Kenya – The Republic of Kenya, a state in East Africa

Kenya

Kenya Flamingo.

Flamingo, Kenya. Photo by Ed Gibbs.

Kenya is located in the eastern part of the African continent and has access to the Indian Ocean. To date, the country is developing most intensely and dynamically in the economic sphere, compared with other East African countries. Most of Kenya’s territory is occupied by nature reserves. Even near the current capital, Nairobi, there is a National Park which is home to lions, giraffes and many other animals and birds. Tourists like to conduct hiking safaris here. Kenya is a unique country that can surprise many.

Kenya

Kenya. Photos by ibz218.

Kenya is one of the ancestral homelands of mankind

At the moment, historians and anthropologists believe that it is the territory of Kenya is one of the places where the ancestors of man, who then spread across the globe. Proof of this are the remains of hominids and their primitive tools found on the shores of Lake Rudolph. They are about 3 million years old. To look at the boy from Turkana, who lived on the territory of Kenya one and a half million years ago, is possible in the National Museum located in Nairobi. The ancestors of modern Kenyans appeared here about 4 millennia ago.

Kenya Fishing Village, Lake Rudolph

Kenya Fishing Village, Lake Rudolph. Photographed by John Mauer.

Trade with the ancient world

Over time, traders and travelers from the Roman Empire, Greece, Arabia, and even India learned about Kenya. The trading centers that emerged on the coasts of the country mediated trade between other countries and the interior of Africa. The active trade included not only gold, ivory, iron, and rhinoceros horn, but also slaves. In return, arms, tanks, and a variety of handicrafts were imported into the Black Continent.

Kenya Hippo

Hippopotamus, Kenya. Photo by Ian McFadyen.

Kenya – one of the points of Vasco da Gama’s expedition

Medieval Europe, which was rediscovering the world, learned of the existence of Kenya because of the expedition of the Portuguese, led by Vasco da Gama. The main objective of the travelers was to seek a sea route to India, and other countries and islands were discovered on the way. However, the Portuguese thought it would be a good idea to establish a foothold here and establish settlements. This would have helped to establish complete control over the Indian Ocean trade.

Leopard, Leva Game Reserve, Kenya

Leopard, Leva Reserve, Kenya. Photo by Helen Hoffman.

Expulsion of the Portuguese from Kenya, rule of the Sultans neighbors

For 200 years Portugal was able to keep its rule here, albeit with considerable effort. But the Portuguese rule was not to the liking of the local population. The Arabs from Oman were called in to help and together they beat the Portuguese off the coast for good. The price, however, was the rule of the Omani sultan with the help of viceroys.

In the nineteenth century, the Swahili people’s desire for independence intensified. As early as the 18th century, most of Kenya came under the rule of the Sultan of Zanzibar, against whom the local dynasty began to struggle. However, their attempt to become full-fledged rulers of their country was unsuccessful and the instigators of the rebellion were eventually sold into slavery.

But it did not take long for the Sultan of Zanzibar to celebrate his victory – a couple of decades later Germany established its rule over Zanzibar. But Kenya, as a result of the partition of Africa by Europe, passed under the “British hand”.

Zanzibar, Kenya

Zanzibar, Kenya. Photo by Amer Al Suwaidi.

Kenya “under British hand”, the foundation of the new capital

The British began to actively settle and develop the rich lands of Kenya, gradually moving inland. They founded their settlements-colonies there and built cities. It was during this period, during the construction of the railroad, that the city of Nairobi, which would later become the capital instead of Mombasa, was founded. It is hard to believe today that there used to be swamps in this place, and the very name Nairobi, translated from the Massai language, means “cool waters”.

The influx of British in Kenya at the beginning of the twentieth century has only increased. The newcomers developed infrastructure, built railroads, and built various processing plants. A Colonial Association was also established. Gradually Great Britain began to strengthen its power, making the young city of Nairobi the center of the East African protectorate.

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During the First and Second World Wars, Kenyans were also drafted into the British army. Not only as porters, but also as full-fledged soldiers. Fighting took place in Africa in order to protect British possessions from encroachment by the Germans.

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Tawian Njumbi.

The Mau Mau Rebellion

In the 1940s and 1950s Kenya began to experience revolts and uprisings. The Mau Mau uprising, for example, was so serious that a “state of emergency” had to be declared. The rebels, led by a former British soldier, attacked British colonists and their local followers, looted and burned British possessions. The uprising lasted four years, but was still suppressed by the colonial authorities and its leader was executed.

Mau Mau Cave Kenya

Mau Mau Cave, Kenya. The author of the photo is teachandlearn.

The history of independent Kenya: the ups and downs

But in 1963 Kenya first gained internal self-government and then independence from Britain in December. In 1964 the country was declared a republic and continues to be so to this day. Gradually the colonists were driven out of Kenya, and the program of “Africanization” strengthened the influence of the local population in the economic and political spheres of national life.

At the time of its independence, Kenya went through coups d’état, inter-ethnic conflicts and economic crisis. But at the beginning of the new millennium, life began to improve. Economic growth accelerated, which continues to this day, and the inflow of tourists increased. But in 2007, a new ethnic conflict erupted, resulting in thousands of deaths. It could only be resolved with outside intervention. And in September 2013, there was a terrorist attack and fire in the capital.

Giraffe Kenya

Giraffe, Kenya. Photo by Romain Steyer.

Mombasa is the main city of the East African coast

Kenya’s largest cities are the former capital Mombasa and present-day Nairobi. The former, by the way, is second in size only to one city in Africa, Cape Town. Mombasa is a very old city, the birth date of which is 1151. This port city was founded by Arabs and was named Al-Idrisi after the Arab geographer. Mombasa was also the resting place of Ibn Battuta, a traveler who toured all the countries of the Arab world at that time.

The city has been the largest center of the slave trade on the East African coast, the center of the Portuguese colony, and the capital of the British colony. But it was the British who deprived Mombasa of the title of capital, moving it to Nairobi.

Among the sights of Mombasa should be noted Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese for more than four centuries ago and is the oldest fort on the Black Continent, as well as the Old Market, more than two dozen mosques, the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, and even several Hindu temples. Although the latter seem somewhat alien to the local color, but when you consider that the railroad was built mostly by Indians the century before last and the century before last, everything makes more or less sense.

Mombasa, Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya. Photo by Marcin P.

Malindi – the resort that never sleeps

Not far from the former capital of Kenya is the city of Malindi, the name of which translates as “coral island. This resort town is not much younger than Mombasa. It was on this very spot that Vasco da Gamma once put a cross to mark the Portuguese presence in these parts. It still stands today and is considered the oldest monument to European colonial expansion on the East African coast.

Malindi and another Kenyan town, Watamu, established Marine Reserves in the late 1960s, an innovation for Africa at the time. Reserves preserve intact about 140 species of corals and a large variety of colorful and bright tropical fish, for which the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are ideal habitats. You can admire this diversity either by scuba diving or sailing on a boat with a transparent bottom.

There is also a rainforest on the outskirts of Malindi, considered the largest of East Africa’s coastal forests. You can walk through its territory on foot with the obligatory accompaniment of the local ranger, or explore it during a specially organized car ride. The forest is home to about 260 species of butterflies, many rare animals and birds. Here you can easily meet mongooses, elephants, hyenas, baboons and other representatives of fauna.

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Also in Malindi is very active nightlife. The city has many nightclubs and bars. It is said that it never falls asleep.

Malindi, Kenya

Malindi, Kenya. Photo by Linda Reader.

Gede – a city whose mystery is still not solved

The mysterious settlement of Gede is located on the road from Malindi to Watamu. In XIII it was a bustling residential town, but four centuries later it is mysteriously deserted. All that remains of it today are the half-destroyed walls of buildings and columns overgrown with creepers. Exploration of the area began in the 1920s. Excavations have uncovered items of porcelain, the owners of which were once Arabs and Chinese.

There is still no consensus on the reasons that prompted the population of Gede to leave in a hurry. Some researchers blame natural disasters, others believe that the city was conquered and its inhabitants exterminated.

The Ruins, Gede, Kenya

Ruins, Gede, Kenya. Photo by flowcomm.

Kenya – a country of nature reserves and natural wonders

There are almost six dozen nature reserves and national parks in Kenya. Rivers, mountains, lakes, forests and savannahs, as well as the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean – each seems to have its own reserve.

Leopard, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Leopard, Masai Mara National Wildlife Refuge, Kenya. Photo by Peter Crook.

Kenya – first the mountain and then the country

Thus, Mount Kenya National Park attracts not only ordinary tourists but also extreme tourists. Its main attraction is Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro, located in neighboring Tanzania. Here are the glaciers that feed most of the country and the volcano, and there is still snow on it even during the African summer. Not surprisingly, therefore, the country has borrowed its name from this incredible mountain. And it translates from the Kikuyu language as “white mountain”.

Mount Kenya, Kenya

Mount Kenya, Kenya. Photo by pike2016.

The Great Rift Valley is turning Kenya into an island nation

The Great Rift of Africa is only 100 km from the capital. It starts from the Dead Sea and ends in Mozambique. The fault was formed many millions of years ago as a result of the movement of tectonic plates. According to the scientists’ observations, the fissure is constantly growing, absorbing the surrounding areas. Eventually, it is very possible that the East African region will separate from the rest of Africa, becoming an independent island in the Indian Ocean. But until that happens, tourists can visit the Great Rift and admire the world’s largest population of pink flamingos in the local soda lakes. Researchers estimate that the Great Rift is home to about 4 million individuals.

Marabu, Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Marabu, Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo by Helen Hoffman.

Lake Victoria, one of the sources of the Nile

Kenya is also home to the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world. In addition to Kenya, it is joined by Tanzania and Uganda. The lake was discovered for Europeans by the British traveler John Speke, naming it after the Queen of Great Britain. The locals continue to call it by their own local names. There were, however, some attempts to settle on a single name, but they were unsuccessful. But Europeans know this lake by the name of Victoria. It is from this lake and flows the White Nile, which, merging with the Blue Nile, forms the longest river in the world, once worshipped by ancient Egyptians as a deity.

This is far from a complete list of places of interest in Kenya, which will be visited by tourists who have decided to visit these wonderful lands. The country offers its guests a holiday to suit all tastes – communion with nature, diving into the underwater world, visiting architectural and historical sights, dancing until the fall on hot African nights. And Nairobi airport is happy to accommodate everyone, because it is the largest in East Africa.

Sunset, Lake Victoria, Kenya

Sunset, Lake Victoria, Kenya. Photo by Helen Wright.

Step by step around the world

Kenya

Kenya, or the official name – the Republic of Kenya – is a state located in East Africa, which was a British colony until December 12, 1963. Today Kenya is one of the most dynamic East African countries. It is a multi-ethnic and ethnically diverse state with a rich cultural and natural heritage.

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Kenya is an ecotourism paradise. The country’s landscapes range from arid coastal plains to forested highlands. The ancient Rift Valley crisscrosses western Kenya. It is surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of extinct and dormant volcanoes, as well as many salt and freshwater lakes with rich flora and fauna. Along the eastern coast of Kenya stretches sandy beaches surrounded by colorful coral reefs.

Kenya – a paradise for ecotourism lovers

Article content:

The capital

City of Nairobi, Kenya

The capital of Kenya is Nairobi or Evaso Nairobi, which translates to “Cool Waters” from the language of the Masai tribe. The city received this name because of the cold waters of the Nairobi River, which flows on its territory. The first buildings of the modern capital appeared in 1899 as the headquarters of the railroad. A year after its official foundation the buildings had to be burnt down because of a plague epidemic. Today Nairobi is the biggest East African city with a modern infrastructure, the latest business districts, fine hotels, shopping malls and restaurants, educational institutions, many factories and enterprises.

Kenya’s capital is located almost on the equator, more than 1,600 meters above sea level. Nearby is the Great Rift Valley, one of the most spectacular places on our planet. Along it are alkaline lakes inhabited by millions of flamingos and numerous volcanoes. To the west of Nairobi rise the Ngong Hills, where the highest point in the area is located. To the southeast of the capital is Mount Kilimanjaro and to the north is Mount Kenya. The city is traversed by the Nairobi River and its tributaries. To the north is the Karura forest, unique in its beauty. Read more about Kenya’s capital …

A Kenyan flag

The flag of Kenya is one of the official national symbols that was adopted on December 12, 1963, after independence from Great Britain . The Kenyan flag has a traditional rectangular shape, with an aspect ratio of 2:3, and consists of three horizontal stripes of black, red and green, separated by two white horizontal stripes. In the center of the flag is a red-white-black shield of the African Maasai people, and behind it are two white crossed spears.

The symbolism of the Kenyan flag:
  • black symbolizes the local population
  • red – blood spilled during the struggle for the independence of Kenya
  • green – symbolizes agriculture and the country’s natural wealth
  • White symbolizes peace.
  • The Maasai shield and spears are a symbol of defending freedom

All the flags of the world , see here.

The Kenyan coat of arms

The coat of arms of Kenya is one of the official state symbols of the state, which was approved in 1963. The coat of arms is in the form of a Maasai shield painted in the colors of the national flag of Kenya: black, red and green, separated by two white horizontal stripes. In the center of the shield, on a red field, there is a silver rooster with a silver axe in its right paw. Behind the shield are two crossed scarlet spears. The shield and spears are held in their paws by two golden lions standing on Mount Kenya with examples of local agricultural products – tea bush leaves, corn cobs, pineapples, coffee beans, and sisal and pyrethrum. At the base of the coat of arms is a purple ribbon with the silver Kenyan motto “Harambee” which in Swahili means “all for one”.

Symbolism of the coat of arms of Kenya:

  • black symbolizes the local population
  • red – blood spilled during the struggle for the independence of Kenya
  • green – symbolizes agriculture and the country’s natural wealth
  • White symbolizes peace.
  • The Maasai shield and spears are a symbol of defending freedom
  • a white rooster with an axe, according to local customs, symbolizes a new and prosperous life
  • lions symbolize zeal and courage

See all the coats of arms of the world here.

“God Almighty” (“Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu”) is the national anthem of Kenya, created in 1963 by a special commission headed by music advisor Graham Hislop. The commission also included music professor George Senoga-Zake, Christian theologian and politician Thomas Kalume, Peter Kibukosia, and Washington Omondi. The melody was based on the lullaby of a small Kenyan people, and the words glorifying God were formally recorded in Swahili and English. The Kenyan anthem was first performed in 1963 at the official celebration of independence. And after that, the song was officially recognized. Read the text of the anthem of Kenya…

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Currency

The national currency of Kenya is the Kenya Shilling (international designation – KES ), equal to 100 cents. During Kenya’s colonial dependence on Britain, the country in circulation was an East African shilling, and since September 14, 1966, after independence, a new currency – the Kenya Shilling appeared. The old money was exchanged for the new at a ratio of 1:1.

Beginning in 2018, the Central Bank of Kenya began to issue a new series of coins. The difference of the new currency is in its design. The obverses of earlier issues contained portraits of former presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, while the 2018 coins were dedicated to representatives of African fauna. Kenya’s 1, 5, 10 and 20 shillings denominations easily recognize typical African wildlife: the giraffe, rhinoceros, lion and elephant.

The Central Bank of Kenya has also introduced a new series of bills with denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 shillings. The obverse design is the same for all denominations, with the centerpiece being an image of the monument to Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and an image of the 28-story Kenyatta International Convention Center. Each bill has a unique theme: 50 shillings focuses on green energy, 100 shillings on agriculture, 200 shillings on social services, 500 shillings on tourism and 1000 shillings on public administration. The bills also feature the Big Five: buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros, lion, and elephant.

Kenya Coins
Banknotes of Kenya

Kenya currency - Kenya banknotes

Kenya on the World Map

The Republic of Kenya is a state located in the northern part of East Africa, on either side of the equator, bordering Somalia to the east, Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the southwest, washed by the Indian Ocean to the southeast and Lake Victoria to the west. Kenya covers an area of 580,367 km², of which about 13,000 km² is aquatic.

Kenya on a Map

Kenya offers all the variety and richness of landscapes of the African continent – evergreen tropical forests and lifeless rocky deserts, endless savannah and a succession of mountain landscapes, amazing beaches of the Indian Ocean and the eternal snow of the mountains near the equator. Much of the country is occupied by plateaus ranging in height from 500 meters in the east to 1,500 meters in the west.

The highest point of the country is Mount Kenya (altitude 5199 m), the second highest point in Africa after Kilimanjaro. The equator crosses the country into two distinct areas: the relatively flat and flat east and west, rising steeply through ridges of hills and plateaus to the East African Rift Valley. The terrain west of the rift is a sloping plateau, the lowest part of which is occupied by Lake Victoria . Read more…

What to see in Kenya

Worth seeing in Kenya

Kenya is one of the most popular African countries among travelers. The country is home to 60 national parks that welcome all fans of photo safaris and extreme rides across the endless savannah. Below is a list of the most popular and amazing attractions in Kenya :

  • Masai Mara National Reserve.
  • Kericho Tea Plantations
  • Mount Kenya
  • Jesus Fort
  • Lake Victoria
  • Lake Nakuru
  • Hell Gate National Park

Largest cities

Top 10 Cities in Kenya

  1. Nairobi (capital of Kenya) – population 4,397,080
  2. Mombasa – population 1,430,570
  3. Kisumu – population 409,930
  4. Naivasha – population 355,385
  5. Nakuru – population 307,990
  6. Eldoret – population 289,380
  7. Kehancha – population 256,090
  8. Ruiru – population 238,860
  9. Kikuyu – population 233 235
  10. Kangundo Tala – population 218,560

Climate

Kenya has a predominantly subequatorial climate type, which makes it open to tourists throughout the year. The hottest and driest place in Kenya is the northeastern plateau and the area around Lake Rudolph. Throughout the year in this area the daytime air temperature is at +34 ° C … +38 ° C, and nighttime temperatures fall to +22 ° C … +26 ° C. In the Central Highlands, the air temperature depends on the altitude of the area. Thus, the capital of Kenya, which is located at an altitude of 1800 meters above sea level, the daytime temperature in January is +24 ° C … +26 ° C, and at night it is +11 ° C … 13 ° C. At high altitudes frosts often occur at night, and Mount Kenya is covered with snow all year round. On the coast the climate is milder. In January the air is heated to +28 °С … +30 °С during the day and cools down to +22 °С … +24 °С at night. In July the daytime air temperature is a little bit lower than in January and is +25 °С … 27 °С and 21 °С … 23 °С at night.

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The Indian Ocean has a strong influence on Kenya’s climate. Northeast winds prevail north of the equator from December to March, while southeast winds dominate south of the equator during this time. These months are fairly dry, but there may be some light precipitation in some areas. The rainy season lasts from late March through May, with eastern air masses dominating in both hemispheres. There is relatively little precipitation from June through August, with southwesterly winds common in the north and southeasterly winds in the south. Precipitation is highest on the southern coast of the Indian Ocean and in the west of the country (on the eastern slopes of the Central Highlands). In these regions, rainfall can reach up to 1,500 mm per year. The far north-east receives up to 500 mm of rainfall a year, while in the north-west of the country, in the Lake Rudolph area, there is only 200 mm of rainfall a year.

The best time for a beach holiday in Kenya is in May and from August to October.

Population

Kenya Population

Kenya has a population of 53,066,239 (December 2020 data) of which 98.8% are Africans and only 1% are Europeans, Arabs, and natives of India and Pakistan. Ethnolinguistically, Kenya’s African population is divided into three groups: the Bantu-speaking peoples (Meru, Kikuyu, Kamba, and others), the Shari Nile peoples (Luo and others), and the Nilotic peoples (Turkana, Maasai, Kipsigis, Nandi, and others). Most of Kenya’s population (about 70%) is made up of young people under the age of 30.

The official languages in Kenya are English and Swahili. English is taught in schools and all government documents are written in English. However, most of the population speaks Swahili (a Bantu language with many Arabic words), so it is considered the national language of Kenya. Apart from English and Swahili, there are about 50 other local dialects in the country.

Religion

Christianity is the most popular religion in Kenya (about 82% of the population is adherents) of which 47% are Protestants, 23% are Catholics and 12% are other Christians. African faiths account for about 10%, about 7% of Kenyans consider themselves adherents of Islam, and 1% are other religions.

“No nail, no rod” or customs regulations

Kenya’s customs regulations do not limit the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into the country, but a declaration is required. Importing and exporting national currency is prohibited.

Allowed:

One liter of alcohol (or 1 bottle), up to 250 ml of perfume, up to 50 cigars, or 200 cigarettes, or 250 g of tobacco can be imported into Kenya duty free. Music, radio and cinema equipment, video equipment and slide projectors are also subject to mandatory declaration. Weapons may be brought in with a special permit from the Central Firearms Bureau.

Prohibited:

The importation of narcotics, obscene printed matter, firearms, ammunition and explosives, fruit, seedlings and seeds is prohibited in Kenya. Diamonds, gold, plant fruits, ivory products, animal hides and rhinoceros horn are prohibited from Kenya.

Electricity Voltage

The mains voltage in Kenya is 240 volts at 50 Hz. The socket type: G.

Dear Reader! If you have been to this country or have something interesting to tell about Kenya, WRITE! After all, your lines can be useful and informative for visitors of our site “Around the Planet Step by Step” and for all travel lovers.

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