Kenya (pronounced as KEN-ya) is a country of East Africa, bordering Ethiopia (north), Somalia (north-east), Tanzania (south), Uganda (west), Sudan (north-west) and the Indian Ocean. Nairobi is its capital and largest city.

Republic of Kenya
Flag of Kenya Coat of Arms of Kenya
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: Harambee (Swahili: Let's work together)
Anthem: Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu (Oh God of All Creation)
Location of Kenya
Capital Nairobi
Template:Coor dm
Largest city Nairobi
Official languages English, Swahili
Government Republic
Mwai Kibaki
From the United Kingdom
December 12, 1963
 • Total
 • Water (%)
582,650 km² (46th)
 • 2004 est.
 • 2002 census
 • Density
32,021,856 (37th)
53.4/km² (142)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2003 estimate
33,028 (81)
1,035 (151)
Currency Kenyan Shilling (KES)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
not observed (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .ke
Calling code +254 (005 from Tanzania and Uganda)


Main article: History of Kenya

Fossils found in East Africa suggest that protohumans roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake Turkana indicate that hominids like Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived in Kenya from 2.6 million years ago.

The colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890.

During the early part of the 20th century the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee. By the 1930s approximately 30,000 settlers lived in the area and were offered undue political powers due to their effects on the economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a Hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. In January 1953, Major General Hinde was appointed as director of counter-insurgency operations. The situation did not improve due to lack of intelligence, so General Sir George Erskine was appointed commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill. The capture of Waruhiu Itote (General China) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954 after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. May 1953 also saw the Home Guard officially recognized as a branch of the Security Forces. The Home Guard formed the core of the Government's anti-Mau Mau strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King's African Rifles. By the end of the Emergency the Home Guard had killed no less than 4,686 Mau Mau, which amounted to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956 in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive.

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate" African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta, which formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on December 12 1963. A year later, Kenyatta became Kenya's first president.

At Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President, and in democratic multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997 won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running and Mwai Kibaki was elected President.

Political Structure

Main article: Politics of Kenya

Since independence, Kenya has maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its political system and crises in neighboring countries. Particularly since the re-emergence of multiparty democracy, Kenyans have enjoyed an increased degree of freedom.

A parliamentary reform initiative in 1997 revised some oppressive laws that had been used to limit freedom of speech and assembly. This improved public freedoms and contributed to generally multiparty national elections in December 1997 which was marred by violence and saw the incumbent President Daniel arap Moi win by 30% of the votes.

In December 2002, Kenya held democratic and open elections and elected Mwai Kibaki as their new president under the NARC coalition. The elections, which were judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked an important turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution. President Kibaki has focused his efforts on generating economic growth, combating corruption, and improving education. Kenya is also in the process of rewriting its post-colonial constitution and its subsequent amendments that gave the president nearly unlimited powers and immunity from the law accounting for many of Kenya's current problems.

Following disagreements between the partners in the current government coalition, constitutional reform has proceeded slower than anticipated. The right leaning National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) faction (allied to president Kibaki) favours a centralized Presidential system, while the left leaning LDP faction - led by Raila Odinga - a parliamentary system with Prime Minister.

Internal wrangling within the governing coalition has also negatively affected other crucial areas of governance, such as the fight against corruption and a planned large-scale privatization of government-owned enterprises.

Administrative Structure

Map of Kenya
Map of Kenya

Main article: Provinces of Kenya

Kenya is divided into 7 Provinces (Mkoa) and 1 Area*:

The Provinces are subdivided into Districts(Wilaya) which are then subdivided into Divisions (Tarafa). The Divison is then subdivided into Location (Mtaa) and then Sub Location (Kijiji). A Province is administered by a Provincial Commissioner (PC).


Main article: Geography of Kenya


Main article: Economy of Kenya

Kenya's main economic strengths include tourism and agriculture. The economy is only now beginning to show some growth after years of stagnation. Some argue that this slow economic growth is because of poor management and uneven commitment to reform; others insist that it is due to falling commodity prices and poor access to Western markets.

In 1993, the government of Kenya implemented a program of economic liberalization and reform that included the removal of import licensing, price controls, and foreign exchange controls. With the support of the World Bank, IMF, and other donors, the reforms led to a brief turnaround in economic performance following a period of negative growth in the early 1990s. One of the unintended consequence of freeing foreign exchange control was that it allowed a gold-and-diamond export scam (Goldenberg) in which the Kenyan government lost over 600 million US dollars. This resulted in a weak currency which hindered economic improvement. Kenya's GDP grew 5% in 1995 and 4% in 1996, and inflation remained under control. Growth slowed in 1997-1999 however. Political violence damaged the tourist industry, and Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program lapsed. A new economic team was put in place in 1999 to revitalize the reform effort, strengthen the civil service, and curb corruption, but wary donors continue to question the government's commitment to western establishment ideas of sound economic policy.

Considered by some to be long-term barriers to development are: electricity shortages, the government's continued and allegedly inefficient dominance of key sectors, corruption, the foreign debt burden, unstable international commodity prices, poor communication infrastructure and the country's high population growth rate.

Chief among Kenya's exports are: Flowers (Horticulture), Fruit and Vegetables, Tea and Coffee. Another key foreign exchange earner is tourism.


Main article: Demographics of Kenya

Ethnic tensions account for many of Kenya's problems. During the early 1990s, tribal clashes killed thousands and left tens of thousands homeless. Ethnically split opposition groups allowed the regime of Daniel arap Moi, in power from 1978 until 2002, to be re-elected for four terms, with the election in 1997 being marred by violence and fraud.

Ethnic groups: Kĩkũyũ 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%

Religious affiliation: Various Protestant 38%, Roman Catholic 28%, Muslim 6%, Traditional Religions 22%. Others include Hinduism, Jainism & Bahai.

See also: List of cities in Kenya, Maasai.


Main article: Culture of Kenya


Kenya is active in several sports, among them soccer, hockey, boxing and many others. But the country is chiefly known for its dominance in middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Kenya has regularly produced Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions at various distances, especially the 1500M, the 3000M steeplechase, the 5000M and the 10000M races. Kenyan athletes continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco and Ethiopia has somewhat reduced this trend. The Marathon world record holder, Paul Tergat, and the current women's Boston Marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba, are the among the best-known and most respected athletes in Kenya. A retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion, Kipchoge Keino, is Kenya's most famous sportsman. Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other countries, chiefly Bahrain and Qatar. The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the USA.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

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