Kenya Factsheet
AreaClimate EducationPopulation Ethnic Groups
ReligionWeights/Measures RoadsMountains Railways
AirShipping LakesElectrical Power Postal Service
EmploymentIndustry TourismCurrency Clothing
Health High Commisions HistoryWildlife Scouting



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Kenya Factsheet

Area:
224,960 square miles

Climate:
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. In Nairobi there are normally two periods of rain, the long rains from April to June and the short rains in October and November.

Education:
Education is not compulsory. The government provides, or assists, in the provision of schools. Primary education is provided free of charge. The education system involves eight years of primary (begining at 5 or 6 years of age), five years of secondary school and four years of university education. The adult literacy rate, in 1990, was 69%; among males the figure was 79.8%, and females 58.5%.

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Population:
27.5 million (1992 esitmate), increasing at an average rate of 3.8% pa. Nairobi, the capital city has a population of well over 1 million. Mombasa has a population of 800,000

Principal Ethnic Groups
Based on the result of the 1979 cencus (population 15,327,000), the principal ethnic groups were African (15,112,000), Asian (59,000), European (50,000), Arab (39,000) and others (68,000)

Religion
Kenya has a significant number of African Christians. The Arab inhabitants are Muslims and the Indian population is partly Muslim and Hindu. The Islamic faith has also established itself among Africans around Nairobi and among some ethnic groups in the northern districts.

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Weights and Measures:
The metric system is in use.

Roads:
At the end of 1991, there were 62,573 Km of classified roads. Some 13.3% of road surfaces were paved. An all-weather road links Nairobi to Addis Ababa and there is a 590 Km road link between Kitale(Kenya) and Juba(Sudan). Although good roads exist in many parts of the country. the growth in road transportation, both within Kenya and more especially between Mombasa, Nairobi and the Uganda border, has led to severe overloading of certain key highways. Maintainence and improvements of these routes, together with roads under jurisdiction of town and city authorities, has been relatively neglected.

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Railways:
The Kenya railway system comprises 2,085 Km of one metre guage single track. Somewhat more than one-half (1,085Km) constitutes the main line, which runs from the port of Mombasa through Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret to the Ugandan border.

Air:
Kenya is served by many of the worlds' major airlines. Services between Nairobi and European capitals are the most numerous but other services connect with the Middle and Far East, North America and other parts of Africa. Both scheduled and charter flights serve the tourist industry through Mombasa as well as Nairobi. Kenya has two major airports, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at Nairobi and Moi International Airport at Mombasa. Medium-sized airports have been developed at Kisumu, Malindi and Eldoret.

Shipping:
Kenya's main port is situated at Mombasa, an island that shelters the deepest natural harbour in Africa, and is the best equipped and most modern port on the East African Coast. Its facilities are important not only to the country's own economy but also to landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, and to eastern Zaire and Southern Sudan, whose freight trade uses the port.

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Lakes:
A number of frshwater lakes exist in the Rift Valley. Many of these, such as Magadi, Nakuru, Bogoria, and Turkana, are soda lakes with brackish water. (Excellent for bird watching). Others including Naivasha and Baringo contain less alkaline water. Lake Victoria in the west is Africa's largest lake. The mass of water covers over 27,000 square miles (70,000 sq.km) and generates weather conditions for much of the region.

Electrical Power:
Electricity is supplied inland by hydroelectrical plants in the Tana river basin and by the geothermal station at Olkaria, and at the coast by an oil-fired plant. This is supplemented by a bulk supply of 30 MW from Owen Falls in Uganda under a 50 year agreement signed in 1958. Kenya has a total generating capacity of 715 MW.

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Postal Service:
All the usual postal facilities are available. There are daily air mail sevices to Britain and a number of air mail services to most parts of the world. Air mail letters between Britain and Nairobi take three or four days; surface mail takes six to ten weeks. Air courier services are available.

Employment:
Agriculture is Kenya's most valuable asset providing employment for roughly 80% of the population and accounting for 23% of total GDP.

Industry
Kenya is the most industrialised country in East Africa, but contributed only 10.9% of GDP in 1992. Major industries include petroleum refining (using imported crude petroleum), the processing of agricultural products, vehicle assembly, the exploitation of soda-ash reserves, the production fo chemicals, publishing and printing, the manufacture of textiles and clothing, ciment, electrical equipment, tyres, battries, paper ceramics, machinery, metal products, rubber, wood and cork products, and leather goods.

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Tourism:
Tourism is one of Kenya's most important earner of foreign exchange and continues to grow, despite the country's recession and adverse publicity about security in Kenya. Kenya's tourist assets comprise of its wildlife which is mostly accessible through the system of parks and reserves, its extensive palm-fringed, white sandy beaches protected by coral reefs and dramatic scenery from deserts to tropical rain forests.

Currency:
The unit of currency in Kenya is the shilling (KSH), divided into 100 cents; 20 shillings = 1 Kenya pound. Visitors should consult their banks for the current rate of exchange.

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Clothing:
The business visitor who intends to stay in Nairobi will need ordinary summer-weight clothing as worn in Britain, although it can be quite cool in July and August, and in the evenings when woollens are useful. (Nairobi is around 5500ft above sea level). Lightweight clothing, preferably cotton, linen or silk or suitable man-made fibres is essential in the humid coastal areas. A light raincoat may be necessary at any time of year.

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Mountains
Mount Kenya (Batian Peak)..........5199m.
Mount Elgon (Sudek Peak)..........4510m.
Aberdare Range (Ol Doinyo Lasatima)..........3964m.
Cherangani Range (Chepkotet)..........3370m.
Sekerr Range (Mtelo)..........3325m.
Mau Range (Melili)..........3097m.
I once met a wizard who lived below Mt Elgon where he grew his own coffee and served the local farmers. He told me the reason why no planes fly over Mt Elgon.
Apparantely, some years ago in his village lived a great wizard who was feared by everyone. Well, not everyone, because someone was having an affair with the wizards' wife, and when he found out he became so enraged that he climbed on to the roof of his hut and set fire to it (his wife was inside). When the ridge pole colapsed he climbed out of the fire and told the astonished villagers that he was moving to the mountain and no one would be permitted to cross over it. !

Souting
Kenya has a unique place in the world of scouting. It contains the resting place of the founder of the World Scout Movement, the Hero of Mafeking, Lord Baden-Powell. He died on 8 January 1941, and was buried in the graveyard of St Peters Anglican church in the village of Nyeri, lying at the foot of the beautiful Mount Kenya, where he used to live with his wife, Chief Girl Guide, Lady Olave Baden-Powell. Her ashes are resting beside him...eternally together. A circle and a dot are inscribed on his tomb - the scouts sign for 'Gone Home'. Lord and Lady Powell lived in a cottage called 'Paxtu', built specially for them in the grounds of the famous Outspan Hotel, from the time they retired in 1938 until his death. A seasoned traveller, he once noted "The nearer to Nyeri, the nearer to bliss".
My sister Sallie runs a scout group in Nairobi, and anyone wishing to make contact for pen-friends or other scouting matters can mail me.
Click to Mail me - Siafu
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Health
AIDS is now considered to be prevalent in many areas of Keny and is affecting both the male and female population. Visitor to Kenya from other African countries are required to have a valid certificate to show they have been innoculated against yellow fever. Visitors from the UK are currently recommended that they should be immunised against Yellow Fever, Tetanus, Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis(A), Menningitis and Polio. Vaccinations for rabies are recommended if travelling in rural areas.
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Historical Notes
The oldest known palaeontological records of Mankinds history on Earth are found in Kenya, and somehow this confirms the extraordinary feeling that Kenya was the cradle of mankind, the original Garden of Eden. According to John Milton in Paradise Lost, the seaport and leisure center of Malindi were there soon after the creation, around 4026B.C.

"Nor could his eyes not ken
The empire of Negus to the utmost port.
Ercooco and the less Maritime Kings;
Mombasa and Quiloa and Melind;
And Sofala, thought Ophir to the realm
Of Congo and Angola, further South"

An ancient Greek manuscript called the 'Periplus of the Erythraean Sea', the ships log of a Captain who sailed from Egypt in the first Century AD shows there was a firm commercial link between Arabia, India and Mombasa. Things like ivory, rhinoceros horn, tortoise shell and a reed called 'sachari' (sugar-cane) were all mentioned.
Claudius Ptolemy drew a map of the East Coast of Africa in AD 930, which showed the Kenya coast called (Parvum Litus), and pinpointed Lamu (called Serapion ) Malindi (Essina), and Mombasa (Tonika).
The Arab historian Mahsaudi, recorded in the 9th Century in his 'Meadows of Gold and Mines of Precious Stones', that Mombasa was rich in gold and Ivory.
At the end of the 15th Century Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer arrived off the East Coast of Africa in his search for a sea route to India. When he arrived at Mombasa, the inhabitants launched an attack on his small fleet and chased him off,so he proceeded North to Malindi where he was given a warm reception and furnished with a pilot to show him the way to India.
The Portuguese came back in force in 1528 and sacked Mombasa. In 1593 they built Fort Jesus, overlooking the entrance to what is known as the 'old harbour' today and still stands (in ruins). From this stronghold they harshly administered levies and tariffs on all trade.
Finally, in 1696 on March 15, Fort Jesus came under siege from the Arabs and their allies. 50 Portuguese and 2500 locals were trapped in the fort for 9 months. In January 1697 bubonic plague broke out in the fort and all died except for the commandant, two children, and 50 locals. In September the fort was relieved by troops from Mozambique but the siege continued for another 15 months until the Arabs finally scaled the fortress walls. Only 11 men and two women remained alive and they were promptly killed. The siege lasted a total of 33 months.
Mombasa was next attacked by the Imam of Oman, Seyyid Said in 1822. At the time Mombasa was run by the Mazrui chief Suleiman bin Ali, who called on the British for help. On February 7 1824, the Union flag was raised over Fort Jesus. It was taken down a few years later, and Seyyid Said moved in and took control of the area. He started planting his clove trees on Zanzibar, and moved there in 1832. From this time the coast opened up for trade with the world sadly it was the slave trade that lead the way.
Seyyid Said died in 1856, but the world had taken notice of East Africa and in the mid 1880's decided where borders should be, and who would own which bits. Britain and Germany were the leading players in East Afica and in 1887 an administrative and trading concession was granted to a "British East Africa Association", covering all coast from Vanga to Kipini. However the enterprise went bankrupt and in 1895 the British Government bought the company's assets for 200,000 renamed the area known today as Kenya to 'Britsh East Africa'.
( I found a coin dated 1888 and stamped on one side "Imperial British East Africa Co." and an elaborate relief of a scale, and on the other side inscribed "mombasa 1806" and some arabic srcipt, - at the coast).
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High Comissions
British High Commision
Bruce House
Standard Street
P O Box 30465
Nairobi, Kenya.

Fax: Nairobi 333196
Tel: 335944
Kenya High Commision
45 Portland Place
London W1
Tel: 0171 636 2371/5


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