Discover Kenya, the Safari Capital of Africa

Kenya is the most popular of all East Africa’s tourism destinations. Kenya is a land of varied beauty that sums up many travelers dreams. The country’s natural beauty includes spectacular wildlife, birdlife, endless miles of pristine beaches along the Indian Ocean, Mount Kenya – Africa’s second highest peak and a share of Lake Victoria.

The country enjoys pleasant, warm tropical weather and is an all year round safari destination. The people pf Kenya are welcoming and hospitable to tourists.

KENYA – The Pride of Africa

Kenya is stunningly beautiful African country that has seen its share of good and bad times. If you are traveling to Kenya, the following information will give you a head start.

An Overview of Kenya for Travelers

Kenya is a crossroads country in Africa, which means a little bit of various African countries reside there. More than 40 languages are spoken and as many as eleven different ethnic groups can be identified. The religious breakdown is also very diverse. Despite this variety, the country has a fairly harmonious existence. The national slogan is harambee which loosely translates to lets pull together.

Compared to other sub-Saharan countries, Kenya has historically been advanced in infrastructure and general living standards. During the colonial period, England controlled the country and developed the area. Kenyans were not allowed to participate in government, much like South Africa. As you might expect, Kenyans rebelled and eventually became independent on December 12, 1963. The Kenya People’s Union then became the only political party and ruled until 2002. In October 2002, the National Rainbow Coalition dominated elections.

Following independence, Kenya continued to grow economically and the standard of living was the envy of much of Africa. Unfortunately, corruption threw a wrench in the proceedings the country has suffered from a lurching economy for the last 15 years. In 2003, the country turned things around and things have generally improved since then.

Kenya covers 224,960 square miles and is slightly smaller than Texas. The capital is Nairobi. Kenya rises from a low coastal plain on the Indian Ocean in a series of mountain ridges and plateaus which stand above 9,000 feet in the center of the country. The Rift Valley bisects the country above Nairobi, opening up to a broad arid plain in the north. Mountain plains cover the south before descending to the shores of Lake Victoria in the west. The climate varies from the tropical south, west, and central regions to arid and semi-arid in the north and the northeast.

The people of Kenya are known as “Kenyans.” Total population is 30 million and growing at 1.7 percent a year. Ethnic groups break down as Kikuyu 21 percent Luhya 14 percent, Luo 13 percent, Kalenjin 11 percent, Kamba 11 percent, Kisii 6 percent, Meru 5 percent. Religious break down is Indigenous beliefs 10 percent, Protestant 40 percent, Roman Catholic 30 percent, Muslim 20 percent. Languages include English, Swahili, and more than 40 local ethnic languages. The literacy rate is 65 percent and life expectancy is 49 years of age.

As this brief overview reveals, the country suffers the economic problems of many countries in Africa. That being said, it is beautiful place that will hopefully overcome such hurdles. It is definitely a place you will remember visiting.

Quick Facts About Kenya

COUNTRY Name: Republic of Kenya.

Short Form: Kenya

Term for Citizen(s):Kenyan(s)

Capital: Nairobi (chief manufacturing center)

Major Cities:

Mombasa (the principal seaport)
Kisumu, (chief port on Lake Victoria)
Nakuru (a commercial and manufacturing center in the Eastern Rift Valley) Eldoret (an industrial center in western Kenya)

Independence:
December 12, 1963

Public Holidays:

New Year’s Day (January 1);
Good Friday (movable date in March or April);
Easter Monday (movable date in March or April);
Labor Day (May 1); Madaraka Day, which celebrates self-government (June 1);
Moi Day (October 10); Kenyatta Forces Day (October 20);
Eid al Fitr (movable date according to the Islamic calendar);
Jamhuri/Independence Day (December 12);
Christmas Day (December 25)
Boxing Day (December 26).

Flag:
Kenya’s flag features three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green; the red band is edged in white. Centered on the flag is a large warrior’s shield covering crossed spears.

Natural Resources:
Agricultural land and a unique physiographic and wildlife. Mineral resources exploited are gold, limestone, soda ash, salt, rubies, fluorspar, and garnets.
Land Use: Of Kenya’s land surface, between 7 and 8% is arable, while slightly less than 1% is in permanent crops. Irrigated land is estimated to total to about 670 square kilometers.

Tourist Attractions in Kenya

Remarkable features such as landscapes, wildlife and cultures, from sweeping savannah to tropical beaches and coral reefs are no strangers to Kenya. An adventurer’s paradise. This is a land of endless opportunity for the active
traveler. A country rich with countless possibilities for adventure and discovery. One can also go for refreshing hill walks through bird areas and also active hikes into mountain forests.

The coastline of Kenya is idly covered with soft white sands and gentle sea breezes that refresh relax and welcome you.
In the medieval streets and bustling markets of Lamu and Mombasa’s Old Town, life has continued unhurried and unchanged for more than 400 years.

Tourism is one of the most important sectors for the Kenyan economy and it is one of the largest foreign exchange earners for the country. The continued government commitment and support to providing an enabling environment for tourism-based activities has seen the sector grow for years. The stepped up marketing particularly in non-traditional markets such as China, Japan, and the domestic market has also seen the robust growth of the tourism
sector.

The diversification of the sector from traditional beaches and wildlife tourism to new circuits in the western and northern parts of Kenya is one factor that has pushed forward growth of the sector. Despite the political unrest that the country suffered, this tourism giant is going up on its feet to reclaim its place on the tourism stage.

Climate:

Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to arid in the interior, especially in the north and northeast. Intermittent droughts affect most of the country. The driest month is August, with 24 millimeters average rainfall, and the wettest is April, the period of “long rains,” The hottest month is February, with temperatures of 13°C to 28°C, and the with temperatures of 11°C to 23°C.

Time Zone:
Kenya lies in one time zone, which is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time Standard Time (GMT + 3). Kenya does not operate daylight saving time.

GEOGRAPHY

Location:
Kenya lies astride the equator in Eastern Africa. It has boarder with Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and the Indian Ocean.

Size:
Kenya has a total area of 582,650 sq kilometers (13,400 sq kilometers covered by water mainly Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria.

Land Boundaries:
The country is bounded by Uganda (933 kilometers), Sudan (232 kilometers),
Ethiopia (861 kilometers), Somalia (682 kilometers), and Tanzania (769 kilometers) and Kenya’s land boundaries total 3,477 kilometers

Length of Coastline:
It stretches 536 kilometers along the Indian Ocean

Topography:
Kenya’s land area constitutes of an inland region of semi-arid, bush-covered plains. In the Northwest, high-lying scrublands straddle Lake Turkana and the Kulal Mountains. There lie fertile grasslands and forests of the Kenya Highlands in the southwest, known for its agricultural productivity in Africa. Kenya has a great Rift Valley which is located in the country’s highest mountains of mountain Kenya a snow-capped that make up to 5,199 meters high and here being the second highest in Africa. In the south, mountain plains descend westward to the shores of Lake Victoria.

Principal Rivers:
River Tana (710-kilometer-long) River Athi, Ewaso Ngiro, flowing northeast to the swamps of the Lorian Plain, and the Nzoia Yala, and Gori, which drain into Lake Victoria.

ECONOMY

Gross Domestic Product (GDP):
In 2006 Kenya’s GDP was about US$17.39 billion.

Per capita GDP averages
US$450 annually

Purchasing power parity (PPP)
US$1,200 (per capita GDP in 2006)

Real GDP growth
2.3 percent in early 2004 and to nearly 6 percent in 2005 and 2006

GDP composition by sector
Agriculture, 25.7 percent; manufacturing, 14.0 percent; trade, restaurants, and hotels, 13.8 % transport and communications, 6.9 percent; government services, 15.6 percent; and other, 24.0 percent by 2004.

Inflation

Inflation rate for consumer prices was estimated at 14.5%. This rate was a significant rise from the previous year’s 10.3%, reflecting higher food prices, which carry a 50% weighting in the consumer price index.
Agriculture The largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP). The principal cash crops are tea, horticultural produce, and coffee. These are supplemented by tea, sisal, pyrethrum, corn, and wheat. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton, sugarcane, sisal, and corn are grown in the lower-lying areas. Livestock is common in the semi-arid savanna to the north and east.
Mining and Minerals: Soda ash (Lake Magadi), limestone, gold, salt, and fluorspar.

Industry and Manufacturing: Manufacturing accounts for only 14 % of gross domestic product (GDP).

Energy:
The largest share of Kenya’s electricity supply depend son hydro-electric stations from dams along the upper Tana River and Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. This is supplemented by a petroleum- fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria (near Nairobi), and electricity imported from Uganda.

Services: It contributes about 63 % of GDP. The service industry is dominated by tourism manifested through coastal beaches and the game parks, notably, the expansive Tsavo National Park (20,808 square kilometers) in the southeast. In 2006 tourism generated US $803 million

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