Kenya ( /ˈkɛnjə/), offically the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa. Lying along the Indian Ocean to its southeast and at the equator, it is bordered by Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. Lake Victoria is situated to the southwest, and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania. With its capital city in Nairobi, Kenya has numerous wildlife reserves containing thousands of animal species. It has a land area of 580,000 km2 and a population of nearly 39 million residents, representing many different peoples and cultures. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a significant landmark and second among Africa's highest mountain peaks.
Kenya is a country of 47 counties each with its own government semi-autonomous to the central government in the capital, Nairobi.
The country's geography is as diverse as its people.It has a long
coastline along the Indian Ocean and as you advance inland the landscape
changes to savannah
grasslands, arid and semi-arid bushes. The central regions and the
western parts have forests and mountains while the northern regions are
near desert landscapes.
research indicates modern man first appeared in Kenya and as a result,
the country with its East African neighbours is almost certainly
considered the cradle of mankind.
Due to the varied geography and weather, people performing varied
economic activities and thus developing varied cultures have been living
in Kenya since the dawn of mankind. The first and successful attempt to
merge these diverse and rich cultures under a nation was done by the
arrival of Europeans around 19th century. Initially, peoples of then
Kenya interacted through trade, intermarriages and frequent wars though
each remained politically independent of the other.
A major African nation, Kenya is classified as a developing and
sometimes an emerging African nation. Its economy is the largest by GDP
in East and Central Africa and Kenya's capital, Nairobi is a major
commercial hub. The country traditionally produces world renowned tea
and coffee. Recently, it has developed a formidable horticultural
industry thereby becoming a major exporter of fresh flowers to
Europe.The service industry is driven by telecommunications sector which is one of the most successful and innovative in Africa.
Kenya is also a major and world-renowned athletics powerhouse producing such world champions as Paul Tergat and most recently David Rudisha.
The word Kenya, /ˈkɛnjə/, originates from the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba names for Mount Kenya, "Kirinyaga", "Kirinyaa" and "Kiinyaa".
The English meaning of the words, in all three languages, is "place
with ostriches" – in reference to the black and white plumage of male ostriches.
When viewed from a distance the snow-capped peak of the mountain is
like the white feathers of a male ostrich. Pre-historic volcanic
eruptions of Mount Kenya (now extinct) may have resulted in its association with divinty and creation
among the indigenous Kikuyu-related ethic groups who are the original
native inhabitants of the vast agricultural land surrounding Mount
In the 19th Century, the German explorer, Ludwig Krapf, recorded the name as both Kenia and Kegnia believed by some to be a corruption of the Kamba version. Others say that this was—on the contrary—a very precise notation of a correct African pronunciation /ˈkɛnjə/. During the colonial period, the name was pronounced /ˈkiːnjə/. That pronunciation has been abandoned since independence in favour of the African version.
Geography and climate
Mount Kenya is the highest peak in Kenya at 5,199 m (17,057 ft). Kenya is named after the mountain.
At 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's forty-seventh largest country (after Madagascar). It lies between latitudes 5°N and 5°S, and longitudes 34° and 42°E. From the coast on the Indian Ocean, the Low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley;
a fertile plateau lies in the east. The Kenyan Highlands comprise one
of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The
highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya (and the second
highest in Africa): Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is the site of glaciers. Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m/19,341 ft) can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya's climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid
in the north and northeast parts of the country. The country receives a
great deal of sunshine all the year round, and summer clothes are worn
throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the
morning. The "long rains" season occurs from March/April to May/June.
The "short rains" season occurs from October to November/December. The
rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and
evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of
tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into
the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July and August.
Average annual temperatures
dry north plainlands
dry north plainlands
Kenya has considerable land area of wildlife habitat, including the Masai Mara, where Blue Wildebeest and other bovids participate in a large scale annual migration. Up to 250,000 blue wildebeest perish each year in the long and arduous movement to find forage in the dry season. The "Big Five" animals of Africa can be found in Kenya and in the Masai Mara in particular: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant.
A significant population of other wild animals, reptiles and birds can
be found in the national parks and game reserves in the country. The
annual animal migration - especially migration of the wildebeest - occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part.
The African theropod Spinosaurus was the largest known carnivorous dinosaur.
Giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July–August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana.
Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area
more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake
Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.8 million to 350 000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984 one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy belonging to Homo erectus from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified with Mary Leakey and Louis Leakey, who were responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.
Kenya has been inhabited by people for as long as human history
has existed.The country is believed by Archeologists like Richard
Leakey to be the cradle of mankind.Due to its long history with
humanity,Kenya boasts of one of the greatest varieties of cultures and
languages in Africa.Before the initial contact with Europeans,the name
Kenya had not been assigned to the country,however just as it is
today,Kenya had a great ethno-linguistic and rich cultural diversity carried on from its long past.
The first inhabitants of present-day Kenya were hunter-gatherer groups, akin to the modern Khoisan speakers. These people were later replaced by agropastoralist Cushitic speakers from the Horn of Africa. During the early Holocene
the regional climate shifted from dry to to wetter climatic conditions,
this provided an opportunity for the development of cultural
traditions, such as agriculture and herding, in a more favorable environment.
Around 500 BC Nilotic speaking pastoralists (ancestral to Kenya's Nilotic speakers) started migrating from present-day Southern Sudan into Kenya. Nilotic groups in Kenya include the Samburu, Luo, Turkana, Maasai
etc. Some of Kenya's Nilotic groups are admixed with Cushitic (Hamitic)
populations and came to be referred to as Nilo-Hamitic peoples, such as
the Samburu and Maasai.
During the first millennium CE, Bantu speaking farmers moved into the region. The Bantus originated in West Africa along the Benue River in what is now eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon. The Bantu migration brought new developments in agriculture and iron working to the region. Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii, and Mijikenda among others.
Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century CE. Kenya's proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century. Some of the "Arabs", like in much of East Africa, were Afro-Arabs.
The Kenyan coast had served host to communities of ironworkers
and communities of subsistence farmers, hunters and fishers who
supported the economy with agriculture, fishing, metal production and
trade with foreign countries.
Around the 6th or 9th century CE Kenya switched to a maritime-based
economy and began to specialize in shipbuilding to travel south by sea
to other port cities such as Kilwa Masoko and Shanga along the East African coast. Mombasa
became the major port city of pre-colonial Kenya in the Middle Ages and
was used to trade with other African port cities, Persia, Arab traders,
Yemen and even India. Fifteenth-century Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa
claimed, "Mombasa is a place of great traffic and has a good harbour in
which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great
ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from
Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar."
In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya
was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and
India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru
tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands
some time around the year 1700). Initially these traders came mainly
from Arab states, but later many came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip). Close to 90% of the population on the Kenya coast was enslaved.
Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian, and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loanwords, later developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.
Throughout the centuries the Kenyan Coast has played host to many
merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is
the City of Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement
since the 14th century and once rivaled Mombasa for dominance in this
part of East Africa. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city
for foreign powers. In 1414, the Arab Sultan of Malindi initiated
diplomatic relations with Ming Dynasty China during the voyages of the explorer Zheng He. Malindi authorities welcomed Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1498.
The colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company
in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed
its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This followed the building of
the Kenya–Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes — notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905 — still the British eventually built the railway. The Nandi
were the first tribe to be put in a native reserve to stop them from
disrupting the building of the railway. During the railway construction
era, there was a significant inflow of Indian peoples who provided the
bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction.
While building the railroad through Tsavo, that a number of the Indian railway workers and local African labourers were attacked by two lions known as the Tsavo maneaters.
They and most of their descendants later remained in Kenya and formed
the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili Muslim and Sikh communities.
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. Lt Col Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as
many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany, von
Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed the British Indian Army
troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome
the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior
by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.
During the early part of the 20th century, the interior central
highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became
wealthy farming coffee and tea. (One depiction of this period of change from one colonist's perspective is found in the memoir "Out of Africa"
by Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, published in 1937.)
By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and
gained a political voice because of their contribution to the market
economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu
ethnic group, most of whom had no land claims in European terms, and
lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers
banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless
were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive
exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from
the land dwindled. By the 1950s, the white population numbered 80,000.
Kenya–Uganda railway near Mombasa, about 1899
From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. The British began counter-insurgency operations; in May 1953 General Sir George Erskine took charge as commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.
The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (aka General China) on 15 January 1954, and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil
opened on 24 April 1954, after weeks of planning by the army with the
approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi
under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau
supporters moved to detention camps.
The Home Guard formed the core of the government's strategy as it was
composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King's African Rifles. By the end of the emergency, the Home Guard had killed 4686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956, in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive. During this period, substantial governmental changes to land tenure occurred, the most important of which was the Swynnerton Plan, which was used to both reward loyalists and punish Mau Mau.
The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council
took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate"
African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union
(KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya
became independent on 12 December 1963, on the same day forming the
first Constitution of Kenya. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis who wanted Kenya's NFD joined with the Republic of Somalia. The Shiftas were defeated in 1967. To discourage further invasions, Kenya signed a defence pact with Ethiopia in 1969, which is still in effect.
On 12 December 1964 the Republic of Kenya was proclaimed, and Jomo Kenyatta became Kenya's first president. At Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections)
and 1988, all of which were held under the single party constitution.
The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 1 August 1982.
The abortive coup was masterminded by a lowly ranked Air Force
serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by
enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by
Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a
paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police,
but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of
the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were
either dismissed or court-martialled.
The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo (queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of a secret ballot.
This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to
widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious
clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were
changed in the following years.
In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi
won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running,
and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition "National Rainbow Coalition" — NARC,
was elected President. Anderson (2003) reports the elections were
judged free and fair by local and international observers, and seemed to
mark a turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution.
Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is both the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary
is independent of the executive and the legislature. There was growing
concern especially during former president Daniel arap Moi's tenure that
the executive was increasingly meddling with the affairs of the judiciary.
Kenya has maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its
political system and crises in neighbouring countries. A cross-party
parliamentary reform initiative in the autumn of 1997 revised some
oppressive laws inherited from the colonial era that had been used to
limit freedom of speech and assembly. This improved public freedoms and
contributed to generally credible national elections in December 1997.
In December 2002, Kenyans held democratic and open elections, most of
which were judged free and fair by international observers. The 2002
elections marked an important turning point in Kenya's democratic
evolution in that power was transferred peacefully from the Kenya African Union (KANU), which had ruled the country since independence to the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), a coalition of political parties.
Under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki,
the new ruling coalition promised to focus its efforts on generating
economic growth, combating corruption, improving education, and
rewriting its constitution. A few of these promises have been met. There
is free primary education. In 2007 the government issued a statement
declaring that from 2008, secondary education would be heavily
subsidised, with the government footing all tuition fees.
The last general elections were held on 27 December 2007. In them, President Kibaki under the Party of National Unity ran for re-election against the main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement
(ODM). The elections were seen to have been flawed with international
observers saying that they were below international standards. After a
split which would take a crucial 8% of the votes away from the ODM to
the newly formed Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K)'s candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, the race tightened between ODM candidate Raila Odinga and Kibaki.
As the count came in to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK)
headquarters, Odinga was shown to have a slight, and then substantial
lead as the results from his strongholds came in early. As the ECK
continued to count the votes, Kibaki closed the gap and then overtook
his opponent by a substantial margin after votes from his stronghold
arrived later. This led to protests and open discrediting of the ECK for
complicity and to Odinga declaring himself the "people's president" and
calling for a recount.
The protests escalated into violence and destruction of property, almost 1,000 people were killed and nearly 600,000 displaced. The dispute caused underlying tensions over land and its distribution to re-erupt, as it had in the 1992 and 1997 elections.
Hundreds of thousands were forced off their land to relatives elsewhere
in the country and some claim weapons are being bought in the region,
perhaps in anticipation of the 2012 elections.
A group of eminent persons of Africa, led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, brokered a peaceful solution to the political stalemate. This group enjoyed the backing of the UN, European Union, African Union and United States government, as well as those of various other notable countries across the world. More information is available in clashes in Kenya (2007–present).
Annan requested mediation support for his team on the Panel
Secretariat from the Swiss based conflict mediation organisation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
On 28 February 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed an agreement on the formation of a coalition
government in which Odinga would become Kenya's second prime Minister.
Under the deal, the president would appoint cabinet ministers from both PNU and ODM camps depending on each party's strength in Parliament. The agreement stipulated that the cabinet would include a vice-president and two deputy Prime Ministers.
After being debated and passed by Parliament, the coalition would hold
until the end of the current Parliament or if either of the parties
withdraws from the deal before then.
The new office of the PM will have power and authority to co-ordinate and supervise the functions of the Government and will be occupied by an elected MP who will be the leader of the party or coalition with majority members in Parliament.
The world watched Annan and his UN-backed panel and African Union
chairman Jakaya Kikwete as they brought together the erstwhile rivals to
the signing ceremony, beamed live on national TV from the steps of Nairobi's Harambee House. On 29 February 2008, representatives of PNU and ODM began working on the finer details of the power-sharing agreement.
Kenyan lawmakers unanimously approved a power-sharing deal 18 March
2008, aimed at salvaging a country usually seen as one of the most
stable and prosperous in Africa. The deal brought Kibaki's PNU and
Odinga's ODM together and heralded the formation of the grand coalition, in which the two political parties would share power equally.
On 13 April 2008, President Kibaki named a grand coalition cabinet of 41 Ministers-
including the prime minister and his two deputies. The cabinet, which
included 50 Assistant Ministers, was sworn in at the State House in
Nairobi on Thursday, 17 April 2008 in the presence of Dr. Kofi Annan and other invited dignitaries.
A constitutional change was considered that would eliminate the position of Prime Minister and simultaneously reduce the powers of the President. A referendum to vote on the proposed constitution was held on 4 August 2010, and the new constitution passed by a wide margin. Among other things, the new constitution delegates more power to local governments and gives Kenyans a bill of rights. It was promulgated on 27 August 2010 at a euphoric ceremony in Nairobi's Uhuru Park,
accompanied by a 21-gun salute. The event was graced by a number of
African leaders and praised by the international community. As of that
day the new constitution, heralding the Second Republic, came into
Kenya is currently divided into 47 semi-autonomous counties each
having it own semi-autonomous government headed by an elected
governor.However under the old constitution,Kenya comprised eight provinces each headed by a Provincial Commissioner (centrally appointed by the president). The provinces (mkoa singular mikoa plural in Swahili) are subdivided into districts (wilaya). There were 69 districts as of 1999 census. Districts are then subdivided into 497 divisions (taarafa). The divisions are then subdivided into 2,427 locations (mtaa) and then 6,612 sublocations (mtaa mdogo).
The City of Nairobi enjoys the status of a full administrative
province. The government supervises administration of districts and
provinces. The provinces are:
Under the current Kenya constitution,local government authorities are
not recognized,however under old constitution Local governance in Kenya
was practised through local authorities.
Many urban centres host city, municipal or town councils. Local
authorities in rural areas are known as county councils. Local
councillors are elected by civic elections, held alongside general
Constituencies are an electoral subdivision.An Interim Boundaries
commission was formed in year 2010 to review the constituencies and in
its report,it recommended creation of additional 80
constituencies.Currently,there are 210 Constituencies in Kenya.
20 shilling note from 1994, depicting then-President Daniel arap Moi
Kenya's economy is market-based,
with a few state-owned infrastructure enterprises, and maintains a
liberalized external trade system. The country is generally perceived as
Eastern and Central Africa's hub for Financial, Communication and
Transportation services. As at May 2010, economic prospects are positive
with 4-5% GDP growth expected, largely because of expansions in
tourism, telecommunications, transport, construction and a recovery in
agriculture. The World Bank predicts growth of 4% in 2010 and a potential of 4.9% growth in 2011. These improvements are supported by a large pool of English speaking professional workers. There is a high level of computer literacy, especially among the youth.
The government is generally perceived as investment friendly and has
enacted several regulatory reforms to simplify both foreign and local
investment. An increasingly significant portion of Kenya's foreign
inflows is from remittances by non-resident Kenyans
who work in the US, Middle East, Europe and Asia. Compared to its
neighbors, Kenya has a well developed social and physical infrastructure
making it an attractive alternative location to South Africa, for major
corporations seeking entry into the African continent.
In March 1996, the Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda re-established the East African Community
(EAC). The EAC's objectives include harmonizing tariffs and customs
regimes, free movement of people, and improving regional
infrastructures. In March 2004, the three East African countries signed a
Customs Union Agreement.
Nairobi continues to be the primary communication and financial hub
of East Africa. It enjoys the region's best transportation linkages,
communications infrastructure, and trained personnel. A wide range of
foreign firms maintain regional branch or representative offices in the
Finance and investment
Kenya is East and Central Africa's hub for Financial services. The
Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is ranked 4th in Africa in terms of Market
The Kenya banking system is supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya
(CBK). As of late July 2004, the system consisted of 43 commercial banks
(down from 48 in 2001), several non-bank financial institutions,
including mortgage companies, four savings and loan associations, and
several score foreign-exchange bureaus.
Tourists on a safari in Kenya
Kenya's services sector, which contributes about 63 percent of GDP,
is dominated by tourism. The tourism sector has exhibited steady growth
in most years since independence and by the late 1980s had become the
country's principal source of foreign exchange. Tourists, the largest
number from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the
coastal beaches and the game reserves, notably, the expansive Tsavo National Park
(20,808 square kilometers) in the southeast. Tourism has seen a
substantial revival over the past several years and is the major
contributor to the pick-up in the country's economic growth.
Tourism is now Kenya's largest foreign exchange earning sector,
followed by flowers, tea, and coffee. In 2006 tourism generated
US$803 million, up from US$699 million the previous year.
Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Kenya's gross domestic product (GDP), after the service sector. In 2005 agriculture, including forestry and fishing,
accounted for about 24 percent of GDP, as well as for 18 percent of
wage employment and 50 percent of revenue from exports. The principal
cash crops are tea, horticultural produce, and coffee;
horticultural produce and tea are the main growth sectors and the two
most valuable of all of Kenya's exports. The production of major food
staples such as corn
is subject to sharp weather-related fluctuations. Production downturns
periodically necessitate food aid—for example, in 2004 aid for
1.8 million people⎯because of one of Kenya's intermittent droughts.
Tea, coffee, sisal, pyrethrum, corn, and wheat are grown in the
fertile highlands, one of the most successful agricultural production
regions in Africa. Livestock predominates in the semi-arid savanna to the north and east. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton, sugarcane, sisal, and corn are grown in the lower-lying areas.
Industry and manufacturing
Although Kenya is the most industrially developed country in East Africa, manufacturing
still accounts for only 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Industrial activity, concentrated around the three largest urban
centers, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu,
is dominated by food-processing industries such as grain milling, beer
production, and sugarcane crushing, and the fabrication of consumer
goods, e.g., vehicles from kits. There is a vibrant and fast growing
cement production industry. Kenya has an oil refinery
that processes imported crude petroleum into petroleum products, mainly
for the domestic market. In addition, a substantial and expanding
informal sector engages in small-scale manufacturing of household goods,
motor-vehicle parts, and farm implements.
Kenya's inclusion among the beneficiaries of the U.S. Government's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
has given a boost to manufacturing in recent years. Since AGOA took
effect in 2000, Kenya's clothing sales to the United States increased
from US$44 million to US$270 million (2006). Other initiatives
to strengthen manufacturing have been the new government's favorable
tax measures, including the removal of duty on capital equipment and
other raw materials.
The largest share of Kenya's electricity supply comes from hydroelectric stations at dams along the upper Tana River, as well as the Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. A petroleum-fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria (near Nairobi), and electricity imported from Uganda make up the rest of the supply. Kenya's installed capacity stood at 1,142 megawatts
a year between 2001 and 2003. The state-owned Kenya Electricity
Generating Company (KenGen), established in 1997 under the name of Kenya
Power Company, handles the generation of electricity, while the Kenya
Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), which is slated for privatization,
handles transmission and distribution. Shortfalls of electricity occur
periodically, when drought reduces water flow.To become energy sufficient,Kenya is already building capacity to produce nuclear power by year 2020.
Kenya has yet to find hydrocarbon
reserves on its territory, despite several decades of intermittent
exploration. Kenya currently imports all crude petroleum requirements.
Petroleum accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the national import bill.
Other industries include forestry, fishing, and mining. Kenya has few
discovered minerals and the mining industry is relatively minor. There
is an informal sector which—though not included in statistics—is
becoming an important contributor to the Kenya economy.
In 2007, the Kenyan government unveiled Vision 2030, which is an economic blueprint which is believed to have the potential of putting the country in the same league as the Asian Economic Tigers.
$17.43 billion (2005) at Market Price. $ 41.36 billion (Purchasing Power Parity, 2006)
There exists an informal economy that is never counted as part of the official GDP figures.
Annual growth rate
5.8% (2005): 2006 = 6.1% : Estimate for 2007 = 7.2%
Per capita income
Per Capita Income (PPP)= $1,200
Wildlife, land (5% arable)
tea, coffee, sugarcane, horticultural products, corn, wheat, rice, sisal, pineapples, pyrethrum, dairy products, meat and meat products, hides, skins
petroleum products, grain and sugar milling, cement, beer, soft
drinks, textiles, vehicle assembly, paper and light manufacturing,
Trade in 2002
tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products, cement, pyrethrum, soda ash, sisal, hides and skins, fluorspar
Major markets (2006)
Uganda, United Kingdom, Tanzania, Netherlands, United States, Pakistan
machinery, vehicles, crude petroleum, iron and steel, resins and
plastic materials, refined petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, paper
and paper products, fertilizers, wheat
United Kingdom, Japan, South Africa, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Italy, India, France, United States,
Early in 2006 Chinese President Hu Jintao
signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya, the latest in a series
of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's
rapidly expanding economy.
The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC,
to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its
first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and Somalia and in
coastal waters. No oil has been discovered yet, and there has been no
formal estimate of the possible reserves.
Natural gas discovery
In the first quarter of 2010, China's CNOOC discovered unconfirmed
but significant quantities of natural gas in North Eastern Kenya. An
ongoing assessment will determine whether the gas quantities are
commercially viable before a formal announcement is made. The gas
discovery has raised hopes for that it is only a matter of time before
oil is discovered.
Since independence, Kenya, a nonaligned country, has seen both
substantial foreign investment and significant amounts of development
aid, some from Russia, some from China and others from the West.
Kenya's development assistance has come from increasingly diverse
sources in recent years with China taking an increasingly more prominent
role than the west. The share of funding provided by the United Kingdom
has fallen significantly, while that of multilateral agencies,
particularly the World Bank and the European Development Fund, has increased. The most active investors currently are the Chinese.
Criticism and challenges
The economy's heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture and the tourism sector leaves it vulnerable to cycles of boom and bust.
The agricultural sector directly and indirectly employs nearly 70
percent of the country's 38 million people. Half of the sector's
output remains subsistence production.
Poor governance and corruption have had a negative impact on growth, making it expensive to do business in Kenya. According to Transparency International, Kenya ranks poorly in the corruption perception index though there have been significant improvements in recent times.
HIV/AIDS continues to pose a long term risk to the economy. The government has implemented awareness programmes to control its spread. Antiretroviral drugs are available at government subsidized rates.
Kenya's economic policies have been subjected to persistent heavy
criticism by western donors - especially when the policies do not
ultimately benefit the West.
Despite early disillusionment of western donors with the government,
the economy has seen a broad-based expansion, led by strong performance
in tourism and telecommunications, and acceptable post-drought results in agriculture, especially the vital tea sector. Kenya's economy grew by more than 7% in 2007 and its foreign debt was greatly reduced.
Kenya's population has rapidly increased over the past several decades,
and consequently it is relatively young. Some 73% of Kenyans are under
30. In 80 years, Kenya's population has grown from 2.9 million to 37 million.
Kenya is a country of great ethnic diversity. Most Kenyans are bilingual in English and Swahili. A large percentage speak the mother tongue of their ethnic tribe.
- Ethnic groups
Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%.
Population of major cities
Religion in Kenya
The vast majority of Kenyans are Christian with 45% regarding themselves as Protestant and 33% as Roman Catholic. Sizeable minorities of other faiths do exist (Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%), but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely.
Sixty percent of the Muslim population lives in Coast Province,
comprising 50 percent of the total population there. Western areas of
Coast Province are mostly Christian. The upper part of Eastern Province
is home to 10 percent of the country's Muslims, where they are the
majority religious group.
In addition, there is a fairly large Hindu population in Kenya (around
500,000), who have integrated well with the community and play a key
role in Kenya's economy, as well as a minority group of Baha'is.
Health in Kenya
There are 3-5 births per woman on average. Life expectancy is estimated at between 47 and 55 years. There is a large number of HIV-positive people in Kenya. Maternal mortality is high, partly due to female genital mutilation.
system consists of early childhood education, primary, secondary and
college. Early childhood education takes at least three years, primary
eight years, secondary four and university four or six years depending
on the course. Preschooling, which targets children from age three to
five, is an integral component of the education system and is a key
requirement for admission to Standard One (First Grade). At the end of
primary education, pupils sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education
(KCPE), which determines those who proceed to secondary school or
vocational training. Primary school age is 6/7-13/14 years. For those
who proceed to secondary level, there is a national examination at the
end of Form Four – the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education
(KCSE), which determines those proceeding to the universities, other
professional training or employment. The Joint Admission Board (JAB) is
responsible for selecting students joining the public universities.
Other than the public schools, there are many private schools in the
country, mainly in urban areas. Similarly, there are a number of international schools catering for various overseas educational systems.
Independent Kenya's first system of education was introduced by British colonists. After Kenya's independence on 12 December 1963, an authority named Ominde Commission was formed to introduce changes that would reflect the nation's sovereignty. The commission focused on identity and unity,
which were critical issues at the time. Changes in the subject content
of history and geography were made to reflect national cohesion. Between
1964 and 1985, the 7-4-2-3-system was adopted – seven years of
primary, four years of lower secondary, two years of upper secondary,
and three years of university. All schools had a common curriculum.
In 1981, the Presidential Working Party on the Second University was
commissioned to look at both the possibilities of setting up a second
university in Kenya as well as the reforming of the entire education
system. The committee recommended that the 7-4-2-3 system be changed to
an 8-4-4 system (eight years in primary, four years in secondary, and
four years in university education). The table under Present-day
education in Kenya below shows the structure of the 8-4-4 system.
Although the 7-4-2-3 system theoretically ended with the introduction of
the new 8-4-4 system in 1985, the last batch of students from the
former system graduated from Kenyan Universities in 1992.
Present-day education in Kenya
The current 8-4-4 system was launched in January 1985.
It put more emphasis on vocational subjects on the assumption that the
new structure would enable school dropouts at all levels either to be
self-employed or to secure employment in the informal sector.
In January 2003, the Government of Kenya announced the introduction
of free primary education. As a result, primary school enrolment
increased by about 70%. Secondary and tertiary education enrollment has
not increased proportionally because payment is still required for
In class eight of primary school the Kenya Certificate of Primary
Examination (K.C.P.E.) is written. The result of this examination is
needed for placement at secondary school. In form four of secondary
schools the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (K.C.S.E.) is
written. Students sit examinations in eight subjects.
In 2007 the government issued a statement declaring that from 2008,
secondary education would be heavily subsidised, with the government
footing all tuition fees.
KCSE Grading System
The average grade is based on performance in the eight subjects.
Where a candidate sits for more than eight subjects, the average grade
is based on the best eight subjects. University matriculation is based
on the best eight and performance in particular subjects relevant to
degree courses. Example below:
History & Government
The total number of points is 81.
The average grade is 81 divided by 8, which equals 10.1
(approximately 10.0 points) which is Grade B+ according to the grading
system. This student qualifies to join one of the Public Universities
for his good score. Training institutions and faculties and departments
determine their own minimum entry requirements.
Students who manage a grade of C+ qualify to do a degree course at
the University. Owing to competition, and fewer places at the
University, those with B and in a few cases B-, and above are taken for
degree courses at the Public Universities and benefit by paying government-subsidised fees. The rest join private universities or middle-level colleges.
Interestingly, the number of students admitted to public universities
through J.A.B depends on the total number of beds available in all the
public universities. Nonetheless, those who miss out but attained the
minimum university entry mark of C+ or C with a relevant diploma
certificate are admitted through the parallel degree programmes (module
II) if they can afford the full fees for the course.
This has been the subject of much discussion with people questioning
the rationale and morality of locking out qualified students from public
institutions yet still admitting those who come from financially able
The Kenyan 8-4-4 system of education
has weathered many storms in the 24 years of its existence. Immediately
after the first batch of students of this system graduated in 1989,
most of the country was up in arms, criticizing the government of
"haphazard adoption of the system". Critics claimed that the system was
producing "below par" graduates who could not effectively compete with
their counterparts from other parts of the world. Others argued that the
system had produced graduates who were either too young or ill-prepared
for the job market. The government turned a deaf ear, probably because
the prospect of overhauling the new system was unwelcome for the cost
that the exercise would involve.
Over the years graduates have proved critics wrong by excelling in
universities locally and abroad. Indeed, the braindrain being
experienced where health workers and scholars emigrate to Western
countries is proof of this. Many 8-4-4 graduates have excelled in
universities outside the country.
The emphasis on vocational training has waned and recent changes to
the curriculum have now laid more emphasis on information technology,
sciences, mathematics and languages. In any case, the academic workload
and emphasis on passing written examinations has left little room for
carpentry, masonry, cooking and other vocational training.
A Maasai man in traditional attire
Kenya is a diverse country. Notable peoples include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. The Maasai
culture is well known due to tourism, despite being a minor percentage
of the Kenyan population. They are renowned for their elaborate upper
body adornment and jewelry.
Kenya has an extensive music, television and theatre scene.
Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the best known writers of Kenya. His book, Weep Not, Child
is an illustration of life in Kenya during the British occupation. This
is a story about the effects of the Mau Mau on the lives of black
Kenyans. Its combination of themes—colonialism, education, and love—helped to make it one of the best-known novels in Africa.
M.G. Vassanji's 2003 novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall won the Giller Prize
in 2003. It is the fictional memoir of a Kenyan of Indian heritage and
his family as they adjust to the changing political climates in colonial
and post-colonial Kenya.
Since 2003, the literary journal Kwani? has been publishing Kenyan contemporary literature.
Main article: Music of Kenya
Main article: Sport in Kenya
Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football (soccer), rugby union and boxing. But the country is known chiefly for its dominance in Middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Kenya has consistently produced Olympic and Commonwealth Games
champions in various distance events, especially in 800 m,
1,500 m, 3,000 m steeplechase, 5,000 m, 10,000 m and
the marathons. Kenyan athletes (particularly Kalenjin) continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco and Ethiopia has reduced this supremacy. Kenya's best-known athletes included the four-time women's Boston Marathon winner and two-time world champion Catherine Ndereba, former Marathon world record-holder Paul Tergat, and John Ngugi.
Kenya won several medals during the Beijing Olympics, 5 gold, 5
silver and 4 bronze, making it Africa's most successful Nation in the
2008 Olympics. New athletes gained attention, such as Pamela Jelimo, the women's 800m gold medalist who went ahead to win the IAAF Golden League jackpot, and Samuel Wanjiru who won the men's marathon.
Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty in the 1970s and was followed by Commonwealth Champion Henry Rono's spectacular string of world record performances.
Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with
the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other
countries, chiefly Bahrain and Qatar. The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the United States.
Most of these defections occur because of economic or financial
factors. Some elite Kenyan runners who cannot qualify for their
country's strong national team find it easier to qualify by running for
Kenya has been a dominant force in women's volleyball within Africa, with both the clubs and the national team winning various continental championships in the past decade. The women's team has competed at the Olympics and World Championships but without any notable success.
Cricket is another popular and the most successful team sport. Kenya has competed in the Cricket World Cup since 1996. They upset some of the World's best teams and reached semi-finals of the 2003 tournament.
They won the inaugural World Cricket League Division 1 hosted in
Nairobi and participated in the World T20. Their current captain is Steve Tikolo.
Kenya is represented by Lucas Onyango as a professional rugby league player, plying his trade with Oldham Roughyeds. Besides the former European Super League team, he has played for Widnes Vikings and rugby union with Sale Sharks.
Kenya is making a name for itself in rugby union. It is popular in Kenya especially with the annual Safari Sevens tournament. Kenya sevens team ranked 9th in IRB Sevens World Series for the 2006 season.
Kenya was a regional power in soccer but its dominance has been eroded by wrangles within the Kenya Football Federation. This has led to a suspension by FIFA which was lifted in March, 2007.
In the motor rallying arena, Kenya is home to the world famous Safari Rally, commonly acknowledged as one of the toughest rallies in the world, and a part of the World Rally Championship
for many years until its exclusion after the 2002 event owing to
financial difficulties. Some of the best rally drivers in the world have
taken part in and won the rally, such as Björn Waldegård, Hannu Mikkola, Tommi Makinen, Shekhar Mehta, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae.
Though the rally still runs annually as part of the Africa rally
championship, the organisers are hoping to be allowed to rejoin the
World Rally championship in the next couple of years.
Sourcr : Wikipedia