, officially the Republic of Kenya
: Jamhuri ya Kenya
), is a country in Eastern Africa
. At 580,367 square kilometres (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's 48th largest country by total area. With a population of more than 47.6 million people in the 2019 census,
Kenya is the 29th most populous country.
Kenya's capital and largest city is Nairobi
, while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa
. Kisumu City
is the third-largest city and also an inland port on Lake Victoria
. Other important urban centres include Nakuru
. As of 2020, Kenya is the third-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria and South Africa.
Kenya is bordered by South Sudan
to the northwest, Ethiopia
to the north, Somalia
to the east, Uganda
to the west, Tanzania
to the south, and the Indian Ocean
to the southeast.
Kenya is a presidential representative democratic
republic, in which elected officials represent the people and the president is the head of state and government.
Kenya is a member of the United Nations
, Commonwealth of Nations
, World Bank
, International Monetary Fund
, International Criminal Court
, and other international organisations. With a GNI
Kenya is a lower-middle-income economy. Kenya's economy
is the largest in eastern and central Africa,
serving as a major regional commercial hub.
Agriculture is the largest sector: tea and coffee are traditional cash crops, while fresh flowers are a fast-growing export. The service industry
is also a major economic driver, particularly tourism. Kenya is a member of the East African Community
trade bloc, though some international trade organisations categorise it as part of the Greater Horn of Africa
Africa is Kenya's largest export market, followed by the European Union.
The Republic of Kenya is named after Mount Kenya
. The earliest recorded version of the modern name was written by German explorer Johann Ludwig Krapf
in the 19th century. While travelling with a Kamba caravan led by the legendary long-distance trader Chief Kivoi, Krapf spotted the mountain peak and asked what it was called. Kivoi told him "Kĩ-Nyaa
" or "Kĩĩma- Kĩĩnyaa
", probably because the pattern of black rock and white snow on its peaks reminded him of the feathers of the male ostrich.
The Agikuyu, who inhabit the slopes of Mt. Kenya, call it Kĩrĩma Kĩrĩnyaga in Kikuyu
, while the Embu call it "Kirenyaa". All three names have the same meaning.
Ludwig Krapf recorded the name as both Kenia
Some have said that this was a precise notation of the African pronunciation /
An 1882 map drawn by Joseph Thompsons, a Scottish geologist and naturalist, indicated Mt. Kenya as Mt. Kenia.
The mountain's name was accepted, pars pro toto
, as the name of the country. It did not come into widespread official use during the early colonial period, when the country was referred to as the East African Protectorate
. The official name was changed to the Colony of Kenya
Fossils found in Kenya have shown that primates inhabited the area for more than 20 million years. Recent findings near Lake Turkana
indicate that hominids
such as Homo habilis
(1.8 to 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus
(1.9 million to 350,000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens
, and lived in Kenya in the Pleistocene
East Africa, including Kenya, is one of the earliest regions where modern humans (Homo sapiens
) are believed to have lived. Evidence was found in 2018, dating to about 320,000 years ago, at the Kenyan site of Olorgesailie
, of the early emergence of modern behaviours
including long-distance trade networks (involving goods such as obsidian), the use of pigments, and the possible making of projectile points. It is observed by the authors of three 2018 studies on the site, that the evidence of these behaviours is approximately contemporary to the earliest known Homo sapiens
fossil remains (such as at Jebel Irhoud
in Morocco and Florisbad
in South Africa), and they suggest that complex and modern behaviours had already begun in Africa around the time of the emergence of the species Homo sapiens
The first inhabitants of present-day Kenya were hunter-gatherer
groups, akin to the modern Khoisan
These people were later largely replaced by agropastoralist Cushitic
(ancestral to Kenya's Cushitic speakers) from the Horn of Africa
During the early Holocene
, the regional climate shifted from dry to wetter conditions, providing an opportunity for the development of cultural traditions such as agriculture and herding
, in a more favourable environment.
By the first millennium AD, Bantu
-speaking farmers had moved into the region, initially along the coast.
The Bantus originated in West Africa along the Benue River
in what is now eastern Nigeria
and western Cameroon
The Bantu migration brought new developments in agriculture and ironworking
to the region.
Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu
-Watuweta, Wapokomo, and Mijikenda
, among others.
Swahili trade period
The Kenyan coast had served host to communities of ironworkers
and Bantu subsistence farmers, hunters, and fishers who supported the economy with agriculture, fishing, metal production, and trade with foreign countries. These communities formed the earliest city-states in the region, which were collectively known as Azania
By the 1st century CE, many of the city-states
such as Mombasa
, and Zanzibar
began to establish trading relations with Arabs
. This led to increased economic growth of the Swahili states, the introduction of Islam
influences on the Swahili Bantu language
, cultural diffusion
, as well as the Swahili city-states becoming members of a larger trade network.
Many historians had long believed that the city-states were established by Arab or Persian traders, but archaeological evidence has led scholars to recognise the city-states as an indigenous development which, though subjected to foreign influence due to trade, retained a Bantu cultural core.
The Kilwa Sultanate
was a medieval sultanate
centred at Kilwa
, in modern-day Tanzania. At its height, its authority stretched over the entire length of the Swahili Coast
, including Kenya. It was said to be founded in the 10th century by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi
Sultan from Shiraz
in southern Iran.
However, scholars have suggested that claims of Arab or Persian origin of city-states were attempts by the Swahili
to legitimise themselves both locally and internationally.
Since the 10th century, rulers of Kilwa would go on to build elaborate coral mosques and introduce copper coinage.
Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic
, and other Middle-Eastern and South Asian loanwords
, later developed as a lingua franca
for trade between the different peoples.
Swahili now also has loanwords from English.
Early Portuguese colonization
in Kenya lasted from 1498 until 1730. Mombasa
was under Portuguese rule from 1593 to 1698 and again from 1728 to 1729.
The Swahili built Mombasa into a major port city and established trade links with other nearby city-states, as well as commercial centres in Persia, Arabia, and even India.
By the 15th-century, Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa
claimed that "Mombasa is a place of great traffic and has a good harbour in which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar."
In the 17th century, the Swahili coast was conquered and came under the direct rule of the Omani Arabs
, who expanded the slave trade
to meet the demands of plantations in Oman
Initially, these traders came mainly from Oman, but later many came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip
In addition, the Portuguese started buying slaves from the Omani and Zanzibari traders in response to the interruption of the transatlantic slave trade by British abolitionists.
Throughout the centuries, the Kenyan coast has played host to many merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement since the 14th century and once rivalled Mombasa for dominance in the African Great Lakes region. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the Chinese trader and explorer Zheng He
, representing the Ming Dynasty
, visited the East African coast on one of his last 'treasure voyages'
Malindi authorities also welcomed the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama
British Kenya (1888–1962)
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. Imperial rivalry was prevented when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This was followed by the building of the Uganda Railway
passing through the country.
The building of the railway was resisted by some ethnic groups—notably the Nandi
, led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei
for ten years from 1890 to 1900—however the British eventually built the railway. The Nandi
were the first ethnic group to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway.
During the railway construction era, there was a significant influx of Indian workers, who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction.
They and most of their descendants later remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili Muslim
While building the railway through Tsavo
, a number of the Indian railway workers and local African labourers were attacked by two lions
known as the Tsavo maneaters
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa
(as the protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa
initially agreed on a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. Lt. Col. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany
, von Lettow
conducted an effective guerrilla warfare
campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Northern Rhodesia
(today Zambia) fourteen days after the Armistice was signed in 1918.
To chase von Lettow, the British deployed the British Indian Army
troops from India
but needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior on foot. The Carrier Corps
was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.
In 1920, the East Africa Protectorate was turned into a colony and renamed Kenya after its highest mountain.
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 and tea.
(one depiction of this period of change from one colonist's perspective is found in the memoir Out of Africa
by Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, published in 1937). By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and gained a political voice because of their contribution to the market economy.
The central highlands were already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu people
, most of whom had no land claims in European terms 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.
By the 1950s, there were 80,000 white settlers
living in Kenya .
Throughout World War II
, Kenya was
an important source of manpower and agriculture for the United Kingdom. Kenya itself was the site of fighting
between Allied forces and Italian
troops in 1940–41, when Italian forces invaded. Wajir
were bombed as well.
In 1952, Princess Elizabeth
and her husband Prince Philip
were on holiday at the Treetops Hotel
in Kenya when her father, King George VI
, died in his sleep. The young princess cut short her trip and returned home immediately to assume the throne. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953 and as British hunter and conservationist Jim Corbett
(who accompanied the royal couple) put it, she went up a tree in Africa a princess and came down a queen.
Mau Mau Uprising
A statue of Dedan Kimathi
, a Kenyan rebel leader with the Mau Mau
who fought against the British colonial system in the 1950s.
From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was in a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion
against British rule. The Mau Mau, also known as the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, were primarily members of the Kikuyu ethnic group.
The capture of Waruhiu Itote
(nom de guerre "General China"
) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure for the British. 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. Nairobi's occupants were screened and the suspected Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps
. More than 80,000 members of the Kikuyu
ethnic group were held in detention camps
without trial, often subject to brutal treatment.
The Home Guard formed the core of the government's strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces such as the British Army
and King's African Rifles. By the end of the emergency, the Home Guard had killed 4,686 Mau Mau, amounting 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.
During this period, substantial governmental changes to land tenure occurred. The most important of these was the Swynnerton Plan
, which was used to both reward loyalists and punish Mau Mau.
Somalis of Kenya referendum, 1962
The result of the referendum showed that 86% of Somalis in Kenya wanted to join Somalia
, but the British colonial administration rejected the result and the Somalis remained in Kenya.
The first direct elections for native Kenyans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957.
Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate" local rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union
(KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta
that formed a government. The Colony of Kenya and the Protectorate of Kenya each came to an end on 12 December 1963, with independence being conferred on all of Kenya. The United Kingdom ceded sovereignty over the Colony of Kenya. The Sultan of Zanzibar agreed that simultaneous with independence for the colony, the sultan would cease to have sovereignty over the Protectorate of Kenya so that all of Kenya would become one sovereign state.
In this way, Kenya became an independent country under the Kenya Independence Act 1963 of the United Kingdom. Exactly 12 months later on 12 December 1964, Kenya became a republic under the name "Republic of Kenya".
Concurrently, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War
against ethnic Somali
rebels inhabiting the Northern Frontier District
who wanted to join their kin in the Somali Republic
to the north.
A ceasefire was eventually reached with the signature of the Arusha Memorandum in October 1967, but relative insecurity prevailed through 1969.
To discourage further invasions, Kenya signed a defence pact with Ethiopia
in 1969, which is still in effect.
The first president of Kenya
On 12 December 1964, the Republic of Kenya was proclaimed, and Jomo Kenyatta
became Kenya's first president.
Under Kenyatta, corruption became widespread throughout the government, civil service, and business community. Kenyatta and his family were tied up with this corruption as they enriched themselves through the mass purchase of property after 1963. Their acquisitions in the Central, Rift Valley, and Coast Provinces aroused great anger among landless Kenyans. His family used his presidential position to circumvent legal or administrative obstacles to acquiring property. The Kenyatta family also heavily invested in the coastal hotel business, with Kenyatta personally owning the Leonard Beach Hotel.
President Jomo Kenyatta's mixed legacy was highlighted at the 10 year anniversary of Kenya's independence. An article published in the New York Times
in December 1973 praised Kenyatta's leadership and Kenya for emerging as a model of pragmatism and conservatism. Kenya's GDP had increased at a rate of 6.6 per cent a year, higher than the population growth rate of more than 3 per cent.
However, Amnesty International
responded to this article by stating the cost of the stability in terms of human rights abuses. The opposition party started by Oginga Odinga
- Kenya People's Union
(KPU) - was banned in 1969 following the Kisumu Massacre
and KPU leaders were still in detention without trial in gross violation of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights
The Kenya Students Union, Jehovah Witnesses
and all opposition parties were outlawed.
Kenyatta ruled until his death on 22 August 1978.
Following Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi
became president. He retained the presidency, running unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections
), and 1988, all of which were held under the single-party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of a failed military coup
on 2 August 1982.
The 1982 coup was masterminded by a low-ranking Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka
, and was staged mainly by enlisted men of the Air Force. It was quickly suppressed by forces commanded by Chief of General Staff Mahamoud Mohamed
, a veteran Somali military official.
They included the General Service Unit (GSU)—a paramilitary wing of the police—and later the regular police.
The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo
(queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of casting a secret ballot.
This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including the one that allowed for only one political party, were changed in the following years.
Transition to multiparty democracy
In 1991, Kenya transitioned to a multiparty political system after 26 years of single-party rule. On 28 October 1992, president Moi dissolved parliament, five months before the end of his term. As a result, preparations began for all elective seats in parliament as well as the president. The elections were scheduled to take place on 7 December 1992, but delays led to its postponement to 29 December the same year. Apart from KANU, the ruling party, other parties represented in the elections included FORD
Kenya and FORD Asili. This election was marked by large-scale intimidation of opponents, as well as harassment of election officials. It resulted in an economic crisis propagated by ethnic violence as the president was accused of rigging electoral results to retain power.
This election was a turning point for Kenya as it signified the beginning of the end of Moi's leadership and the rule of KANU. Moi retained the presidency and George Saitoti
became the vice-president. Although it held on to power, KANU won 100 seats and lost 88 seats to the six opposition parties.
The elections of 1992 marked the beginning of multiparty politics after more than 25 years of rule by KANU.
Following skirmishes in the aftermath of the elections, 5,000 people were killed and a further 75,000 others displaced from their homes.
In the next five years, many political alliances were formed in preparation for the next elections. In 1994, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
died and several coalitions joined his FORD Kenya party to form a new party called United National Democratic Alliance. However, this party was plagued with disagreements. In 1995, Richard Leakey
formed the Safina party, but it was denied registration until November 1997.
In 1996, KANU revised the constitution to allow Moi to remain president for another term. Subsequently, Moi stood for re-election and won a 5th term in 1997.
His win was strongly criticised by his major opponents, Kibaki
, as being fraudulent.
Following this win, Moi was constitutionally barred from vying for another presidential term. Beginning in 1998, Moi attempted to influence the country's succession politics to have Uhuru Kenyatta
elected in the upcoming 2002 elections.
President Kibaki and the road to a new constitution
Moi's plan to be replaced by Uhuru Kenyatta failed, and Mwai Kibaki
, running for the opposition coalition "National Rainbow Coalition" (NARC
), was elected president. David Anderson (2003) reports the elections were judged free and fair by local and international observers, and seemed to mark a turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution.
In 2005, Kenyans rejected a plan to replace the 1963 independence constitution with a new one.
As a result, the elections of 2007 took place following the procedure set by the old constitution. Kibaki was re-elected in highly contested elections marred by political and ethnic violence
. The main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, claimed that the election results were rigged and that he was the rightfully elected president. In the ensuing violence, 1,500 people were killed and another 600,000 were internally displaced, making it the worst post-election violence
in Kenya. To stop the death and displacement of people, Kibaki and Odinga agreed to work together, with the latter taking the position of a prime minister.
This made Odinga the second prime minister of Kenya
In July 2010, Kenya partnered with other East African countries to form the new East African Common Market within the East African Community
In August 2010, Kenyans held a referendum
and passed a new constitution
, which limited presidential powers and devolved the central government.
Devolution of government and separation of powers
Government and politics under 2010 constitution
President Kibaki era
Mwai Kibaki became the first president to serve under this new constitution while Uhuru Kenyatta became the first president elected under this constitution.
In mid-2011, two consecutive missed rainy seasons precipitated the worst drought in East Africa
seen in 60 years. The northwestern Turkana region
was especially affected,
with local schools shut down as a result.
The crisis was reportedly over by early 2012 because of coordinated relief efforts. Aid agencies subsequently shifted their emphasis to recovery initiatives, including digging irrigation canals and distributing plant seeds.
The 3rd President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki ruled from 2002 until 2013.
President Kenyatta first term
After Kibaki's tenure ended in 2013, Kenya held its first general elections
after the new constitution had been passed. Uhuru Kenyatta won in a disputed election result, leading to a petition by the opposition leader, Raila Odinga. The supreme court upheld the election results and President Kenyatta
began his term with William Ruto
as the deputy president. Despite the outcome of this ruling, the Supreme Court and the head of the Supreme Court
were seen as powerful institutions that could carry out their role of checking the powers of the president.
President Kenyatta second term
In 2017, Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term in office in another disputed election
. Following the defeat, Raila Odinga again petitioned the results in the Supreme Court, accusing the electoral commission
of mismanagement of the elections and Uhuru Kenyatta and his party of rigging. The Supreme Court overturned the election results in what became a landmark ruling in Africa and one of the very few in the world in which the results of a presidential elections were annulled.
This ruling solidified the position of the Supreme Court as an independent body.
Consequently, Kenya had a second round of elections for the presidential position, in which Uhuru emerged the winner after Raila refused to participate, citing irregularities.
After 2018 Kenya handshake
The historical handshake
in March 2018, between president Uhuru Kenyatta and his long-time opponent Raila Odinga, meant reconciliation followed by economic growth and increased stability. 
Between 2019 and 2021, President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga combined efforts to promote major changes to the Kenyan constitution, labeled as the "Building Bridges Initiative" (BBI), saying that their efforts were to improve inclusion and overcome the country's winner-take-all election system that often resulted in post-election violence.
The BBI proposal called for broad expansion of the legislative and executive branches, including the creation of a prime minister
with two deputies and an official leader of the opposition, reverting to selecting cabinet ministers from among the elected Members of Parliament, establishment of up to 70 new constituencies
, and addition of up to 300 un-elected members of Parliament (under an "affirmative action
However, critics saw it as unnecessary, and an attempt to reward political dynasties -- and blunt the efforts of Deputy President Willian Ruto (Odinga's rival for the next presidency) -- and bloating the government at an exceptional cost to the debt-laded country.
Ultimately, in May 2021, the Kenyan High Court ruled that the BBI constitutional reform effort was unconstitutional, because it was not truly a popular initiative
, but rather an effort of the government.
The court sharply criticized Kenyatta for the attempt, laying out out grounds for his being sued, personally, or even impeached
(though the Parliament, which had passed the BBI, was unlikely to do that). The ruling was seen as a major defeat for both Kenyatta (soon to leave office), and Odinga (expected to seek the presidency), but a boon to Odinga's future presidential-election rival, Ruto.
A map of Kenya.
At 580,367 km2
(224,081 sq mi),
Kenya is the world's forty-seventh largest country (after Madagascar
). It lies between latitudes 5°N
, and longitudes 34°
. From the coast on the Indian Ocean, the low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley
, with a fertile plateau lying to the east.
The Kenyan Highlands are one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa.
The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya and the second highest peak on the continent: Mount Kenya
, which reaches a height of 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is the site of glaciers. Mount Kilimanjaro
(5,895 m or 19,341 ft) can be seen from Kenya to the south of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya's climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid
in the north and northeast parts of the country. The area receives a great deal of sunshine every month. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations.
The "long rains" season occurs from March/April to May/June. The "short rains" season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. Climate change is altering the natural pattern of the rainfall period, causing an extension of the short rains, which has begat floods,
and reducing the drought cycle from every ten years to annual events, producing strong droughts such as the 2008-09 Kenya Drought
The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July, until mid-August.
Climate change in Kenya
is increasingly impacting the lives of Kenya's citizens and the environment.
Climate change has led to more frequent extreme weather
events like droughts which last longer than usual, irregular and unpredictable rainfall, flooding and increasing temperatures. The effects of these climatic changes have made already existing challenges with water security
, food security
and economic growth even more difficult. Harvests and agricultural production which account for about 33%
of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
are also at risk. The increased temperatures, rainfall
variability in arid
areas, and strong winds
associated with tropical cyclones
have combined to create favorable conditions for the breeding and migration
An increase in temperature of up to 2.5°C by 2050 is predicted to increase the frequency of extreme events such as floods
The "Big Five"
game animals of Africa, that is the lion
, and elephant
, can be found in Kenya and in the Masai Mara in particular. A significant population of other wild animals, reptiles, and birds can be found in the national parks
and game reserves in the country. The annual animal migration occurs between June and September, with millions of animals taking part, attracting valuable foreign tourism. Two million wildebeest migrate a distance of 2,900 kilometres (1,802 mi) from the Serengeti
in neighbouring Tanzania to the Masai Mara
in Kenya, in a constant clockwise fashion, searching for food and water supplies. This Serengeti Migration of the wildebeest is listed among the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa
Government and politics
Following general elections held in 1997, the Constitution of Kenya Review Act, designed to pave the way for more comprehensive amendments to the Kenyan constitution, was passed by the national parliament.
In December 2002, Kenya held democratic and open elections, which were judged free and fair by most international observers.
The 2002 elections marked an important turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution in that power was transferred peacefully from the Kenya African National Union
(KANU), which had ruled the country since independence, to the National Rainbow Coalition
(NARC), a coalition of political parties.
Under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki
, the new ruling coalition promised to focus its efforts on generating economic growth, combating corruption, improving education, and rewriting its constitution. A few of these promises have been met. There is free primary education.
In 2007, the government issued a statement declaring that from 2008, secondary education would be heavily subsidised, with the government footing all tuition fees.
2013 elections and new government
Under the new constitution and with President Kibaki prohibited by term limits from running for a third term, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta
ran for office. He won with 50.51% of the vote in March 2013.
In December 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta
signed a Security Laws Amendment Bill, which supporters of the law suggested was necessary to guard against armed groups. Opposition politicians, human rights groups, and nine Western countries criticised the security bill, arguing that it infringed on democratic freedoms. The governments of the United States
, the United Kingdom
, and France
also collectively issued a press statement cautioning about the law's potential impact. Through the Jubilee Coalition, the Bill was later passed on 19 December in the National Assembly under acrimonious circumstances.
Kenya has close ties with its fellow Swahili
-speaking neighbours in the African Great Lakes
region. Relations with Uganda and Tanzania are generally strong, as the three nations work toward economic and social integration through common membership in the East African Community
Relations with Somalia have historically been tense, although there has been some military co-ordination against Islamist insurgents. Kenya has good relations with the United Kingdom.
Kenya is one of the most pro-American nations in Africa, and the wider world.
With International Criminal Court
trial dates scheduled in 2013 for both President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto
related to the 2007 election aftermath, US president Barack Obama
chose not to visit the country during his mid-2013 African trip
Later in the summer, Kenyatta visited China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping
after a stop in Russia and not having visited the United States as president.
In July 2015, Obama visited Kenya, the first American president to visit the country while in office.
The armed forces are regularly deployed in peacekeeping missions around the world. Further, in the aftermath of the national elections of December 2007 and the violence that subsequently engulfed the country, a commission of inquiry, the Waki Commission
, commended its readiness and adjudged it to "have performed its duty well."
Nevertheless, there have been serious allegations of human rights violations, most recently while conducting counter-insurgency operations in the Mt Elgon
and also in the district of Mandera
Kenya's armed forces, like many government institutions in the country, have been tainted by corruption
allegations. Because the operations of the armed forces have been traditionally cloaked by the ubiquitous blanket of "state security", the corruption has been hidden from public view, and thus less subject to public scrutiny and notoriety. This has changed recently. In what are by Kenyan standards unprecedented revelations, in 2010, credible claims of corruption were made with regard to recruitment
and procurement of armoured personnel carriers.
Further, the wisdom and prudence of certain decisions of procurement have been publicly questioned.
Kenya is divided into 47 semi-autonomous counties
that are headed by governors. These 47 counties form the first-order divisions of Kenya.
The smallest administrative units in Kenya are called locations
. Locations often coincide with electoral wards. Locations are usually named after their central villages/towns. Many larger towns consist of several locations. Each location has a chief, appointed by the state.
Constituencies are an electoral subdivision, with each county comprising a whole number of constituencies. An interim boundaries commission was formed in 2010 to review the constituencies and in its report, it recommended the creation of an additional 80 constituencies. Previous to the 2013 elections, there were 210 constituencies in Kenya
are illegal in Kenya and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, though the state often turns a blind eye to prosecuting gay people.
According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center
, 90% of Kenyans believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.
While addressing a joint press conference together with President Barack Obama
in 2015, President Kenyatta declined to assure Kenya's commitment to gay rights, saying that "the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue... But there are some things that we must admit we don't share. Our culture, our societies don't accept."
A proportional representation of Kenya's exports.
outlook has steadily posted robust growth over the past few decades mostly from road
and water transport
infrastructure projects. However, much of this growth has come from cash flows diverted from ordinary Kenyan pockets at the microeconomic
level through targeted monetary
measures coupled with poor management, corruption
, massive theft of public funds, overlegislation
and an ineffective judiciary
resulting in diminished incomes in ordinary households and small businesses
and general discontent across multiple sectors. Kenya ranks poorly on the Fragile States Index
at number 25 out of 178 countries, ranked in 2019, and is placed in the ALERT category. In 2014, the country's macroeconomic indicators were re-based, causing the GDP
to shift upwards to low-middle-income country status.
The economy has seen much expansion, seen by strong performance in tourism, higher education, and telecommunications
, and decent post-drought results in agriculture, especially the vital tea sector.
Kenya's economy grew by more than 7% in 2007, and its foreign debt was greatly reduced.
This changed immediately after the disputed presidential election of December 2007, following the chaos which engulfed the country.
Telecommunications and financial activity over the last decade now comprise 62% of GDP. 22% of GDP still comes from the unreliable agricultural sector which employs 75% of the labour force (a consistent characteristic of under-developed economies that have not attained food security
—an important catalyst of economic growth). A small portion of the population relies on food aid.
Industry and manufacturing is the smallest sector, accounting for 16% of GDP. The service, industry and manufacturing sectors only employ 25% of the labour force but contribute 75% of GDP.
Kenya also exports textiles worth over $400 million under AGOA
Privatisation of state corporations like the defunct Kenya Post and Telecommunications Company, which resulted in East Africa's most profitable company—Safaricom
, has led to their revival because of massive private investment.
Kenya, Trends in the Human Development Index 1970–2010.
In March 1996, the presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda re-established the East African Community
(EAC). The EAC's objectives include harmonising tariffs and customs regimes, free movement of people, and improving regional infrastructures. In March 2004, the three East African countries signed a Customs Union Agreement
Kenya has a more developed financial services sector than its neighbours. The Nairobi Securities Exchange
(NSE) is ranked 4th in Africa in terms of market capitalisation. The Kenyan banking system is supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya
(CBK). As of late July 2004, the system consisted of 43 commercial banks (down from 48 in 2001) and several non-bank financial institutions
including mortgage companies, four savings and loan associations, and several core foreign-exchange bureaus.
Tourism in Kenya
is the second-largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture.
The Kenya Tourism Board is responsible for maintaining information pertaining to tourism in Kenya.
The main tourist attractions are photo safaris through the 60 national parks
and game reserves. Other attractions include the wildebeest
migration at the Masaai Mara
, which is considered to be the 7th wonder of the world; historical mosques, and colonial-era forts at Mombasa
, and Lamu
; renowned scenery such as the white-capped Mount Kenya
and the Great Rift Valley
; tea plantations at Kericho
; coffee plantations at Thika
; a splendid view of Mount Kilimanjaro
across the border into Tanzania;
and the beaches along the Swahili Coast
, in the Indian Ocean
. Tourists, the largest number being from Germany
and the United Kingdom
, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game reserves
, notably, the expansive East
and Tsavo West National Park
, 20,808 square kilometres (8,034 sq mi) to the southeast.
Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Kenya's gross domestic product (GDP) after the service sector. In 2005, agriculture, including forestry
and fishing, accounted for 24% of GDP, as well as for 18% of wage employment and 50% of revenue from exports. The principal cash crops
are tea, horticultural produce, and coffee. Horticultural produce and tea are the main growth sectors and the two most valuable of all of Kenya's exports. The production of major food staples such as corn
is subject to sharp weather-related fluctuations. Production downturns periodically necessitate food aid—for example in 2004, due to one of Kenya's intermittent droughts
A consortium led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
) has had some success in helping farmers grow new pigeon pea
varieties instead of maize, in particularly dry areas. Pigeon peas are very drought-resistant, so can be grown in areas with less than 650 mm annual rainfall. Successive projects encouraged the commercialisation of legumes by stimulating the growth of local seed production and agro-dealer networks for distribution and marketing. This work, which included linking producers to wholesalers, helped to increase local producer prices by 20–25% in Nairobi and Mombasa. The commercialisation of the pigeon pea is now enabling some farmers to buy assets ranging from mobile phones to productive land and livestock, and is opening pathways for them to move out of poverty.
Tea, coffee, sisal, pyrethrum, corn, and wheat are grown in the fertile highlands, one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa.
Livestock predominates in the semi-arid savanna to the north and east. Coconuts
, cashew nuts
, cotton, sugarcane
, and corn are grown in the lower-lying areas. Kenya has not attained the level of investment and efficiency in agriculture that can guarantee food security, and coupled with resulting poverty (53% of the population lives below the poverty line), a significant portion of the population regularly starves and is heavily dependent on food aid.
Poor roads, an inadequate railway network, under-used water transport, and expensive air transport have isolated mostly arid
areas, and farmers in other regions often leave food to rot in the fields because they cannot access markets. This was last seen in August and September 2011, prompting the Kenyans for Kenya
initiative by the Red Cross
Agricultural countryside in Kenya
sector is categorised into three organizational types: smallholder
schemes, centrally-managed public schemes, and private/commercial irrigation schemes.
The smallholder schemes are owned, developed, and managed by individuals or groups of farmers operating as water users or self-help groups. Irrigation is carried out on individual or on group farms averaging 0.1–0.4 ha. There are about 3,000 smallholder irrigation schemes covering a total area of 47,000 ha. The country has seven large, centrally managed irrigation schemes, namely Mwea, Bura
, West Kano, Bunyala, and Ahero
, covering a total area of 18,200 ha and averaging 2,600 ha per scheme. These schemes are managed by the National Irrigation Board and account for 18% of irrigated land area in Kenya. Large-scale private commercial farms cover 45,000 hectares, accounting for 40% of irrigated land. They utilise high technology and produce high-value crops for the export market, especially flowers and vegetables.
Kenya is the world's 3rd largest exporter of cut flowers
Roughly half of Kenya's 127 flower farms are concentrated around Lake Naivasha
, 90 kilometres northwest of Nairobi.
To speed their export, Nairobi airport has a terminal dedicated to the transport of flowers and vegetables.
Industry and manufacturing
Although Kenya is a low middle-income country, manufacturing accounts for 14% of the GDP, with industrial activity concentrated around the three largest urban centres of Nairobi
, and Kisumu
, and is dominated by food-processing industries such as grain milling, beer production, sugarcane crushing, and the fabrication of consumer goods, e.g., vehicles from kits.
Kenya also has a cement production industry.
Kenya has an oil refinery
that processes imported crude petroleum into petroleum products, mainly for the domestic market. In addition, a substantial and expanding informal sector
commonly referred to as jua kali
engages in small-scale manufacturing of household goods, auto parts, and farm implements.
Kenya's inclusion among the beneficiaries of the US Government's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA
) has given a boost to manufacturing in recent years. Since AGOA took effect in 2000, Kenya's clothing sales to the United States increased from US$44 million to US$270 million (2006).
Other initiatives to strengthen manufacturing have been the new government's favourable tax measures, including the removal of duty on capital equipment and other raw materials.
The country has an extensive network of paved and unpaved roads. Kenya's railway system links the nation's ports and major cities, connecting it with neighbouring Uganda. There are 15 airports which have paved runways.
Kenya's installed capacity increased from 1,142 megawatts
between 2001 and 2003 to 2,341 in 2016.
The state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen)
, established in 1997 under the name of Kenya Power Company, handles the generation of electricity, while Kenya Power handles the electricity transmission and distribution system in the country. Shortfalls of electricity occur periodically, when drought reduces water flow. To become energy sufficient, Kenya has installed wind power
and solar power
(over 300 MW each), and aims to build a nuclear power plant by 2027.
Kenya has proven deposits of oil in Turkana
. Tullow Oil
estimates the country's oil reserves to be around one billion barrels.
Exploration is still continuing to determine if there are more reserves. Kenya currently imports all crude petroleum requirements. The country has no strategic reserves and relies solely on oil marketers' 21-day oil reserves required under industry regulations. Petroleum accounts for 20% to 25% of the national import bill.
Chinese investment and trade
Published comments on Kenya's Capital FM
website by Liu Guangyuan, China's ambassador to Kenya
, at the time of President Kenyatta's 2013 trip to Beijing, said, "Chinese investment in Kenya ... reached $474 million, representing Kenya's largest source of foreign direct investment, and ... bilateral trade ... reached $2.84 billion" in 2012. Kenyatta was "[a]ccompanied by 60 Kenyan business people [and hoped to] ... gain support from China for a planned $2.5 billion railway from the southern Kenyan port of Mombasa to neighboring Uganda
, as well as a nearly $1.8 billion dam", according to a statement from the president's office, also at the time of the trip.
Base Titanium, a subsidiary of Base resources of Australia, shipped its first major consignment of minerals to China. About 25,000 tonnes of ilmenite
was flagged off the Kenyan coastal town of Kilifi. The first shipment was expected to earn Kenya about KSh15–20 billion in earnings.
In 2014, the Chinese contracted railway project from Nairobi to Mombasa was suspended due to a dispute over compensation for land acquisition.
In 2007, the Kenyan government unveiled Vision 2030
, an economic development programme it hopes will put the country in the same league as the Asian Economic Tigers
by the year 2030. In 2013, it launched a National Climate Change Action Plan, having acknowledged that omitting climate as a key development issue in Vision 2030 was an oversight failure. The 200-page Action Plan, developed with support from the Climate & Development Knowledge Network
, sets out the Government of Kenya's vision for a 'low-carbon climate resilient development pathway'. At the launch in March 2013, the Secretary of the Ministry of Planning, National Development, and Vision 2030 emphasised that climate would be a central issue in the renewed Medium-Term Plan that would be launched in the coming months. This would create a direct and robust delivery framework for the Action Plan and ensure climate change is treated as an economy-wide issue.
Trade in 2012
Kenya has proven oil deposits in Turkana County
. President Mwai Kibaki announced on 26 March 2012 that Tullow Oil
, an Anglo-Irish oil exploration firm, had struck oil, but its commercial viability and subsequent production would take about three years to confirm.
Early in 2006, Chinese president Hu Jintao
signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya, part of a series of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's rapidly expanding economy.
Lions Family Portrait Masai Mara
The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC
, to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and the disputed area of North Eastern Province
, on the border with Somalia
and in coastal waters. There are formal estimates of the possible reserves of oil discovered.
Child labour and prostitution
Child labour is common in Kenya. Most working children are active in agriculture.
In 2006, UNICEF estimated that up to 30% of girls in the coastal areas of Malindi, Mombasa, Kilifi, and Diani were subject to prostitution. Most of the prostitutes in Kenya are aged 9–18.
The Ministry of Gender and Child Affairs employed 400 child protection officers in 2009.
The causes of child labour include poverty, the lack of access to education, and weak government institutions.
Kenya has ratified Convention No. 81 on labour inspection in industries and Convention No. 129 on labour inspection in agriculture.
Child labour in Kenya
Microfinance in Kenya
24 institutions offer business loans on a large scale, specific agriculture loans, education loans, and loans for all other purposes. Additionally, there are:
- emergency loans, which are more expensive in respect to interest rates, but are quickly available
- group loans for smaller groups (4–5 members) and larger groups (up to 30 members)
- women's loans, which are also available to groups of women
Out of approximately 40 million Kenyans
, about 14 million are not able to receive financial service through formal loan application services, and an additional 12 million have no access to financial service institutions at all. Further, 1 million Kenyans are reliant on informal groups for receiving financial aid.
Conditions for microfinance products
- Eligibility criteria: the general criteria might include gender as in the case of special women's loans; being at least 18 years old; owning a valid Kenyan ID; having a business; demonstrating the ability to repay the loan; and being a customer of the institution.
- Credit scoring: there is no advanced credit scoring system and the majority has not stated any official loan distribution system. However, some institutions require applicants to have an existing business for at least 3 months, own a small amount of cash, provide the institution with a business plan or proposal, have at least one guarantor, or to attend group meetings or training. For group loans, almost half of the institutions require group members to guarantee for each other.
- Interest rate: mostly calculated on a flat basis and some at a declining balance. More than 90% of the institutions require monthly interest payments. The average interest rate is 30–40% for loans up to KSh500,000. For loans above KSh500,000, interest rates go up to 71%.
Kenya had a population of approximately 48 million people in January 2017.
The country has a young population, with 73% of residents aged below 30 years because of rapid population growth
from 2.9 million to 40 million inhabitants over the last century.
Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is home to Kibera
, one of the world's largest slums
. The shantytown is believed to house between 170,000
and 1 million people.
The UNHCR base in Dadaab
in the north also currently houses around 500,000 people.
Kenya has a diverse population that includes many of the major ethnoracial and linguistic groups found in Africa. Although there is no official list of Kenyan ethnic groups, the number of ethnic categories and sub-categories recorded in the country's census has changed significantly over time, expanding from 42 in 1969, to more than 120 in 2019.
The majority of local resident are made up of Bantus
(60%) and Nilotes
groups also form a small ethnic minority
, as do Arabs
, Indians, and Europeans.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
(KNBS), In 2019, Kenya had a total population of 47,564,296 inhabitants. The largest native ethnic groups were the Kikuyu
(1,189,522), and Turkana
(1,016,174). The North Eastern Province
of Kenya, formerly known as NFD, is predominantly inhabited by the indigenous ethnic Somalis
. Foreign-rooted populations include Somalis
, and Europeans
Kenya's various ethnic groups typically speak their mother tongues
within their own communities. The two official languages
, English and Swahili
, are used in varying degrees of fluency for communication with other populations. English is widely spoken in commerce, schooling, and government. Peri-urban
and rural dwellers are less multilingual, with many in rural areas speaking only their native languages.
is primarily used in Kenya. Additionally, a distinct local dialect, Kenyan English
, is used by some communities and individuals in the country, and contains features unique to it that were derived from local Bantu languages
such as Kiswahili and Kikuyu
It has been developing since colonisation and also contains certain elements of American English
is a Kiswahili-based cant
spoken in some urban areas. Primarily consisting of a mixture of Kiswahili and English, it is an example of linguistic code-switching
There are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya. Most belong to two broad language families: Niger-Congo
) and Nilo-Saharan
), spoken by the country's Bantu and Nilotic populations respectively. The Cushitic and Arab ethnic minorities speak languages belonging to the separate Afroasiatic
family, with the Indian and European residents speaking languages from the Indo-European
Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Cathedral in Mombasa.
There are Hindus living in Kenya. The numbers are estimated to be around 60,287 people or 0.13% of the population.
Private health facilities are diverse, highly dynamic, and difficult to classify, unlike public health facilities, which are easily grouped in classes that consist of community-based (level I) services, run by community health
workers; dispensaries (level II facilities) run by nurses
; health centers (level III facilities), run by clinical officers
; sub-county hospitals (level IV facilities), which may be run by a clinical officer
or a medical officer
; county hospitals (level V facilities), which may be run by a medical officer
or a medical practitioner
; and national referral hospitals (level VI facilities), which are run by fully qualified medical practitioners
Table showing different grades of clinical officers, medical officers, and medical practitioners in Kenya's public service
are by far the largest group of front-line
health care providers in all sectors, followed by clinical officers
, medical officers
, and medical practitioners
. These are absorbed and deployed into government service in accordance with the Scheme of Service for Nursing Personnel (2014)
, the Revised Scheme of Service for Clinical Personnel (2020)
and the Revised Scheme of Service for Medical Officers and Dental Officers (2016)
Despite major achievements in the health sector, Kenya still faces many challenges. The estimated life expectancy
dropped in 2009 to approximately 55 years — five years below the 1990 level.
The infant mortality
rate was high at approximately 44 deaths per 1,000 children in 2012.
The WHO estimated in 2011 that only 42% of births were attended by a skilled health professional.
Diseases of poverty
directly correlate with a country's economic performance
and wealth distribution
: Half of Kenyans live below the poverty level. Preventable diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malnutrition are the biggest burden, major child-killers, and responsible for much morbidity; weak policies, corruption, inadequate health workers, weak management, and poor leadership in the public health sector are largely to blame. According to 2009 estimates, HIV/AIDS prevalence
is about 6.3% of the adult population.
However, the 2011 UNAIDS Report suggests that the HIV epidemic may be improving in Kenya, as HIV prevalence is declining among young people (ages 15–24) and pregnant women.
Kenya had an estimated 15 million cases of malaria
Kenyan women in Nairobi
The total fertility rate
in Kenya was estimated to be 4.49 children per woman in 2012.
According to a 2008–09 survey by the Kenyan government, the total fertility rate was 4.6% and the contraception usage rate among married women was 46%. Maternal mortality
is high, partly because of female genital mutilation
with about 27% of women having undergone it.
This practice is however on the decline as the country becomes more modernised, and in 2011 it was banned in Kenya.
Women were economically empowered before colonialisation. By colonial land alienation, women lost access and control of land.
They became more economically dependent on men.
A colonial order of gender emerged where males dominated females.
Median age at first marriage increases with increasing education.
Rape, defilement, and battering are not always seen as serious crimes.
Reports of sexual assault are not always taken seriously.
School children in a classroom.
Children attend nursery school, or kindergarten in the private sector until they are five years old. This lasts one to three years (KG1, KG2 and KG3) and is financed privately because there has been no government policy on pre-schooling until recently.
Basic formal education starts at age six and lasts 12 years, consisting of eight years in primary school and four in high school or secondary. Primary school is free in public schools and those attending can join a vocational youth/village polytechnic, or make their own arrangements for an apprenticeship program and learn a trade such as tailoring, carpentry, motor vehicle repair, brick-laying and masonry for about two years.
Those who complete high school can join a polytechnic
or other technical college and study for three years, or proceed directly to university and study for four years. Graduates from the polytechnics and colleges can then join the workforce and later obtain a specialised higher diploma qualification after a further one to two years of training, or join the university—usually in the second or third year of their respective course. The higher diploma
is accepted by many employers in place of a bachelor's degree and direct or accelerated admission to post-graduate studies is possible in some universities.
A Maasai girl at school.
Public universities in Kenya are highly commercialised institutions and only a small fraction of qualified high school graduates are admitted on limited government-sponsorship into programs of their choice. Most are admitted into the social sciences, which are cheap to run, or as self-sponsored students paying the full cost of their studies. Most qualified students who miss out opt for middle-level diploma programs in public or private universities, colleges, and polytechnics.
In 2018, 18.5 percent of the Kenyan adult population was illiterate, which was the highest rate of literacy in East Africa.
There are very wide regional disparities: for example, Nairobi had the highest level of literacy at 87.1 per cent, compared to North Eastern Province, the lowest, at 8.0 per cent. Preschool, which targets children from age three to five, is an integral component of the education system and is a key requirement for admission to Standard One (First Grade). At the end of primary education, pupils sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education
(KCPE), which determines those who proceed to secondary school or vocational training. The result of this examination is needed for placement at secondary school.
Primary school is for students aged 6/7-13/14 years. For those who proceed to the secondary level, there is a national examination at the end of Form Four – the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education
(KCSE), which determines those proceeding to the universities, other professional training, or employment. Students sit examinations
in eight subjects of their choosing. However, English, Kiswahili, and mathematics are compulsory subjects.
The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS), formerly the Joint Admissions Board (JAB), is responsible for selecting students joining the public universities. Other than the public schools, there are many private schools, mainly in urban areas. Similarly, there are a number of international schools
catering to various overseas educational systems.
Despite its impressive commercial approach and interests in the country, Kenya's academia
and higher education system is notoriously rigid and disconnected from the needs of the local labour market and is widely blamed for the high number of unemployable and "half-baked" university graduates who struggle to fit in the modern workplace.
Kenyan boys and girls performing a traditional dance
The culture of Kenya
consists of multiple traditions. Kenya has no single prominent culture that identifies it. It instead consists of the various cultures of the country's different communities.
Notable populations include the Swahili
on the coast, several other Bantu
communities in the central and western regions, and Nilotic communities in the northwest. The Maasai
culture is well known to tourism, despite constituting a relatively small part of Kenya's population. They are renowned for their elaborate upper-body adornment and jewellery.
Additionally, Kenya has an extensive music, television, and theatre scene.
Kenya has a number of media outlets that broadcast domestically and globally. They cover news, business, sports, and entertainment. Popular Kenyan newspapers include:
Television stations based in Kenya include:
All of these terrestrial channels are transmitted via a DVB T2 digital TV signal.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
is one of the best known writers in Kenya. His novel, Weep Not, Child
, is an illustration of life in Kenya during the British occupation. The story details the effects of the Mau Mau on the lives of Kenyans. Its combination of themes—colonialism
, education, and love—helped to make it one of the best-known novels in Africa.
's 2003 novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
won the Giller Prize
in 2003. It is the fictional memoir of a Kenyan of Indian heritage and his family as they adjust to the changing political climates in colonial and post-colonial Kenya.
Since 2003, the literary journal Kwani?
has been publishing Kenyan contemporary literature. Additionally, Kenya has also been nurturing emerging versatile authors such as Paul Kipchumba (Kipwendui, Kibiwott) who demonstrate a pan-African outlook (see Africa in China's 21st Century: In Search of a Strategy
Kenya has a diverse assortment of popular music forms, in addition to multiple types of folk music
based on the variety of over 40 regional languages.
Drums are the most dominant instrument
in popular Kenyan music. Drum beats are very complex and include both native rhythms and imported ones, especially the Congolesecavacha
rhythm. Popular Kenyan music usually involves the interplay of multiple parts, and more recently, showy guitar solos as well. There are also a number of local hip-hop artists, including Jua Cali
; Afro-pop bands such as Sauti Sol
; and musicians who play local genres like Benga, such as Akothee
Lyrics are most often in Kiswahili or English. There is also some emerging aspect of Lingala
borrowed from Congolese
musicians. Lyrics are also written in local languages. Urban radio generally only plays English music, though there also exist a number of vernacular radio stations.
Zilizopendwa is a genre of local urban music that was recorded in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s by musicians such as Daudi Kabaka
, Fadhili William
, and Sukuma Bin Ongaro, and is particularly enjoyed by older people—having been popularised by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation's Kiswahili service (formerly called Voice of Kenya or VOK).
The Isukuti is a vigorous dance performed by the Luhya
sub-tribes to the beat of a traditional drum called the Isukuti during many occasions such as the birth of a child, marriage, or funeral. Other traditional dances include the Ohangla
among the Luo
among the Mijikenda
among the Kikuyu
, and Taarab
among the Swahili
Additionally, Kenya has a growing Christian gospel music scene. Prominent local gospel musicians include the Kenyan Boys Choir
has been popular since the late 1960s, especially in the area around Lake Victoria
. The word benga
is occasionally used to refer to any kind of pop music. Bass, guitar, and percussion are the usual instruments.
Jepkosgei Kipyego and Jepkemoi Cheruiyot at the 2012 London Olympics
Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket
, field hockey
, and boxing
. The country is known chiefly for its dominance in middle-distance
athletics, having consistently produced Olympic
and Commonwealth Games
champions in various distance events, especially in 800 m, 1,500 m, 3,000 m steeplechase, 5,000 m, 10,000 m, and the marathon. Kenyan athletes (particularly Kalenjin
), continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco
has reduced this supremacy. Kenya's best-known athletes include the four-time women's Boston Marathon
winner and two-time world champion Catherine Ndereba
, 800m world record holder David Rudisha
, former marathon
world record-holder Paul Tergat
, and John Ngugi
Kenya won several medals during the Beijing Olympics: six gold, four silver, and four bronze, making it Africa's most successful nation in the 2008 Olympics. New athletes gained attention, such as Pamela Jelimo
, the women's 800m gold medalist who went on to win the IAAF Golden League
jackpot, and Samuel Wanjiru
, who won the men's marathon. Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino
helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty in the 1970s and was followed by Commonwealth Champion Henry Rono
's spectacular string of world record performances. Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other countries, chiefly Bahrain
The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat
being the latest, choosing to represent the United States.
Most of these defections occur because of economic or financial factors.
Decisions by the Kenyan government to tax athletes' earnings may also be a motivating factor.
Some elite Kenyan runners who cannot qualify for their country's strong national team find it easier to qualify by running for other countries.
Kenyan Olympic and world record holder in the 800 meters, David Rudisha
Kenya has been a dominant force in women's volleyball within Africa, with both the clubs and the national team winning various continental championships in the past decade.
The women's team has competed at the Olympics and World Championships
, though without any notable success. Cricket is another popular sport, also ranking as the most successful team sport. Kenya
has competed in the Cricket World Cup
. They upset some of the world's best teams and reached the semi-finals of the 2003 tournament
. They won the inaugural World Cricket League Division 1 hosted in Nairobi and participated in the World T20. They also participated in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
. Their current captain is Rakep Patel
Kenya is represented by Lucas Onyango
as a professional rugby league player who plays with the English club Oldham
. Besides the former Super League
team, he has played for the Widnes Vikings
and with the Sale Sharks
Rugby is increasing in popularity, especially with the annual Safari Sevens
tournament. The Kenya Sevens team
ranked 9th in the IRB Sevens World Series for the 2006 season. In 2016, the team beat Fiji at the Singapore Sevens finals, making Kenya the second African nation after South Africa to win a World Series championship. Kenya
was once also a regional powerhouse in football. However, its dominance has been eroded by wrangles within the now defunct Kenya Football Federation
leading to a suspension by FIFA
which was lifted in March 2007.
In the motor rallying arena, Kenya is home to the world-famous Safari Rally
, commonly acknowledged as one of the toughest rallies in the world.
It was a part of the World Rally Championship
for many years until its exclusion after the 2002 event owing to financial difficulties. Some of the best rally drivers in the world have taken part in and won the rally, such as Björn Waldegård
, Hannu Mikkola
, Tommi Mäkinen
, Shekhar Mehta
, Carlos Sainz
, and Colin McRae
. Although the rally still runs annually as part of the Africa rally championship, the organisers are hoping to be allowed to rejoin the World Rally championship in the next couple of years.
Kenyans generally have three meals in a day—breakfast (kiamsha kinywa
), lunch (chakula cha mchana
), and supper (chakula cha jioni
or simply chajio
). In between, they have the 10-o'clock tea (chai ya saa nne
) and 4 p.m. tea (chai ya saa kumi
). Breakfast is usually tea or porridge with bread, chapati
, boiled sweet potatoes, or yams
is a common lunchtime dish in many households, while Ugali
with vegetables, sour milk (mursik
), meat, fish, or any other stew is generally eaten by much of the population for lunch or supper. Regional variations and dishes also exist.
In western Kenya, among the Luo
, fish is a common dish; among the Kalenjin
, who dominate much of the Rift Valley Region, mursik—sour milk—is a common drink.
is becoming more popular in Kenya, with consumption increasing particularly among the middle class.
- ^ a b Constitution (2009) Art. 7 [National, official and other languages] "(1) The national language of the Republic is Swahili. (2) The official languages of the Republic are Swahili and English. (3) The State shall–-–- (a) promote and protect the diversity of language of the people of Kenya; and (b) promote the development and use of indigenous languages, Kenyan Sign language, Braille and other communication formats and technologies accessible to persons with disabilities."
- ^ a b c d e f "2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Volume IV: Distribution of Population by Socio-Economic Characteristics". Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
- ^ "Demographic Yearbook – Table 3: Population by sex, rate of population increase, surface area and density" (PDF). United Nations Statistics Division. 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
- ^ "United Nations Statistics Division - Demographic and Social Statistics". unstats.un.org.
- ^ a b "2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Results". Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
- ^ "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects (valuation of Kenya GDP)". International Monetary Fund.
- ^ a b c "World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019". IMF.org. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
- ^ "Human Development Report 2014" (PDF). United Nations. 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
- ^ "Human Development Report 2020" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
- ^ a b c d e Central Intelligence Agency (2012). "Kenya". The World Factbook. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- ^ "2019 KENYA POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS - POPULATION BY COUNTY AND SUB COUNTY - Kenya Data Portal". kenya.opendataforafrica.org.
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Last edited on 13 June 2021, at 14:23
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