KENYA INTRODUCTION

KENYA.

From coral reefs to the icy peaks of Africa's second highest mountain (Mt Kenya) and vast savannas, Kenya has long been famous as one of the world's great wildlife watching destinations. Key geographical attractions include the Great Rift Valley, which features extinct volcanoes and hot springs, and Kenya's coastline, complete with reefs and magnificent beaches. Kenya offers a breathtaking natural beauty that is distinctly spectacular. Along the coast there are magnificent sandy beaches and access to amazing coral reefs. Whether you choose to laze in the tropical sun, swim in the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean or climb Mount Kenya, you will experience an unparalleled variety of beauty everywhere you travel. Go on safari to spot the "Big Five" animals in the wild, or simply enjoy our history, culture and lifestyle. Kenya has something for everyone.

Nairobi

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya. While here, tours to various places of interest such as the National Museum, Giraffe Centre, the animal orphanage, the snake park, and the ostrich farm can be arranged.

Geography

Kenya lies on the Equator on the eastern coast of Africa, covering an area of about 586,600 sq.kms. It is bordered by Somalia and the Indian Ocean to the East, Ethiopia to the North, Sudan to the North West, Uganda to the West and Tanzania to the South. Rift Valley, dotted with lakes and containing the town of Nakuru, while further west the Aberdare National Park is overlooked by Kenya's highest peak, and Africa's second mountain after Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya (5,200m/17,000ft), which also is a national park. In the far northwest is Lake Turkana and in the southwest is Kenya's share of Lake Victoria. The Great Rift Valley extends through Kenya forming sheer 1000m cliffs and a chain of shallow fresh water and alkaline lakes, which attract concentrations of flamingos and other water birds.

Pre-historical Kenya

Excavations in Kenya suggest that the region was the home to Homo habilis, from whom Homo sapiens our ancestors, descended, some 3.25 million years ago. Early Kenya history evidence shows that man's prehistoric ancestors roamed Kenya as early as four million years ago.

Colonial Kenya

The British arrived in the middle of the 19th century. By the 1890s they were able to penetrate into the highlands, and the Mombasa to Uganda railway line was constructed

Independence and politics

Kenya was granted independence in 1963, and the Kenyan African National Union (KANU), led by Kenyatta, took power. Kenyatta died in 1978, and was succeeded by Daniel Arap Moi, who consistently held the upper hand, and opposition parties were banned outright in 1982. In the 1990s, the Moi government was finally forced to concede to a multi-party democracy, but KANU and Moi again won the 1992 and 1997 elections, amid widespread allegations of corruption and malpractice. With Moi constitutionally barred from contesting, Mwai Kibaki was elected President. At the end of 2007, explosive elections were held, which resulted in widespread violence across the county against disputed election results between the NARC and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Oginga Odinga. With the assistance of international mediators, a power agreement was negotiated placing Kibaki as President and Odinga as Prime Minister.

Population

Kenya's population today stands at almost 30 million. 97 percent comprises people of African descent, though that group is composed of over 40 different tribal groups. Among the most significant are the Kikuyu, Kamba, Gusii, Kalenjin, Luhya, and Luo.

Language in Kenya

Kiswahili is the national language and English is the official language. Swahili -which is a Bantu language has borrowed heavily from Arabic.

Food and Drink in Kenya

Meat in Kenya is outstandingly good, as are tropical fruit and vegetables. Inland, a local freshwater fish, tilapia is popular and tasty. On the coast Swahili cuisine features fragrant rice, grilled fish and seafood curries with coconut milk. Indian and Middle Eastern food is available in most areas. Tourist hotels provide buffet meals. Hotels in smaller towns offer a dish of the day, such as chicken and chips or stew and rice. Kenya coffee, tea and beer have received accolades as some of the best products in the world. There is also a host of international cuisine available in restaurants and hotels including Italian, American, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, French, Mexican, Korean and Lebanese dishes.

Religion

About 80% of Kenya's population is Christian and the majority of people living along the coast are Muslim. A small number follow traditional religions and there are some Sikhs and Hindus.

Climate and Weather

Kenya enjoys a wonderful tropical climate. It is generally warm all year round, with plenty of sunshine and cooler nights and mornings. Visitors are able to enjoy most activities on the beaches and in the national parks all year round. Since Kenya lies on the equator, the seasonal temperature changes are not extreme. However, due to the differing topography, you will experience different weather patterns when traveling across Kenya. The hottest months of the year are February and March with temperatures as high as 93°F (34°C) while the coolest season falls between July and August with temperatures dropping to around 60°F (16°C). Kenya provides very perfect weather for those who live in colder countries to escape to.

People and Culture

Kenyan people are warm, friendly and hospitable. You will not feel like a stranger when you walk down the streets - you will arrive as a visitor and leave as a friend. Despite numerous ethnic tribal divisions and humble lifestyles, Kenyans embrace a great sense of unity and closeness as one people and one country. 40 different ethnic groups live in Kenya

Wildlife

Kenya is the home of the wildlife safari, and offers some of the best and most accessible game viewing in the world, including the hard-to-resist attraction of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino). These, together with many other animals that are unique to Africa, can be seen at the national parks and game reserves throughout Kenya . Birds are abundant, common and diverse, with 1114 species. Succulent plants exist plus 871 species of butterfly. The Wildebeest migration in Maasai Mara is one of the natural wonders of the world.
Kenya also has many other places of world interest that are worth visiting, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Lamu, Kenya's oldest living city.. Other World Heritage Sites include Fort Jesus in Mombasa, a historical monument built by the Portuguese in 1593, and the Ruins of Gede, built in the 14th century to encourage the Arab-African trade.

Coast Safaris

Indian Ocean coast of Kenya - This is one of the most popular tourist destinations along Kenya's coastal border. Here that you can engage in various water sports such as water polo, wind surfing, water-skiing and snorkeling. Beach Safaris to the coast are a sheer delight.

Fun and Wanderlust

If you love fun and Wanderlust, you will not be bored in Kenya. Enjoy wildlife safaris, bird watching, windsurfing, horseback riding, golfing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, mountain biking, snorkeling, scuba diving, hot air ballooning, mountain climbing, hiking, water skiing, fishing, and many more wonderful activities. Visitors can even practice marathon running with the world's greatest athletes on the hills of the Great Rift Valley.

Currency and Affordability

Kenya is a fairly inexpensive tourist destination. Although the Kenya shilling fluctuates, it always gives a much better value compared to other major currencies, such as the United States dollar, sterling pound or the Euro. Exchange rates are currently around Kshs.85 to a US Dollar and Kshs. 110 to a Euro.

Investment Opportunities

Kenya has enormous potential as an investment destination. It offers an attractive combination of growing economic infrastructure and a vibrant market economy. Kenya produces and exports some of the world's best coffee and tea among other agricultural products. It is the communications hub for East Africa, and the main transport hub to most of the African countries in the region. A wide range of international and foreign firms, including the United Nations, maintain regional headquarters in Kenya, and the country has a wealthy supply of natural resources and educated manpower. Kenya is open for business and for investment.

Social conventions:

Western European habits prevail throughout much of Kenya as a result of British influences in the country. Kenyans are generally very friendly. The standard greeting of 'hello' when addressing an individual is Jambo, to which the reply is also Jambo. People are delighted if visitors can greet them in Kiswahili. Dress is informal and casual lightweight clothes are accepted for all but the smartest social occasions. Because of its Muslim influence, the coast is a little more conservative than the rest of the country