The Republic of Kenya is in East Africa and is bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Indian Ocean.
Nairobi is the capital city. The main port is Mombasa.
Much of Kenya is plateaux with highland areas. The Great Rift Valley runs the length of the country. Mount Kenya, an extinct volcano, is the second highest mountain on the continent. The main rivers are the Galana and Tana and lakes include Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria (the Lake Victoria region includes Tanzania and Uganda as well as Kenya).
The Equator runs across Kenya. There are hot and warm seasons: April and May are usually very wet.
Kenya's natural environment is varied: coral reefs along the coastline, tropical rainforests, savannah, semi-desert and mountains with alpine regions. Its plant life includes rainforest flora and alpine plants.
Like other rainforests, the Kenyan forests have suffered severe deforestation. As part of its conservation programme Kenya has many parks and reserves under the protection of the Wildlife Service.
Kenya's parks and reserves are home to many birds and other wildlife. There are over one thousand species of birds including flamingos and lovebirds. Animals found in the reserves are elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, rhinos and the hippopotamus.
Kenya has a variety of architecture ranging from timber-framed homes with mud walls to the modern buildings of Nairobi.
There are also examples of buildings from the Swahili culture, such as the old town of Lamu (on the World Heritage list).
The population was 31,639,091 in 2003 and consists of the following groups: Maasai, Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kisii, Meru, Asian, European, and Arab.
Swahili is the official language and English is also widely used. Other African languages include Luo, Maa and Kikuyu.
Thirty-eight percent of the population is Protestant; twenty-eight percent are Roman Catholic and some, mainly along the coast, are Muslims. Many of the population practise African religious beliefs.
Kenyan food includes a variety of African and Indian recipes. Ugali (porridge made from cornmeal or millet flour), groundnut soup, stews and kebabs are favourite dishes. Use of spices and coconut feature in Kenyan cuisine. Indian food such as pilau rice, samosas and chapatis are often eaten with meals. Tea is served very hot and sweet.
Many people think that the history of mankind started in Kenya and Tanzania. Fossils found around Olorgasailie and Lake Turkana point to this theory.
The East African coast has been a centre of trade since early times. Exports included ivory, tortoiseshell and slaves. Over the centuries Arab merchants had a strong influence on the coastal towns.
At the end of fifteenth century, the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, landed in Kenya. The Portuguese tried to gain control of the Kenyan coast but were eventually driven off by the Swahili and Omani Arab states.
Slaves had been traded in Kenya for many years and with the spread of the British anti-slavery movement, a treaty was signed in the middle of the nineteenth century banning the export of slaves.
In the 1880s Africa was divided between the European countries. The British East African Protectorate was established in 1895 and a railway system was built opening up the country for colonisation. However anti-colonialist feeling spread among the African peoples leading to revolts by the Kikuyu, the Kisii and the Maasai.
Four years before the First World War (1914-18) coffee growing began on a large scale. After the War, the Soldier Settlement scheme gave land in the highlands to British ex-soldiers fuelling further resentment among Kenyans. This resentment increased as Kenya became a British Colony in 1920.
The Great Depression of the 1930s (starting with the 1929 Wall Street Crash in the USA) caused economic problems in Kenya. At the end of the 1930s the Second World War (1939-45) began and Abbysinia (Italian Ethiopia) declared war on Kenya. Kenyans fought with the King's African Rifles contributing towards the success of the Allied army in Africa.
In 1952 the rise of Kenyan nationalism including the activities of the Mau Mau (an underground military movement opposed to British rule) led to a State of Emergency. Many Kenyans were imprisoned; political leaders arrested and Dedan Kimathi, a Kenyan army commander, was executed.
Kenya finally achieved independence in 1963 and Jomo Kenyatta became the Republic's first President. By the end of the 1960s the new government's Africanisation policy led to many of the Asian population leaving Kenya.
On Jomo Kenyatta's death in 1978, his vice-president, Daniel Arap Moi, became Kenya's president.
For many centuries Kenya traded with merchants from Arabia and parts of Asia. Today Kenya exports to its neighbouring countries linked to Kenya by road and rail. Other trading partners include the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Egypt, South Africa and the United States.
Kenya has very few mineral resources but the beautiful country and abundance of wildlife has fuelled the tourist industry making tourism Kenya's largest foreign currency earner.
At the end of the 1990s agriculture was affected by the weather phenomenon, El Nino, when rains destroyed crops in 1997 and 1998. Agricultural products include sugarcane, tea, coffee, corn, wheat, rice, pineapples, and sisal. Pyrethrum, (used in insecticides) is also grown.
Kenyan industrial activities are the production of chemical products, cement, textiles, paper, beer, soft drinks and grain and sugar milling.
African art was traditionally the adornment of functional objects such as ceremonial masks. Today soapstone and wooden carvings are made for sale. Asian colonists introduced batik - paintings on waxed cloth - to Kenya. The batiks made in Kenya today are uniquely African.
Kenyan literature dates back to centuries old Swahili poetry. The European colonial period is marked by the the writings of authors such as Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) and the political struggles of this century have produced the works of Jomo Kenyatta (Facing Mount Kenya), Dedan Kimathi (Makers of Kenya's History) and Oginga Odinga (Not Yet Uhuru).
Traditional Kenyan music includes Tarabu (Swahili sung poetry) and benga music which was popularised in the 1970s and 80s. Drum music and dancing feature strongly in Kenyan tribal culture and Maasai and Samburu dance performances can be seen by tourists. Today's music is influenced by British, American and Jamaican music.
A variety of sporting activities are popular in Kenya. These include football, basketball, rugby, cricket and golf. The country's athletes have an excellent record of track and long distance achievements in the Olympics and international competitions.
The Safari Rally hosted by Kenya is Africa's longest annual rally.
Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter are celebrated as well as the New Year. Islamic Holy Days are observed by the Muslim community. Kenyatta Day commemorates the death of Jomo Kenyatta.
News from Kenya can be found in The Daily Nation.
Thanks to www.worldinfozone.com