest counties?
  • Is Marsabit the largest county in Kenya?
  • Is Nairobi the largest county in Kenya?

There are 47 counties in Kenya, each with a county government headed by the governor. The size of the counties varies by population and size. Discover the largest county in Kenya and learn more about its size, leadership, and population.

Largest counties in Kenya by size and population

The last census in Kenya was conducted in late August 2019. The enumerated human population for the country was recorded at 47,564,296. These people live in 47 counties.

Biggest county in Kenya by size: top 12 list

Here is a detailed list of the largest counties in Kenya by size in square kilometres.

12. Taita-Taveta – 17,083.9 square kilometres

  • Code: 006
  • Size: 17,083.9 square kilometres
  • Population: 340,671
  • Capital: Mwatate
  • Governor: Andrew Mwadime

Taita-Taveta occupies an area of 17,083.9 square kilometres and has a human population of 340,671. The primary economic activities in this region are crop and animal farming, fishing, and tourism.

11. Narok – 17,921.2 square kilometres

  • Code: 033
  • Size: 17,921.2 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,157,873
  • Capital: Narok
  • Governor: Patrick Ole Ntutu

Narok is known for animal and crop farming, sand harvesting, and tourism. It is home to 1,157,873 people as of 2019. The main crops grown in this area are barley, wheat, and potatoes. It occupies an area of 17,921.2 square kilometres.

10. Samburu – 20,182.5 square kilometres

Which is the biggest county in Kenya?
A young warrior herding cattle inside the Kalama Conservancy in Samburu. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 025
  • Size: 20,182.5 square kilometres
  • Population: 310,327
  • Capital: Maralal
  • Governor: Jonathan Lati Leleliit

Samburu takes the tenth position on the list of the biggest counties by size. It occupies an area of 20,182.5 square kilometres. The main crops grown in this are wheat, maize, millet, and beans. A significant population keeps indigenous cows, camels, goats, donkeys, and sheep.

9. Kajiado – 21,292.7 square kilometres

  • Code: 034
  • Size: 21,292.7 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,107,296
  • Capital: Kajiado
  • Governor: Joseph Ole Lenku

Kajiado occupies an area of 21,292.7 square kilometres and has a human population of 1,107,296. Livestock farming is predominant in this region. Many people also engage in food crop farming. In Kajiado, salt production and cement manufacturing are also done.

8. Kitui – 24,385.1 square kilometres

  • Code: 015
  • Size: 24,385.1 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,136,187
  • Capital: Kitui
  • Governor: Julius Malombe

Kitui is the eighth-largest county in Kenya. The Kamba community mainly occupies it, and the primary economic activities are crop and livestock keeping.

7. Isiolo – 25,336.1 square kilometres

What are the 10 largest counties?
A lioness sitting on a slanted tree trunk in Isiolo. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 011
  • Size: 25,336.1 square kilometres
  • Population: 268,002
  • Capital: Isiolo
  • Governor: Abdi Hassan Guyo

Isiolo occupies an area of 25,336.1 square kilometres. The primary economic activities in the region are nomadic pastoralism, crop farming, sand harvesting, apiculture, and tourism.

6. Mandera – 25,797.7 square kilometres

  • Code: 009
  • Size: 25,797.7 square kilometres
  • Population: 867,457
  • Capital: Mandera
  • Governor: Mohamed Adan Khalif

Mandera is the sixth-largest county by size with an area of 25,797.7 square kilometres, and its population is 867,457 people as of 2019.

5. Tana River – 35,375.8 square kilometres

  • Code: 004
  • Size: 35,375.8 square kilometres
  • Population: 315,943
  • Capital: Hola
  • Governor: Dhadho Godhana

Hola is Tana River’s county headquarters. The sitting governor is Dhadho Godhana, and he is in charge of at least 315,943 people. The administrative zone occupies an area of 35,375.8 square kilometres.

4. Garissa – 45,720.2 square kilometres

largest county in kenya by population
A herd of camels in Garissa. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: UGC
  • Code: 007
  • Size: 45,720.2 square kilometres
  • Population: 835,482
  • Capital: Garissa
  • Governor: Nathif Jama

Garissa is the fourth-largest county in Kenya. It occupies an area of 45,720.2 square kilometres, and the main economic activities are pastoralism, horticulture, and tourism.

3. Wajir – 55,840.6 square kilometres

  • Code: 008
  • Size: 55,840.6 square kilometres
  • Population: 781,263
  • Capital: Wajir
  • Governor: Ahmed Abdullahi

Wajir is the third-largest county in Kenya, with a land size of 55,840.6 square kilometres. As of 2019, there were 781,263 people in the administrative zone.

2. Marsabit – 66,923.1 square kilometres

  • Code: 010
  • Size: 66,923.1 square kilometres
  • Population: 459,785
  • Capital: Marsabit
  • Governor: Mohamud Ali

Marsabit is the second-largest county by size, with an area of 66,923.1 square kilometres. Livestock farming, fishing, sand harvesting, and trade are the main economic activities.

1. Turkana – 71,597.8 square kilometres

biggest county in Kenya
Turkana women carrying firewood walking. Photo: @SIMON MAINA/AFP
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 023
  • Size: 71,597.8 square kilometres
  • Population: 926,976
  • Capital: Lodwar
  • Governor: Jeremiah Lomurkai

Turkana occupies an area of 71,597.8 square kilometres and is the country’s largest county by size. There were 926,976 people in this region as of 2019.

Largest county in Kenya by population

Check out the most populated counties in the country based on the last population census done in 2019.

12. Narok – 1,157,873

  • Code: 033
  • Size: 17,921.2 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,157,873
  • Capital: Narok
  • Governor: Patrick Ole Ntutu

In 2019, the national census showed there were 1,157,873 in Narok county. Narok Town is the capital, and the sitting governor is Patrick Ole Ntutu.

11. Uasin Gishu – 1,163,186

  • Code: 027
  • Size: 2,955.3 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,163,186
  • Capital: Eldoret
  • Governor: Jonathan Bii Chelilim

Uasin Gishu, whose headquarters is Eldoret, has a human population of at least 1,163,186. The area is governed by Jonathan Bii Chelilim.

10. Mombasa – 1,208,333

Which is the smallest county in Kenya?
Road traffic passing the elephant tusk road arch in Mombasa. Photo: @Andrew Woodley/Universal Images Group
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 001
  • Size: 212.5 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,208,333
  • Capital: Mombasa
  • Governor: Abdullswamad Nassir

Geographically, Mombasa is the smallest county in Kenya. In terms of population, it ranks 10th with at least 1,208,333 people as of 2019.

9. Kisii – 1,266,860

  • Code: 045
  • Size: 1,317.9 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,266,860
  • Capital: Kisii
  • Governor: Simba Arati

Kisii is currently under the leadership of Simba Arati. There are at least 1,266,860 people in this region, and the main economic activities are trade, crop farming, livestock keeping, mining, and apiculture.

8. Machakos – 1,421,932

  • Code: 016
  • Size: 5,952.9 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,421,932
  • Capital: Machakos
  • Governor: Wavinya Ndeti

Machakos is known for livestock keeping, crop farming, sand harvesting, mining, and trade. It occupies an area of 5,952.9 square kilometres and has a human population of at least 1,421,932.

7. Kilifi – 1,453,787

What are the 10 largest counties?
A luxury holiday villa in the rainforest in Watamu, Kilifi. Photo: @Matthew Williams-Ellis/Universal Images Group
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 003
  • Size: 12,245.9 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,453,787
  • Capital: Kilifi
  • Governor: Gideon Mung’aro

Kilifi is quite large in size and population. It occupies an area of 12,245.9 square kilometres and has a human population of at least 1,453,787.

6. Meru – 1,545,714

  • Code: 012
  • Size: 6,930.1 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,545,714
  • Capital: Meru
  • Governor: Kawira Mwangaza

Meru is an agriculturally rich county that occupies an area of 6,930.1 square kilometres. It has a population of 1,545,714 as of the 2019 census. Coffee, tea, and French beans are the main crops grown in this region.

5. Bungoma – 1,670,570

  • Code: 039
  • Size: 2,206.9 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,670,570
  • Capital: Bungoma
  • Governor: Ken Lusaka

Crop farming and animal rearing are the top economic activities in Bungoma. The county occupies an area of 2,206.9 square kilometres and has a human population of at least 1,670,570.

4. Kakamega – 1,867,579

  • Code: 037
  • Size: 3,033.8 square kilometres
  • Population: 1,867,579
  • Capital: Kakamega
  • Governor: Fernandes Barasa

There were at least 1,867,579 people in Kakamega county as of 2019. People in this region are known for growing sugar cane, beans, maize, and cassava.

3. Nakuru – 2,162,202

largest county in kenya
Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) birds pictured in Lake Nakuru. Photo: @Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 032
  • Size: 7,509.5 square kilometres
  • Population: 2,162,202
  • Capital: Nakuru
  • Governor: Susan Kihika

Nakuru county recently made headlines for electing several women to the highest leadership positions in the region. The sitting governor is Susan Kihika. She is in charge of at least 2,162,202 people and is the third-largest county by population.

2. Kiambu – 2,417,735

  • Code: 022
  • Size: 2,449.2 square kilometres
  • Population: 2,417,735
  • Capital: Kiambu
  • Governor: Kimani Wamatangi

Kiambu is the second-biggest county by population, with at least 2,417,735 people as of 2019. It occupies a land size of 2,449.2 square kilometres, and a significant percentage of people are farmers and traders.

1. Nairobi – 4,397,073

biggest county in Kenya
Nairobi’s skyline with Uhuru Park in the foreground and KICC in the background. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: Getty Images
  • Code: 047
  • Size: 694.9 square kilometres
  • Population: 4,397,073
  • Capital: Nairobi city
  • Governor: Johnson Sakaja

Nairobi only occupies a land area of 694.9 square kilometres but is the most populated county. It had a human population of 4,397,073 as of the 2019 census.

Which is the biggest county in Kenya?

The biggest county is Turkana by size and Nairobi by population. Turkana occupies an area of 71,597.8 square kilometres, while Nairobi has a human population of at least 4,397,073.

Which is the smallest county in Kenya?

A look at the ranking of the largest to smallest counties in Kenya reveals the smallest county in the country by size is Mombasa. It occupies a land area of 212.5 square kilometres.

What are the 10 largest counties?

The 10 largest counties by size are Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Mandera, Isiolo, Kitui, Kajiado, and Samburu.

Is Marsabit the largest county in Kenya?

No, Marsabit is not the largest. It is the second-largest county by size, with a land area of 66,923.1 square kilometres.

Is Nairobi the largest county in Kenya?

Nairobi is the largest county in Kenya by population. It had a population of 4,397,073 people as per the last national census.

The largest county in Kenya is Turkana by size and Nairobi by population. Each county in the country is headed by a governor.

READ ALSO: List of all the counties in Kenya in 2022 and their codes

Tuko.co.ke recently published a list of all the counties in Kenya in 2024 and their codes. After the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, Kenya was divided into 47 counties for improved administration.

A governor and a deputy governor lead each county. The two form a county government together with the elected members of county assemblies.

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