Kenya is named after Mount Kenya, a major landmark and the second highest mountain peak in Africa.
After decades of colonial rule the country gained its independence from Great Britain in December, 1963 and on December 12, 1964, the Republic of Kenya was proclaimed. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta became its first president and remained in office until his death in 1978.
Daniel arap Moi became president following Kenyatta’s death and retained that office until 1988. (He ran unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 and 1988). The 1988 election was done by the mlolongo (queuing) system – voters lined up behind their favorite candidate instead of using a secret ballot. This led to a constitutional reform.
Daniel arap Moi was reelected in multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997. He was constitutionally barred from running in 2002 and Mwai Kibaki won and was then re-elected in 2007.
President Kibaki has focused his efforts on generating economic growth, combating corruption, improving education, and rewriting its constitution. As a result, Kenya has remained stable, despite changes in its political system and crises in neighboring countries.
Kenya’s population is relatively young – over 70% are under the age of 30. The population has also increased rapidly – in just over 80 years, it has grown from less than 3 million to 38 million.
- Official Name Republic of Kenya
- Population 38,534,087
- Capital City Nairobi (pop. 3,138,295)
- Currency Kenya Shilling
- Languages Swahili (official), English (official), others
- Religions Protestant, Catholic, traditional belief
From its Indian Ocean coastline, Kenya’s flat land rises into central highlands. Those highlands are the site of the country’s highest point; Mount Kenya, standing at 5,199 m (17,057 ft).
The Kenyan highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley; a valley that divides Kenya down the length of the entire country. It contains all but uninhabitable desert, flat arid plains, steep cliffs and slopes, and in some areas, very fertile farmland.
In the Rift Valley there are some active and semi-active volcanoes, along with numerous hot springs. Also found in the valley are a string of alkaline lakes including Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf), the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the world’s largest alkaline lake.
Additional lakes across the valley include Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elementaita, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Magadi in the far south.
In the far north, Chalbi Desert, on the edge of Lake Turkana, is Kenya’s only true desert. Surrounded by volcanoes and ancient lava flows, it’s the hottest and most arid region in the country.
As for rivers, the 440-mile Tana River is the longest river in Kenya. The river rises in the Aberdare Mountains to the west of Nyeri, then eventually drains into the Indian Ocean at Formosa Bay.
Latitude and Longitude
- Latitude/Longitude 1° 16′ S, 36° 48′ E