All 47 Counties in Kenya Ranked by Size and Population from Largest to Smallest
Explore the diverse counties of Kenya and uncover their sizes and populations. From the largest to the smallest, learn about the unique characteristics of each county.
If you're curious about the diverse counties of Kenya, their sizes, and populations, you've come to the right place. Kenya underwent a significant transformation in 2010 when it adopted a new constitution, shifting from eight provinces to 47 counties. This decentralization of power aimed to bring governance closer to the people, fostering development and effective resource management. In this article, we'll explore all 47 counties in Kenya, ranking them by size and population, shedding light on the largest and smallest among them.
The Birth of County Governments
The counties of Kenya, known as "Kaunti za Kenya" in Swahili, were born out of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, replacing the previous provincial system of governance. This monumental change aimed to empower local governments, promote equitable resource allocation, and enhance grassroots development. The blueprint for these counties is outlined in Chapter Eleven of the Constitution, the Constitution's Fourth Schedule, and other relevant legislation passed by the Senate of Kenya.
As of 2023, Kenya boasts 47 counties, each with unique characteristics and growth potential. To ensure effective coordination between the national and county governments, each county has a county commissioner appointed by the federal government. This administrative structure provides seamless collaboration between the two levels of government, ultimately benefitting the citizens.
The official establishment of county governments occurred after the general elections in March 2013. These county governments are responsible for a wide range of functions, including legislation, implementation of policies, and management of county resources. Let's delve into the details of Kenya's most extensive counties by size.
The Largest Counties in Kenya by Size
The 2019 census provides insights into the size and population of Kenya's counties. Here, we'll list Kenya's top 12 largest counties based on their land area, along with crucial information about each.
- Size: 71,597.8 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 926,976
- Capital: Lodwar
- Governor: Jeremiah Lomurkai
- Size: 66,923.1 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 459,785
- Capital: Marsabit
- Governor: Mohamud Ali
- Size: 55,840.6 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 781,263
- Capital: Wajir
- Governor: Ahmed Abdullahi
- Size: 45,720.2 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 835,482
- Capital: Garissa
- Governor: Nathif Jama
Tana River County
- Size: 35,375.8 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 315,943
- Capital: Hola
- Governor: Dhadho Godhana
- Size: 25,797.7 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 867,457
- Capital: Mandera
- Governor: Mohamed Adan Khalif
- Size: 25,336.1 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 268,002
- Capital: Isiolo
- Governor: Abdi Hassan Guyo
- Size: 24,385.1 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 1,136,187
- Capital: Kitui
- Governor: Julius Malombe
- Size: 21,292.7 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 1,107,296
- Capital: Kajiado
- Governor: Joseph Ole Lenku
- Size: 20,182.5 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 310,327
- Capital: Maralal
- Governor: Jonathan Lati Leleliit
- Size: 17,921.2 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 1,157,873
- Capital: Narok
- Governor: Patrick Ole Ntutu
- Size: 17,083.9 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 340,671
- Capital: Mwatate
- Governor: Andrew Mwadime
These countries represent a diverse tapestry of landscapes, cultures, and economic activities. From the vast expanses of Turkana to the highlands of Narok, each county contributes uniquely to Kenya's development.
The Most Populated Counties in Kenya
While size is one aspect of a county's profile, population plays a crucial role in shaping its dynamics. Here are the top 12 most populated counties in Kenya based on the 2019 census:
- Population (2019): 4,397,073
- Capital: Nairobi city
- Governor: Johnson Sakaja
- Population (2019): 2,417,735
- Capital: Kiambu
- Governor: Kimani Wamatangi
- Population (2019): 2,162,202
- Capital: Nakuru
- Governor: Susan Kihika
- Population (2019): 1,867,579
- Capital: Kakamega
- Governor: Fernandes Barasa
- Population (2019): 1,670,570
- Capital: Bungoma
- Governor: Ken Lusaka
- Population (2019): 1,545,714
- Capital: Meru
- Governor: Kawira Mwangaza
- Population (2019): 1,453,787
- Capital: Kilifi
- Governor: Gideon Mung'aro
- Population (2019): 1,421,932
- Capital: Machakos
- Governor: Alfred Mutua
- Population (2019): 1,056,640
- Capital: Murang'a
- Governor: James Nyoro
- Population (2019): 1,266,860
- Capital: Kisii
- Governor: James Ongwae
- Population (2019): 1,155,574
- Capital: Kisumu
- Governor: Anyang' Nyong'o
Homa Bay County
- Population (2019): 1,131,950
- Capital: Homa Bay
- Governor: Gladys Wanga
Nairobi County, Kenya's capital, is not only the most populous but also the smallest in terms of land area. Its unique status as a county and the nation's capital makes it an economic, political, and cultural hub.
The Smallest Counties in Kenya by Size
As we've explored the largest and most populated counties, let's also take a look at the most minor counties in terms of land area:
- Size: 219.9 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 1,208,333
- Capital: Mombasa city
- Governor: Ali Hassan Joho
- Size: 2,009.5 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 1,155,574
- Capital: Kisumu
- Governor: Anyang' Nyong'o
- Size: 2,479.1 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 901,777
- Capital: Kericho
- Governor: Paul Chepkwony
- Size: 2,884.4 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 885,711
- Capital: Kapsabet
- Governor: Stephen Sang
- Size: 531.3 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 590,013
- Capital: Vihiga
- Governor: Wilber Ottichilo
- Size: 912.5 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 605,576
- Capital: Nyamira
- Governor: Amos Nyaribo
Tharaka Nithi County
- Size: 2,609.7 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 393,177
- Capital: Kathwana
- Governor: Muthomi Njuki
- Size: 3,049.7 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 454,480
- Capital: Iten
- Governor: Alex Tolgos
- Size: 2,818.2 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 608,599
- Capital: Embu
- Governor: Martin Wambora
- Size: 9,462.4 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 518,560
- Capital: Nanyuki
- Governor: Ndiritu Muriithi
- Size: 1,205.4 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 610,411
- Capital: Kerugoya/Kutus
- Governor: Anne Waiguru
- Size: 3,304.7 square kilometers
- Population (2019): 638,289
- Capital: Ol Kalou
- Governor: Francis Kimemia
These small but vibrant counties have unique attributes and play a crucial role in Kenya's regional development.
List of all 47 Counties by Size and Population (2019 census)
|43||Homa Bay||3,154.7||1,131,950||Homa Bay|
Functions Of County Governments In Kenya
County governments in Kenya derive their authority and responsibilities from the Constitution, particularly Articles 1(4), 6(1), and 10. These constitutional provisions establish the framework for devolving power and responsibilities to county governments.
County Legislation By Article 185 Of The Constitution
County legislatures, or County Assemblies, are entrusted with the legislative authority within their respective counties. They make laws necessary to ensure the effective functioning of county governments and oversee the county executive committee and other county executive organs. This legislative power extends to approving plans and policies that impact county resources, infrastructure, and institutions.
Exercising Executive Functions By Article 183 Of The Constitution
Article 183 outlines the functions of the county executive committee, including the implementation of county legislation, national legislation within the county's jurisdiction, and the management and coordination of county administration and departments. This committee also prepares proposed legislation for consideration by the County Assembly and provides regular reports on county matters.
Functions Of County Governments In Kenya Provided For In Article 186 And Assigned In The Fourth Schedule Of The Constitution
Article 186 clarifies the allocation of functions and powers between national and county governments. It distinguishes exclusive functions, concurrent functions, and residual functions. Complete parts are those assigned solely to one level of government to prevent interference. Contemporary processes are those shared between national and county governments but may need more precise definitions, such as housing, planning, transport, and disaster management. Residual parts are those not assigned to either level, requiring allocation.
Devolved Functions In Kenya
The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution outlines the devolved services in Kenya, detailing the division of functions between the national and county governments. These devolved functions include:
- Agriculture, including crop and animal husbandry, livestock sale yards, county abattoirs, plant and animal disease control, and fisheries.
- County health services, encompassing health facilities, pharmacies, ambulance services, primary healthcare promotion, food-related undertakings regulation, veterinary services, cemeteries, funeral parlors, and waste management.
- Control air and noise pollution, public nuisances, and outdoor advertising.
- Cultural activities, public entertainment, and amenities, such as betting, casinos, racing, liquor licensing, libraries, museums, sports, and county parks.
- County transport, covering roads, street lighting, traffic management, public road transport, and ferries and harbors (excluding international and national shipping regulations).
- Animal control and welfare, including dog licensing and animal accommodation, care, and burial.
- Trade development and regulation, including markets, trade licenses (excluding profession regulation), fair trading practices, local tourism, and cooperative societies.
- County planning and development, including statistics, land survey, boundaries, housing, and energy regulation.
- Pre-primary education, village polytechnics, home craft centers, and childcare facilities.
- Implement national government policies on natural resources and environmental conservation, such as soil and water conservation and forestry.
- County public works and services, encompassing stormwater management, water, and sanitation services.
- Firefighting services and disaster management.
- Control of drugs and pornography.
- Ensuring and coordinating community and location participation in local governance.
Any Other Function That May Be Transferred To County Governments From The National Government Under Article 187 Of The Constitution
Article 187 allows the transfer of functions or powers between levels of government by agreement, provided the receiving government can effectively perform the function or ability and relevant legislation allows it. Resources necessary for function performance are also transferred, but the constitutional responsibility remains with the government to which it's assigned. Functions like security and education may be shared.
Any Functions Agreed Upon With Other County Governments Under Article 189(2) Of The Constitution
Article 189(2) encourages cooperation between county governments, allowing them to set up joint committees and authorities. This cooperation often involves managing regional resources like Level 5 hospitals and game reserves.
Establishment And Staffing Of Its Public Service As Contemplated Under Article 235 Of The Constitution
County governments establish, appoint, confirm, and exercise disciplinary control over public service offices within their framework. However, offices subject to the Teachers Service Commission are excluded.
Powers Of The County Governments In Kenya
County governments have significant powers outlined in Section 6 of the County Governments Act (2012). These powers include:
- Entering into contracts.
- Acquiring, purchasing, or leasing land.
- Delegating functions to officers, decentralized units, or other entities.
- Partnering with public or private organizations under the Public-Private Partnerships Act (2005).
These contracts are legally binding, and efficiency, effectiveness, inclusivity, and public participation are essential in their execution.
The creation of Kenya's 47 counties marked a significant shift in the country's governance structure. Understanding the size and population of these counties is crucial for effective resource allocation and decision-making. The diversity in both size and people among the counties reflects the country's rich cultural tapestry and geographic variations. As Kenya continues to evolve, the role of these countries in local development and governance remains pivotal.