Coordinates: 4 3 S 39 40 E
Population: 847,626 (2007 est.)
Given that the country’s citizens frequently number among the top finishers at foot races the world over, it seems appropriate that this year’s World Cross Country Championships (the 35th annual) will be held in Kenya. Rather than the more populous capital however, the smaller coastal city of Mombassa was chosen to serve as host to athletes from 61 different nations.
Originally an Arab trading post that the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama put on the map at the end of the fifteenth century, Mombassa has since expanded beyond the watery limits of its island beginnings. Once governed by the Sultan of Zanzibar and later the Queen of England, the historic port city is now capital of Kenya’s Coast Province where, due to its proximity to the Equator and its Savanna climate, it should reliably offer contestants some rather warm running conditions.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.