Infobox Country
native_name = "Jamhuri ya Kenya"
conventional_long_name = Republic of Kenya
common_name = Kenya

national_motto = "Harambee"nbsp|2(

national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" "O God of All Creation"
official_languages = Swahili, English [Constitution (1998) art. 53 "the official languages of the National Assembly shall be Kiswahili and English and the business of the National Assembly may be conducted in either or both languages."]
other languages = gKĩkũyũ, Luhya, Luo, Maasai, Meru, Embu, Arabic, Somali, Hindi and numerous others.
demonym = Kenyan
capital = Nairobi
latd=1 |latm=16 |latNS=S |longd=36 |longm=48 |longEW=E
government_type = Semi-presidential Republic
leader_title1 = President
leader_title2 = Prime Minister
leader_name1 = Mwai Kibaki
leader_name2 = Raila Odinga
largest_city = Nairobi
area_km2 = 580,367
area_sq_mi = 224,080
area_rank = 47th
area_magnitude = 1 E11
percent_water = 2.3
population_estimate = 37,953,8401
population_estimate_year = July 2008
population_estimate_rank = 36th
population_census = 31,138,735
population_census_year = 8 February 2007
population_density_km2 = 59
population_density_sq_mi = 153
population_density_rank = 140th
GDP_PPP_year = 2005
GDP_PPP = $48.33 billion
GDP_PPP_rank = 79th
GDP_PPP_per_capita = $1,445
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 156th
HDI_year = 2007
HDI = increase 0.521
HDI_rank = 148th
HDI_category = medium
FSI = 91.3 increase 2.7
FSI_year = 2007
FSI_rank = 31st
FSI_category = Alert
sovereignty_type = Independence
sovereignty_note = from the United Kingdom
established_event1 = Date
established_date1 = December 12, 1963
established_event2 = Republic declared
established_date2 = December 12, 1964
currency = Kenyan shilling
currency_code = KES
time_zone = EAT
utc_offset = +3
time_zone_DST = "not observed"
utc_offset_DST = +3
cctld = .ke
calling_code = 254
footnotes = 1. According to, estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex, than would otherwise be expected. [ – The World Factbook Kenya] ]
The Republic of Kenya is a country in East Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the northeast, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the northwest, with the Indian Ocean running along the southeast border. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a very significant landmark and the second among the highest mountain peaks of Africa,Cite newspaper The Times|articlename=British East Africa Annexed--"Kenya Colony"
author=Reuter|section=News|day_of_week=Thursday|date=July 08, 1920|page_number=13|issue=42457|column=C
] [cite encyclopedia | encyclopedia = Encyclopedia Britannica | title = East Africa: Kenya: History: Kenya Colony | edition = 15 | volume = 17 | pages = 801, 1b | year = 2002 | id = ISBN 0-85229-787-4] and both were originally usually pronounced IPA| [ˈkiːnjə] OED|Kenya] in English although the native pronunciation and the one intended by the original transcription "Kenia" was IPA| [ˈkenia] . [ [ "The Spelling of Kenya"] . B. J. Ratcliffe. Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 42, No. 166 (Jan., 1943), pp. 42-44] During the presidency of Jomo Kenyatta in the 1960s, the current pronunciation IPA| [ˈkɛnjə] became widespread in English too because his name was pronounced according to the original native pronunciation.cite book | last = Foottit | first = Claire | title = Kenya | origyear = 2004 | series = The Brade Travel Guide | year = 2006 | publisher = Bradt Travel Guides Ltd | isbn = 1-84162-066-1 ] Before 1920, the area now known as Kenya was known as the British East Africa Protectorate and so there was no need to mention "mount" when referring to the mountain.


Giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July–August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana. [ [ Kenya's first dinosaur dig yields fossil wealth] , "ABC News Online", 2005-03-10 ]

Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as "Homo habilis" (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and "Homo erectus" (1.8 million to 350,000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern "Homo sapiens" and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984 one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy belonging to "Homo erectus" from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified to Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, who are responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.

Pre-colonial history

Cushitic-speaking people, as termed by Schloezer, from northern Africa, moved into the area that is now Kenya beginning around 2000 BC. Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century AD. Kenya's proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century. During the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the region, and the latter now comprise three-quarters of Kenya's population.

In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands some time around the year 1700.). Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many also came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip).

Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loan words, later developed as a "lingua franca" for trade between the different peoples.

The Luo of Kenya descend from early agricultural and herding communities from western Kenya's early pre-colonial history. The Luo along with other tribes associated with the Nilotic language group, are known to have originated from the North of Kenya, probably the Northern regions of modern Sudan. The Nilots as they are known, are an anthropological group that originated from the northeastern regions of Africa. They may have moved south due to the wars that characterized the growth of Kingdoms such as Kush, and Egypt. In Kenya, this group comprises the Luo, Kalenjin, the Turkana and the Maasai as the main groups. This is clearly evidenced by the presence of similar dialects among certain tribes in modern day Sudan. These tribes, include the Acoli and Lwo (not same as Luo) who occupy modern Darfur region.

There are also other tribes belonging to this group in Uganda and Tanzania. This is attributed mainly to the Luo's affinity to Lake Victoria, which they have stuck to throughout the three countries (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya). In Uganda, they are known to have established the Buganda Kingdom and the Toro Kingdom. The Luo in Kenya are known to have fought numerous wars with their neighbors, notably the Kalenjin, for control of the lake.

Throughout the centuries, the Kenyan Coast has played host to many merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is the City of Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement since the 14th century and once rivaled Mombasa for dominance in this part of East Africa. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the Arab Sultan of Malindi initiated diplomatic relations with China during the voyages of the explorer Zheng He. [ [ Sultan of Malinda, PBS] ] Malindi authorities welcomed the great Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1498.

Colonial history

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the region of current-day Kenya, Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498. Gama's voyage was successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by Gama to break the once Venetian trading monopoly. Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centred in Mombasa. The Portuguese presence in East Africa officially began after 1505, when flagships under the command of Don Francisco de Almeida conquered Kilwa, an island located in what is now southern Tanzania. In March 1505, having received from Manuel I the appointment of viceroy of the newly conquered territory in India, he set sail from Lisbon in command of a large and powerful fleet, and arrived in July at Quiloa (Kilwa), which yielded to him almost without a struggle. A much more vigorous resistance was offered by the Moors of Mombasa, but the town was taken and destroyed, and its large treasures went to strengthen the resources of Almeida. Attacks followed on Hoja (now known as Ungwana, located at the mouth of the Tana River), Barawa, Angoche, Pate and other coastal towns until the western Indian Ocean was a safe haven for Portuguese commercial interests. At other places on his way, such as the island of Angediva, near Goa, and Cannanore, the Portuguese built forts, and adopted measures to position themselves as the controlling power. Portugal's main goal in the east coast of Africa was take control of the spice trade from the Arabs. At this stage, the Portuguese presence in East Africa served the purpose of control trade within the Indian Ocean and secure the sea routes linking Europe to Asia. Portuguese naval vessels were very disruptive to the commerce of Portugal's enemies within the western Indian Ocean and were able to demand high tariffs on items transported through the sea due to their strategic control of ports and shipping lanes. The construction of Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 was meant to solidify Portuguese hegemony in the region, but their influence was clipped by the British, Dutch Omani Arab incursions into the region during the 17th century. The Omani Arabs posed the most direct challenge to Portuguese influence in East Africa and besieged Portuguese fortresses, openly attacked naval vessels and expelled the remaining Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts by 1730. By this time the Portuguese Empire had already lost its interest on the spice trade sea route due to the decreasing profitability of that business.

Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period. Like their predecessors, the Omani Arabs were primarily able only to control the coastal areas, not the interior. However, the creation of clove plantations, intensification of the slave trade and relocation of the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1839 by Seyyid Said had the effect of consolidating the Omani power in the region. Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at ending the slave trade and creation of a wage-labour system began to put pressure on Omani rule. By the late nineteenth century, the slave trade on the open seas had been completely outlawed by the British and the Omani Arabs had little ability to resist the Royal Navy's ability to enforce the directive. The Omani presence continued in Zanzibar and Pemba until the 1964 revolution, but the official Omani Arab presence in Kenya was checked by German and British seizure of key ports and creation of crucial trade alliances with influential local leaders in the 1880s. However, the Omani Arab legacy in East Africa is currently found through their numerous descendants found along the coast that can directly trace ancestry to Oman and are typically the wealthiest and most politically influential members of the Kenyan coastal community.

However, most historians consider that the colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This followed the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes — notably the Nandi led by "Orkoiyot" Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905 — still the British eventually built the railway. It is believed that the "Nandi" were the first tribe 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 inflow of Indian peoples who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction. It was during this time, while building the railroad through the Tsavo National Park, that a number of the Indian railway workers and local African labourers were attacked by two lions known as the Tsavo maneaters. They and most of their descendants later remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili Muslim and Sikh communities. [ [ Ismaili muslim] ] [ [ Sikh] ]

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However 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 by the Royal Navy, von Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and were offered undue political powers because of their effects on the economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims in European terms (but the land belonged to the ethnic group), 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.

In 1951, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice in Kenya (coming from Ceylon, where he had also been Chief Justice) and sat in the Supreme Court in Nairobi. He held that position until 1954 when he became an Appeal Justice of the West African Court of Appeal. On the night of the death of King George VI, February 5, 1952, Hearne escorted The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, as she then was, to a state dinner at the Treetops Hotel, which is now a very popular tourist retreat. It was there that she "went up a princess and came down a Queen". [ [ Kenya, AfricaGenWeb ] ] She returned immediately to England, accompanied by Hearne.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. In January 1953, Major General Hinde was appointed as director of counter-insurgency operations. The situation did not improve for lack of intelligence, so General Sir George Erskine was appointed commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.

The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (a.k.a. General China) on January 15, 1954, and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on April 24, 1954, after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. May 1953 also saw the Home Guard officially recognized as a branch of the Security Forces. The Home Guard formed the core of the government's anti-Mau Mau strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King's African Rifles. By the end of the emergency the Home Guard had killed 4,686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on October 21, 1956, in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive.

Post-colonial history

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate" African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on December 12, 1963. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis determined to see the NFD join with the Republic of Somalia. The Shiftas inflicted heavy casualties on the Kenyan armed forces but were defeated in 1967.

Kenya, fearing an invasion from militarily stronger Somalia, in 1969 signed a defence pact with Ethiopia which is still in effect. [ [ Post-Independence Low Intensity Conflict In Kenya ] ] Suffering from droughts and floods, NFD is the least developed region in Kenya. However, since the 1990s, Somali refugees-turned-wealthy businessmen have managed to transform the one-time slum of Eastleigh into the most prosperous commercial centre of Eastlands and increasingly much of Nairobi. [cite journal
last = E. H.| first = Campbell| year = 2006| title = Urban Refugees in Nairobi: Problems of Protection, Mechanisms of Survival, and Possibilities for Integration| journal = Journal of Refugee Studies| volume = 19| issue = 3| pages = 396| doi = 10.1093/jrs fel011| format = full text

In 1964, Kenyatta became Kenya's first president. At Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being 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 an abortive military coup attempt on August 1, 1982.

The abortive coup was masterminded by a lowly ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police, but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were either dismissed or court-martialled.

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 a secret ballotFact|date=March 2008. This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were changed in the following yearsFact|date=March 2008. In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running, and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition "National Rainbow Coalition" — NARC, was elected President. The elections, judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked a turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution.

Origins of the country's name

Until 1920 the area that is now Kenya was called the British East African Protectorate.Cite newspaper The Times|articlename=British East Africa Annexed--"Kenya Colony"|author=Reuter|section=News|day_of_week=Thursday
date=Jul 08, 1920|page_number=13|issue=42457|column=C
] In 1920 Kenya Colony was formed, named after its highest peak, and pronEng|ˈkiːnjə.cite book |last=Foottit |first=Claire |title=Kenya |origyear=2004 |series=The Brade Travel Guide |year=2006 |publisher=Bradt Travel Guides Ltd

At independence, in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta was elected as the first president. cite book |last=Castro |first=Alfonso Peter |title=Facing Kirinyaga |year=1995 |publisher=Intermediat Technology Publications Ltd. |location=London
isbn = 1-85339-253-7
] He had previously assumed this name to reflect his commitment to freeing his country and his pronunciation of his name resulted in the pronunciation of Kenya in English changing back to an approximation of the original native pronunciation, pronEng|ˈkɛnjə.


Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President was both the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. However, there was growing concern especially during former president Daniel arap Moi's tenure that the executive was increasingly meddling with the affairs of the judiciary.

Until the unrest occasioned by the disputed election results of December 2007, Kenya had hitherto maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its political system and crises in neighbouring countries. A cross-party parliamentary reform initiative in the fall of 1997 revised some oppressive laws inherited from the colonial era that had been used to limit freedom of speech and assembly. This improved public freedoms and contributed to generally credible national elections in December 1997.

In December 2002, Kenyans held democratic and open elections, most of which were judged free and fair by 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 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. President Kibaki subsequently launched the ambitious free Secondary education program in early February 2008 at Jamhuri High School in the outskirts of the city of Nairobi. Before the contentious elections were held, a general overview indicated that Under president Kibaki, the democratic space had expanded, the media was freer than before. Kenyans could associate and express themselves without fearing being harassed by security agents as it used to be the case during the Moi administration. In November 2005, the Kenyan electorate resoundingly defeated a new draft constitution supported by Parliament and President Kibaki. Kibaki responded by dismissing his entire cabinet. Kibaki eventually appointed a new slate of ministers.

The last general elections were held on December 27, 2007. In them, President Kibaki under the Party of National Unity ran for re-election against the main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). After a split which would take a crucial 8% of the votes away from the ODM to the newly formed Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K)'s candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, the race tightened between ODM candidate Raila Odinga and Kibaki. As the count came in to the Kenyan Election Commission, Odinga was shown to have a slight, and then substantial lead. However, as the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) continued to count the votes, Kibaki closed the gap and then overtook his opponent by a substantial margin amid largely substantiated claims of rigging from both sides of the political divide (notably by the EU Observers). This led to protests and riots, open discrediting of the ECK for complicity and to Odinga declaring himself the "people's president" and calling for a recount and Kibaki to resign.

The protests escalated into unprecedented violence and destruction of property, leading to over 1000 deaths and the internal displacement of over 350,000 people. A group of eminent persons of Africa, led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, was called in to broker a peaceful solution to the political stalemate. This group enjoyed the backing of the UN, European Union, African Union and United States governments, as well as those of various other notable countries across the world. More information is available in clashes in Kenya (2007–present).

Annan requested mediation support for his team on the Panel Secretariat from the Swiss based conflict mediation organisation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. They seconded two staff on a full time basis to the talks and provided strategic advice through a network of senior advisors; logistical and technical assistance to the secretariat; prepared tools to facilitate the discussions and helped formulate agreements on relevant political issues.

On February 28, 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed an agreement on the formation of a coalition government in which Odinga would become Kenya's second prime Minister. Under the deal, the president would also appoint cabinet ministers from both PNU and ODM camps depending on each party's strength in Parliament. The agreement stipulated that the cabinet would also include a vice-president and two deputy Prime Ministers. After being debated and passed by Parliament, the coalition would hold until the end of the current Parliament or if either of the parties withdraws from the deal before then.

The new office of the PM will have power and authority to co-ordinate and supervise the functions of the Government and will be occupied by an elected MP who will also be the leader of the party or coalition with majority members in Parliament. The world watched Annan and his UN-backed panel and African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete as they brought together the erstwhile rivals to the signing ceremony, beamed live on national TV from the steps of Nairobi's Harambee House. On February 29, 2008, representatives of PNU and ODM began working on the finer details of the power-sharing agreement. [ [ 'Hope is back' for Kenya - ] at] Kenyan lawmakers unanimously approved a power-sharing deal March 18, 2008, aimed at salvaging a country once seen as one of the most stable and prosperous in Africa. The deal brought Kibaki's PNU and Odinga's ODM together and heralded the formation of the Grand Coalition, in which the two political parties would share power equally.

In July 2008, an exit poll commissioned by Steadman International was released, alleging that Odinga won the election by a comfortable margin of 6%, 46% to 40%, well outside of the exit poll's 1.3% margin of error. [ [ US-funded exit poll says Raila won elections] "The Nation", 2008-07-11] This contradicted the exit poll commissioned by Institute for Education in Democracy released immediately after elections which provided more detailed information. [ [; Kenya 2008 Exit Polls] , Reuters]

Grand coalition

On April 13, 2008, President Kibaki named a Grand coalition cabinet of 41 Ministers- including the prime minister and his two deputies - after weeks of tension and uncertainty that had gripped the country following the failure of the president and prime minister designate, Raila Odinga, to agree on how some of the ministries should be shared. The cabinet, which also included 50 Assistant Ministers, was sworn in at the State House in Nairobi on Thursday, April 17, 2008 in the presence of Dr. Kofi Annan and other invited dignitaries.

Provinces, districts, and divisions

Kenya comprises eight provinces each headed by a Provincial Commissioner (centrally appointed by the president). The provinces ("mkoa" singular "mikoa" plural in Swahili) are subdivided into districts ("wilaya"). There were 69 districts as of 1999 census. Districts are then subdivided into 497 divisions ("taarafa"). The divisions are then subdivided into 2,427 locations ("mtaa") and then 6,612 sublocations ("mtaa mdogo"). [Central Bureaus of Statistics (Kenya): [ Census cartography: The Kenyan Experience] ] The City of Nairobi enjoys the status of a full administrative province. The government supervises administration of districts and provinces. The provinces are:

Local governance in Kenya is practised through local authorities. Many urban centres host city, municipal or town councils. Local authorities in rural areas are known as county councils. Local councillors are elected by civic elections, held alongside general elections.

Constituencies are an electoral subdivision. There are 210 Constituencies in Kenya. [Kenya Roads Board [ Constituency funding under the RMLF] ]

Population of major cities

Oil exploration

Early in 2006 Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya; the latest in a series of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's expanding economy.

The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC Ltd., to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and Somalia and in coastal waters. No oil has been produced yet, and there has been no formal estimate of the possible reserves. [cite news|url=|title=China's scramble for Africa finds a welcome in Kenya |last=Barber |first=Lionel |coauthors=Andrew England|date=August 10 2006|publisher=Financial Times|accessdate=2008-06-27]


Kenya is a country of great ethnic diversity. Most Kenyans are bilingual in English and Swahili, also a big percentage speak their mother tongue of their ethnic tribe.

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

; Religious affiliation: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2%. A large majority of Kenyans are Christian, but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely.

; Largest cities : Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret.


Kenya's education system consists of early childhood education, primary, secondary and college. Early childhood education takes at least three years, primary eight years, secondary four and university four or six years depending on the course. Preschooling, 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. Primary school age is 6/7-13/14 years. For those who proceed to 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. The Joint Admission Board (JAB) is responsible for selecting students joining the public universities. The minimum university entry grade is C+ at KCSE. However, due to stiff competition, only those with higher grades such as B+ and above are guaranteed admission. Private universities admit students on their own but are guided by the rules and regulations provided by the Commission for Higher Education. Other than the public schools, there are many private schools in the country, mainly in urban areas. Similarly, there are a number of international schools catering for various educational systems such as American, British, French, German, Japanese and Swedish.


Kenya is a diverse country, with many different cultures represented. Notable cultures include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. Today, the Maasai culture is well known, due to its heavy exposure from tourism, however, Maasai make up a relatively minor percentage of the Kenyan population. The Maasai are known for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewelry.


There is no singular dish that represents all of Kenya. Different communities have their own native foods. Staples are maize and other cereals depending on the region including millet and sorghum eaten with various meats and vegetables. The foods that are universally eaten in Kenya are ugali, sukuma wiki, and nyama choma. Sukuma wiki, a Kiswahili phrase which literally means "to push the week," is a simple dish made with greens similar to kale or collards that can also be made with cassava leaves, sweet potato leaves, or pumpkin leaves. Its Kiswahili name comes from the fact that it is typically eaten to "get through the week" or "stretch the week." Nyama choma is roasted meat - usually goat or sheep- roasted over an open fire. It is best eaten with ugali and kachumbari. Among the Luhyas residing in the western region of Kenya, ingokho (chicken) and ugali is a favourite meal. Other than these, they also eat tsisaka, miroo, managu etc. Also among the Kikuyu of Central Kenya, a lot of tubers, ngwaci (sweet potatoes), ndũma (taro root) known in Kenya as arrowroot, ikwa (yams), mianga (cassava) are eaten as well as legumes like beans and a Kikuyu bean known as njahi.

National dress

Apart from the national flag, Kenya is yet to have a national dress that cuts across its diverse ethnic divide. With each of the more than 42 ethnic communities in Kenya having its own traditional practices and symbols that make it unique, this is a task that has proved elusive in the past. However, several attempts have been made to design an outfit that can be worn to identify Kenyans, much like the Kente' cloth of Ghana.

The most recent effort was the Unilever-sponsored "Sunlight quest for Kenya's National Dress". A design was chosen and though it was unveiled with much pomp at a ceremony in which public figures modelled the dress, the dress design never took hold with the ordinary people.

Kitenge, a cotton fabric made into various colours and design through tie-and-dye and heavy embroidery, is generally accepted as the African dress. Though used in many African countries, Kitenge is yet to be accepted as an official dress as it is only worn during ceremonies and non-official functions. The Maasai wear dark red garments to symbolise their love for the earth and also their dependence on it. It also stands for courage and blood that is given to them by nature. The Kanga (Khanga, Lesso) is another cloth that is in common use in practically every Kenyan home. The Kanga is a piece of clothing about 1.5 m by 1 m, screen printed with beautiful sayings in Swahili (or English) and is largely worn by women around the waist and torso. Kangas are a flexible item, used in many ways such as aprons, child-carrying slings, picnic blankets, swimwear etc. However, except among the coastal people, it is usually not worn as a full outfit.


Kenya is home to a diverse range of music styles, ranging from imported popular music, afro-fusion and benga music to traditional folk songs. The guitar is the most popular instrument in Kenyan music, and songs often feature intricate guitar rhythms. The most famous guitarist of the early 20th century was Fundi Konde. Other notable musicians of the 60s era include Fadhili Williams (recognised by many as the author of the hit song "Malaika" that was later re-done by Miriam Makeba, Boney M and Daudi Kabaka.

Popular music in the 1980s and 90s in Kenya could be divided into two genres: the Swahili sound and the Congolese sound. There are varying regional styles, and some performers create tourist-oriented "hotel pop" that is similar to western music. Them Mushrooms, later renamed Uyoga, was one of the popular groups in this era.

In the recent past, newer varieties of modern popular music have arisen which are mostly local derivatives of western hip-hop. Two sub-genres have emerged: "Genge" and "Kapuka" beats. This has revolutionized popular Kenyan music and created an industry dominated by the youth. There is also underground Kenyan hip hop that gets less radio play than Kapuka or Genge due to the fact that it is less club oriented and more focussed on social commentary. Early pioneers include the late Poxi Presha, Kalamashaka, and K-South. In Nairobi, hip-hop is viewed as more of a style than as a musical culture. There is a great correlation between the youth who listen to rap music and their economical status in the country with the majority of them coming from wealthy economic backgrounds. Since hip-hop is portrayed through clothing, magazines, and CDs, all of which are expensive, only the wealthier individuals are able to enjoy these luxuries. Rebensdorf, Alicia. “‘Representing the Real’: Exploring Appropriations of Hip-hop Culture in the Internet and Nairobi.” Senior Thesis, Lewis & Clark.] In the last five years, hip-hop in Kenya has really taken off and has emerged from a mere curiosity, to a legitimate and successful business, which many claim is the most vibrant hip-hop scene in Africa. [ [ Kenya's vibrant hip hop scene ] ]

One phenomenon that critics have noted is the differences in opinions on authenticity of Hip Hop between American listeners and those in Nairobi. While those within the Hip Hop culture in the US fully embrace aspects of Hip Hop throughout their everyday lives, Nairobi youths tend not to. Kenyan rappers often used American slang within their songs, however it was noted that they rarely used the same language in regular conversation. Similarly, there is a glamorization of violence and crime that exists in America which does not in Kenya. Middle class American Hip Hop fans are often intrigued by the street images that exist in Hip Hop. Within wealthy Kenyan youth though, who often have most access to Hip Hop, these themes are taboo. This trend can likely be attributed to the language barrier between Kenyan listeners and English-speaking artists.

Mainstream artists include Nameless, Redsan, Necessary Noize, Nonini, Juacali, Kleptomaniax, Longombas, Suzzanna Owiyo, Achieng Abura, Eric Wainaina and others. Their sounds run the gamut from Reggae/Ragga, Pop, Afro-Fusion to Hip-Hop. Contemporary Kenyan music is becoming quite popular, with African based music channels such as Channel O and MTV Base, giving them a greater audience than previously before. In Kenya, West Coast rappers like 2pac, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg help glamorize and popularize hip-hop through their flashy music videos and material goods.

Many Kenyan performers mix languages in any single song, usually English, Swahili, their tribal language or Sheng (a hybrid of Kenyan languages and English/Swahili).

The Kisima Music Awards, which recognise musical talent across East Africa, were founded and are currently based in Kenya. Every year numerous Kenyan artists take out categories in the scheme.

The African Children's Choir features children, many of whom are orphaned, from Kenya, as well as from other neighbouring African countries.


Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football (soccer), rugby union and boxing. But the country is known chiefly for its dominance in long-distance athletics. Kenya has regularly 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 marathons. Kenyan athletes (particularly Kalenjin) continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco and Ethiopia has somewhat reduced this supremacy. The former Marathon world record holder, Paul Tergat, John Ngugi,and the four-time women's Boston Marathon winner and two-time world champion, Catherine Ndereba, are among the best-known athletes in Kenya.

Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino, helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty 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 and Qatar.IAAF: [ Changes of Allegiance 1998 to 2005] ] The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the United States.

Cricket is another popular and the most successful team sport. Kenya has competed in the Cricket World Cup since 1996. They upset some of the World's best teams and reached semi-finals of the 2003 tournament. They also won the inaugural World Cricket League Division 1 hosted in Nairobi and participated in the World T20. Their current captain is Steve Tikolo.

Kenya is making a name for itself in rugby union. It is popular in Kenya especially with the annual Safari Sevens tournament. Kenya sevens team ranked 9th in IRB Sevens World Series for the 2006 season.

Kenya has also been a dominant force in ladies' volleyball within Africa, with both the clubs and the national team winning various continental championships in the past decade. The women team has also competed at the Olympics and World Championships but without any notable success.

Kenya was a regional power in soccer but its dominance has been eroded by wrangles within the Kenya Football Federation. [New Vision, June 3, 2004: [ Wrangles land Kenya indefinite FIFA ban] ] This has led 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, [ The Auto Channel, July 21, 2001: [ FIA RALLY: Delecour takes points finish on Safari Rally debut] ] and a part of the World Rally Championship for many years until its exclusion after the 2002 event due to financial difficulties. Some of the best rally drivers in the world have taken part in and won the rally, such as Bjorn Waldegaard, Hannu Mikkola, Tommi Makinen, Shekhar Mehta, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Though 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.


Although the government has not been very supportive of the film industry in Kenya, the country offers some of the most spectacular sceneries and can only be compared to South Africa. Due to the nonchalant attitude and lack of enthusiasm exhibited by the government, the industry has remained considerably dormant whereby notable movies shot in the country have been few and far between. The most recent movie is the award winning "The Constant Gardener" directed by Fernando Meirelles and starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. Other films shot in Kenya in the recent past include the Academy Award winning "Nowhere in Africa" and "". "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle" won great acclaim in the 1980s and was one of the first foreign movies to be shot entirely on location in Kenya. Other highly acclaimed films set (and shot) in Kenya include Karen Blixen's "Out of Africa", starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and directed by Sidney Pollack, and Born Free, an adaptation of the autobiography of Joy Adamson. In 1999, part of the movie To Walk With Lions, which featured actor Richard Harris, was shot on location in the country. Notable film actors from Kenya include Paul Onsongo, David Mulwa, the late Sidede Onyulo, John Sibi Okumu and Njeri Osaak.

"Die Weiße Massai" (The White Masai), a German movie about a Swiss Woman who fell in love with a Samburu warrior (Maasai); won an Award of the best Foreign language Movie (2006). "Rise and Fall of Idi Amin", based on the Ugandan dictator, was shot in Kenya and is considered one of the most successful movies produced and directed by a Kenyan (Sharad Patel). Indigenous Kenyan filmmakers include Ingolo Wa Keya, Albert Wandago and Judy Kibinge."Nowhere in Africa" (Nirgendwo in Afrika - 2001), an award-winning German production, tells a story about German Jewish refugees living in Kenya during Second World War. Most of the movie is set in Kenya and numerous scenes show actors, either Kenyans or main German actors, speaking Swahili.

Some of the latest notable productions include the footage screened to the music of U2, Robbie Williams, R.E.M. and other acts at the Live 8 concerts in Europe and the US in July 2005, Africa Mon Amor, shot over a period of three months in Samburu, Shaba and Lamu with a renowned German actress, Iris Berben, in 2006.

The Kenya Film Commission (KFC) was established by the Kenyan government in 2005, but only became fully operational in mid-2006. The Commission was formed with the aim of promoting the Kenyan film industry both locally and internationally. It offers detailed information on Kenyan filming locations as well as liaison services on behalf of the government. The Commission also advises on recce's, film licensing and immigration requirements as well as facilitate the filming process for film makers.

Interested producers and production companies need to go though filming agents in order to obtain a film licence that allows filming all over Kenya


Acting for television has proved popular with the Kenyan audience. This genre has been around from the 1960s when actors like Mzee Pembe graced the Kenyan television screen. Others, like Benson Wanjau (Ojwang' Hatari) and Mary Khavere (Mama Kayai), followed later with their comedies presented exclusively in Swahili, reaching millions of households courtesy of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation television station. Serious Television drama was witnessed for the first time in the early 1990s with the entry of popular actors like Packson Ngugi, BMJ Muriithi and Betty Achieng', alongside other thespians who featured in a variety of TV shows following the liberalization of the airwaves by the Kenyan government. However, Tushauriane, a Swahili television series featuring Kenyan fine actors like Dennis Kashero and Tony Msalame had premiered in the late 1980s becoming arguably one of the most popular productions to ever hit the Kenyan TV screens. A new genre in the form of stand-up comedy followed when the late actor Joni Nderitu entered the scene. The new style was later to be perfected by the group, 'Redykyulass', comprising of a trio of young Kenyans - Walter Mong'are, Tony Njuguna and John Kiare (KJ) - who specialised in political satire. They lampooned not only the establishment but also Daniel arap Moi, the Kenyan President at the time. [cite news|author=|title=Kenyans laugh at their leaders|date=2000-12-22|work=BBC News|url=|accessdate=2008-08-05] The lampooning of the Kenyan head of state was unprecedented and could have easily led to their prosecution, or even detention without trial, had it been done in the 1980s, when mimicking the head of state and exhibiting any form of political dissent was considered treason. Other Stations known to promote theater in Kenya include Nation TV, Kenya Television Network (KTN) an Citizen TV, all based in the nation's capital, Nairobi. K24, the newest TV station to enter the scene, started its test run in Nairobi in December 2007. It captured the interest of many mainly because of the introduction of Jeff Koinange, one of the most popular Kenyan journalists who has worked for major international mediahouses like CNN, as its chief News anchor.

A Satellite and Internet-based 24-hour pan-African TV channel, A24, was scheduled to start broadcasting from Nairobi in 2008. This will be in honor and memory of world-renowned and award winning Kenyan Photojournalist, Mohamed Amin.


Kenya holds one of the biggest annual drama events, the Kenya schools and colleges drama festival, in the south of Sahara. The Kenya National Theatre is based in Nairobi opposite the Norfolk Hotel. Notable theatre performing groups include Festival of Creative Arts that stages regular stage performances at both the Kenya National Theatre and Alliance Francaise, Phoenix Players based at the Professional Centre, Heartsrings Ensemble and Mombasa Little Theatre Club based in Mombasa. Notable names on the Kenyan theatre scene include the late actresses Stella Awinja Muka and Anne Wanjugu. Renowned director Tirus Gathwe cut a niche for himself and is perhaps the most well known theatre directors in Kenya today.In the late 1990s through the early 2000s, the late Wahome Mutahi followed in the footsteps of the legendary Ngugi Wa Thiong'o when he, through Igiza Productions, teamed up with Tirus Gathwe and embarked on a project dubbed "taking Theatre to the people" which saw them stage numerous productions, mainly political Satires, at nightspots throughout the country.

Literary perspective

Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the best known writers of Kenya. His book, "Weep Not, Child" is an illustration of life in Kenya during the British occupation. This is a story about the effects of the Mau Mau on the lives of black Kenyans. Its combination of themes - colonialism, education, and love - help to make it one of the best-known novels in Africa.

M.G. Vassanji'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.

ee also

col1 =
* 2007 in Kenya
* 2008 in Kenya
* African Conservation Centre
* Civil unrest in Kenya (2007–2008)
* Communications in Kenya
* Corruption in Kenya
* Foreign relations of Kenya
* Gîkûyû
* Gusii people
* Kenyan diplomatic missions
* Languages of Kenya
* Military of Kenya
* Transport in Kenya
col2 =; Lists
* List of cities in Kenya
* List of Kenyans
* List of national parks of Kenya
* List of British POW camps in Kenya During WWII


External links

; Government
* [ Government Spokeperson] Office of the Government Spokesperson of the Republic of Kenya.
* [ Government of Kenya] Official site.
* [ Kenya Law Reports] Kenyan Legislation, Case Law, Official Gazette Notices and legal Info.
* [ State House Kenya] Official site State House, Kenya.
* [ Central Bank of Kenya] Currency exchange rates official site.
* [ Kenya Investment Authority] Provides information on investing.
* [ Kenya Airways] Main Kenyan airline.
* [ Kenya Airports Authority] Information on Kenyan Airports.
* [ Kenya Ports Authority] Information on Kenyan seaports.
* [ Administration Police] Administration Police Force
* [ Kenya Police Force] Kenya Police Force.
* [ Kenya Wildlife Services] Agency that conserves, protects and manages Kenya's diverse wildlife and parks.
* [ Kenya Tourist Board] Promotes and Markets Kenya as a tourist destination both locally and internationally.
* [ Kenya Film Commission (Filming Kenya)] Official guide to filming in Kenya.

; News
* [ Kenya Broadcasting Corporation] State run media organization
* [ Daily Nation Online] Local independent newspaper
* [ Business Daily Africa] Kenya's Financial Daily
* [ The East African] Authoritative Weekly
* [ East African Business Week] Business News for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi
* [ The Standard Online] Local independent newspaper
* [ - "Kenya"] news headlines
* [ IRIN Kenya] humanitarian news and analysis

; Protest
* cite book
last = Kimaiyo
first = Towett J.
title = Ogiek Land Cases and Historical Injustices — 1902 – 2004
publisher = Ogiek Welfare Council
date = 2004
location = Nakuru, Kenya
pages = 127 pages + appendices
url =
(Full text of book at link.)
* cite web
title = Who Owns Kenya? — What is the Queen Doing in Parliament?
date = March 31, 2007
url =

; Overviews
* [ Rural poverty in Kenya] (IFAD)
* [ Kenyan View] A photographic approach to Kenya's beauty.
* cite news
title=Country profile: Kenya
work=BBC News

* [ Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Kenya" - Country Page]
* [ CIA World Factbook - "Kenya"]
* [ US State Department - "Kenya"] includes Background Notes, Country Study and major reports
* [,,849973,00.html Guardian (UK) Special Report] Recent reports and

; Directories
* [ Columbia University Libraries - "Kenya"] directory category of the WWW-VL
* [ Open Directory Project - "Kenya] directory category
* [ Stanford University - Africa South of the Sahara: "Kenya"] directory category
* [ East African Web Directory] Kenya Web sites

; Resources
* [] current news, events and statistics
* [ Free Kenyan Law Resource - "Kenya"] All the statutory laws of Kenya
* [ Information on Kenyans, their culture and traditions]
* [ UNESCO Nairobi Office - Education Sector Clearinghouse]

; Travel & Tourism
* [ Kenya Tourist Board (Magical Kenya)] Official travel and tourism guide.
* [ The Rough Guide to Kenya] Travel guide blog
* [ Kenya Photos]

; History
* [ 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica on the Kenya Colony]
* [ 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica on the 1908 Demarcation of the Ethiopian-Kenyan Border]

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