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  • Background
  • Fact Sheet
Background
Entrance to parliament buildingKenya is a land of kaleidoscopic contrasts. Much of its recorded history centres on the Coast. Ptolemy, the great geographer, wrote in the second century AD about Mombasa under the name of Tonike, and the long white coral beaches, verged with palm trees which were familiar to Indians, Arabs and Portuguese, as well as later travelers.

But now most visitors' first impression is of the utterly different scenery outside Nairobi, of the sweeping Athi plains and game straying among the thorn bushes of the Nairobi National Park. North-west of the capital again, with upland farms reminding one of a sunlit England, while higher still the thick rain forest of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares are as mysterious as the perpetual snow on the Equator is paradoxical.

Finally, the arid semi-desert of the north, bordering on Ethiopia and Somalia, seems in yet another world. Kenya fires the imagination of everyone who comes here. It is not surprising that over the years since independence it has become internationally recognised as one of the most magnificent and exciting holiday areas anywhere.

 
Geography
Kenya is in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania. Geographically the country covers 582,647 sq km of which 569,250 sq km is land and 13,400 sq km is water. It lies across the Equator. Its Indian Ocean coastline is 608 km (380 miles) long, while its centre is cut by the Great Rift Valley, running north to south and containing a variety of lakes. The largest river is the Tana, which flows in a wide curve eastwards from the slopes of Mt. Kenya (17,058 ft) to the Indian Ocean. The country is divided into 8 administrative provinces namely coast, rift valley, western, nyanza, eastern, central, north eastern and nairobi
 
Population

According to the 2009 population census, Kenya has a population of 38.6 million people. Currently, Kenya's population is estimated to have hit slightly over 40 million. The CIA World Fact book projects that Kenya's population hit 41.7 million in July 2011.

There are more people in the younger age bracket than the elderly, with the age bracket of 0 to 15 making up a huge percentage. Population statistics reveal that more than 2 out of every 5 persons in Kenya are under the age of 15 - making about 43% of the total Kenya population. At the current population growth rates, the population of Kenya may have hit the 65.9 million mark by 2030. The chart below gives more details on Kenya's population dynamics.

 

FusionCharts.

People
A Samburu girlAccording to the 2009 census, the total population of Kenya stands at 38.6 million. Kenya is home to Arabs, Asians and Europeans as well as more than 48 main African tribes. Some like the Masaai, are famous as warriors.

Others like the EL Molo up at Lake Turkana or the Waliangulu Elephant hunters near Tsavo Park, are few in number, shy and still backward. The largest are the Kikuyu (22%); followed by the Luhya (14%); the Luo (13%) on the famous Lake Victoria; the Kalenjin (12%); the Kamba (11%) centred on Machakos and Kitui; the Kisii (6%); and the Meru (6%).

Other Africans make up 15% of the population and the non-African community who include the Asians, Europeans, Americans and Arabs comprise 1% of the population.

 
Culture and tribes
Government

Entrance to Parliament Building in NairobiKenya, formerly known as British East Africa, became a sovereign state on 12 December 1963 after securing indipendence from the colonial British government. She got her first constitution ammendment in 1964 which was reissued with more amendments in 1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1997 and 2001. A new draft constitution was defeated by popular referendum in 2005 but a new constitution which was later endorsed by 67% of Kenyans is in place. Kenya's legal system is based on Kenyan statutory law, Kenyan and English common law, tribal law, and Islamic law. The new government is made up of 3 arms; The Executive, Legislature and The Judiciary. In the new govermnent, districts have been made away with and replaced with Counties which are currently 47 in number.

 
Kenyan Government
Economy

Kenya's EconomyKenya's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded to 2.20% towards the end of 2012. Historically, from 2005 until 2012, Kenya's GDP Growth Rate averaged 1.15% reaching an all time high of 4.30% in June of 2008 and a record low of -3.90% in March of 2008.

Kenya is one the most developed countries in East Africa, contributing 40% to the East Africa Community (EAC) total GDP. Agriculture and Fishery (including coffee and tea cultivation) is the largest sector of the economy and accounts for about 25%. The fastest growing segments are Wholesale and Retail Trade and Transport and Communication. Together they account for almost 27% of total output. Manufacturing is the third largest sector and represents 11% of the GDP.

Other sectors include: Real Estate, Renting and Business Services and Financial Intermediation (10.8%), Education (6.7%), Other Services (7%), Construction (4%), Public Administration (3.7%), Electricity and Water (2.6%), Hotels and Restaurants (1.5%). Fishing and Mining and Quarrying account for the remaining 1%.

 
Kenya's economy
Communications

By 2006 there were an estimated 293,400 main telephone lines in use with 6.5 million mobile phone users shared between Safaricom and Zain. With the entry of Orange Kenya in the mobile market, this number is expected to rise. By 2001 there were 24 AM, 18 FM, and 6 SW radio stations in the country. There are 8 TV channels. Kenya has an estimated 2,120 ISPs with about 2.77 million Internet users.

 
Communications
Transport

In Kenya one can either travel by road, water or air. There are 225 airports of which 15 have paved runways while 210 do not have paved runways. There are 2,778 km of narrow gauge railway. Mombasa is the only port and serves landlocked countries neighbouring Kenya including Uganda.

 
Transport Modes
Banking

Banking hours in Kenya are from 9 am to 3 pm from Monday to Friday and 9 am to 11 am on Saturdays. Although some banks now are open for longer, for instance, Barclays prestige account holders have longer banking hours than ordinary account holders. Banks in Mombasa open 30 minutes earlier.

 
Banking
Finance

Kenya has a well developed financial system comprising of a wide variety of institutions, markets, instruments and services. The financial sector plays an important catalytic role of facilitating the growth of all other sectors of the economy.

 
Finance
Diplomatic Missions

There are currently 75 embassies/high commissions in Nairobi, and two consulates in Mombassa. Click on the button below right to get a detailed lists of their contacts locally.

 
Diplomatic Missions in Kenya
Climate

Generally the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east. Across most of the country, rainfall is strongly seasonal, although its pattern, timing and extent vary greatly from place to place and from year to year. Rainfall peaks in most areas are in November and April.

 
Climate and Weather
Etiquette

In general the welcome you get in Kenya is refreshing and Kenyans will often stop to talk to the foreign visitor. They are a relaxed and informal people. It's fair to say, however that they're sensitive on several points, notably religion, colonialism and photography.

 
Etiquette
Festivals and Events

Numerous entertaining festivals and events are hosted in various regions across Kenya although most tend to be in Nairobi.

 
Festivals and Events
Sports

Kenya is active in several sports, among them football (soccer), rugby, cricket and boxing. But the country is known chiefly for its dominance in cross country and road running, and middle and long-distance athletics.

 
Sports
Standards of Measure

Kenya uses the metric system.

 
Metric System of Measure
Photography

The sunlight here is intense and you should allow a faster exposure than you would in Europe. The DIN, ASA and Weston meter settings recommended by film manufacturers are now for the minimum exposure, not the average, and so are just about right East African conditions.

 
Photography
Postal Services

There are no house-to-house deliveries of mail, so all postal addresses are Post Office Box Numbers. To send an internal letter would cost Kshs. 21.00.

 
Postal Services
Time

East African time is three hours ahead of GMT. Thus at midday (1200) in Kenya it is 10 am (1000) in London (British Standard Time) and Rome, 4 am (0400) in New York

 
Time
Language

English is spoken widely and is the accepted language in the cities, hotels, restaurants etc. However, as well as numerous tribal languages, Kenya has its own lingua franca - Swahili or Kiswahili.

 
Language
Health

Visitors from the Far East, Central America, South, Central and West Africa may be required to have valid certificates of inoculation against yellow fever and cholera.

 
Health
Immigration

All visitors must have a visitor's pass which can be obtained from Kenya embassies abroad or on arrival, subject to the possession of a valid visa.

 
Immigration
Dressing

Comfortable clothes matter a lot, as in all tropical climates. For women a woolly is essential and a light woolen suit useful. At the Coast during the day light cottons and linens are the thing, preferably washable.

 
Dressing
Driving

You drive on the left giving way to traffic from the right at intersections. You can use a current license from your home country for up to 90 days. The speed limit in Kenya is 100kph (62 mph).

 
Driving
Air Travel Insurance

Air travel insurance is a must irrespective of the fact that you are traveling within your own country, or abroad. Insurance cover protects you and your family from getting into a crisis situation.

 
Air Travel Insurance
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