Kenya Information

General Information for Kenya

Country: Kenya
Location: East Africa
Independence: December 12, 1963
Nationality: Kenyan
Capital City: Nairobi
Population: 28,817,227
Important Cities: Mombassa, Kisumu, Nakuru
Head of State: Daniel Arap Moi
Area: 582,488
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 29.37 shillings=1 USD
Major peoples: Kikuyu, Maasai, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin, Kamba
Religion: Protestant 38%, African religion 28%, Catholic 28%, Muslim 6%
Climate: Tropical to arid
Literacy: 71%
Official Language: English
Principal Languages: Kikuyu, Maasai, Kamba, Luo
Major Exports: Tea, Coffee
Pre-Colonial History Fossils found in east Africa suggest that proto-humans roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake Turkana indicate that the "Homo" genus of humans lived there 2.6 million years ago. Cushitic-speaking people, who occupied the area from about 1000 B.C., traded with Arab merchants by the first century A.D. Kenya's proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements were established along the coast by the 8th century A.D. By then, Bantu and Nilotic peoples had moved into the area. Arab dominance was eclipsed by the arrival in 1498 of the Portuguese, who gave way in turn to Islamic control under the Imam of Oman in the 1600s. Britain established its influence in the 19th century. The colonial history of Kenya dates from the Berlin Conference of 1885, when the European powers first partitioned east Africa into spheres of influence. In 1895, the British Government established the East African Protectorate and, soon after, opened the fertile highlands to white settlers. In 1920, Kenya officially became a British colony. From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule.
Post-Colonial History Kenya became independent on December 12, 1963, and the next year joined the Commonwealth. Jomo Kenyatta, a member of the predominant Kikuyu tribe and head of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), became Kenya's first president. The minority party, Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), representing a coalition of small tribes that had feared dominance by larger ones, dissolved itself voluntarily in 1964 and joined KANU. After the 1969 assassination of a leading governmental official, Tom Mboya, and subsequent political tension, the opposition party, Kenya People's Union (KPU) was banned and its leader detained. No new opposition parties were formed after 1969. On October 14, Daniel Arap Moi became President after he was elected head of KANU and designated its sole nominee. By early 1992, several new parties had been formed, and multiparty elections were held in December 1992. President Moi was reelected for another five-year term.

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