The Largest Counties in Kenya by Population

Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Meru, and Kilifi are some of the largest counties in Kenya, by population.

The country has a total population of 47.6 million people.

This is according to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

Kenya conducted its first census in 1969 and has undertaken the exercise 6 times since independence.

This is how the Kenyan population has changed over the years.

1969 — 10.9 Million

1979 — 15.3 Million

1989 — 21.4 Million

1999 — 28.7 Million

2009 — 37.7 Million

2019 — 47.6 Million

This article discusses the biggest counties in Kenya in terms of population. The article also ranks all the 47 counties by their population. All the figures used here are from the KNBS website.

The table below gives you a quick insight into these numbers.

PositionCountyPopulation
1Nairobi 4,397,073
2Kiambu 2,417,735
3Nakuru 2,142,667
4Kakamega 1,861,332
5Bungoma 1,663,898
6Meru 1,545,714
7Kilifi 1,453,787
8Machakos 1,421,932
9Kisii 1,266,860
10Mombasa 1,208,333
11Uasin Gishu 1,163,186
12Narok 1,157,873
13Kisumu 1,155,574
14Kitui 1,136,187
15Homa Bay 1,131,950
16Kajiado 1,117,840
17Migori 1,116,436
18Murang’a 1,056,640
19Siaya 993,183
20Trans-Nzoia 990,341
21Makueni 987,653
22Turkana 926,976
23Kericho 901,777
24Busia 893,681
25Nandi 885,711
26Bomet 875,689
27Mandera 867,457
28Kwale 866,820
29Garissa 841,353
30Wajir 781,263
31Nyeri 759,164
32Baringo 666,763
33Nyandarua 638,289
34West Pokot 621,241
35Kirinyaga 610,411
36Embu 608,599
37Nyamira 605,576
38Vihiga 590,013
39Laikipia 518,560
40Marsabit 459,785
41Elgeyo-Marakwet 454,480
42Tharaka-Nithi 393,177
43Taita-Taveta 340,671
44Tana River 315,943
45Samburu 310,327
46Isiolo 268,002
47Lamu 143,920

1. Nairobi (047)

Population (2019): 4,397,073

Population (2009): 3,138,369

Size: 703.9 Sq. Km

With 1,506,888 households and over 4 million people, Nairobi city county is the largest county in Kenya.

The county has 11 sub-counties.

The majority of the county’s population lives in Embakasi (988,808), Kasarani (780,656), and Njiru (626,482) sub-counties.

2. Kiambu (022)

Population (2019): 2,417,735

Population (2009): 1,623,282

Size: 2538.6 Sq. Km

Kiambu is one of the largest counties in Kenya with close to 2.5 million people.

The county has 13 sub-counties and 795,241 households according to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census.

3. Nakuru (032)

Population (2019): 2,142,667

Population (2009): 1,603,325

Size: 7462.4 Sq. Km

Nakuru town was recently upgraded to city status and serves as the capital of Nakuru county.

The county which is the 3rd biggest county by population belonged to the former Rift Valley province.

4. Kakamega (037)

Population (2019): 1,861,332

Population (2009): 1,660,651

Size: 3020 Sq. Km

Kakamega has 433,207 households and a total population of 1,861,332.

This population lives in the 13 sub-counties which are in Kakamega.

Kakamega town serves as the capital of the county.

The county is headed by Wycliffe Oparanya who is the governor.

5. Bungoma (039)

Population (2019): 1,663,898

Population (2009): 1,375,063

Size: 3023.9 Sq. Km

Bungoma is one of the largest counties in Kenya by numbers.

The county whose capital is in Bungoma town has 358,796 households.

Out of the 12 sub-counties in the county, Mt Elgon Forest is the least populated with 798 households and 3621 people.

6. Meru (012)

Population (2019): 1,545,714

Population (2009): 1,356,301

Size: 7006.3 Sq. Km

The sixth-biggest county in Kenya by population is Meru County. Kiraitu Murungi is the current governor of Meru.

Meru town acts as the capital of the county.

7. Kilifi (003)

Population (2019): 1,453,787

Population (2009): 1,109,735

Size: 12,539.7 Sq. Km

Kilifi is one of the largest counties in Kenya both in size and population. The county has 9 sub-counties and 298,472 households.

Kilifi county used to be part of the former coast province.

8. Machakos (016)

Population (2019): 1,421,932

Population (2009): 1,098,584

Size: 6042.7 Sq. Km

Machakos town is the capital of the 8th largest county in Kenya, Machakos county. The county has 402,466 households living in 9 sub-counties.

This is according to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census.

9. Kisii (045)

Population (2019): 1,266,860

Population (2019): 1,152,282

Size: 1323 Sq. Km

With about 1.2 million people, Kisii county is one of the biggest counties in Kenya by population. The population is distributed in 11 sub-counties that are in the county.

Kisii county is part of the former Nyanza province.

10. Mombasa (001)

Population (2019): 1,208,333

Population (2009): 939,370

Size: 219.9 Sq. Km

mombasa city
Mombasa city in Mombasa county

Mombasa county is the smallest county in Kenya by size. However, it’s one of the biggest counties by population.

Kisauni, Likoni, and Nyali are the most populated sub-counties in Mombasa.

11. Uasin Gishu (027)

Population (2019): 1,163,186

Population (2009): 894,179

Size: 3392.2 Sq. Km

Uasin Gishu is the 11th most populated county in Kenya according to the 2019 census. The county, which has 6 sub-counties, has a total population of 1,163,186.

Eldoret town is the county’s capital.

12. Narok (033)

Population (2019): 1,157,873

Population (2009): 850,920

Size: 17,950.3 Sq. Km

It’s one of the largest counties in Kenya both in size and population.

The county has 241,125 households with Narok town serving as the county’s capital.

13. Kisumu (042)

Population (2019): 1,155,574

Population (2009): 968,909

Size: 2085.4Sq. Km

With 300,745 households, Kisumu is the 13th biggest county in Kenya. Kisumu East is the most populated sub-county with 219,996 people.

Kisumu city, the third-largest city in Kenya, is the county headquarters.

14. Kitui (015)

Population (2019): 1,136,187

Population (2009): 1,012,709

Size: 30,429.5 Sq. Km

Kitui county was part of the former Eastern province.

The county which has its headquarters in Kitui town is one of Kenya’s biggest counties, both by population and size.

15. Homa Bay (043)

Population (2019): 1,131,950

Population (2009): 963,794

Size: 3152.5 Sq. Km

By 2019, the population of Homa Bay County had increased by 168,156 people since the 2009 census.

The county which now has a population of 1,131,950 is the 15th most populated county in Kenya.

16. Kajiado (034)

Population (2019): 1,117,840

Population (2009): 687,312

Size: 21,871.1 Sq. Km

With a population of 1,117,840 Kajiado county is one of the largest counties in Kenya.

The county has 6 sub-counties and a total of 316,179 households.

17. Migori (044)

Population (2019): 1,116,436

Population (2009): 917,170

Size: 2613.5 Sq. Km

Migori county boasts of being Kenya’s 17th biggest county in terms of population. The majority of the county’s population lives in the Kuria West sub-county.

The county was in the former Nyanza province.

Migori town is the county headquarters.

18. Murang’a (021)

Population (2019): 1,056,640

Population (2009): 942,581

Size: 2524.2 Sq. Km

18 on the list is Murang’a county. The county has 318,105 households according to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census.

It’s the second-largest county in the former central province, after Kiambu county.

19. Siaya (041)

Population (2019): 993,183

Population (2009): 842,304

Size: 2529.8 Sq. Km

Siaya had a population of 842,304 people in the 2009 census.

In 2019, this population had increased by 150,879 people bringing the county’s population to 993,183.

Siaya town is the capital of Siaya county.

20. Trans-Nzoia (026)

Population (2019): 990,341

Population (2009): 818,757

Size: 2495.2 Sq. Km

With a total of 990,341 people, Trans-Nzoia County is one of Kenya’s biggest counties in terms of population.

The county has 223,808 households. There are also 5 sub-counties in the county.

21. Makueni (017)

Population (2019): 987,653

Population (2009): 884,527

Size: 8169.8 Sq. Km

Makueni whose headquarters are in Wote is the 21st largest county in Kenya.

Kibwezi is the most populated sub-county in the county with 194,004 people.

Other sub-counties in the county include Mbooni East, Mbooni West, Mukaa, and Nzaui.

22. Turkana (023)

Population (2019): 926,976

Population (2009): 855,399

Size: 68,232.9 Sq. Km

It’s the second-biggest county in terms of size and one of the largest counties in Kenya in terms of population.

Turkana was in the former Rift Valley province and has a total of 164,519 households.

Kibish is the smallest sub-county in Turkana in terms of population.

23. Kericho (035)

Population (2019): 901,777

Population (2009): 752,396

Size: 2436.1 Sq. Km

The county has 6 sub-counties and has its headquarters in Kericho town. There are also 206,036 households in the county.

The average size of each household in the county is 4.4

24. Busia (040)

Population (2019): 893,681

Population (2009): 743,946

Size: 1696.3 Sq. Km

With 893,681 people, Busia is Kenya’s 24th biggest county in terms of population.

The county has seen its population increase by 149,735 people since 2009.

Busia county was in the former Western province.

25. Nandi (029)

Population (2019): 885,711

Population (2009): 752,965

Size: 2855.8 Sq. Km

County 029, Nandi County prides itself as the 25th largest county in Kenya in terms of population.

The county has a total of 6 sub-counties with Kapsabet town serving as the county’s headquarters.

26. Bomet (036)

Population (2019): 875,689

Population (2009): 730,129

Size: 2530.9 Sq. Km

26th on this list is Bomet county.

Bomet town serves as the county headquarters.

In the 2009 census, Bomet county was still the 26th largest county in Kenya by population, with 730,129 people.

Dr. Hillary Barchok is the governor of Bomet.

27. Mandera (009)

Population (2019): 867,457

Population (2009): 1,025,756

Size: 25,939.8 Sq. Km

It’s one of the counties whose population has dropped since the last census in 2009.

According to the 2019 census, there are 158,299 fewer people living in the county as compared to the 2009 census.

28. Kwale (002)

Population (2019): 866,820

Population (2009): 649,931

Size: 8267.1 Sq. Km

Kwale ranks at number 28 on the list of the largest counties in Kenya in terms of population.

It belonged to the former Coast province. Kwale town is the county’s capital.

Also Read: The Richest People in Kenya

29. Garissa (007)

Population (2019): 841,353

Population (2009): 623,060

Size: 44,736 Sq. Km

The county is one of the largest counties in Kenya by size.

It has 7 sub-counties with Dadaab being the most populated sub-county.

Garissa has 141,394 households according to the 2019 census.

30. Wajir (008)

Population (2019): 781,263

Population (2009): 661,941

Size: 56,773.1 Sq. Km

With a land area of 56,773 sq. kilometers, Wajir is one of the biggest counties in Kenya by size.

The county has 8 sub-counties and a total of 127,932 households.

31. Nyeri (019)

Population (2019): 759,164

Population (2009): 693,558

Size: 3325 Sq. Km

Nyeri has a population of 759,164 people, making it the 31st largest county in Kenya in terms of population.

Nyeri central is the most populated sub-county in Nyeri with 136,849 people. Aberdare Forest and Mt. Kenya Forest are the least populated sub-counties with 106 and 188 people respectively.

32. Baringo (030)

Population (2019): 666,763

Population (2009): 555,561

Size: 10,976.4 Sq. Km

With 142,518 households, Baringo county is the thirty-second largest county in Kenya.

The county’s code is 030 and is headed by Stanley Kiptis who is the current governor.

33. Nyandarua (018)

Population (2019): 638,289

Population (2009): 596,268

Size: 3285.7 Sq. Km

Nyandarua is in the former Central province. It has its capital in Ol Kalou town. The town also happens to be the largest town in the county.

Francis Kimemia is the current governor of Nyandarua county.

34. West Pokot (024)

Population (2019): 621,241

Population (2009): 512,690

Size: 9123.2 Sq. Km

West Pokot has 5 sub-counties. West Pokot sub-county is the most populated sub-county with 183,233 people.

Pokot South is the least populated sub-county with 80,590 people.

35. Kirinyaga (020)

Population (2019): 610,411

Population (2009): 528,054

Size: 1478.3 Sq. Km

Kirinyaga comes at number 35 with a total population of 610,411.

The county has 308,369 households and 6 sub-counties.

36. Embu (014)

Population (2019): 608,599

Population (2009): 516,212

Size: 2820.7 Sq. Km

embu county border
A poster written “welcome to Embu county” along Kutus-Embu road

On the list of the largest counties in Kenya, Embu County features at number 36.

Embu town is the county headquarters. The county has 6 sub-counties. Mbeere South is the most populated sub-county.

37. Nyamira (046)

Population (2019): 605,576

Population (2009): 598,252

Size: 897.3 Sq. Km

According to the 2019 Census, Nyamira county has a population of 605,576 people.

The county has seen a population increase of 7,324 people since 2009.

38. Vihiga (038)

Population (2019): 590,013

Population (2009): 554,622

Size: 563.8 Sq. Km

It’s one of the counties in the former Western province.

The county has a total of 143,365 households and 6 sub-counties.

Wilber Otichilo is the governor of Vihiga county.

39. Laikipia (031)

Population (2019): 518,560

Population (2009): 399,227

Size: 9532.2 Sq. Km

With a population of 518,560 people, Laikipia is the 39th largest county in the country.

The county has its headquarters in Rumuruti.

It is in the former Rift Valley province.

Also Read: The Richest people in Africa

40. Marsabit (010)

Population (2019): 459,785

Population (2009): 291,166

Size: 70,944.1 Sq. Km

Marsabit is the largest county in Kenya in terms of land size. However, the county does not have a lot of people because most of it is dry.

41. Elgeyo-Marakwet (028)

Population 2019: 454,480

Population 2009: 369,998

Size: 3032 Sq. Km

Elegeyo-Marakwet has 4 sub-counties and is one of the least populated counties in Kenya. However, the county has seen a population increase of 84,482 people since the 2009 census.

42. Tharaka-Nithi (013)

Population (2019): 393,177

Population (2009): 365,330

Size: 2564.4 Sq. Km

According to the 2019 census, Tharaka-Nithi is the 42nd largest county in Kenya in terms of population.

The county has 109,860 households and 6 sub-counties. Maara sub-county is the most populated sub-county with 114,734 people.

43. Taita-Taveta (006)

Population (2019): 340,671

Population (2009): 284,657

Size: 17,152 Sq. Km

44. Tana River (004)

Population (2019): 315,943

Population (2009): 240,075

Size: 37,950.5 Sq. Km

Tana River is one of the largest counties in Kenya in terms of land size but not in terms of population.

It’s the 4th least populated county in the country.

45. Samburu (025)

Population (2019): 310,327

Population (2009): 223,947

Size: 21,065.1 Sq. Km

It’s one of the counties in the former Rift valley province. It’s also one of the smallest counties in the country in terms of population.

Maralal is the county’s capital.

46. Isiolo (011)

Population (2019): 268,002

Population (2009): 143,294

Size: 25,350.6 Sq. Km

In the 2009 census, Isiolo was the least populated county in Kenya with 143,294 people.

In the 2019 census, it was ranked as the second-least populated county.

Isiolo has 3 sub-counties and 58,072 households.

47. Lamu County (005)

Population: 143,920

Population (2009): 191,539

Size: 6253.3 Sq. Km

Lamu county closes the list of the largest counties in Kenya in terms of population.

Of the 47 counties in Kenya, Lamu is the least populated with 141,909 people.

The county’s capital is Lamu town. It’s in the former coast province.


That’s the complete list of all the counties in Kenya, ranked from the most populated to the least populated.

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