Kenya MapKenya is a leading travel destination in the world due to its scenery, pleasant year round climate, magnificent and abundant wildlife, numerous national parks and reserves, beautiful 536 km of coastline with white sandy beaches, traditional cultures and people including the famous Masai.

The Republic of Kenya in East Africa lies on the Equator, with the Indian Ocean coastline to its southeast and 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 to the southwest and is shared amongst Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Kenya is named after Mt Kenya, a significant landmark, as the highest peak in Kenya at 5,199meters (17,057 ft) and second among Africa’s highest mountain peaks.  The word originates from the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba tribal names for Mt Kenya “Kirinyaga“, “Kirinyaa” and “Kiinyaa“.  The English meaning in all three languages is “place with ostriches” which relates to the plumage of male ostriches.  Viewed from a distance the snow-capped peak of Mount Kenya is like the white feathers of a male ostrich.
Within its land area of 580,367sq km the landscape and flora is stunning and varied with hot and dry savannahs, forests, desert, rolling plains and mountains, interspersed with some amazing lakes (including Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru).

  • The climate varies from tropical along the coast, temperate and arid in the interior, and arid in the north and northeast parts of the country.
  • Two times per year, the weather changes from dry to rainy season.

Kenya SunsetTypically, the “long rains” season occurs from March/April to May/June. The “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. The hottest period is February and March leading into the season of the long rains and the coldest is in June and July. The coast region is hotter and more humid than the rest of Kenya.   High altitude areas can be very cold.  Mount Kenya peaks are white with snow and ice.
Kenya’s beautiful scenery comprises no less than 19 distinct floral habitats, ranging from desert and semi-desert to high-altitude cloud forests. Forty percent of Kenya is woodland covered with scrub and thorn trees with 40 species of acacia.
There are at least four kinds of forests in Kenya. Moist and dry forests (determined by rainfall) on the highlands of Mt Kenya, Mt Elgon, the Mau and the Aberdares, equatorial forest (Kakamega Forest in the west), and coastal forests, with the ubiquitous Brachystegia and some coastal palms.
Kenya also has an excellent range of wetland habitats, many alkaline lakes in the Rift Valley with microscopic plants and freshwater lakes with papyrus swamps, plus eight different kinds of mangrove in swampy areas.
Kenya is famous for big game and vast herds but also contains over 1 100 species of birds, about 12% of the bird species in the world, in a great diversity of habitats.
The principal cash crops are tea, horticultural produce and coffee. Tea, coffee, sisal, pyrethrum and wheat are grown in the fertile highlands.  Livestock predominates in the semi-arid savannah to the north and east. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton, sugarcane, sisal and corn are grown in the lower lying areas.
Industries include manufacturing, hydroelectricity, forestry, fishing and some mining.

  • Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is both the head of state and head of government, in a multi-party system.
  • Kenya has a population of over 40 million. 

The population has rapidly increased over the past several decades and consequently it is relatively young.
The capital city, Nairobi, has an estimated population of about 3 million. Most Kenyans are bilingual in the official languages, English and Swahili, and additionally, a large percentage speak the language of their indigenous ethnic tribe.
There are more than 40 different ethnic groups, including:
Ethnic groups as per the 2009 population census : Kikuyus 17%, Luhya 14%, Kalenjin 13%, Luos 10%, Kamba 10%, Kisii 6%, Mijikenda 5% ,  Meru 4%, Turkana 2.5%, Masai 2.1% .   About 9% of the population consist of smaller indigenous groups below 1% each,  and non African groups (Arabs, Indians and Europeans) are estimated to total to about 1%
The vast majority of Kenyans consider themselves to be Christian, with 45% regarding themselves as Protestant and 33% as Roman Catholic, sometimes mixed with traditional beliefs. Estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely.  However, it is estimated that approximately 10% of the population follow Islam.  Sixty percent of the Muslim population  live in Coast Province, comprising 50 percent of the total population there.   Approximately 10% follow indigenous beliefs. There is also a fairly large Hindu population in Kenya (around 500,000). Although the Masai culture is well known due to their age-old nomadic lifestyle, unique and vibrant clothing and elaborate body adornment and jewelry, they constitute 2.1% of the population.

  • 87% of Kenyans over age 15 years can read and write. (2005-2008)
  • Median age of the total population is 18.8 years (2010)
  • Life expectancy: Males: 58.91 years; Females: 60.07 years (2010)
  • HIV/AIDS prevalence rate: 6.3% (est.).  People living with HIV/AIDS: 1.2million. 
  • Major infectious diseases (degree of high risk) are:
    • Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoan diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever.
    • Vector-borne disease: malaria and Rift Valley Fever
    • Water-contact disease: schistosomiasis
    • Animal-contact disease: rabies

Kenya ElephantsFive Great Things to do in Kenya

  • Go on a safari.  This is a not-to-be missed lifetime experience! Safaris actually began in Kenya. Safari means ‘journey’ in Swahili. In colonial days a safari meant Europeans going into the bush to hunt wild animals. Don’t miss the Wildebeest migration! Take a balloon trip for a 360 degree view of the world of wildlife.
  • Spend a few days on the Swahili coast.  The Kenyan coast is a vibrant mix of African, Arabic, Indian influences mixed with a stunningly beautiful coastline with white sandy beaches, clear blue water for swimming, snorkeling and diving to see exotic fish and a hot climate year round.  Adventure around Mombasa, Lamu, Diani, Malindi, Watamu. While at Lamu take a trip to an island on a ‘dhow’, the traditional Arabic sailing vessel.
  • Visit a Masai village.  Some Masai live almost as their ancestors did thousands of years ago.  Learn about their way of life, see their traditional dances and jumping and perhaps participate in a traditional feast ceremony of eating meat mostly beef, blood and milk.
  • Trek Mount Kenya.  For those wishing to do mountain climbing or explore the serenity, scenery, flora and fauna without necessarily summiting,  Mt Kenya (5199Mts) is the place to go.
  • Visit Nairobi.  Tour the National Museum of Kenya, participate in the weekly bird watching walk that leaves from the Museum.  Explore the Karen Blixon Museum and House (made famous from the ‘Out Of Africa’ film), visit the Bomas of Kenya to see houses of the traditional tribes, Nairobi National Park to view the wildlife, the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (where you can adopt a baby elephant).Visit Kibera (the second largest slum in Africa) and spend a few weeks –or months- doing voluntary work. Enjoy great coffee at the cafes or dine at the many international restaurants.  Wander the Masai markets for souvenir shopping. 

Related Images: