Kenya in brief

Independent Kenya

The first Government of independent Kenya immediately had to deal with some pressing economic and political problems. The priorities were acceleration of growth, Kenyanisation of the economy and redistribution of incomes. None of this, however, could be achieved without political stability, and it was first felt necessary to neutralize those elements in the country who supported extreme policies and who were undermining, rather than building confidence in the new nation. Thus, Kenya embarked on the road to peace and stability, which has made it possible for the country to realize great strides in development.

The country has had three Presidents since independence. Upon Jomo Kenyatta’s death on 22nd August 1978, Daniel arap Moi took over the leadership. He retired on 30th December 2002 in line with a constitutional Provision which limits the Presidential term to a maximum 10 years of two 5 year sessions. This provision took effect in 1991 following the re-introduction of multipartism. Previously kenya was a single party state.Mwai Kibaki took over from Moi on 30th December 2002 to become Kenya’s third President. Kibaki and his National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) won with a landslide in the December 27 2002 general elections, thus ending KANU’s forty year stranglehold.Kenya has played a leading role in the quest for peace and stability in the turbulent East African region, because of her stability and general neutrality. The country has held regular elections every five years since independence. The December 2002 election which was largely hailed as peaceful paved the way for a smooth transfer of power.


Kenya is bordered to the north by Sudan and Ethiopia, to the east by Somalia, to the west by Uganda, to the south by Tanzania, and to the southeast by the Indian Ocean. Much of the country, especially in the north and east, is arid or semi-arid. From the Indian Ocean the land rises gradually through dry bush to the fine arable land of the highlands.


Kenya covers an area of approximately 580,367 square kilometres and lies almost exactly astride the equator.


In the low-lying districts, particularly along the coast, the climate is tropical, hot and humid. On the Plateau and in the highlands the climate is more temperate. Western Kenya and most parts of Nyanza experience heavy conventional rain and have two rain seasons, the long rains from April to June and the short rains from October to November.Kenya’s warm climate is favourable for tourism during the drier season that is between September and March.


According to the national population and housing census report of 2009, there are an estimated 38,610,097 Kenyans dispersed around the country. In the semi arid north and northeast regions, population density hardly reaches 2 per sq km, whereas in the rich and fertile western, population density rises to 120 persons per sq km. In the well endowed Rift Valley, population density varies from one area to another with an average of 13 inhabitants per sq km.

Nearly 25% of the total is concentrated in the large cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu including large towns such as Nakuru. Women account for 50.48% of the total population.

Ethnic Composition

  • Cushites: This group includes the Somali, Orma, Rendille, and Borana.
  • Bantu: This includes the Gikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Embu, Meru, Kisii, Mijikenda, Taveta, Taita Pokomo, Bajuni, Boni and Sanye
  • Nilotes: Includes the Luo, Kalenjin, Maasai, Teso and Samburu

 Principal commercial cities and towns

Nairobi is the capital city and a commercial center. It is situated 300 miles from the Coast and lies midway between the capitals of Uganda and Tanzania. It is the largest city in east Africa and houses two UN agencies, UNEP and Habitat.

Mombasa is Kenya’s main port and popular holiday city. It is situated on an island in a natural sheltered inlet. It is the only port that serves not only Kenya but land locked countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.

Kisumu is the Chief Port city on the shores of lake Victoria. It serves western Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nakuru is an agricultural and industrial town in the Rift Valley basin.Eldoret lies on the main road and rail route to Uganda. It is mainly an agricultural town that serves wheat and Maize farmers from the North Rift.