Kenya Travel Information

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Kenya Wildlife Service Information about Kenya's National Parks and Reserves

Facts About Kenya

Background: Revered president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence until his death in 1978, when current President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but are viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. The country faces a period of political uncertainty because MOI is constitutionally required to step down at the next elections that have to be held by early 2003.
Government type: republic
Capital: Nairobi
Currency: 1 Kenyan shilling (KSh) = 100 cents

Geography of Kenya

Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 N, 38 00 E
Area:
total: 582,650 sq km
land: 569,250 sq km
water: 13,400 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 3,446 km
border countries: Ethiopia 830 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
Coastline: 536 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior
Terrain: low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m
Natural resources: gold, limestone, soda ash, salt barites, rubies, fluorspar, garnets, wildlife, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 7%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 37%
forests and woodland: 30%
other: 25% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 660 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: recurring drought in northern and eastern regions; flooding during rainy seasons
Environment - current issues: water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers on Mt. Kenya; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value

People of Kenya

Kenya has a very diverse population that includes most major language groups of Africa. Traditional pastoralists, rural farmers, Muslims, and urban residents of Nairobi and other cities contribute to the cosmopolitan culture. The standard of living in major cities, once relatively high compared to much of Sub-Saharan Africa, has been declining in recent years. Most city workers retain links with their rural, extended families and leave the city periodically to help work on the family farm. About 75% of the work force is engaged in agriculture, mainly as subsistence farmers. The national motto of Kenya is harambee, meaning "pull together." In that spirit, volunteers in hundreds of communities build schools, clinics, and other facilities each year and collect funds to send students abroad.

Population: 33,829,590 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  41.95%
15-64 years:  55.26%
65 years and over:  2.79%
Population growth rate: 1.27% 
Birth rate: 28.5 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 14.35 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -1.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
note:  according to UNHCR, by the end of 1999 Kenya was host to 223,700 refugees from neighboring countries, including: Somalia 141,000 and Sudan 64,250
Infant mortality rate: 67.99 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  47.49 years
male:  46.57 years
female:  48.44 years
Total fertility rate: 3.5 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Kenyan(s)
adjective: Kenyan
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%
Religions: Protestant 38%, Roman Catholic 28%, indigenous beliefs 26%, Muslim 7%, other 1%
Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.1%
male: 86.3%
female: 70% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Kenya > Map Economy History