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Geography
Kenya shares borders with Ethiopia in the north, Sudan in the northwest, Uganda in the west, Tanzania in the south and Somalia in the northeast. To the east lies the Indian Ocean. The country is divided into four regions: the arid deserts of the north; the savannah lands of the south; the fertile lowlands along the coast and around the shores of Lake Victoria; and highlands in the west, where the capital Nairobi is situated. Northwest of Nairobi runs the Rift Valley, containing the town of Nakuru and Aberdare National Park, overlooked by Mount Kenya (5200m/17,000ft), which also has a national park. In the far northwest is Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolph).

Kenya is a multicultural society; in the north live Somalis and the nomadic Hamitic peoples (Rendille, Samburu and Turkana), in the south and eastern lowlands are Kamba and Masai and the Luo live around Lake Victoria. The largest group is the Kikuyu who live in the central highlands and have traditionally been dominant in commerce and politics, although this is now changing. There are many other smaller groups and although Kenya emphasises nationalism, tribal and cultural identity is a factor. A small European settler population remains in the highlands, involved in farming and commerce.

Straddling the Equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is one of the most scenically diverse and beautiful countries on the continent, and home to the nomadic Masai and Samburu, the Kikuyu farmers and coastal Swahili tribal peoples. Kenya has two major cities, the high-altitude, colonial-built capital Nairobi, and the ancient Swahili trading port of Mombasa. But what really draws the tourists is the great outdoors. This is a place for sunbathing, hiking, climbing, diving or riding. Above all, it is a place for safaris.

The scenery is fabulous – from the indigo sea and white sand beaches to the grey-green rolling bushveld of Tsavo and Amboseli. The rippling golden grasslands of the Masai Mara contrast with the seismic scar of the Great Rift Valley and the desolate volcanic wastelands around northern Lake Turkana. And everywhere, the game-viewing is unsurpassed with elephants, lions, giraffe, rhino and a host of other animals joined by hundreds of species of glitter-winged birds.

However, Kenya is by no means perfect. Corruption riddles the land, the crime rate is high and malaria and AIDS are rife. But despite this, the people are friendly, and the tourist trade is supremely well organized and professional. For those in search of a little adventure, this can be an ideal holiday destination.

History:-

Kenya is a country with a very rich historical background. The inhabitants of Kenya today are almost all immigrants whose ancestors reached the country less than 10,000 years ago.

The first foreigners to arrive along the Kenyan Coast were the Arabs who came during the third and fourth century and settled at the Coast. There was trade of goods and culture which created a unique society where outside influence blended with the local culture. This culture became known as Swahili. To the North, the island town of Lamu remains a Swahili community unchanged by the outside world. There are no cars on the island and the most common mode of transport remains the donkey. Major attraction in this area is the Gedi ruins, an enigmatic puzzle to historians and archaeological sites. Gedi remains a mystery, and its ghostly ruins in the depths of the forest make for a fascinating morning and afternoon visit.

The Arabs were later followed by the Portuguese, who built Fort Jesus in 1598 over the harbour in Mombasa (see picture above). This remains one of the major attractions in Mombasa town.

Kenya was declared a British Protectorate in 1895 and remained so until 1920 when it became a colony. During the early 20th century, the hinterland was penetrated by European settlers and Indian Traders and a railway line was constructed from Mombasa to the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile. Construction of the railway line began in 1896 but was later halted by man-eating lions in 1899, creating one of Africa's best known stories “The Man-eaters of Tsavo”.

Kenya gained independence in 1963 and is today a multi-party democracy. The country has a rich variety of exciting and vibrant modern arts, music, theatre and dance, alongside proud displays of traditional arts and culture.

Social Conventions
Western European habits prevail throughout Kenya as a result of British influences in the country. Kenyans are generally very friendly. Dress is informal, and casual lightweight clothes are accepted for all but the smartest social occasions.

Tipping
This is not required. Most hotels include a 10 per cent service charge to the bill. If the service charge has not been included, a KSh20 tip is usual, although the amount is entirely at the visitor’s discretion.

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