Kenya is a sovereign state in East Africa that is officially known as the Republic of Kenya with Nairobi as the Capital and largest city. The country lies on the equator bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south-east and Tanzania, another East African country to the south, Uganda lies on the west while South Sudan is located in the north-western part of Kenya, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. This article highlights some of those interesting, informative, fascinating and sometimes not too well-known facts about Kenya.
Kenya Facts Everyone Must Know
1. The True Meaning of Kenya
It is believed that the word Kenya originates from the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba names for Mount Kenya, “Kirinyaga“, “Kirinyaa” and “Kiinyaa“. There’s another story that traced the name to the Hebrews where it means ‘animal horn’. In Russia, they also have the name where it means ‘innocent’ or ‘harmless’. In ancient English, just like you have in Russia, the name means innocence. Another version associates it with a colonial mistake of pronunciation, the story goes that when the British landed in Kenya, they found the Kikuyu already calling the present day Mount Kenya, ‘Kirinyaga’ but because the Brits found it difficult to pronounce kirinyaga, they put it down as Kenia, which was later adopted as the name of the whole British protectorate. Prehistoric volcanic eruptions of Mount Kenya (which is now extinct) may have led to the association of that name with divinity and creation among the indigenous Kikuyu-related ethnic groups inhabiting the agricultural land surrounding Mount Kenya.
There’s another version that associates the name with the Kamba word, ‘kiinyaa’ which, like Kirinyaga, was used to refer to Mount Kenya. Controversy over the actual meaning of the word Kenya notwithstanding, it is clear that the mountain’s name became widely accepted Pars pro toto as the name of the country, we also know that it’ named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa.
2. Geography and Climate of Kenya
Kenya is the world’s forty-seventh largest country at 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi), just after Madagascar, roughly the same size with Texas. The country lies between latitudes 5°N and 5°S, and longitudes 34° and 42°E. From the coast on the Indian Ocean, the low plains rise to central highlands. The Highlands of Kenya consists of one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa and its highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya, the second highest peak in Africa Mount Kenya which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) is found there, also Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m or 19,341 ft), the highest mountain in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level can also be seen from there.
Kenya’s climate varies from place to place, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations. The rainy season “long rains” occurs from March/April to May/June while the “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. It is usually very hot in February and March.
3. Income Generation (Coffee, Tourism)
For the so many Kenyans, coffee is considered an export product, not something for local consumption. Most Kenyans prefer tea and beer despite the fact that coffee is the biggest income generator, this is followed by Tourism.
4. Kenya’s Water resources
There are five major drainage basins in Kenya, namely: Lake Victoria, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River (and Coastal areas to its south), the Rift Valley, the Tana River and the northern Ewaso Ng’iro. Although Kenya has only a small part of Lake Victoria’s water surface, its catchment contributes a disproportionate 33% of its surface inflow which amounts to some 470 million cubic meters a year.
More Interesting Facts about Kenya
Fact 1: About 44 million people live in Kenya as at the time of this writing.
Fact 2: Kenya was a British colony and was under British colonial rule between 1895 and 1963.
Fact 3: Kenya’s Great Rift Valley was created around 20 million years ago when the crust of the Earth was split.
Fact 4: Kenya only has only two seasons. One rainy season and one dry season in a year.
Fact 5: Kenya’s capital is Nairobi.
Fact 6: There is great disparity between the rich and the poor, those that are rich are very rich and those that are poor are very poor with very few in the middle class
Fact 7: Jomo Kenyatta National Airport is the biggest airport in East Africa.
Fact 8: Kenyan environmentalist Professor Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was the first African woman to win that price
Fact 9: Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya with a height of 5199 meters.
Fact 10: The Majority of the people in Kenya are Protestants.
Fact 11: About 70 percent of Kenyans are Christians, about 25 percent are adherents of indigenous religions while the remaining 5 to 6 percent are Muslims. There are also Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees, and Bahai’s, particularly among the Asian communities.
Fact 12: Embu tribe in Kenya is famous for dancing on stilts performed by men wearing long black coats and white masks?
Fact 13: Kenya’s wildlife is unrivaled by any other in the world, both in terms of numbers and variety of species. Thousands of tourists visit Kenya every year to view the wildlife particularly the wildebeest migration. Animals such as lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, rhino, giraffe, zebra, crocodiles, hippopotamus, gazelles, cheetahs, hyena and a wide range of bird species can all be found in Kenya.
Fact 14: About 2000 B.C.. Scientists discovered the earliest-known remains of human beings in Kenya. Although very little is known about these people but it’s believed that they are the ancestors of today’s Kenyans.
Fact 15: Masai People, a tribe in Kenya are tall and slender and are known for their skill in the use of weapons and their strongly independent ways.
Fact 16: English, Swahili and Numerous indigenous languages are spoken widely in Kenya. Swahili is also called ‘Kiswahili’.
Fact 17: The Currency of Kenya is shilling, one shilling = 100 cents.
Fact 18: Kenya won independence in 1963 and has been a republic since 1964.
Fact 19: In the world stage of sporting activities, Kenya is best known for Athletics
Fact 20: About 99% of Kenya’s population is made up of black Africans but there are also white Kenyans.