Kenai is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. In 2009, its population was 7,945. The city is located on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula near the outlet of the Kenai River to the Cook Inlet of the Pacific Ocean.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.5 square miles, of which, 29.9 square miles of it is land and 5.6 square miles of it (15.85%) is water.
In 1791, a Russian trading post, Fort St. Nicholas, was constructed in the middle of the village for the purposes of fur and fish trading. It was the second permanent Russian settlement built in Alaska.
A military base, Wildwood Army Station (later Wildwood Air Force Station), was established in 1953 and served as a major communications post. Wildwood was conveyed in 1974 to the Kenai Native Association in partial settlement of Alaska Native land claims. The facility was leased and later on purchased by the State of Alaska and presently serves as the Wildwood Correctional Complex.
In 1957, oil was discovered at Swanson River, 20 miles northeast of Kenai. This was the first major oil discovery in Alaska. In 1965, offshore oil discoveries in Cook Inlet caused a period of rapid growth in the area.
In 1992, and again in 2011, Kenai was named one of the All-America Cities of that year.