Kenya - the Country
Magical Kenya! A country that has something of everything for everyone.
Situated astride the equator on the East Coast of Africa, and bisected vertically by the 38th meridian (east), Kenya has Ethiopia and The Sudan on the north, Uganda and Lake Victoria on the west, Tanzania on the south, and the Indian Ocean and Somalia on the east. Kenya has an area of 224,961 square miles (582,646 square kilometres) making it a little bigger than France but smaller than Texas. The capital, Nairobi, is unusual in that it did not grow up from village to town to city. Instead the constructors of the Uganda Railway established it as a railway staging camp in the late 1890s, taking its name from a water hole known to the Masai people as Enkare Nairobi (A Cold Water Place). When the railhead arrived there in 1899, the British colonial administration went with it, and in 1905 Nairobi became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate.
Kenya's gained its independence in 1963 under the founding father of the nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. The population comprise black, brown and white people who are united in the task of forging a strong national identity. Cooperation, or in Swahili, 'Harambee', has become a national motto. Kenya is a democratic country with an elected parliament and president. After the last elections the new government made primary education to all its citizens. This is a major step and augurs well for the future. Kenyans discuss things freely, encouraged by readily available news and newspapers.
Most Kenyans live in rural areas. On the coast Mombasa, Lamu, and Malindi are modern towns; in the interior, the capital city of Nairobi holds by far the largest number of people. Other places of note are Naivasha and Nakuru, both of which are associated with lakes and Kisumu, a port on Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. Eldoret is a farming centre, Thika a rapidly growing farming and light industry town.
Since independence, Kenya has emerged as a modern and viable state. An excellent transport infrastructure has been largely responsible and has allowed a rapid increase in freight traffic within Kenya and to Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Kenya's strategic location has greatly enhanced the role of Kenya's two international airports at Nairobi and Mombasa. There are medium sized airports at Kisumu Eldoret and Malindi. Nairobi's Wilson Airport for small planes is one of the busiest in Africa. Mombasa, the principal port of Kenya, handles the bulk of the import and export traffic of Kenya, Uganda, and the northern mainland of Tanzania. The ports of Lamu and Malindi serve mainly the coastal trade and fisheries.
Kenya's economic development depends on the development of energy supplies. Much of the country's hydro-potential is already used. Geothermal resources in the Central Rift Valley have been tapped since the early 1980s to generate electricity.
Although agriculture continues to dominate Kenya's economy, coffee and tea continue to be key foreign exchange earners. Horticulture and the export of its products to Europe by air is an important industry but the scarcity of water and the high cost of technological inputs are serious constraints on further expansion of agriculture as a whole. Tourism has to some extent filled the gap. Because Kenya is home to some of the rarest species of wildlife in the world, tourism is a well established foreign exchange earner.
Visitors normally require a visa obtainable from Kenyan Embassies and Consulates. They must possess on entry by air a valid outward ticket. Visit the Kenya tourism Board website for full details: http://kenyatourismboard.org/facts.html
Kenya is three hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year.
The unit of currency is the Kenya Shilling divisible into 100 cents. Notes in denominations of Sh1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50 circulate together with coins of Sh1, 5, 10, 20 and 40. Foreign currency is freely exchangeable in Banks or Forex Bureaux.
It is not recommended that you drink water from the taps: bottled water has become readily available in Kenyan shops, restaurants and hotels and is widely used.
The supply is rated at 220/240v Ac, 50Hz.
The country has three main mobile phone providers that both provide extensive coverage. Telkom Kenya (Orange) provides a fixed line service. International connections are usually good. Cyber cafes and similar establishments in many places provide access to the internet and world wide web.
Radio, TV and papers
Since 1990’s the number of FM radio stations has rapidly multiplied. Some are local, others broadcast over most of the country on one frequency or another. Multiple terrestrial TV channels exist: satellite transmissions may be received. Four newspapers publish daily in English and a Swahili and are available countrywide: a multiplicity of low circulation tabloids also exist. Foreign newspapers and periodicals are freely available in major towns. Kenyan journalists have recently received international awards in recognition of their work.
Please avoid photographing local people without seeking their permission. A UV or skylight filter is advisable and a lens hood helps reduce glare; a good telephoto lens is essential for dramatic close ups of animals; a camera bag will protect your photographic equipment from dust.
Kenya is home to fifty two diplomatic missions. Two United Nations organisations, UNEP and Habitat, have their headquarters near Nairobi which is also home to a number of regional offices of UN agencies. The UN often hold major conferences in Nairobi. Also in Nairobi are the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
Kenya encourages inward investment. The availability of a skilled work force and the liberalised financial system offers opportunities for profitable investments.