Facts about Kenya

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KenyaFounding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform. KIBAKI's NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement, which defeated the government's draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005. KIBAKI's reelection in December 2007 brought charges of vote rigging from ODM candidate Raila ODINGA and unleashed two months of violence in which as many as 1,500 people died. UN-sponsored talks in late February produced a powersharing accord bringing ODINGA into the government in the restored position of prime minister.

Geography of Kenya

Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
1 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references:
total: 582,650 sq km
water: 13,400 sq km
land: 569,250 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Nevada
Land boundaries:
total: 3,477 km
border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
536 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior
low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m
Natural resources:
gold, limestone, soda ash, salt, rubies, fluorspar, garnets, wildlife, hydropower
Natural hazards:
recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons
Environment current issues:
water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching
Geography - note:
the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value

Population of Kenya

37,953,840 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.6% (male 7,454,765/female 7,322,130)
15-64 years: 55.1% (male 9,631,488/female 9,508,068)
65 years and over: 2.3% (male 359,354/female 432,012)
Median age:
18.2 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
59.26 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 48.93 years
male: 49.78 years
female: 48.07 years
Fertility rate:
4.91 children born/woman
noun: Kenyan(s)
adjective: Kenyan
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%
Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%
note: a large majority of Kenyans are Christian, but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely
English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.1%
male: 90.6%
female: 79.7%


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Kenya
former: British East Africa
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
7 provinces and 1 area*; Central, Coast, Eastern, Nairobi Area*, North Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Western
12 December 1963 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 12 December (1963)
12 December 1963, amended as a republic 1964; reissued with amendments 1979, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1997, and 2001
Legal system:
based on Kenyan statutory law, Kenyan and English common law, tribal law, and Islamic law; judicial review in High Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations; constitutional amendment of 1982 making Kenya a de jure one-party state repealed in 1991
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mwai KIBAKI (since 30 December 2002); Vice President Stephene Kalonzo MUSYOKA (since 10 January 2008);
head of government: Prime Minister Raila Amolo ODINGA (since 17 April 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); in addition to receiving the largest number of votes in absolute terms, the presidential candidate must also win 25% or more of the vote in at least five of Kenya's seven provinces and one area to avoid a runoff; election last held 27 December 2007 (next to be held in December 2012); vice president appointed by the president.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Bunge (224 seats; 210 members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms, 12 so-called "nominated" members who are appointed by the president but selected by the parties in proportion to their parliamentary vote totals, 2 ex-officio members)
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeal (chief justice is appointed by the president); High Court
Political parties and leaders:
Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-People or FORD-People [Kimaniwa NYOIKE, chairman]; Kenya African National Union or KANU [Uhuru KENYATTA]; National Rainbow Coalition or NARC [Mwai KIBAKI] - the governing party
Political pressure groups and leaders:
human rights groups; labor unions; Muslim organizations; National Convention Executive Council or NCEC, a proreform coalition of political parties and nongovernment organizations [Kivutha KIBWANA]; Protestant National Council of Churches of Kenya or NCCK [Mutava MUSYIMI]; Roman Catholic and other Christian churches; Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims or SUPKEM [Shaykh Abdul Gafur al-BUSAIDY]


The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low. In 1997, the IMF suspended Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program due to the government's failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to 2000 compounded Kenya's problems, causing water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. As a result, GDP contracted by 0.2% in 2000. The IMF, which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the government failed to institute several anticorruption measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001, weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low investment limited Kenya's economic growth to 1.2%. Growth lagged at 1.1% in 2002 because of erratic rains, low investor confidence, meager donor support, and political infighting up to the elections. In the key December 2002 elections, Daniel Arap MOI's 24-year-old reign ended, and a new opposition government took on the formidable economic problems facing the nation. After some early progress in rooting out corruption and encouraging donor support, the KIBAKI government was rocked by high-level graft scandals in 2005 and 2006. In 2006 the World Bank and IMF delayed loans pending action by the government on corruption. The international financial institutions and donors have since resumed lending, despite little action on the government's part to deal with corruption. The scandals have not weighed down growth, with estimated real GDP growth at more than 6 percent in 2007.

$61.22 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 16.3%
industry: 18.8%
services: 65.1%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
11.85 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 75%
industry and services: 25%
revenues: $3.715 billion
expenditures: $3.88 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 17.7%
hydro: 71%
other: 11.3%
nuclear: 0%
small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour), agricultural products processing; oil refining, cement; tourism
tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables; dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, eggs
tea, horticultural products, coffee, petroleum products, fish, cement
Export partners:
Uganda 14%, UK 10.4%, US 9.2%, Netherlands 7.8%, Egypt 5.1%, Tanzania 4.7%, Pakistan 4.5% 
machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, motor vehicles, iron and steel, resins and plastics
Import partners:
UAE 13%, US 10.2%, Saudi Arabia 9.4%, South Africa 8.6%, China 7.4%, India 7.1%, UK 5.7%, Japan 4% 
Kenyan shilling (KES)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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