Kenya is located in eastern Africa and is bordered to the north by Sudan and Ethiopia, to the east by Somalia, to the west by Uganda, to the south by Tanzania, and to the southeast by the Indian Ocean. Much of the country, especially in the north and east, is arid or semi-arid. From the Indian Ocean the land rises gradually through dry bush to the fine arable land of the highlands.
Kenya is named after a mountain of the same name. The Kikuyu people who lived around present day Mount Kenya referred to it as Kirinyaga or Kerenyaga, meaning ‘mountain of whiteness’ because of its snow capped peak. Mount Kirinyaga which was the main landmark became synonymous with the territory the British later claimed as their colony. However, the name Kenya arose out of the inability of the British to pronounce Kirinyaga correctly.
The country has had three Presidents since independence:
- Jomo Kenyatta (1964-1978)
- Daniel arap Moi (1978-2002)
- Mwai Kibaki (2002 to 3rd April 2013)
- Uhuru Kenyatta (2013 to date)
AREA AND CLIMATE
Kenya covers an area of approximately 224,960 square miles and lies almost exactly astride the equator.
In the low-lying districts, particularly along the coast, the climate is tropical, hot and humid. On the Plateau and in the highlands the climate is more temperate. Western Kenya and most parts of Nyanza experience heavy conventional rain and have two rain seasons, the long rains from April to June and the short rains from October to November.
Kenya’s warm climate is favorable for tourism during the drier season that is between September and March.
Kenya is one of the most populous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The population of Kenya is estimated at 40 million. In the semi arid north and northeast regions, population density hardly reaches 2 per sq km, whereas in the rich and fertile western, population density rises to 120 persons per sq km. In the well endowed Rift Valley, population density varies from one area to another with an average of 13 inhabitants per sq km.
Nearly 25% of the total is concentrated in the large cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu including large towns such as Nakuru. Women account for 50.48% of the total population.
Kenya is a multiracial, multi-ethnic nation with citizens of diverse socio-economic, religious and cultural backgrounds co-existing side by side. There are 42 Kenyan tribes which make up 84% of the population, other African components that represent 15% of the population, and the non-African component (Arab, Asian and European) which makes up 1% of the population.
Kenya's African population is divided into three linguistic groups, namely the Bantu which includes the Gikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Embu, Meru, Kisii, Mijikenda, Taveta, Taita Pokomo, Bajuni, Boni and Sanye; the Nilotes which ncludes the Luo, Kalenjin, Maasai, Teso and Samburu; and the Cushites, which includes the Somali, Orma, Rendille, and Borana.
Swahili is Kenya's national and official language. English is its second official language. Several other local languages are also spoken.
PRINCIPAL COMMERCIAL CITIES AND TOWNS
- Nairobi is the capital city and a commercial center. It is situated 300 miles from the Coast and lies midway between the capitals of Uganda and Tanzania. It is the largest city in east Africa and houses two United Nations agencies – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat.
- Mombasa is Kenya’s main port and popular holiday city. It is situated on an island in a natural sheltered inlet. It is the only port that serves not only Kenya but land locked countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.
- Kisumu is the Chief Port city on the shores of Lake Victoria. It serves western Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
- Nakuru is an agricultural and industrial town in the Rift Valley basin.
- Eldoret lies on the main road and rail route to Uganda. It is mainly an agricultural town that serves wheat and maize farmers from the North Rift.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN KENYA
- Madaraka Day – 1st June – Kenya achieved internal self-rule in 1964
- Mashujaa Day – 20th October – Dedicated to the heroes of the independence struggle.
- Jamhuri Day – 12th December – Kenya attained independence from Great Britain in 1963.
- New Year’s Day – 1st January
- Labor Day – 1st May
- Christmas Day – 25th December
- Boxing Day – 26th December
- Good Friday – moveable date
- Easter Monday – moveable date
- Idd-ul-fitr (at the end of Ramadhan) – moveable date
Official Website of State House, Kenya