Kenya , which is formally the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa which is a founding member of the East African Community (EAC). The largest city in the country is Nairobi, which is also its capital. The territory of Kenya is situated on the equator and overlays an East African Rift Valley, covering a diverse and widespread terrain that ranges roughly from Lake Victoria to Lake Turkana ( previously known as Lake Rudolf) and further southeast to the Indian Ocean. It is bordered in the south by Tanzania, in the west with Uganda, in the north-west by Southern Sudan, to the north with Ethiopia and in the north-east by Somalia. Covering an area of 581,309 km2 (224,445 square miles), the population of Kenya was approximately 45 million in July 2014.
Kenya has a warm and humid tropical climate on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The climate is cooler in the savannah grassland around the capital Nairobi and especially near Mount Kenya, where snow is constantly falling on the peaks. Further inland, in the Nyanza region, the climate is hot and dry, with humidity rising around Lake Victoria, the largest tropical freshwater lake in the world. This gives way to temperate and wooded hilly areas in the neighbouring western region. Along the border with Somalia and Ethiopia, the northeastern region is arid and semi-arid with a desert-like landscape. Kenya is known for its safaris, diverse climate and geography, as well as for its extensive game reserves and national parks such as Tsavo National Park to the east and west, the Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru National Park and Aberdares National Park. Kenya have several UNESCO World Heritage sites including Lamu and plenty of beaches, which include Diani, Bamburi and Kilifi, which hosts several international sailing tournaments every year.
The African Great Lakes region, to which Kenya belongs, has been inhabited by people since the lower Paleolithic. During the first millennium AD, Bantu expansion had extended into the area of West Central Africa. The borders of the modern state therefore include the intersection of the Niger-Congo, Nilo-Sahara and Afro-Asian areas of the continent, where most of Africa’s major ethnolinguistic groups live. Bantu and Nilotic populations together make up about 97% of the country’s population. The European and Arab presence on the Mombasa coast dates back to the early modern era; European exploration of the interior began in the 19th century. In 1895, the British Empire established the Protectorate of East Africa, which gave way to the colony of Kenya in 1920. Kenya gained independence in December 1963. After a referendum which was held in August 2010 when a new constitution was adopted, Kenya is now divided on 47 semi-autonomous regions which are under the authority of elected governors.
The capital Nairobi is a regional centre of trade. The Kenyan economy is the largest in East and Central Africa in terms of GDP. Its agriculture is a significant employer; Kenya is traditionally an exporter both of tea and coffee and more recently it has begun to export fresh flowers to Europe. Its service industry also provides an important engine for the economy.
Kenya is one of Africa’s most important economic hubs and is considered the power centre of East and Central Africa. Kenya has recently realigned its economy and reached the middle income level.
Although it consists of many different ethnic groups and tribes, Kenyans have a strong sense of national pride. This may partly be due to their united struggle for Uhuru (Kiswahili: “freedom”) – their independence from the British imperial rule that was achieved in 1963. Most Kenyans seem optimistic about the future of the country, although the continuing corruption at all levels of government is causing concern and mistrust. Understandably, Kenyans follow the business opportunities offered by tourism with a zeal that may discourage some visitors, but which is usually open, talkative and friendly once business matters are settled.
Lake Turkana and its surroundings are also known as the cradle of mankind, as many prehistoric fossils have been discovered. Fossils of hominid origin of considerable scientific importance have been discovered in parts of the Rift Valley like Olorgesaille, and this area of Africa is often thought to be the birthplace of the human species (although more recent findings in Ethiopia disprove this theory)
Tourism in Kenya
Kenya’s service sector, which accounts for 61% of GDP, is dominated by tourism. The tourism sector has been growing steadily for most of the years since independence and had become the country’s main source of foreign exchange by the late 1980s. Tourists, most of whom come from Germany and the UK, are mainly attracted by the coastal beaches and game reserves, in particular the extensive Eastern and 20,808 square kilometres of Tsavo West National Park in the south-east of the country.
Tourism has experienced a considerable boom in recent years and is a major contributor to the country’s economic growth. Tourism is now Kenya’s largest foreign exchange earner, followed by flowers, tea and coffee. In 2006, tourism generated USD 803 million, compared to USD 699 million the previous year. Kenya currently also has many shopping centres. There are also four major hypermarket chains in Kenya. Tourism improves the water supply. Tourism in Kenya also includes ecotourism. The Maasai Mara tribe is being driven off their land. Tourism in Kenya is associated with drugs, alcohol and prostitution.
Demographics in Kenya
Kenya had a population of about 45 million people in July 2014. Kenya has a young population, with 73% of the population under 30 years of age due to rapid population growth; from 2.9 million to 40 million in the last century.
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is the home of Kibera, which is one of the world’ s largest city slums. Between 170,000 and 1 million locals are said to live in the slum. The UNHCR base in Dadaab in the north is also currently home to around 500,000 people.
Kenya has a diverse population that includes most of Africa’s major ethnic and linguistic groups. There are an estimated 47 different communities, with Bantus (67%) and Nilotes (30%) making up the majority of the local population. Cushitic groups form a small ethnic minority, as do Arabs, Indians and Europeans.
There are 42 tribes in Kenya and some of the main ethnic groups are represented as follows Kikuyu22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, 15% other African and the remaining 1% non-African ( from Asia, Europe and the Arab world).
The majority of Kenyans are Christians (83%), with 47.7% considering themselves to be Protestant and 23.5% Latin rite Catholics. There are 3 million followers of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya and in neighbouring countries. 621,200 Kenyans are Orthodox Christians, and there are smaller conservative Reformed Churches, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Africa, the Kenya Independent Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Church of East Africa. Kenya is notably the country with the largest number of Quakers in the world, with approximately 133,000 members. The country’s only Jewish synagogue is located in the capital, Nairobi.
There are minorities of other faiths (Muslims 11.2%, indigenous beliefs 1.7%) and non-religious minorities 2.4%. Sixty percent of the Muslim population lives in the coastal region of Kenya, which accounts for 50% of the total population of the region. About 4% of Muslims are Ahmadiyya, 8% Shia and 8% nonreligious, while 73% are Sunni. The western parts of the coastal region are predominantly ChristianUpper Eastern Kenya is inhabited by 10% of the nation’s Muslim population, who form the majority religious group. In addition, Kenya has a large Hindu population (about 300,000 people), which has played a key role in the local economy; most of them are of Indian origin.
Climate in Kenya
Kenya has a wide range of tropical climates. It is hot and humid on the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and north-east of the country. The country receives plenty of sunshine all year round and summer clothing is worn all year round. It is usually chilly at night and in the early morning. Being at high altitude, Nairobi can be very cold even during the day during the period from June to August. The long rainy season takes place from April to June. The short rainy season takes place from October to December. Rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoon and evening. The hottest time of year is between February and March while the coldest is between July and August.
The annual animal migration – especially the migration of the wildebeest – takes place between June and September, with millions of animals taking part. It is a popular event that is captured by film makers.
Geography of Kenya
With 580,367 km2 (224,081 square miles) Kenya is the forty-seventh country in the world (after Madagascar). It is situated between the latitude 5°N and 5°S and the longitude 34° and 42°E. From the Indian Ocean coast, the lowlands rise to the central highlands. This highlands are divided in half by the Great Rift Valley, and a fertile plateau to the east.
Its highland is considered one of the most productive agricultural regions in Africa. The highlands are home to Kenya’s highest point and the second highest peak on the continent: Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is covered by glaciers. Kilimanjaro (5,895 m or 19,341 ft) can be viewed from Kenya south of the Tanzanian border.
Wildlife in Kenya
Kenya has a considerable amount of land that provides habitat for wildlife, including the Masai Mara, where blue wildebeest and other cattle participate in an important annual migration. There are over a million wildebeest as well as 200,000 zebras participating as they migrate through the Mara River.
Africa’s “big five” animals – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant – are mainly found in Kenya and the Masai Mara. The country’s national parks and game reserves are home to a large population of other wildlife, reptiles and birds. The annual wildlife migration takes place between June and September and millions of animals participate, attracting valuable foreign tourism. Two million wildebeest migrate clockwise in search of food and water over a distance of 2,900 kilometres, from the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. This migration of the Serengeti wildebeest is a curious sight among the seven natural wonders of Africa.
Economy of Kenya
Although Kenya is the largest and most advanced economy in East and Central Africa and has a wealthy urban minority, it has a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.519, which is 145th out of 186 in the world. In 2005, 17.7% of Kenyans were living on less than $1.25 a day. One third of people’s income is spent on bribes, which averages sixteen bribes per month per Kenyan. Agriculture, a key sector, is among the least developed and mostly non-efficient sectors, which employ 75% of the workforce, as compared to less than 3% in the food-safe developed countries. Kenya is generally classified as a border market, sometimes an emerging market, but it is not one of the poorest countries.
Its economy has been expanding rapidly, as reflected in strong performances in the areas of tourism, higher education as well as telecommunications, and satisfactory results after the drought in agriculture, particularly in the essential tea sector. Kenya’s economy grew by more than 7% in 2007 and foreign debt has been greatly reduced. However, this changed immediately after the disputed presidential elections in December 2007, following the chaos that swept the country.
The largest economy in East and Central Africa has experienced tremendous growth in the services sector, boosted by the rapid expansion of telecommunications and financial activities over the last decade and now accounts for 62% of GDP. 22% of GDP continues to come from the unreliable agricultural sector, which employs 75% of the labour force (a persistent feature of underdeveloped economies that have not achieved food security – an important catalyst for economic growth) A small proportion of the population is dependent on food aid Industry and manufacturing is the smallest sector, accounting for 16% of GDP. Manufacturing, services and industry only employ 25% of the work force, while generating 75% of GDP.
The privatisation of state-owned enterprises such as the defunct Kenya Post and Telecommunications Company, which created the most profitable company in East Africa – Safaricom – has led to their revival thanks to massive private investment.
From May 2011, the economic outlook is positive with GDP growth expected to reach 4-5%, mainly due to expansion in tourism, telecommunications, transport, construction and a recovery in agriculture. The World Bank estimates growth at 4.3% in 2012.
The Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda relaunched the East African Community (EAC) in March 1996. The EAC’s objectives include the harmonisation of tariffs and customs systems, the free movement of persons and the improvement of regional infrastructure. In March 2004 the three East African countries signed an agreement on a customs union.
Kenya is East and Central Africa’s financial services hub. The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) ranks fourth in Africa in terms of market capitalisation and the Kenyan banking system is supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).At the end of July 2004, the system consisted of 43 commercial banks (compared to 48 in 2001), several non-bank financial institutions, including mortgage companies, four savings and loan associations and several central foreign exchange offices.