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Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013 est.): $79.9 billion per capita $1,800. Real growth rate: 5.1%. Inflation: 5.8%. Unemployment: 40% (2008 est.). Arable land: 9.48%. Agriculture: tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, eggs. Labor force: 19.3679 million agriculture 75%, industry and services 25% (2007 est.). Industries: small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour), agricultural products, oil refining aluminum, steel, lead cement, commercial ship repair, tourism. Natural resources: limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower. Exports: $6.58 billion (2013 est.): tea, horticultural products, coffee, petroleum products, fish, cement. Imports: $15.86 billion (2013 est.): machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, motor vehicles, iron and steel, resins and plastics. Major trading partners: Uganda, UK, U.S., Netherlands, Tanzania, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, China, Congo

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 251,600 (2012) mobile cellular: 30.732 million (2012). Broadcast media: about a half-dozen large-scale privately owned media companies with TV and radio stations as well as a state-owned TV broadcaster provide service nation-wide satellite and cable TV subscription services available state-owned radio broadcaster operates 2 national radio channels and provides regional and local radio services in multiple languages a large number of private radio stations broadcast on a national level along with over 100 private and non-profit provincial stations broadcasting in local languages transmissions of several international broadcasters available (2014). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 71,018 (2010). Internet users: 3.996 million (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 2,066 km (2008). Roadways: total: 160,878 km paved: 11,189 km unpaved: 149,689 km (2008). Waterways: none specifically (the only significant inland waterway in the country is the part of Lake Victoria within the boundaries of Kenya Kisumu is the main port and has ferry connections to Uganda and Tanzania) (2011). Ports and terminals: Kisumu, Mombasa. Airports: 197 (2013).

International disputes: Kenya served as an important mediator in brokering Sudan's north-south separation in February 2005 Kenya provides shelter to an estimated 550 million refugees, including Ugandans who flee across the border periodically to seek protection from Lord's Resistance Army rebels Kenya works hard to prevent the clan and militia fighting in Somalia from spreading across the border, which has long been open to nomadic pastoralists the boundary that separates Kenya's and Sudan's sovereignty is unclear in the "Ilemi Triangle," which Kenya has administered since colonial times.

Kenya — History and Culture

The majority of Kenyan’s are of East African decent although there are people with Arabic, Indian and European heritage, stemming from the Moorish and British periods of colonization. Modern Kenya is proudly African with food, music, customs and dress that are an interesting blend of traditional, Arabic and European elements. Much of the population is Christian so many of the rituals revolve around religious cycles.


Kenya has been inhabited by people ever since human history began. Tribal hunter gatherer groups were the first to populate the area, followed by a farming civilization from the Horn of Africa and the agriculturalists from Sudan. Around 100 AD Bantu speaking farmers from Nigeria brought ironworking to the area. Arab and Persian traders set up settlements and built mosques along the coast in the 8th century.

Arabs founded the independent city states of Mombasa, Malindi and Zanzibar on the coast in the 10th century, blending linguistic and cultural elements with the Bantu. By the 15th century, Mombasa was a major and prosperous port. Over the next 300 years, 90 percent of the natives of the Swahili coast were enslaved and sold by Arab traders, mainly to Europeans.

The Imperial British East Africa company took hold of Kenya in 1890 and began building railways using mostly Indian laborers, many of whom went on to settle in Africa. Resistance from locals resulted in the first reserves being established to keep difficult tribes out of the way. The highlands of the interior were created by European coffee and tea farmers, who became wealthy, with about 30,000 white settlers living in the area by 1930, displacing the original natives.

Queen Elizabeth II was holidaying in Kenya when her father died in 1952. A Mau Mau rebellion against British rule lasted from that year until 1959 when the African loyalist Home Guard launched an offensive that resulted in over four thousand deaths and the removal of many supporters. The loyalist Africans were rewarded with land grants.

The Kenya African National Union (KANU) gained power via election in 1957. The country gained independence at the end of 1963 with the establishment of a new constitution and a war against factions who wanted to join Somalia. Since the death of the first elected president, Jomo Kenyatta, in 1978, Daniel arap Moi was chosen president three times under a single party constitution until 1998 when undemocratic elections Daniel arap Moi was re-elected, and again in 1997. Moi was constitutionally unable to stand again in 2002, and opposition leader Mwai Kibai of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) was elected president in 2003 in what was regarded a free and fair election.


Kenya is a culturally diverse nation made up of different tribal groups, each with distinct languages, dress, music, and food. Some of the better known tribes include the coastal Swahili people and Maasai warriors in the wildlife rich grasslands. As much as a quarter of the population belongs to farming communities in the north.

The Kenyans have a family and community oriented culture, influenced by African traditions and the colonial period, most notably Catholicism. They are creative and artistic and the nation has produced a number of notable writers and musicians and has a well developed cultural scene with television, theater, music, dance and the visual arts well represented. Kenya’s colorful festivals are a good way for visitors to gain insight into aspects of the country’s traditions.


1961 - Jomo Kenyatta freed from two years of house arrest, assumes presidency of Kanu.

1963 - Kenya gains independence, with Mr Kenyatta as prime minister.

1964 - Republic of Kenya formed. Jomo Kenyatta becomes president and Oginga Odinga vice-president.

1966 - Mr Odinga leaves Kanu after ideological split, forms Kenya People's Union (KPU).

1969 - Assassination of government minister Tom Mboya sparks ethnic unrest. KPU banned and Mr Odinga arrested. Kanu only party to contest elections.

1974 - Kenyatta re-elected.

Kenya declares independence from Britain

On December 12, 1963, Kenya declares its independence from Britain. The East African nation is freed from its colonial oppressors, but its struggle for democracy is far from over.

A decade before, in 1952, a rebellion known the Mau Mau Uprising had shaken the British colony. Not only did the British spend an estimated ꍕ million suppressing the uprising, they also carried out massacres of civilians, forced several hundred thousand Kenyans into concentration camps, and suspended civil liberties in some cities. The war ended in the imprisonment and execution of many of the rebels, but the British also understood that things had permanently changed. The colonial government introduced reforms making it easier for Kenyans to own land and grow coffee, a major cash crop previously reserved for European settlers. Kenyans were allowed to be elected to the Legislative Council beginning in 1957. With nationalist movements sweeping across the continent and with Britain no longer financially or militarily capable of sustaining its empire, the British government and representatives from the Kenyan independence movement met in 1960 to negotiate independence.

The agreement called for a 66-seat Legislative Council, with 33 seats reserved for Black Kenyans and 20 for other ethnic groups. Jomo Kenyatta, a former leader of the Kenya African National Union whom the British had imprisoned on false charges after the Mau Mau Uprising, was sworn in as Kenya’s Prime Minister on June 1, 1963, in preparation for the transition to independence. The new nation’s flag was modeled on that of the Union and featured a Masai shield at its center.

Kenya’s problems did not end with independence. Fighting with ethnic Somali rebels in the north continued from the time of independence until 1969, and Kenyatta instituted one-party rule, leading a corrupt and autocratic government until his death in 1978. Questions about the fairness of its elections continue to plague the country, which instituted a new constitution in 2010. Kenyatta’s son, Uhuru, has been president since 2013.


Fishermen say they have noticed changes in the water since the mining operations began three years ago.

“Prawns used to breed upstream, but now the water is milky (from the quarry waste) so they breed further down,” said Christoph Musuko, a 41-year-old fisherman living in the nearby village of Muhoni.

As a result, younger prawns are being caught in the nets, yielding a smaller catch and making the practice less sustainable, he said.

Some of the murram and ballast extracted from Jaribuni is shipped to Lamu, an island on Kenya’s northern coast, to feed the state-sponsored $25 billion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).

The project promises to connect Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan through a railway, several airports and a crude oil pipeline, transforming Kenya into a middle-income country by 2030.

Maryama Farah, senior programme officer at Natural Justice, a group focusing on indigenous rights, said the project’s environmental impact assessment did not take into account a number of factors, including wildlife grazing routes, water stresses and biodiversity loss.

LAPSSET could result in “long-term damages and negative impacts on host communities,” Farah said in a phone interview.

The LAPSSET authority did not respond to requests for comment.

2. Geography and Climate of Kenya

Kenya is the world’s forty-seventh largest country at 580,367 km 2 (224,081 sq mi), just after Madagascar, roughly the same size with Texas. The country lies between latitudes 5°N and 5°S, and longitudes 34° and 42°E. From the coast on the Indian Ocean, the low plains rise to central highlands. The Highlands of Kenya consists of one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa and its highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya, the second highest peak in Africa Mount Kenya which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) is found there, also Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m or 19,341 ft), the highest mountain in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level can also be seen from there.

Kenya’s climate varies from place to place, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations. The rainy season “long rains” occurs from March/April to May/June while the “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. It is usually very hot in February and March.

Kenya - History

During the elections held in May 1963 KANU won the majority of the seats. Kenya got its independence on 12th December 1963, with Kenyatta as prime minister. The following year, Kenyatta becomes the first president of Kenya and Kenya joined the Commonwealth.

The minority party, KADU (Kenya African Democratic Union), representing a coalition of small ethnic groups, dissolved itself voluntarily in 1964 and joined KANU.

In 1966, a small but significant leftist opposition party, KPU (Kenya People’s Union), was formed by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a former Vice President and Luo elder. KPU was banned shortly thereafter and its leader detained in 1969 and Kenya became a “de facto” single party state. At Kenyatta’s death in August 1978, Vice President Daniel Arap Moi became President.

1978 To 2002 – Moi Era
In June 1982, the National Assembly amended the constitution, making Kenya officially a single party state, and parliamentary elections were held in September 1983.

The 1988 elections reinforced the one-party system. However, in December 1991, Parliament repealed the one-party section of the constitution. By early 1992, a number of new parties had formed, and multiparty elections were held in December the same year. The divisions in the opposition lead to Moi’s re-election and his KANU party retained a majority of the legislature.

Parliamentary reforms in November 1997 expanded political rights and the number of political parties increased quickly. Again because of a divided opposition, Moi was re-elected in the December 1997 elections. KANU won 113 out of 222 parliamentary seats, but due to defections, the party had to depend on the support of minor parties to forge a working majority.

In October 2002, a coalition of opposition parties joined forces with a faction that broke away from KANU to form NaRC (National Rainbow Coalition). In December 2002, the NaRC candidate, Mwai Kibaki, was elected President. He garnered 62% of the vote and NaRC won 130 out of 222 parliamentary seats.

Kenya History From 2002 To 2013

Under Kibaki administration, Kenya witnessed a spectacular economic recovery, helped by a favorable international environment. The annual rate of growth improved from -1.6% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2007. However, in 2005, internal conflicts caused the NaRC coalition to break up.

December 2007 elections were marred by claims of rigging by both sides. The two candidates, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga agreed to broker a peace deal. They formed a grand-coalition government.

Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, won the March 2013 presidential election with just over 50% of the vote. A challenge to the results by his main rival, Raila Odinga, was rejected by the Supreme Court.

History of Kenya During The Colonial Era

The colonial history of Kenya dates from the Berlin Conference of 1885 when East Africa was first divided into territories of influence by the European powers. The British Government founded the East African Protectorate in 1895 and soon after, opened the fertile highlands to white settlers. Even before it was officially declared a British colony in 1920.

The settlers were allowed a voice in government, while the Africans and the Asians were banned from direct political participation until 1944. During this period some 32,000 Indians were brought into Kenya to work on building the Kenya-Uganda railway line. Many stayed after it was completed, as did most of the Indian traders and small businessmen.

In 1942, Kenya embarked on its long hard road to National Sovereignty, as the Mau Mau Movement was founded, comprising of members of the Kikuyu, Embu, Meru and Kamba tribes.

In 1953, Jomo Kenyatta was charged with directing the Mau Mau and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. Another freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi was arrested in 1956 for his role in the Mau Mau rebellion as one of the leaders. Dedan Kimathi was subsequently hanged by the colonialists.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was put under a state of emergency because of the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule. Thousands of Kenyans were incarcerated in detention camps.

By 1956, the death toll stood at more than 13,500 Africans (guerrillas, civilians and troops) and about 100 Europeans.

In 1959 Jomo Kenyatta was released from prison, but put under house arrest. In August 1961 Kenyatta was freed and became president of KANU (Kenya African National Union) in October.

In 1960 the British government officially announced their plan to transfer power to a democratically elected African government.

Kenya History: Introduction

Below is a brief overview over Kenya history: early history, the Arab period, the coming of the Portugese, British colonisation, independence after 1963, and the Cold War period.

Fort Jesus, Mombasa

Kenya and the Origins of Mankind

Kenya has been called the ‘cradle of mankind’: the place where the first humans appeared. Fossils found in the Great Rift Valley, around Lake Turkana (in the north of Kenya) suggest that hominids (the family of man apes and humans) walked around there several millions of years ago. But there are little remains and a new find could change the theories quickly. A key figure in researching Kenya’s prehistoric past was the British-Kenyan anthropologist Louis Leakey. Many remains are displayed in the famous Kenya National Museum in Nairobi, where they have met with fierce opposition from Kenyan Christians, who find them to be insulting to their religion.

Tribes Moving In

The current tribes in Kenya – like elsewhere in East Africa – can be divided into three (language) groups: the Bantus, Nilotes and Cushites. The Cushitic-speaking peoples moved into what is now Kenya from north African territory around 2000 BC. They were hunterer-gatherers, but also livestock herders and farmers. A new phase in Kenya history was born. Today they form only a small part of the population: for example the Somali, Boni, Rendille and Wata tribes are Cushitic.

More important for Kenya were the Bantu and Nilotic peoples, who moved into the area from about 400 AD on - an important phase in Kenya history. The Bantu peoples came from the Nigeria and Cameroon region (in West-Africa). From them, the Kikuyu, Mijikenda, Dawida, Taveta and Akamba tribes emerged. The Masai, Luo, Kalenjin and Turkana tribes are Nilotic. Together they form the bulk of the Kenyan people nowadays. Especially the Bantus brought new technologies, such as iron working. They were mainly farmers but they supplemented this with herding, fishing, hunting, gathering and trading their iron products with the other tribes who mainly limited themselves to hunting and gathering. By 1000 AD the techniques from the Stone Age had been replaced by those from the Iron Age throughout Kenya, and more sophisticated farming methods were developed.

Statue of Jomo Kenyatta, Nairobi

Arab domination

From about the 7th century on, Kenya history underwent a big change when Arab traders started coming to Kenya by dhows (boats) over the Indian Ocean.

During the 8th century, Arabs and Persians founded colonies along the coast and came to dominate a large part of what is now Kenya for many centuries to come. This is how Swahili (together with English the official language of Kenya) appeared: a Bantu language with many Arabic loan words. Swahili became the ‘lingua franca’ (general language) between the many tribes.

The Arab and Persian traders also brought religion with them – today the majority of the people in the coast region are Muslim – and from the beginning they traded slaves, transporting them to the Arab Peninsula, the Persian Gulf and other Asian regions.

The Portuguese period

In 1498 Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s ship landed in what is now Malindi, a city on the Kenyan coast, on his route to India. The European colonial period of Kenya history began. In 1515, Francisco de Almeida’s armada staged a full-scale invasion of several coastal cities. In 1525 the Portuguese returned again to sack Mombasa, now the second city of Kenya. In Mombasa they built Fort Jesus as a stronghold, which still is a main tourist attraction.

However, the Portuguese only gained a partial control over the region. The Arabs kept several strongholds and attempts to convert the population to Catholicism generally failed. In 1698 Mombasa fell to the Arabs from Oman after a 33-month siege and in 1729 the Portuguese left East Africa for good. The Omani Arabs, who heavily increased the slave trade, were regarded by the Africans with the same hostility as the Portuguese.

British colonization

Oman came under British influence, and became a British protectorate. The British would be the next external force dominating the region. At the 1885 Berlin conference, at the height of European colonialism, the European powers arbitrarily divided Africa among themselves. Germany was to get Tanganyika (Tanzania), Britain was awarded Kenya and Uganda.

The British were more interested in controlling Uganda (because of the Nile river) than Kenya, but needed Kenya in order to do that. The Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC) was authorized to set up commercial operations in Uganda and Kenya, but when it failed it’s mission, Kenya and Uganda were made a direct British protectorate in 1895. The British began building a railroad through Kenya, which would become a decisive factor in Kenya history.

Several factors led to African resistance against colonisation. After decades the British had taken the bulk of the land suitable for farming – especially the highlands which were declared solely for whites - pushing aside the original inhabitants or turning them into squatters without rights. The British introduced taxes, but as there existed no money, Africans were supposed to pay them through labour. This way, the squatters were more or less forced to labour on the lands from which was taken from them by the British. Cash cropping was discouraged or banned for Africans on their own plots. Coffee licenses, for example, were strictly reserved for whites.

Moreover, World War I proved that Europeans were not so civilized as they appeared to be. The British lost a lot of prestige in the eyes of Africans. Several movements began to agitate against colonisation. They became more aware of their own Kenya history. Interestingly enough they were generally started by Kenyans which had attended missionary schools, where they had learned about justice, freedom and love. One of them was Harry Thuku, who was sent to prison for 11 years for organising mass protests in 1921 with the Young Kikuyu Association that he co-founded. This organisation went over into the Kenya African Union (later renamed Kenya African National Union or KANU), led by Jomo Kenyatta. The famous Mau Mau rebellion from 1952-1960 was the culmination of these protests. This was led by the Kikuyu, who suffered heavily from British land politics as they had lived in the highlands before colonisation.

Kenyan Independence under Kenyatta

On December 12th, 1963, the British granted full independence to Kenya. KANU leader Jomo Kenyatta (a Kikuyu) became it’s first president.

This was the first period of freedom in Kenya history for a long time - at least formally, because the Cold War ensured plenty of Western grip in the next phase of Kenya history. Although the British had sentenced Kenyatta to 7 years of hard labour for his role in the Mau Mau rebellions, Kenyatta followed a course of reconciliation. He asked white settlers not to leave Kenya, let many colonial civil servants keep their jobs, and made Kenya a member of the British Commonwealth. In the Cold War he followed a pro-Western, anti-communist course (more on our separate page about Kenya and the Cold War). Foreign investments flew in because of Kenya’s relative stability and Kenyatta had political influence throughout Africa. A relative prosperous phase in Kenya history began.

However, Kenyatta was criticized because of authoritarian politics and favouritism: during his land reforms the best pieces of land went to his relatives and friends (the “Kiambu Mafia”), and Kenyatta himself became the nation’s largest landowner.

Daniel Arap Moi’s one party state

After Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi – vice president under Kenyatta – became the second president in modern Kenya history. The authoritarian traits of Kenyatta’s government increased. After a coup attempt against his government in 1982, he tightened his grip on the country. He had the main conspirators executed, changed the constitution to outlaw all political parties other than KANU, and put his friends on important government positions. However, he was rather popular among the population, regularly visiting many parts of the country.

Arap Moi received support of the West, who saw in him a bulwark against communist influences from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda. After the end of the Cold War, this support fell away. Foreign donors, including the USA, now withheld financial aid if Moi would not allow political reforms. So in 1992 elections were held again, and Moi won these as well as the 1997 elections by skilfully exploiting fear of the smaller tribes that they would be dominated by the big tribes. Also election fraud may have taken place. Arap Moi was found guilty of corruption, too.

The Kibaki presidency

The Constitution forbade Arap Moi to run again for president in the 2002 elections. Mwai Kibaki won the elections on the promise to fight corruption, and became the third president. Kibaki had been a minister under Arap Moi, but fell out of favour with Moi in the 1980s. Kibaki was praised for abolishing school fees for primary education. This program saw nearly 1.7 million more pupils enroll in school by the end of 2004.

On the other hand, critics say he has done little to fight corruption and done much to take good care of himself. From 2003 to 2006, Kibaki’s cabinet spent 14 million dollars on new Mercedes and BMW cars for themselves. Kibaki lost the 2005 referendum on a new Constitution, after he changed the constitutional proposals to increase the power of the president.

Watch the video: Raw Village Life In Mombasa Kenya AFRICA (August 2022).