Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator. With the Indian Ocean to its south-east, it is bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east.
Kenya has a land area of 580,000 km2 and a population of nearly 41 million, representing 42 different peoples and cultures. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a significant landmark and second among Africa’s highest mountain peaks.
Following a referendum and adoption of a new constitution in August 2010, Kenya is now divided into 47 counties that are semi-autonomous units of governance. These units are expected to be fully implemented by August 2012 – in time for the first general election under the new constitution. The counties will be governed by elected governors and will operate independent of the central government in Nairobi.
The country’s geography is as diverse as its multi-ethnic population. It has a warm and humid climate along its coastline on the Indian Ocean which changes to wildlife-rich savannah grasslands moving inland towards the capital Nairobi. Nairobi has a cool climate that gets colder approaching Mount Kenya, which has three permanently snow-capped peaks. The warm and humid tropical climate reappears further inland towards lake Victoria, before giving way to temperate forested and hilly areas in the western region. The North Eastern regions along the border with Somalia and Ethiopia are arid and semi-arid areas with near-desert landscapes. The country also has significant geothermal activity that puts a lot of electricity in the national grid.
Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, is situated next to a national park. The country is famous for its safaris and diverse world-famous wildlife reserves such as Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara, Nakuru National Park, and Aberdares National Park that attract tourists from all over the world.
Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh-water lake (after Lake Superior in the US and Canada) and the world’s largest tropical lake, is situated to the southwest and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania.
As part of East Africa, Kenya has seen human habitation since the Lower Paleolithic period. The Bantu expansion reached the area by the first millennium AD, and the borders of the modern state comprise the crossroads of the Niger–Congo, Nilo-Saharan, and Afro-Asiatic linguistic areas of Africa, making Kenya a truly multi-cultural state. European and Arab presence in Mombasa dates to the Early Modern period, but European exploration of the interior began only in the 19th century. The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895, known from 1920 as the Kenya Colony. The independent Republic of Kenya was founded in December 1963.
The capital, Nairobi, is a regional commercial hub. The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP in East and Central Africa. Agriculture is a major employer and the country traditionally exports tea and coffee, and more recently fresh flowers to Europe. The service industry is a major economic driver, mostly the telecommunications sector, and contributes 62 percent of GDP.
Kenya is a member of the East African Community and produces world-class athletes such as world champions Paul Tergat, David Rudisha, and Vivian Cheruiyot.