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KENYA
- Fact File

Area: 580,367 sq km

Capital: Nairobi

Currency: Kenya Shilling (KES)

Population: 40 million

Languages: Swahili, English and indigenous languages


Brief History:

The earliest settlers to the region came from Ethiopia in 2000 BC. From 1000 AD, there began tribal migrations from West Africa and Sudan. Arabs arrived in the 8th century AD and sea trade began to flourish. This was also the start of the Slave Trade and the Ivory Trade, which brought immense wealth to people all over the world at the cost of indescribable suffering in Africa. In 1498, Vasco da Gama dropped anchor at Malindi on his way to India and paved the way for the Portugese invasion of East Africa in 1505. A combination of factors drove the Portugese out in 1729. Fort Jesus at Mombasa, built  in 1593, stands as a reminder of that period. Then came the Omani arabs, who persisted with the slave trade until it was abolished in 1873, and they ceded power to the British and the Germans. Through a bilateral agreement, East Africa was carved up into British (present day Kenya) and German (present day Tanzania minus Zanzibar) territories. The British waged war against local tribes and built the Uganda Railway in 1901. The capital of British East Africa was moved from Mombasa to Nairobi, which was at that time a highland swamp. Kenya became a British colony in 1920. After a long struggle and the Mau Mau armed movement, Kenya became independent in 1963, and Jomo Kenyatta (KANU party) became Kenya’s first President.



Politics:

Kenya is a multi-party democracy. After Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi (also KANU) became President and remained so until 2002. In the 2002 elections, NARC defeated KANU and Mwai Kibaki became President. After a suspect election verdict in the 2007 elections, which resulted in much violence and chaos across Kenya, a power sharing agreement was arrived at with the opposition and a new post of Prime Minister was created. Raila Odinga (ODM) was appointed the first Prime Minister of Kenya. In the 2013 elections Uhuru Kenyatta was elected President. The post of Prime Minister was removed. William Ruto was appointed Vice President of Kenya.


Geography:

Kenya is situated on the east coast of Africa, between Somalia and Tanzania. It is bordered by Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Kenya has phenomenal natural beauty - mountains and glaciers at the Equator, dormant and extinct volcanos, deserts, ocean, rivers, the great African rift valley, huge soda and fresh water lakes, dense forests, endless savannahs, diverse and friendly people, rich history and culture, exceptional climate - and some of the best wildlife viewing anywhere on the planet!


People:

Kenya’s rich culture comes from 70 or more tribal groups. The notable groups are Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African (Maasai, Samburu, El Molo, Pokot, Gabra, Gusii, Borana, Rendille, etc)15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%. The main religion is Christianity. Kenya is 45% Protestant, 33% Roman Catholic, 10% Muslim, 10% people with indigenous beliefs and 2% others (Hindus, Sikhs, etc).


Nairobi:

Known to the Maasai as the “place of cold waters”, Nairobi was an isolated swamp until the 1890’s. In 1901, with the construction of the Uganda Railway, it was made the capital of British East Africa. Wildlife abounded within the city until 1946 when the southern part was partly fenced off to create the Nairobi National Park, which contains most savannah animals except for elephant. The giraffe centre (where you can hand feed them) and the elephant and rhino orphanage is next door. Nairobi is the international gateway to East Africa and is well serviced by the world’s leading airlines. It is a bustling city with a cool climate (altitude 6000 ft) and an international flavor. Excellent restaurants and eateries, night clubs, casinos, multiplexes, shopping malls, top class hotels cater to every need of the international traveler. For cultural programs the Bomas of Kenya is a must visit. Most of the best known reserves are only a few hours’ drive from here. Contrary to its erstwhile reputation of violent crime and car-jackings, things have improved considerably after the power sharing arrangement between the parties of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2007.


When to visit: The peak season is during Dec-Jan (holidays) and then Jul-Oct (Migration). Due to the long rains in Mar, April and May and the short rains in Nov, these months fall in the low season. Jun is high season.


Kenya Flag: kenya flag


The black stripe represents the African people; while the red stands for the struggle for independence. The green represents Kenya's agriculture and natural resources. The thin white stripes symbolize peace and unity. The central emblem represents Kenya's fight for freedom and their preparedness to defend that freedom.

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