Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa. Lying along the Indian Ocean to its southeast and at the equator, it is bordered by Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. Lake Victoria is situated to the southwest, and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania. With its capital city in Nairobi, Kenya has numerous wildlife reserves containing thousands of animal species. It has a land area of 580,000 km2 and a population of nearly 39 million residents, representing many different peoples and cultures. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a significant landmark and second among Africa’s highest mountain peaks.
Kenya is a country of 47 districts, each with its own government semi-autonomous to the central government in the capital, Nairobi. The country’s geography is as diverse as its people. It has a long coastline along the Indian Ocean and as you advance inland the landscape changes to savannah grasslands, arid and semi-arid bushes. The central regions and the western parts have forests and mountains while the northern regions are near desert landscapes.
The word Kenya originates from the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba names for Mount Kenya, “Kirinyaga”, “Kirinyaa” and “Kiinyaa”. The English meaning of the words, in all three languages, is “place with ostriches” – in reference to the black and white plumage of male ostriches. When viewed from a distance the snow-capped peak of the mountain is like the white feathers of a male ostrich. Prehistoric volcanic eruptions of Mount Kenya (now extinct) may have resulted in its association with divinity and creation among the indigenous Kikuyu-related ethic groups who are the original native inhabitants of the vast agricultural land surrounding Mount Kenya.
At 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world’s forty-seventh largest country (after Madagascar). It 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 are bisected by the Great Rift Valley; a fertile plateau lies in the east. The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya (and the second highest in Africa): Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is the site of glaciers. Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m/19,341 ft) can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The country receives a great deal of sunshine all the year round, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations. The “long rains” season occurs from March/April to May/June. The “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July and August.
Average annual temparatures:
|Mombasa (coastal town)||17||30.3||22.4|
|Nairobi (capital city)||1661||25.2||13.6|
|Lodwar (dry north plainlands)||506||34.8||25.7|
|Mandera (dry north plainlands)||506||34.8||25.7|
Kenya has considerable land area of wildlife habitat, including the Masai Mara, where Blue Wildebeest and other bovids participate in a large scale annual migration. Up to 250,000 blue wildebeest perish each year in the long and arduous movement to find forage in the dry season. The “Big Five” animals of Africa can be found in Kenya and in the Masai Mara in particular: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant. A significant population of other wild animals, reptiles and birds can be found in the national parks and game reserves in the country. The annual animal migration – especially migration of the wildebeest – occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part.