This system of counties replaced the older system of eight provinces in 2013 under a new constitution.
The eight former provinces of Kenya were:
- Rift Valley Province: The largest province, known for its stunning landscapes, which include the Great Rift Valley, a geological formation that stretches across East Africa.
- Central Province: This was an agricultural heartland, particularly for coffee and tea production, and was also home to the capital city, Nairobi.
- Coast Province: Known for its beautiful beaches along the Indian Ocean and the port city of Mombasa.
- Eastern Province: This province was characterized by semi-arid landscapes and was also home to several national parks and wildlife reserves.
- North Eastern Province: This province was the most arid, with a primarily pastoral economy.
- Nyanza Province: Named after Lake Victoria’s local name, this province was home to the Luo people and the city of Kisumu.
- Western Province: This province was characterized by lush green landscapes, home to the Luhya people.
- Nairobi Province: Essentially a city province, with the entirety of it taken up by Kenya’s capital and largest city, Nairobi.
The current system of 47 counties was designed to decentralize power away from Nairobi and promote local development. Each county has its own governor and county assembly, which are responsible for various public services.