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Info Africa - KENYA
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Kenya is situated on Africa’s east coast. It lies next to Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and the Indian Ocean. This former British colony gained independence in 1963, under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta. Kenya abandoned its one-party system in 1991, when the second president, President Arap Moi allowed for political liberalization. Currently, Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, is working to ensure that Kenya remains a politically-stable country. In fact, Kenya is playing an integral role in the Somali and Sudanese peace processes. Kenya is often regarded as the ‘cradle of humanity’ because it is in parts of Kenya that some of the earliest evidence of man’s ancestors was discovered. Kenya has incredible scenery as well as some of Africa’s finest beaches. It has everything from coral reefs and white sand beaches on its east coast to highlands and mountains, such as Mount Kenya. This country has abundant wildlife and is therefore one of Africa’s major safari destinations. In fact, Kenya has over 50 parks and reserves, and six marine parks in the Indian Ocean.

Kenya’s capital city is Nairobi; a fast-pace, modernized city in the Central Highlands region. Nairobi is very diverse city; it is modern yet traditional at the same time. One can find anything from shopping malls, African markets and Museums to traditional dance centers. Nairobi is also an important centre for international business and conferences. There is a lot to see in Nairobi, such as the Kenya National Museum and the Snake Park. The former has various ethnographic and archaeological exhibits while the latter houses snakes indigenous to East Africa and a few from other parts of the world. Kenya has a diverse population with about 40 different tribes, all with their own languages and traditions. The major tribes are the Kikuyu from the central highlands and Luo from the region around Lake Victoria. One of Kenya’s most famous tribe is the Masai. To this present day, they maintain their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle along the southern border. The Swahili people dominate the Indian Ocean coast, in cities such as Mombasa and Malindi. The people of this region are influenced by the Arab culture as a result of their long history with the Arabs. Lamu Island is another Swahili town; an island filled with sandy beaches and sailing dhows. Most Swahili towns, such as Mombasa and Zanzibar, are filled with mosques and old Arab houses, which have impressive carved wooden doors. The Swahili language is a very common language spoken in many parts of East Africa, especially Tanzania.

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CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Kenya's Flag

three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green; the red band is edged in white; a large warrior's shield covering crossed spears is superimposed at the center

Nationality: Kenyan

Capital: Nairobi

Population:

  • 34,707,817
    note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 42.6% (male 7,454,765/female 7,322,130)
  • 15-64 years: 55.1% (male 9,631,488/female 9,508,068)
  • 65 years and over: 2.3% (male 359,354/female 432,012) (2006 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.57% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 85.1%
    male: 90.6%
    female: 79.7% (2003 est.)

Major religions:

Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%
note: a large majority of Kenyans are Christian, but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely

Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 582,650 sq km
  • land: 569,250 sq km
  • water: 13,400 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: slightly smaller than Alberta

Natural resources: limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower

Environmental 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.

Economy

Kenya is known as East Africa’s regional hub for trade. However, it does face problems that are affecting its economy. These include corruption, like in many sub-Saharan countries, as well as reliance upon several primary goods whose prices are still low. The drought from 1999 to 2000 created even more problems for Kenya, such as water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. This caused a GDP contraction of 0.2% in 2000. The IMF suspended its loans to Kenya in 1997 due to the government’s failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. The loans were resumed in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought but they were halted again in 2001 as the government was unsuccessful in establishing anticorruption measures. Over the past few years, Kenya’s economic growth has been limited as a result of weak commodity prices, endemic corruption and low investments. Since 2003, there has been progress in rooting out corruption and encouraging donor support. This contributed to the GDP growth of more than 5% in 2005.

Major industries:

  • small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour)
  • agricultural products
  • oil refining
  • aluminum
  • steel
  • lead
  • cement
  • commercial ship repair
  • tourism

Agricultural products:

  • tea
  • coffee
  • corn
  • wheat
  • sugarcane
  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • dairy products
  • beef
  • pork
  • poultry
  • eggs

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Railways:2,778 km

Road map: 63,942 km (paved: 7,737 km , unpaved: 56,205 km (2000))

Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 299,300 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 2,546,200 (2004)

Television Stations: 8 (2002)

Radio Stations: AM 24, FM 18, shortwave 6 (2001)

Internet users: 1.5 million (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 6.7% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 1.2 million (2003 est.)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ke.html