Located on the eastern part of the African continent, Kenya is bordered by Tanzania in the southwest and Indian Ocean in the southeast. Sudan and Ethiopia lie to the north and Uganda to the west, while Somalia lies to the east of the geographical location of Kenya.
The country stretches from the snow-capped mountains in the north to the sea in the east. The terrain gradually changes from the low-lying coastal plains to the Kenyan highlands. Coastal Kenya is a highly fertile low-lying area. One can find a coral reef over here also. There is a dry coastal plain covered by thorny bushes and savanna over here. Mount Kenyais the highest point of the country and is 5,199 meters high. Mount Elgon and Mount Kilimanjaro are the other mountain ranges in Kenya.
Kenya — Demography
The population of Kenya is estimated at 28,337,071 (July 1998)  The Kenyan government conducts a full census every ten years. The first official census since independence was conducted in April 1969. It put the nation’s population at 10,942,705. When the next census was undertaken in August 1979, the figure had risen to 15,327,061 (allowing for an estimated under-enumeration of 5%). According to 1989 official estimates, the total population had climbed to 21.4 million, a figure that yields an annual growth rate of 3.3%, down from 4.1% ten years earlier. The UN has estimated Kenya’s population in mid-1996 at 31.8m, and the World Bank has forecast the nation’s average demographic growth in 1993-2000 at 2.5%.
In recent years, the average family size has decreased from 6.7 children per woman in 1989 to 5.4 in 1993, according to a report by the Ministry of Training, Technology and Research. An important factor in this decline is an increase in the number of deaths due to AIDS. The 1989 census did not provide a breakdown of the population by national origin, so the numbers of non-Africans is unknown. Estimates from a decade earlier put the Asian population at 59,000, a significant drop from 139,000 in 1969. During the 1970s many Asians emigrated, mainly to the UK. Today, the Asian population has stabilized. The most recent census (taken in 1989, but released only in March 1994) is the first to record the ethnic composition of the population, though its findings are contested on several grounds (see also the Kenya “Ethnicity” section).
Brief History of Kenya—
Historical evidences indicate that almost the ancient land of Kenya was inhabited by Homo sapiens. Later towards 800 A.D. many Arab traders came and settled down permanently. By 16th and 17th centuries the Portuguese tried to assert their control over the coastal areas but were vehemently resisted by the Arabs. In the following years, 1780 and 1850 European nations like Britain, France Germany and even America tried to establish economic ties with Zanzibar while towards the end of the century; Kenya was politically under the British rule and became a colonized country. During this phase of colonial rule, the country witnessed many uprisings which took the form of rebellion.
In 1944, K.A.N. U (Kenya African National Union) was formed and under the able leadership of this party, Kenya achieved independence on 12th December 1963. The establishment of the colony of Kenya brings in its train racial hostilities. New legislation on land tenure shamelessly favours the settlers. In many areas Africans are now formally dispossessed of their land and are confined in reservations (the Kikuyu, the largest tribe, being the main losers), while the ‘white highlands’ policy restricts the ownership of the best farming land to Europeans.
Religion of Kenya
The vast majority of Kenyans are Christians, and the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches are the most established Christian denominations. Other well established African religions and denominations include the African Inland Church (AIC), Seventh Day Adventists (SDA), and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).In addition, there are a number of Evangelical churches and Independent African Christian churches. Islam is the other major religion in Kenya. Followers include both Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.
The largest number of Muslims in Kenya are found in Mombasa and the neighboring coastal regions, as well as the northeastern regions of Kenya. Nairobi also has numerous mosques and a notable Muslim following.Many of the traditional African religions are no longer widely practiced. Some of the denominations considered as indigenous religions combine aspects of Christianity with traditional religious beliefs. One of these denominations is Dini ya Msambwa, found mostly in Kenya’s Western province. The few Kenyans who adhere to Hinduism and Sikhism are mostly Indians. They reside in most major towns and cities across Kenya.The following statistics show Kenya’s most recent religious composition: Christian-Protestant 45% (This includes the Anglican Church of Kenya) Roman Catholic 33%
Indigenous Religions 10%
Culture of Kenya—
If you want to get a feel of the pulsating African life, fly to the land of Kenya for it offers you amazing wild life sanctuaries along with scintillating cosmopolitan life style of the major cities of Kenya. The rural areas of Kenya are home to different tribes such as Turkana tribe who reside in the northern part of Kenya, Samburu are nomadic and live in the foot hills of Mount Kenya while the others like the Masai’s and Kikuyu live in the southern part. The Massai culture draws significant tourists from different parts of the world because of their inherent lifestyle, cuisine and folk dances. Swahilli is widely spoken in Kenya. In fact the intermingling of diverse tribes has given a distinct identity of its own and reshaped the cultural aspect of Kenya.
National flag picture of Kenya :
An estimated 66% of the population are Christians with about 28% belonging to the Roman Catholic church and 38% belonging to Protestant churches. About 10% to 20% are Muslim, with many living in the Northeast Province, the Coast Province, and the northern region of the Eastern Province. About 1% is Hindu and the remainder practice traditional religions or local branches of Christianity. As in other African states with complex religious histories and some renewal of cultural self-consciousness, it is likely that a majority of ethnic Kenyans also hold some traditional African beliefs.
The Mombasa “Tusks” are symbolic representations of entrance into the heart of the town. The tusks were built to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the town in 1952, as they lay directly on the path from the port to the town. Ivory was considered to be an exquisite commodity during the time
Hindu temples are one of the many symbols of Mombasa’s cultural diversity. Temples are a popular tourist spot and a tour can usually be taken inside the temple, with a historical background of the particular temple given by one of the temple gurus. Extravagant idols and stone carvings of the various religious beliefs are typically displayed within the temple and on its walls.
Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction. The fort, located along the coastline near the Old Town, is a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The fort has a museum that displays various artifacts from the era where Mombasa served as a transit point for the slave trade and commodities, and which enjoyed regular visits by seafarers and the like. Its interior comprises of torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded. Weapons such as canons, which were used to defend the fort from invading foreigners as well as rioting locals, can be seen both inside and outside of the fort. The fort opens its gates for viewing in the morning and closes at dusk.
The Rift Valley, a province of Kenya, is also a major tourist attraction. It is named for the Great Rift Valley that runs all the way through Kenya starting in the north-west where it crosses over from Ethiopia, and south via a series of lakes including, Turkana, Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Elmenteita, Naivasha and Natron. Access to the Rift Valley from Nairobi is only a matter of a 30 minute drive to a spectacular view point overlooking the volcanoes, Suswa and Longonot, on the road to Naivasha (a freshwater lake) and Nakuru (a soda lake and an ornithologists paradise mainly due to the vast populations of flamingos that live around).
About 150km from Nairobi centre is the majestic Mount Kenya and Mount Kenya National Park -the highest mountain in Kenya at 5,199m and the third highest in the whole of Africa Adding more variety to Kenya’s landscape is the vast and arid northwestern region of the country that is an interesting place to explore. An interesting mix of varied geographical features, Kenya never fails to amaze its visitors. Home to some of the most amazing Wildlife sanctuaries, Kenya also boasts of grand lakes in Victoria and Naivasha. The Rift Valleywhere the first evidence of proto humans was found is also located in Kenya.
The National Museum in Nairobi is home to a variety of cultural and natural history exhibits. The displays include prehistoric artifacts discovered by the Leakeys, over 900 stuffed birds and animals, fossils from Lake Turkana, ethnic displays from various Kenyan tribal groups as well as local artistic exhibits.
One of the major attractions at the National Museum is the People of Kenya tribal portraits by Joy Adamson (author of Born Free) and her watercolors of Kenyan flowers and plants.
Nairobi is a relatively recent city with a little over a hundred years of history. Skyscrapers shape the skyline and there are plenty of good ethnic restaurants and shopping.
Courtney from Study Moose
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