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(kĕn`yə, kēn`–), officially Republic of Kenya, republic (2015 est. pop. 47,236,000), 224,960 sq mi (582,646 sq km), E Africa. Kenya is bordered by Somalia on the east, the Indian Ocean on the southeast, Tanzania on the south, Lake Victoria (Victoria Nyanza) on the southwest, Uganda on the west, South Sudan on the northwest, and Ethiopia on the north. NairobiNairobi
, city (1996 pop. 3,000,000), capital of Kenya, S Kenya, in the E African highlands. Nairobi is Kenya's largest city and its administrative, communications, and economic center.
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 is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The country, which lies astride the equator, consists of several geographical regions. The first is a narrow coastal strip that is low lying except for the Taita Hills in the south. The second, an inland region of bush-covered plains, constitutes most of the country's land area. In the northwest, straddling Lake Turkana and the Kulal Mts., are high-lying scrublands. In the southwest are the fertile grasslands and forests of the Kenya highlands. In the west is the Great Rift ValleyGreat Rift Valley,
geological fault system of SW Asia and E Africa. It extends c.3,000 mi (4,830 km) from N Syria to central Mozambique. The northernmost extension runs S through Syria and Lebanon, the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, and the Gulf of Aqaba.
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, an irregular depression that cuts through W Kenya from north to south in two branches. It is also the location of some of the country's highest mountains, including Mt. Kenya (17,058 ft/5,199 m). Kenya's main rivers are the Tana and the Athi. In addition to the capital, other important cities include MombasaMombasa
, city (1990 est. pop. 537,000), capital of Coast prov., SE Kenya, mostly on Mombasa island in the Indian Ocean and partly on the mainland (with which it is connected by a causeway). It is Kenya's chief port and an important commercial and industrial center.
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 (the chief port), NakuruNakuru
, city (1989 est. pop. 164,000), capital of Rift Valley prov., W central Kenya. Founded in the early 20th cent. as a center of European settlement, Nakuru is a growing commercial and industrial city. Manufactures include textiles, processed food, and pyrethrum extract.
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, KisumuKisumu
, city (1989 est. pop. 185,100), capital of Nyanza prov., SW Kenya, on Kavirondo Gulf (an arm of Lake Victoria). It is the principal lake port of Kenya, its third largest city, and the commercial center of a prosperous farm region.
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, Thika, Machakos, and Eldoret.

People of African descent make up about 99% of the population; they are divided into about 40 ethnic groups, of which the Bantu-speaking Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kamba, and Kisii and the Nilotic-speaking Luo are predominant. Small numbers of persons of South Asian and European descent live in the interior, and there are some Arabs along the coast. The official languages of Kenya are Swahili and English; many indigenous languages are also spoken. About 80% of the population is Christian; others follow indigenous beliefs and there are Muslim and Hindu minorities.


About 75% of Kenyans are engaged in farming, largely of the subsistence type. Coffee, tea, corn, wheat, sisal, and pyrethrum are grown in the highlands, mainly on small African-owned farms formed by dividing some of the large, formerly European-owned estates. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton, and sugarcane are grown in the lower-lying areas. Much of the country is savanna, where large numbers of cattle are pastured. Kenya also produces dairy goods, pork, poultry, and eggs. The country's industries include food processing, flour milling, horticulture, and the manufacture of consumer goods such as plastic, furniture, batteries, clothing, and cigarettes. Petroleum is refined and aluminum, steel, and building materials are produced. Industrial development has been hampered by shortages in hydroelectric power and by inefficiency and corruption in the public sector, but steps have been taken to privatize some state-owned companies. The chief minerals produced are limestone, soda ash, gemstones, salt, and fluorospar. Kenya attracts many tourists, largely lured by its coastal beaches and varied wildlife, which is protected in the expansive Tsavo National Park (8,034 sq mi/20,808 sq km) in the southeast.

Kenya's chief exports are tea and coffee; fluctuations in their world prices and periodic droughts have tremendous economic impact. Petroleum products, flowers, and fish are also exported. The leading imports are machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, motor vehicles, iron and steel, and plastics. Major trading partners are the United States, Great Britain, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates. Kenya's population growth continually exceeds the rate of economic growth, resulting in large budget deficits and high unemployment. The country's well-developed transportation system has suffered from neglect in recent years, but a new Chinese-built rail line opened between Nairobi and Mombasa in 2017.


Kenya is governed under the constitution of 2010. The president, who is the head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. (The post of prime minister was abolished in 1964, reestablished in 2008, and abolished again in 2010.) The bicameral legislature consists of the 349-seat National Assembly and the 67-seat Senate, Most members are directly elected. There are 47 Assembly seats that are reserved for women, and 12 seats are held by members nominated by the parties based on their elected seats. In the Senate, 16 women hold seats based on similar nominations, and 4 seats are held by persons nominated to represent the youth and disabled. All members serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 47 counties.


Early History to Independence

During the 1950s and 60s, the anthropologist L. S. B. LeakeyLeakey, Louis Seymour Bazett
, 1903–72, British archaeologist and anthropologist of E Africa, b. Kabete, Kenya; father of Richard Leakey. His fossil discoveries in E Africa demonstrated that humans were far older than had previously been suspected.
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 discovered in N Tanzania the remains of hominins who lived c.2 million years ago. These persons, perhaps the earliest humans on earth, most likely also inhabited S Kenya. In the Kenya highlands, the existence of farming and domestic herds can be dated to c.1000 B.C. Trade between the Kenya coast and Arabia was brisk by A.D. 100. Arabs settled on the coast during medieval times, and they soon established several autonomous city-states (including Mombasa, Malindi, and Pate). Farmers and herders traveled S from Ethiopia and settled in Kenya in c.2000 B.C. There is also evidence that Bantu-speaking people and Nilotic speakers from what is now South Sudan settled in Kenya between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500.

The Portuguese first visited the Kenya coast in 1498, and by the end of the 16th cent. they controlled much of it, including Mombasa. However, in 1729, the Portuguese were permanently expelled from Mombasa and were replaced as the leading power on the coast by two Arab dynasties: the Busaidi dynasty, based first at Masqat (in Oman) and from 1832 on Zanzibar, and the Mazrui dynasty, based at Mombasa. The Busaidi wrested Mombasa from the Mazrui in 1837. From the early 19th cent. there was long-distance caravan trading between Mombasa and Lake Victoria.

Beginning in the mid-19th cent., European explorers (especially John Ludwig Krapf and Joseph Thomson) mapped parts of the interior. The British and German governments agreed upon spheres of influence in E Africa in 1886, with most of present-day Kenya passing to the British. In 1887, a British association received concessionary rights to the Kenya coast from the sultan of Zanzibar. The association in 1888 was given a royal charter as the Imperial British East Africa Company, but severe financial difficulties soon led to its takeover by the British government, which established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895. A railroad was built (1895–1901) from Mombasa to Kisumu on Lake Victoria in order to facilitate trade with the interior and with Uganda.

In 1903, the first settlers of European descent established themselves as large-scale farmers in the highlands by taking land from the Kikuyu, Masai, and others. At the same time, Indian merchants moved inland from the coast. In 1920, the territory was renamed and its administration changed; the interior became Kenya Colony and a coastal strip (10 mi/16 km wide) was constituted the Protectorate of Kenya. From the 1920s to the 40s, European settlers controlled the government and owned extensive farmlands; Indians maintained small trade establishments and were lower-level government employees; and Africans grew cash crops such as coffee and cotton on a small scale, were subsistence farmers, or were laborers in the towns (especially Nairobi).

In the 1920s, Africans began to protest their inferior status. Protest reached a peak between 1952 and 1956 with the so-called Mau MauMau Mau
, secret insurgent organization in Kenya, comprising mainly Kikuyu tribespeople. They were bound by oath to force the expulsion of white settlers from Kenya. In 1952 the Mau Mau began reprisals against the Europeans, especially in the "white highlands," claimed as Kikuyu
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 Emergency, a complex armed revolt led by the Kikuyu, which was in part a rebellion against British rule and in part an attempt to reestablish traditional land rights and ways of governance. The British declared a state of emergency and imprisoned many of the colony's nationalist leaders, including Jomo KenyattaKenyatta, Jomo
, 1893?–1978, African political leader, first president of Kenya (1964–78). A Kikuyu, he was one of the earliest and best-known African nationalist leaders.
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. After the revolt, Britain increased African representation in the colony's legislative council until, in 1961, there was an African majority.

Modern Kenya

On Dec. 12, 1963, Kenya (including both the colony and the protectorate) became independent. In 1964 the country became a republic, with Kenyatta as president. The first decade of independence was characterized by disputes among ethnic groups (especially between the Kikuyu and the Luo), by economic growth and diversification, and by the end of European predominance. Many Europeans (who numbered about 55,000 in 1962) and Asians voluntarily left the country. Boundary disputes with Somalia resulted in sporadic fighting (1963–68). In 1969, Tom MboyaMboya, Thomas Joseph
, 1930–69, Kenyan political leader. The son of a Luo farmer, he was born in the "white highlands" of Kenya and educated at Roman Catholic mission schools.
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, a leading government official and a possible successor to Kenyatta, was assassinated. More than 70% of the country was affected by the sub-Saharan drought of the early 1970s. Kenyatta's silencing of opponents led to further unrest domestically. Throughout the 1970s relations with neighboring countries deteriorated as well; there was a territorial dispute with Uganda, and Tanzania closed its border with Kenya when Kenya harbored several of Idi AminAmin, Idi
, c.1925–2003, Ugandan army officer and dictator. From the small Kakwa ethnic group, he advanced in the Ugandan armed forces from private (1946) to major general (1968). In 1971 he seized control of the government, toppling the regime of Milton Obote.
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's supporters after the fall of his regime.

After Kenyatta's death in 1978, Vice President Daniel arap MoiMoi, Daniel Toroitich arap
, 1924–2020, president of Kenya (1978–2002). First named to the legislature in 1955, he opposed Kikuyu and Luo dominance until he joined Kenya's first independent government (1963) and the majority party, the Kenya African National Union
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 succeeded him as president. Moi promoted the Africanization of industry by placing limits on foreign ownership and by extending credit to African investors. Domestically, he rejected demands for democratization and suppressed opposition. With economic conditions worsening, rumors of a coup led Moi to dismantle the air force and order the imprisonment of those suspected of involvement. Throughout the 1980s, Moi consolidated power in the presidency and continued to conduct periodic purges of his administration.

Rioting erupted in 1988 after several outspoken proponents of a multiparty democracy were arrested. Bowing to pressure at home and abroad, in 1991 the legislature passed a constitutional amendment legalizing multiparty democracy. In 1992, Moi was reelected president in Kenya's first multiparty election in 26 years. Opponents denounced the election as fraudulent, and the government was subsequently accused of human-rights violations. The 1990s saw tens of thousands of refugees flee fighting in Somalia to NE Kenya. Moi was reelected in 1997, but the governing party lost several seats in parliament. In Aug., 1998, a terrorist bomb exploded at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, killing some 250 people.

Forced under the constitution to retire, Moi engineered the nomination of Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's first leader, as the Kenya African National Union (KANU) candidate for president in 2002. Mwai KibakiKibaki, Mwai
(Emilio Mwai Kibaki), 1931–, Kenyan political leader. An economist educated at the London School of Economics, he was elected to Kenya's first parliament (1963) as a member of the Kenya African National Union (KANU).
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, who had run against Moi in 1992 and 1997 and once was his vice president, was the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) candidate and the most prominent of the four opposition candidates. The December election, although not free of vote rigging, was the most credible multiparty election since independence and resulted in a significant opposition victory. Kibaki was elected president with 62% of the vote, and NARC won a majority of seats in the national assembly.

A constitutional conference was convened to revise the constitution, but when it approved (Jan., 2004) reducing the president's powers and establishing an executive prime minister, the government withdrew from the conference. Kibaki, who had supported such a proposal while in the opposition and had called for a new constitution to be in place 100 days after his election, saw his coalition divide over the issue. In July he let the conference's mandate expire and appointed a new committee to continue the work. Also in July he expanded his cabinet, bringing representatives of KANU and another opposition party into the government and demoting coalition members who had supported reducing the president's powers. By the end of 2004 a three-way division had developed in the NARC coalition, and a factional split in KANU resulted (Feb., 2005) in two separate executive councils claiming control of the party. The KANU factions continued to fight for control of the party through 2006.

In Aug., 2004, some Masai begin to mount protests over land on which they said the lease, signed 99 years ago with the British, had expired. The government challenged that assertion, but the Masai actions brought to the fore the inequity of many long-term leases (some more than 900 years long) that the British forced on the indigenous peoples of Kenya. The issue of the very-long-term leases was one that the stalled constitution might have resolved. Early 2005 saw outbreaks of fighting between Masai herders and Kikuyu farmers over scarce water resources.

The issue of corruption, which Kibaki had promised to attack but left to fester, roiled the government in 2004 and 2005 when the British ambassador accused Kenyan officials of "massive looting." The president's chief anticorruption adviser resigned out of frustration in Feb., 2005, and the Law Society accused the current vice president, attorney general, and finance minister of graft. In March the government said that it had identified in British bank accounts about $1 billion stolen from government project under the Moi administration and was making efforts to recover the money.

Parliament approved a draft constitution in July, 2005, that included the office of prime minister, but most executive powers remained with the presidency. Some members of the cabinet called for its defeat in the required referendum, as did former president Moi, while Kibaki called for its approval. Voters solidly rejected the document in Nov., 2005, in a blow to Kibaki's presidency. Kibaki subsequently dismissed the entire cabinet and suspended the opening of parliament; in December he appointed a new cabinet dominated by allies, but some ministers and deputies he nominated rejected the posts. Drought and crop failures in NE Kenya in 2005 led to food shortages and deaths due to starvation late in the year; the government was accused by some of responding slowly to the problem.

By Feb., 2006, two corruption scandals had resulted in the resignation or removal of four cabinet members, including the finance minister, and accusations of corruption had also been leveled at the vice president, who denied the charges. In March elite Kenyan police raided Kenya's oldest newspaper and its television station; copies of the newspaper were burned by police during the raid and the station was forced off the air. The government raid, which appeared to be an attempt to intimidate a critical media outlet, was denounced by opposition figures and by many cabinet members. The same month Kibaki finally reopened parliament. Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers clashed in Apr., 2006, when the Ethiopians crossed the Kenyan border in pursuit of Oromo rebels. The fighting in Somalia in 2006 drove some 30,000 refugees into NE Kenya by mid-2006, adding to the 130,000 who had arrived since 1991, and in subsequent years the number of Somali refugees rose to more than 350,000. A cabinet reshuffle in Nov., 2006, largely undid the earlier ministerial resignations brought about by corruption scandals; only the former finance minister remained without a cabinet post.

President Kibaki, running as the Party of National Unity candidate, was declared the winner of the Dec., 2007, presidential election, but domestic and foreign observers questioned that result. (In Apr., 2008, a report by European Union investigators said that it was impossible to determine who may have won the election.) His main opponent, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate Raila OdingaOdinga, Raila Amolo
1945–, Kenyan political leader, son of Oginga Odinga, Kenya's first vice president. After earning (1970) a degree in mechanical engineering from the Univ. of Magdeburg, East Germany, he returned home and taught at the Univ. of Nairobi.
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, accused him of vote fraud; Odinga had led in the opinion polls preceding the vote. The ODM won a plurality in the legislature, and many members of Kibaki's cabinet lost their legislative seats. The presidential result led to rioting and violence in many parts of Kenya. Some of the violence was ethnically based, with Luos (Odinga's tribe) attacking Kikiyus (Kibaki's tribe). More than a thousand Kenyans died and several hundred thousand were displaced as a result of the violence.

After negotiations mediated by Kofi AnnanAnnan, Kofi Atta
1938–2018, Ghanaian diplomat, the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations (1997–2006) and the first person to hold that office who came from the organization's international bureaucracy, b. Kumasi.
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, the former UN secretary-general, both sides agreed in Feb., 2008, to form a power-sharing government, with Odinga as prime minister. After additional negotiations and, in early April, protests by Odinga's supporters, a cabinet was agreed on, and Odinga and the cabinet were sworn in in mid-April. The coalition government, however, proved cumbersome, beset by corruption, by continual partisanship and bickering over powers and responsibilities, and by an inability to enact agreed-upon reforms. A commission of inquiry into the elections reported in Oct., 2008, that in some areas politicians and business owners had participated in the planning and organization of the post-election clashes. It called for a tribunal to try those who had instigated the violence, but parliament subsequently failed to pass legislation establishing the tribunal.

In July, 2009, Kenya reached a deal with the International Criminal Court under which Kenya agreed to establish a tribunal by July, 2010, but after Kenya failed to meet a Sept., 2009, planning deadline, the ICC's chief prosecutor announced the court would prosecute those most responsible for the violence. In Apr., 2010, the parliament finally approved a draft constitution; the document, which increased checks on presidential power and devolved some powers to local governments, was approved in a referendum in August; effective after the 2013 elections, the position of prime minister was abolished. In Dec., 2010, the ICC named six prominent Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, that it accused of crimes against humanity; Kenya's subsequent attempts to get the UN Security Council to defer their trials failed.

In Oct., 2011, Kenyan forces invaded S Somalia and began operations against hardline Islamist forces, which Kenya held responsible for a series of attacks in Kenya. Beginning in late 2012 there were increasing tensions and violence in Mombasa and coastal Kenya involving, separately, secessionists who wish to see the coast independent of Kenya and hardline Islamists. The Mar., 2013, presidential election was primarily a contest between Odinga and Kenyatta; the latter secured more than 50% of the vote by the thinnest of margins, avoiding a runoff. Odinga challenged the result in court, but the vote was upheld; the final tally had been delayed by failures in the vote counting system, and the national count lacked transparency, according to observers. The coalition supporting Kenyatta won pluralities in the Senate and National Assembly.

In Sept., 2013, Vice President William Ruto went on trial at the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity. Later in the month Islamists mounted an armed terror attack against a Nairobi shopping center that left more than 60 people dead. Although Somalia's Al ShababAl Shabab
or Al Shabaab
, [Arab.,=the youth], Islamic fundamentalist militia based in Somalia. One of several hardline Somali Islamist militias, Al Shabab has operated primarily in southern and central Somalia but it also has recruited and carried out terrorist attacks
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 claimed responsibility for the attack, eyewitness reports suggested that some of the attackers may have been Kenyan. Deadly terror attacks and Islamist violence have continued sporadically since then, particularly in coastal and northern areas. The ICC charges against President Kenyatta were withdrawn in 2015 due to insufficient evidence, and the case against Ruto was dismissed in 2016 for similar reasons. In Apr., 2015, Al Shabab again mounted a murderous attack in the country, in E Kenya at Garissa Univ. College, killing some 150 people and injuring many others. Sporadic attacks by the group have continued, especially in NE Kenya, near Somalia.

Kenyatta faced Odinga a second time in the Aug., 2017, presidential election, and won reelection by a solid margin. Odinga accused the president of fraud and challenged the result in court, but foreign observers generally termed the election free and fair. The following month, however, the supreme court annulled the result, due to irregularities, and called for a new election, but Odinga withdrew from the election in October, demanding significant electoral reforms be undertaken first. In the subsequent voting. also in October, Kenyatta was reported to have won 98% of the vote, with 39% of the electorate voting, but local observers said there discrepancies in the reporting of polling station tallies. Odinga rejected the result. The elections and following months were marked by protests and violence (including sexual violence) by police against Odinga's supporters, but in Mar., 2018, Kenyatta and Odinga agreed on a plan for national unity.


See R. A. Oliver et al., ed., History of East Africa (3 vol., 1963–76); C. G. Rosberg and J. C. Nottingham, The Myth of "Mau Mau": Nationalism in Kenya (1966); M. P. K. Sorenson, The Origins of European Settlement in Kenya (1969); C. Leo, Land and Class in Kenya (1984); M. G. Schatzberg, ed., The Political Economy of Kenya (1987); W. R. Ocheing, ed., Themes in Kenyan History (1990); D. Branch, Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya (2009).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Republic of Kenya), a state in East Africa, part of the British Commonwealth. Kenya is bordered on the north by Ethiopia and the Sudan, on the west by Uganda, on the southwest by Tanzania, on the east by Somalia, and on the southeast by the Indian Ocean. Area, 582,600 sq km. Population, 11.7 million (1971, estimate). The capital is Nairobi. Administratively, Kenya is divided into seven provinces (Eastern, Western, Nyanza, Coast, Rift Valley, North-Eastern, and Central) and the district of Nairobi.

Constitution and government. Kenya is a republic. Its present constitution, which entered into force on Apr. 18, 1969, is substantially the constitution of 1963 with amendments adopted between 1964 and 1968. The head of state and of government is the president, who is elected by universal and direct suffrage to a five-year term. Presidential elections are held simultaneously with elections to the parliament. The presidential candidate (an elected member of the parliament) who has received the greatest numbers of votes is declared president. If there is only one candidate no balloting takes place. The president appoints and dismisses the vice-president, the ministers, and all high officials and is the commander in chief of the armed forces; he also appoints some of the members of the National Assembly and has the right of pardon.

The supreme legislative body, the parliament, consists of the president and the unicameral National Assembly, 158 members of which are elected by universal and direct ballot for a five-year term; 12 are appointed by the president. The attorney general (chief prosecutor) is an ex officio member of the National Assembly. The government of Kenya, the Cabinet, is composed of the president, the vice-president, and the ministers appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly. All citizens who have reached the age of 21 may vote.

The provinces and Nairobi district are headed by commissioners appointed by the president. The agencies of local government in townships, rural areas, and municipalities are councils, some of whose members are elected by the population and others appointed.

The judicial system is composed of the High Court—the court of highest instance, with the right of constitutional supervision —magistrates’ courts of lower instance, and district courts. The judiciary also includes six religious qadi courts, which examine certain types of civil cases on the basis of Muslim law. In certain instances provided for by law the decisions of the High Court may be appealed to the Court of Appeals for East Africa, created under the treaty on the East African Community concluded by Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in 1967.


Natural features. Located on the northeastern edge of the East African highlands, Kenya is approximately bisected by the equator. The greater part of the country is occupied by highlands rising from 500 m in the east to 1,500 m in the west. The coast of the Indian Ocean is faulted, weakly dissected, and generally precipitous, with few good natural harbors. An aggradational lowland extends along the coast, ranging in width from 50 km in the south to 200 km in the north. The eastern highlands descend to the lowland in a series of steps. The central highlands are strongly dissected by a meridional branch of tectonic fractures, evidenced in the landscape by a depression (the Gregory rift-graben). Volcanoes rise from the bottom of the depression (Longonot, 2,777 m), and there are hot springs and gas vents. The depression is rimmed by the Aberdare Range in the east, with altitudes of up to 4,000 m, and by the Mau and Elgeyo escarpments in the west, reaching altitudes of up to 3,000 m. Along the edge of the depression are the volcanoes Mount Kenya (5,199 m), the highest peak in Kenya, and Mount Elgon (4,322 m). The western part of Kenya is a high plateau with outlier mountains; a narrow aggradational lowland extends along the shore of Lake Victoria.

Kenya is composed of Precambrian crystalline and meta-morphic rocks, such as granites, gneisses, quartzites, and crystalline shales, covered with Cenozoic lavas in the rift zone. The coastal lowland consists of marine Mesozoic and Neocene-Quaternary rock. The country has large reserves of nonmetallic minerals, including sodium carbonate (trona), extracted from Lake Magadi, kyanite, diatomite, gypsum, limestone, and graphite, as well as such rare metals as thorium and niobium; gold and polymetallic ores are found in the south and southwest.

The climate is subequatorial and relatively temperate owing to the altitude of the highlands, with seasonal and generally insufficient rainfall. Near the equator there are two rainy seasons (March-April and November-December), and summer rains characterize the north and the south (northern and southern hemispheres). Average July temperatures are 24°-25°C along the coast, 12°-15°C in the central mountainous regions, and 22°C in the west; corresponding January temperatures are 27°C, 14°-18°C, and 24°C. The highlands are marked by great daily temperature variations, and the mountains have a well-defined climatic zonality, ranging from an equatorial belt to a zone of permanent snow on the Kenya and Elgon volcanoes. Moving from northeast and east to southwest and west, the annual precipitation increases from 250 mm or less to between 1,500 and 2,000 mm.

The river network is poorly developed, especially in the north and northeast. Rivers are shallow and few are navigable; in the north and northeast they are seasonal or intermittent. The major rivers, the Tana and Galana, flow into the Indian Ocean. The short rivers that empty into Lake Victoria, such as the Nazoia, have a more even seasonal flow. The graben in the central part of Kenya is a region of subsurface drainage to Lakes Rudolf, Baringo, Nakuru, Naivasha, and Magadi. Some of the lakes are saltwater lakes.

The brown-red lateritic and stony soils of the east and northeast are generally infertile and often saline. Red-brown soils are found in the northwest and southeast, and red mountain soils occur in the mountains; meadow red-brown soils are found along the shore of Lake Victoria and black and gray soils along the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Thornbush, leafless in times of drought, and sparse xerophytic woodlands of the Ethiopian type predominate in the northern and northeastern parts of the country. These give way to semi-desert savannas stretching from northwest to southeast. High-grass savannas and park forests cover the western, most humid part of Kenya, and rain forests are found in the mountains of central Kenya. African alpine meadow vegetation occurs on the summits of Mounts Kenya and Elgon. In the graben are semi-desert savannas, semideserts, and many halophytes. A park baobab savanna extends along the coast.

Much of Kenya’s wildlife has been destroyed. Wild animals, found mainly in the Masai-Amboseli, Masai-Mara, and Ngong game reserves and in the Mount Kenya and Tsavo national parks, include the elephant, rhinoceros, zebra, buffalo, antelope, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, and monkey; ostriches and many other birds abound. Crocodiles and hippopatamuses are common in the rivers. The shore of Lake Victoria is infested with the tsetse fly. The underwater preserve near Malindi protects marine flora and coral reefs.


Population. African peoples, numbering 10,733,000 according to the 1969 census, constitute more than 98 percent of the population. The African peoples belong to three language groups: Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic. The Bantu account for two-thirds of the total population; the major tribes are the Kikuyu (about 2 million), the Baluhya (1.4 million), and the Akamba (Kamba; 1 million). The Nilotic group consists of the Luo (about 1.5 million), the Masai (more than 150,000), and the Kalenjin subgroup, comprising the Nandi, Kipsigis, and Marakwet (a total of more than 700,000). The Cushitic group includes the Somali (about 250,000) and the Galla (about 90,000). In addition, about 140,000 Indians, 40,000 Europeans, and about 30,000 Arabs live in Kenya. About three-fourths of the population retains traditional beliefs, and the remainder are chiefly Christians or Muslims, although there are a few Hindus. The official language is English. Swahili is the most widely spoken of the local languages. The Gregorian calendar is used.

The average annual population growth was 3 percent between 1963 and 1970. In 1970 the economically active population totaled 4,319,000 persons, of whom 80 percent were engaged in agriculture. In the same year wage workers numbered 644,500 persons, of whom 396,500 were employed in the private sector and 248,000 in the state sector, mainly in the administrative apparatus, the police, and transportation. The majority of African wage earners are migrant workers, but the number of settled workers is increasing. The national bourgeoisie is small, although the ranks of the intelligentsia have increased considerably since independence. The average population density is 20 per sq km, with the highest density occurring in Western Province (167 per sq km) and lowest in North-Eastern Province (two per sq km). Most of the population is concentrated in the central part of the highlands, in some coastal regions, and around the lakes. There is migration from the overpopulated to the virgin regions and from dry areas to the fertile regions in the central part of the highlands. About 51 percent of the total population is under 16 years of age.

A major demographic trend is urbanization. In 1948, Kenya had 17 cities and population centers of over 2,000 (totaling 285,000 persons). According to the 1969 census the ten most populous cities (10,000 or more) had a total population of 891,-000. Urban dwellers accounted for 7.8 percent of the population in 1962, increasing to 10.2 percent in 1970. The majority of the African population lives in rural areas. Since the proclamation of independence in 1963 the proportion of Africans living in cities has increased from 5.3 percent (1962) to more than 12 percent (1969). Indians, Arabs, and Europeans live mainly in cities. The most important cities and their populations (1970, estimates) are Nairobi (535,200, with suburbs), Mombasa, (255,400, with suburbs), Nakuru, and Kisumu.

Historical survey. The origin of Kenya’s indigenous peoples has not been precisely established. Most of the population was formed in the 14th to 19th centuries through the migration of Bantu and Nilotic tribes into Kenya from other parts of the continent. From the fifth century B.C. to the sixth century A.D., Kenya’s coast was visited by Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, and Arab navigators and merchants. Arab and African settlements arose here in the seventh and eighth centuries, and city-states were established on the coast and in the adjoining interior regions between the 11th and 15th centuries. In the late 15th century control over the coast of East Africa was bitterly contested between Portuguese colonialists and Arabs. The Portuguese seized a large part of the coast in the 16th century and held it until the early 18th century. The 18th century saw the rise of a number of Arab feudal sultanates, some of which became vassals of the sultan of Muscat in the late 18th century, and of the sultan of Zanzibar in the second half of the 19th century.

Great Britain and Germay began to penetrate the area in the 19th century, and in 1886 the two countries concluded an agreement dividing their spheres of influence in East Africa. Under the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890, Kenya fell under British control and was later incorporated into the British East African Protectorate, created in 1895. The people of Kenya rebelled against the invasion of the colonialists. Especially fierce were the uprisings of the coastal peoples, particularly the revolt led by M’Baruk in 1895–96, the uprisings of the Nandi led by Koitalel between 1896 and 1905, and the rebellions of the Kikuyu and Embu.

Great Britain established a harsh colonial administration in Kenya. The Mombasa-Nairobi-Kisumu railroad, built between 1897 and 1901, opened the interior regions to intensive colonization. Laws promulgated by the colonial administration in 1904, 1915, and 1939 created African reservations and set aside special areas where land ownership and use were reserved exclusively for Europeans. The European settlers seized the most fertile lands, and compulsory labor for Africans was introduced. All spheres of life were dominated by racism, and the British governor exercised supreme power. The Legislative Council, established to assist the governor, did not include a single African until 1920, only one African from 1920 to 1948, and four between 1948 and 1952; for a long time there was only one African seat on the Council of Ministers created in 1953.

In World War I (1914–18) detachments of European settlers and royal African rifle units formed in Kenya fought against the Germans in Tanganyika. In 1920, Kenya was proclaimed a British colony, although the coastal region remained a protectorate. Between the two world wars many Europeans emigrated to Kenya, and the economic and political oppression of the native population intensified. An organized anticolonialist movement arose at this time. The first African political organizations, the East African Association and the Kikuyu Central Association, appeared among the Kikuyu, who had suffered more than other tribes from the large-scale expropriation of land. The chief demand of most of the Kikuyu political organizations was the return of the lands seized by Europeans. During World War II (1939–45), Kenyan soldiers in the British colonial forces fought in the Near East and in Burma. By the end of the war the liberation movement in Kenya had expanded considerably. The Kenya African Union (KAU), the first mass political organization, was founded in the mid-1940’s; its demands included a resolution of the land question and the abolition of racist laws. The late 1940’s saw the rise of the secret religious and political Mau Mau movement, whose main goals were the return of the land seized from the Africans by the European colonialists and the establishment of self-government. In October 1952 the colonial authorities introduced martial law in Kenya, outlawed the Mau Mau movement, and arrested the KAU leaders headed by Jomo Kenyatta. An anticolonialist rebellion broke out shortly thereafter in which Mau Mau and KAU members played a prominent role. The rebellion lasted four years and was harshly suppressed by the colonial authorities in 1956: more than 11,000 rebels were killed and about 100,000 were thrown into concentration camps and prisons. Nevertheless, the rebellion of 1952–56 forced Great Britain to adopt temporizing tactics. In January 1960, during an upsurge in the liberation movement, martial law was lifted and a number of reforms were proclaimed. In March 1960 a new mass political organization was created, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which received especially broad support among the Kikuyu, Luo, and Kamba. The organization demanded political independence for Kenya. The anticolonialist movement was hindered by disagreements in its ranks. In June 1960 a group of moderate political leaders created the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). Supported by white settlers, KADU submitted a plan for a regional partition of the country after independence. After a difficult struggle KANU was victorious in the parliamentary elections of 1961 and 1963, and Jomo Kenyatta, who had become the leader of KANU in 1960, formed the first African government in Kenya’s history in 1963. Kenya achieved internal self-government on June 1, 1963, became an independent state on Dec. 12, 1963, and was proclaimed a republic on Dec. 12, 1964.

The Kenyan government based its domestic and foreign policy on “African democratic socialism,” which was essentially formulated in the KANU manifesto of 1963 and in the 1965 government document “African Socialism and Its Application to Planning in Kenya.” The Kenyan government sought to promote local and foreign private capital and African business ventures.

From 1963 to 1966 there were strong disagreements within Kenya’s ruling circles over the country’s future development. In March 1966 a group of KANU leaders left the party and founded a new organization, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU), headed by Oginga Odinga, previously Kenya’s vice-president and vice-president of KANU. The KPU declared its chief goals to be the creation of a democratic socialist state, the transfer of economic power to the people, limitations on the activities of foreign monopolies, and the distribution of free land to the needy. In the summer of 1969 an acute internal political crisis occurred, followed by clashes among various ethnic groups. In October of that year the KPU was outlawed and its leaders arrested; Oginga Odinga was released in March 1971 and returned to KANU that fall. In the presidential and parliamentary elections held in December 1969 and 1974, Kenyatta was elected president and KANU won all the seats in the National Assembly.

The government of Kenya advocates the abolition of racist and colonialist regimes in Africa. Diplomatic relations between Kenya and the USSR were established in December 1963, and the following year Kenya and the USSR concluded agreements on economic and technological cooperation, trade, and cultural cooperation. In 1972 the UN General Assembly elected Kenya a nonpermanent member of the Security Council for 1973–74.


Political parties and trade unions. The Kenya African National Union (KANU), founded in 1960, has been the governing party since December 1963 and the sole political party since October 1969. The Central Organization for Trade Unions, founded in 1965, is controlled by the government.

Economic geography. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for three-fourths of the country’s exports. The manufacturing industry is restricted to the primary processing of agricultural products and to the production of certain consumer goods. Foreign capital, mainly British, plays a considerable role in the economy. In 1971 the per capita gross national product was US$141.

Since the proclamation of independence in 1963, planning has become increasingly important in the development of the national economy. The government is promoting the growth of the state sector (21 percent in 1968) and of the cooperative sector, although development is financed mainly by private capital. The state sector includes transportation, communications, electrical power supply, and the municipal economy. In 1971 agriculture accounted for 27.2 percent of the gross domestic product, mining for 0.4 percent, manufacturing and the electric power industry for 14 percent, construction for 4.7 percent, trade for 9.7 percent, transportation for 7 percent, and other branches for 37 percent.

AGRICULTURE. There are two basic types of farms: large European capitalist farms and African farms, marked by a great diversity of structure and an abundance of transitional forms. Communal farming has survived, although capitalist relations are developing. The share of African farms in the overall output of coffee, tea, and pyrethrum is increasing. Agrarian reforms carried out since independence provide for the purchase of fertile lands from European settlers. In 1963 there were 3,368 European farmers with holdings ranging from 8,000 to 30,000 hectares (ha). In 1970 it was officially announced that the resettlement reform was completed: since independence, about 500,000 ha had been purchased from European settlers, on which some 35,000 African families had been settled.

In the 1950’s the colonial authorities pursued a policy of “land consolidation,” which fostered the growth of private land ownership. Land allotments were taken from the commune, enlarged, and given as personal property to African farmers in order to create an affluent farmer class that would support the colonial authorities and to establish economic preconditions for the development of capitalist farming. By 1970 a total of 494,000 farmers had been given title to the 1,143,000 ha of communal land they tilled. The average size of African farmers’ holdings varies from about 4 to 26 ha, but some families have more than 70 ha. The agrarian program also provides for the resettlement of landless rural people on vacant lands and for intensified production on existing African farms.

The principal crops are coffee, tea, sisal, and pyrethrum. Kenya is the leading producer of tea in Africa and holds third place (after Tanzania and Angola) in the production of sisal. European farms, totaling 2 million ha of land (Africans own 44 million ha), produce 75 percent of the tea, 90 percent of the sisal, 90 percent of the wheat, and 70 percent of the meat and dairy products. African farms accounted for 12 percent of the coffee output in 1960, rising to 60 percent in 1970, and the number of African farms cultivating coffee increased from 8,000 in 1950 to 300,000 in 1970. African farms yield 96 percent of the rice, 95 percent of the cotton, and 75 percent of the pyrethrum. Tea cultivation is monopolized by large foreign companies, mainly British (60 percent), although a growing number of small African farms are cultivating tea for export. African farms produced 25.2 percent of the tea crop in 1971. Sisal is cultivated along the coast and in the high plateau regions; the major companies growing sisal are also British. Stáple crops include manioc, sweet potatoes, and rice, grown mainly in the southwest, and corn, sorghum, wheat, oats, and barley, cultivated in the high plateau areas. Cotton and sugarcane are also grown.

Animal husbandry is becoming increasingly important, accounting for almost one-third of the income derived from commercial agriculture. Kenya is the seventh largest cattle raiser in Africa (after Ethiopia, the Sudan, Tanzania, South Africa, the Malagasy Republic, and Nigeria), raising 8.5 million head of cattle in 1970. Other domestic animals include sheep (3.7 million),

Table 1. Sown Area and Yield of Principal Crops
Sown area (hectares)Yield (tons)
1 annual average
2 1970
3 1963
4 1969
5 1971-72
Coffee . . . . . . .23,00055,00010,80039,90055,000
Tea . . . . . . .8,00021,00041,0006,00017,40037,000
Sisal . . . . . . .93,000121,00080,000238,20065,10048.3002
Pyrethrum . . . . . . .5,700311,1004
Sugarcane (raw) . . . . . . .5,00018,00032,000515,00037,000166,000
Cotton (fiber) . . . . . . .21,00051,00081,0002,0003,0005,000
Wheat . . . . . . .95,000103,000150,000101,000122,000210,000
Corn . . . . . . .452,0001,020,0001,100,000574,0001,040,0001,400,000
Rice (unhulled) . . . . . . .4,0004,0006,0006,00013,00028,000

goats (4 million), and pigs. Fishing is important; the 1970 catch totaled 37,700 tons.

INDUSTRY. About 80 percent of the industrial enterprises are controlled by British capital. The mining industry is poorly developed and dominated by such British companies as Macalder Nyanza Mines and the Magadi Soda Company. Sodium carbonate (trona) is extracted from Lake Magadi (103,000 tons in 1969), and kyanite, used in making refractory materials, is mined in southern Kenya, west of Voi. The diatomite deposit near Gilgil in Rift Valley Province yielded 2,000 tons in 1969. Manufacturing is represented by the food, textile, leather, chemical, cement, oil-refining, and metalworking industries. In 1970, Kenya produced 22.2 million sq m of fabrics, 790,000 tons of cement, and 125,300 tons of sugar. Major food-processing enterprises are found in Athi River (meat-packing) and near Kisumu (sugar refineries), and the textile industry, controlled by Japanese, British, and Indian capital, is concentrated in Thika, Nairobi, and Mombasa. There is a leather and footwear industry in Limuru, near Nairobi, and a cement works in Bamburi (near Mombasa) and Athi River.

The oil refinery in Mombasa, Kenya’s largest industrial enterprise, has a capacity of 2.2 million tons of crude oil a year. It was wholly owned by the British company Shell and the American firms Esso and California Texas Oil Corporation until 1971, when the government of Kenya bought 50 percent of the stock held by the companies. Construction of the oil refinery has made possible a reduction of petroleum imports. A metallurgical plant for processing scrap metal was put in operation in Mombasa in 1970. Electric power generation rose from 263 million kW-hr in 1963 to 555.6 million kW-hr in 1971. About one-third of the electric power consumed in Kenya is supplied by Uganda. A hydroelectric power project is under construction on the Tana River (1973). Timber totaled 8.3 million cu m in 1969.

TRANSPORTATION. In 1971 the country had more than 1,900 km of railroads. The 1,728 km-long Mombasa-Nairobi-Kasese trunk line connects the port of Mombasa with Uganda and is linked by several branch lines with interior regions. Motor-vehicle roads totaled 42,000 km in 1970, of which about 2,500 km were paved and some 25,000 km were primitive. Mombasa, the main ocean port, accounts for up to 90 percent of the country’s freight turnover; Malindi and Lamu are less important. Kisumu on Lake Victoria is an important transport junction. Lake Victoria is the only lake used for transport. Several trans-African air routes pass through Kenya; the major airports are Embakasi near Nairobi and Port Reitz in Mombasa.

FOREIGN TRADE. In 1970 exports were valued at K£77.5 million and imports at K£142 million. Raw materials and food products accounted for 77.9 percent of the value of exports. In 1970 the principal export commodities were coffee (29.2 percent of the total value of exports), tea (16.4 percent), petroleum products (10.6 percent), pyrethrum (2.8 percent), meat and meat products (3.7 percent), sisal, leather and hides, cement, and calcinated soda. Imports include industrial and transportation equipment, foodstuffs, chemical products, ferrous metals, articles made from synthetic fibers, and petroleum.

East African countries (Uganda and Tanzania) imported 34.2 percent of Kenya’s exports, the Common Market countries 18.5 percent, Great Britain 20.7 percent, the USA 8.9 percent, and Japan 1.5 percent. Great Britain provided 29.2 percent of the country’s imports, East African countries 9.4 percent, the FRG 7.9 percent, Japan 10.7 percent, the USA 8.4 percent, the Common Market countries 20.2 percent, and Iran 6.3 percent. Trade relations with the USSR and other socialist countries are developing, accounting for 5.4 percent of the foreign trade turnover in 1970. Tourism, a major source of income, brought in K£20 million in 1970.

The monetary unit is the Kenyan shilling; 7.143 Kenyan shillings equaled US$1.00 in September 1972. Official statistics generally use the Kenyan pound, equal to 20 Kenyan shillings.


Armed forces. Kenya’s armed forces consist of ground troops, an air force, and a navy, with a total strength of more than 6,500 men (1970). In addition the country has a police force of about 12,000 men. The president is the supreme commander in chief. The army recruits from among volunteers, and commanders are trained in Great Britain and in a military academy. The strength of the ground troops is about 5,500 men. Armaments and matériel are supplied by Great Britain. The air force of about 800 men has more than 15 transport and training planes, and the 500-man navy consists of a squadron of patrol ships.

Health and social welfare. In 1967 the birth rate was 50 and the mortality rate 20 per 1,000 inhabitants. Infant mortality is very high, between 100 and 150 per 1,000 live births and in places exceeding 200. The average life expectancy is 43 years. Pneumonia and tuberculosis are the chief causes of death. Intestinal infections (mainly dysentery), geohelminthiasis, malaria, leprosy, and venereal diseases occur everywhere, and framboesia is widespread among the pastoral and farming tribes. In livestock-breeding regions the incidence of trachoma reaches 100 percent. There are outbreaks of smallpox almost every year and of poliomyelitis about every three years. The region around Lake Victoria and the Kavirondo Gulf has a high incidence of intestinal and genitourinary schistosomiases, in some places reaching 100 percent, as well as of ancylostomiases; wuchereriasis is endemic in the river valleys. This region also accounts for 70 percent of all tetanus cases. Along the coast and in the Tana Valley malaria is prevalent, and endemic diseases include ancylostomiasis, affecting up to 95 percent of the population, genitourinary schistosomiasis, and wuchereriasis (up to 25 percent). There are many cases of protein deficiency, hypovitaminosis A and C, and anemia (80 percent of the population).

Free medical aid for children and free dispensary service were introduced in 1965. In 1966 the country had 12,400 hospital beds (1.2 per 1,000). Dispensary service is provided by outpatient divisions of general hospitals, public health centers, and mobile dispensaries. In 1969 there were 1,300 physicians (one per 8,400 persons), 55 dentists, and about 8,000 intermediate-level medical personnel. Doctors are trained at the medical faculty of the University of Nairobi. In 1966–67 public health expenditures amounted to 4.6 percent of the state budget. In 1968 the USSR built in Kisumu, as a gift to the Kenyan people, a 200-bed hospital with a polyclinic and residential halls for medical personnel.


VETERINARY SERVICES. Arthropod carriers and flies transmit various animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease (74 outbreaks in 1974), anthrax (11 outbreaks), pleuropneumonia of cattle (two outbreaks), brucellosis (ten outbreaks), rinderpest (two outbreaks), rabies (12 outbreaks), Newcastle disease (52 outbreaks), and fowl typhoid (21 outbreaks). Helminthiases are widespread among farm animals, and trichinosis is endemic in the mountains. Frequent fodder shortages, an insufficient water supply, and soil and plant deficiencies of such trace elements as copper, magnesium, zinc, and selenium cause metabolic diseases, stunted growth, and low productivity among farm animals.

Kenya had 142 veterinarians in 1973. Veterinary services are supervised by the Division of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. There is a faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Nairobi, as well as veterinary scientific research centers at Muguga and Kabete. The African Veterinary Bureau in Muguga coordinates the control of certain infectious diseases in Africa and publishes information bulletins. The laboratory on foot-and-mouth disease in Nairobi is the African branch of the World Reference Laboratory on Foot-and-Mouth Disease.


Education and cultural affairs. As much as 70 percent of the population was illiterate in 1967, despite efforts to eradicate illiteracy that were begun after independence. The present educational system includes seven-year primary schools and six-year secondary schools. At the age of six, children enter the seven-year elementary school, as yet not compulsory. There were 1.3 million pupils in elementary schools in 1969, as against 891,000 in 1963. The six-year secondary school comprises two levels of four and two years. Several secondary technical schools, such as Kenya Polytechnic in Nairobi and Mombasa Polytechnic, correspond to the second level of the secondary school, and graduates may enroll in an institution of higher learning. In 1970 there were 126,900 students attending secondary schools and secondary technical schools. Vocational training is available to graduates of primary schools either at vocational schools, which had an enrollment of 2,400 students in 1969, or at enterprises. Primary school teachers are trained in pedagogical colleges, which had over 7,000 students in 1969, and secondary school teachers at the University of Nairobi.

The University of Nairobi provides higher education. Founded in 1956 as the Royal Technical College, it received university college status in 1961 and was renamed the University of Nairobi in 1969. It has faculties of the natural sciences, engineering, fine arts, architecture, commerce, veterinary medicine, and medicine. In 1970 about 2,000 students were enrolled in the university, and about 5,000 Kenyans were studying at universities abroad, including the USSR and other socialist countries.

Nairobi is the site of the country’s major libraries, the McMillan Memorial Library, founded in 1931 and with more than 110,000 volumes, and the University of Nairobi Library, with some 95,000 volumes. Also in Nairobi are the National Museum, founded in 1911, and the Sorsbie Art Gallery, established in 1961.


Scientific institutions. The first scientific societies, the Kenya Agricultural Society and the East Africa Natural History Society, were organized in the early 1920’s, and the Kenya Geological Survey was founded in 1933. A number of research societies arose after World War II, notably the East African Research Society (1948), comprising 14 research groups in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. In Kenya the society administers organizations for research in agriculture and forestry (taxonomy, physiology, plant genetics and selection, and animal husbandry), in industry, and in veterinary medicine, as well as the Meteorological Survey. Other scientific institutions include the National Agricultural Research Laboratory and Plant Breeding Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Medical Research Institute.

Press, radio, and television. In 1975 about 20 newspapers and magazines with a total circulation of 400,000 copies were published in Kenya. The most important English-language newspapers are the daily East African Standard (since 1902, circulation 37,000), the weekly Sunday Post (1935, circulation 16,000), the daily Daily Nation (1960, circulation 70,000), and the weekly Sunday Nation (1960, circulation 70,000). The major Swahili newspapers are the weekly Baraza (1939, circulation 64,000) and the daily Taifa Leo (1960, circulation over 27,000). The government information agency is the Kenya News Agency, founded in 1963.

The government-owned radio company, Voice of Kenya, founded in 1962, broadcasts from Nairobi. The television company, founded in 1962, is also controlled by the government. Programs are televised in Swahili and English over one channel.

Literature. A literature based on folklore is developing in English and the local languages. The Kikuyu, Baluhya, Akamba, Masai, and other peoples have a rich tradition of oral literature, including epics, songs (love, wedding, and praise songs), proverbs, and fairy tales. Published collections of folk tales include Akamba Stories (1966, compiled by J. Mbiti) and Kikuyu Fairy Tales (1966, compiled by Ngumbu Njururi). A written literature in Swahili arose in the 17th century. The Swahili utendi poems on heroic and religious themes were especially important. Notable 19th-century poets included Muyaka bin Haji (1776–1840) and Mwana Kupona (died 1860).

Poetry has remained the dominant literary form in the 20th century. The modern poets writing in Swahili have preserved the spirit and the traditional forms of folk poetry. A prose literature is now developing. The East African Literary Bureau, founded after World War II, studies the literatures in the local languages. In 1958, Muga Gicaru published in English the satirical novella Land of the Sun, depicting the colonization of Kenya by the British and the struggle of the democratic forces for liberation. In the 1960’s J. Ngugi, who writes in English, published several novels dealing with contemporary themes: Weep Not, Child (1964), The River Between (1966), and A Grain of Wheat. He is also the author of the play The Black Hermit (1969).


Architecture and applied art. Buildings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, constructed of coral limestone and red clay in the Arabic style, have been preserved: rectangular mosques with elongated halls, vestibules, and mihrabs (creating an illusion of portals) and residential compounds with front courtyards, reception rooms, sleeping quarters, kitchens, and wells. Also surviving from this period are gravestones in the form of round stelae with inscriptions and ornamentation. Fort Jesus in Mombasa (1593–94) and the Vasco da Gama stone column in Malindi (about 1598) have been preserved from the time of Portuguese rule. In the 20th century, European buildings designed by British architects and by the German architect E. May have been erected in the cities. The architecture of these buildings makes extensive use of strip windows, loggias, sun-protective devices, and facings of colored tiles, for example, the National Theater (1952) and university buildings (1956) in Nairobi. In rural areas frame dwellings are found, either circular (Kikuyu) or rectangular (Masai), with mud walls and a thatch roof.

Artistic handicrafts are represented by wood carving and poker work, with geometric designs predominating (stars, hut frames, arrowheads). Other crafts include the making of leather shields for ritual dances, clay vessels, gourds, straw baskets, and bead ornaments.

Theater. Dance has been important in the life of the indigenous peoples since ancient times. British amateur drama groups arose in the early 20th century. A professional British company, directed by D. Maule, was founded in Nairobi in 1948, and the National Theater, sponsored by the Cultural Center, was built in 1952. Various amateur groups perform at the National Theater, and shows and festivals are presented.

African and Indian companies were organized after the proclamation of independence in 1963. E. Mphahlele, the director of the Chemchemi Company, has done much to promote the development of a national theater. The Chemchemi Company has performed Mphahlele’s fairy-tale plays, B. Leshoai’s The Prodigal Son, and J. P. Clark’s Goat Song (1964–65). The Tausi drama club, founded in 1963, produces plays by national authors written in Swahili. The Kikuyu playwrights J. Ngugi and R. Njau have been widely acclaimed. One of the best-known companies is the Indian Oriental Art Group, which stages plays in Hindi and Gujarati.

In 1967 the management of the National Theater, in order to promote interest in dramatic art among Kenyans, organized the tour of an amateur company to various parts of the country. The company, consisting of African, English, and Indian performers, presented a program entitled Three Drums Together. The first Kenyan to be appointed director of the National Theater, Seth Adagala (in 1968), founded the Drama School. In 1970 graduates of the school formed the National Theater Company, which tours the country presenting plays by W. Soyinka, Ngugi, and other authors.

N. I. L’vov


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Official name: Republic of Kenya

Capital city: Nairobi

Internet country code: .ke

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green; the red band is edged in white; a large warrior’s shield covering crossed spears is superim­posed at the center

National anthem: “Ee Mungu nguvu yetu” (first line in English translation: “O God of all creation”)

Geographical description: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania

Total area: 224,960 sq. mi. (582,646 sq. km.)

Climate: Varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior

Nationality: noun: Kenyan(s); adjective: Kenyan

Population: 36,913,721 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%

Languages spoken: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages

Religions: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous religions 10%, other (including Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Baha’i) 2%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
JamhuriDec 12
Kenyatta DayOct 20
Labour DayMay 1
Madaraka DayJun 1
Moi DayOct 10
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. a republic in E Africa, on the Indian Ocean: became a British protectorate in 1895 and a colony in 1920; gained independence in 1963 and is a member of the Commonwealth. Tea and coffee constitute about a third of the total exports. Official languages: Swahili and English. Religions: Christian majority, animist minority. Currency: shilling. Capital: Nairobi. Pop.: 32 420 000 (2004 est.). Area: 582 647 sq. km (224 960 sq. miles)
2. Mount. an extinct volcano in central Kenya: the second highest mountain in Africa; girth at 2400 m (8000 ft.) is about 150 km (95 miles). The regions above 3200 m (10 500 ft.) constitute Mount Kenya National Park. Height: 5199 m (17 058 ft.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Agrupar discussoes em torno da importancia dos livros didaticos como corpus de investigacao para o campo da historia da educacao, privilegiando experiencias estrangeiras e suas possiveis contribuicoes para outras realidades e o objetivo do livro intitulado Historia da Educacao e Livros Didaticos, organizado por Kenia Hilda Moreira (Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados, Brasil) e Jose Maria Hernandez Diaz (Universidad de Salamanca, Espanha), lancado em 2017 pela Pontes Editores.
Havana, SANA -- Assistant Regional Secretary General of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party Hilal al-Hilal met president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) Kenia Serrano Puig.
To mark the Earth Day, President of ALA, Ramanika Dissanayake, accompanied by the President of ICAP, Kenia Serrano, Deputy Director / Asia & Oceania Division of MINREX, Mario Alzugaray, Specialist / INRIH, Amneris Carrera, Director of Metropolitan Park, Lazaro Rivera Hernandez, officials, students and members of ALA planted over 3oo fruit, timber and endemic plants in a special plot of land designated as the " Forest of Friendship" which was declared open by unveiling a special plaque carrying the flags of 14 - member countries of ALA.
For more information, contact Speakers Bureau Coordinator Kenia Escobar at
NNA - Member of Parliament Ali Bazzi, acting on behest of Speaker Nabih Berri, met on Wednesday at his office in the Parliament with President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), the Deputy of the international relations committee head at the Cuban Parliament Kenia Serrano Puig, and the Cuban Ambassador to Lebanon RenA' Ceballo Prats with discussions reportedly featuring on Lebanese, regional and international current developments.
McKeon of Peabody; eight grandchildren, Kathy Arias, Kenia and Clifford McKeon, Rachel, James and Gabriella Levine, and Eva and Julia Johnson; her sister Sheila Falvey and her husband, John, of Hingham; a brother-in-law, Edward McKeon and his wife, Mary, of Worcester; two sisters-in-law, Ellen Blanchard of Paxton and Elizabeth McKeon of West Boylston; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends.