About Kenya

 

Location:

Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania.

Land Boundaries:

Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km.

Geography:

Size 582,650 sq km, slightly more than twice the size of Nevada, US. Low plains rise to central highlands bisected by the Great Rift Valley with a fertile plateau in the west. Its lowest point of elevation is the Indian Ocean at 0; its highest point of elevation is Mt Kenya which stands at 5,199m. The climate varies from tropical along the coast to arid in the interior. The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak, and a unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value.

Population:

Just over 32 million people live in Kenya. Life expectancy is around 45 years. Birth rate is on average 3.3 per woman. 6.7% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS. Literacy rate is just over 85%.

Languages:

English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages.

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%.

Religion:

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

Political History:

Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo Kenyatta led Kenya from independence until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. Moi acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but are viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President Moi stepped down in December of 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai Kibaki, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition, defeated KANU candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform.

Economic Overview:

The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption, notably in the judicial system, and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low. In 1997, the IMF suspended Kenya’s Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program due to the government’s failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to 2000 compounded Kenya’s problems, causing water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. As a result, GDP contracted by 0.2% in 2000. The IMF, which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the government failed to institute several anticorruption measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001, weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low investment limited Kenya’s economic growth to 1.2%. Growth lagged at 1.1% in 2002 because of erratic rains, low investor confidence, meager donor support, and political infighting up to the elections. In the key 27 December 2002 elections, Daniel Arap Moi’s 24-year-old reign ended, and a new opposition government took on the formidable economic problems facing the nation. In 2003, progress was made in rooting out corruption, and encouraging donor support, with GDP growth edging up to 1.7%.

 

Source: CIA World Factbook