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Facts about Kenya

Introduction: Kenya is one of the most popular destinations in the world as no other country on earth can offer the visitor as much to see and do. Kenya is famous for its amazing landscape (scenic beauty), savanna rich with magnificent wildlife (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard etc), diverse cultures unchanged by the modern world, pristine beaches and coral reef, equatorial forests and mighty snowcapped mountains, an exotic history and fascinating modern culture, and endless opportunities for adventure, discovery, relaxation and so much more than you ever expected.

When to come: The main tourist seasons are December-January and July-August responding to the international vacation schedules.

The Great migration of wildebeest and Zebra usually reaches Kenya's Maasai Mara during July-August. October-January is the best time for a beach holiday. The rainy seasons are usually in April-May and November.

Area: Kenya occupies a total area of 582,650 sq.km and straddles the Equator. Of this area, the lakes occupy a total area of 16,600 sq. km.

Bordering countries: Kenya shares common borders with 5 (five) nations namely; Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, Sudan and Ethiopia to the north and Somali to the east.

Population: Kenya's current population is 34,707,812 million (Government of Kenya 2006)

Economy: Agriculture employs over 80% of the entire working population, contributes 29% to GDP and accounts for 50% of export earnings. Tourism is among the largest single export earner. The industrial sector contributes about 16% to the GDP.

Capital City: There are 3 cities in Kenya namely Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu with Nairobi as the capital city.

Official languages: English is the official language while Kiswahili is the National language and is widely spoken.

Time: Kenya has a single time zone - which is GMT/UTC +3 all the year round with an almost constant 12 hours of daylight. Sun rises at 6.30 am and sets at 6.45 pm daily.

Political System: Kenya is a multiparty democracy.

Climate: The Coast is always hot with an average daytime tempratures of 27-31 degrees centigrade whilst the daytime tempratures in Nairobi is 21-26 degrees centigrade. July to August marks the Kenya winter. January to February is dry. March to May is wet. June to September is dry. October to December is dry.

Currency: The Kenya Shilling (Ksh).

Media: Four daily English language newspapers, one daily Kiswahili newspaper, seven local television stations and 19 local and two foreign radio stations.

Religion: Christianity is the dorminant religion. There is also a large Muslim and Hindu communities.

National Parks/Reserves: Kenya's total conservation area is 44,359 sq. km of the total area. The main parks are Aberdares, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Meru, Mt. Elgon, Mt. Kenya, Nairobi, Tsavo East and West, Hell's Gate etc.

There are two major marine parks namely Mombasa and Malindi. There are over 80 major animal species ranging from the big five down to the tiny antelopes. There are also over 1,500 species of birds in Kenya. Some of these are found in the 60 important bird areas in the country.

Historical Sites: Kenya has over 400 historical sites ranging from prehistoric fossils and petrified forests, to 14th century slave trading settlements, Islamic ruins and 16th century Portuguese forts.

Manufacturing: Major products include cement, chemicals, household utensils, light machinery, motor vehicles, paper and paper products, and textiles. Food processing is a major industry.

Electricity: Power voltage supply ranges from 220 - 240 volts with the most commonly used plugs being 3 pin/square.

Hospitals: There are several hospitals in Kenya. There are also many Doctors who are highly qualified and specialized in different areas. The main hospitals are the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Aga Khan, Mater Hospital etc.

Banking hours: There are several banks (local and international) in major towns. They operate from Monday to Friday between 9am to 3pm. However, a few banks operate late hours. The banks also operate on the first and last Saturday of every month from 9am to 11am.

Foreign Exchange Bureaus: There are several forex bureaus in major towns where you can purchase/sell major foreign exchange. 

Agriculture
Agriculture is the main stay of Kenya's economy, providing livelihood to approximately 75 per cent of the rural population. It accounts for one-third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generating about 60 per cent of the total foreign exchange earnings. In addition, agriculture provides direct employment to over 274,000 people. The sector has strong forward and backward linkages with the manufacturing sector providing most of the basic raw material inputs to local agro-industries.

The major agricultural activities in Kenya are crop production, horticulture, dairy and livestock farming. As a result of the varied ecological zones, a wide range of crops are cultivated and livestock reared. Traditionally, the major foreign exchange earners have been tea, coffee and horticulture. Other products exported from Kenya are sisal, cut flowers, cashew nuts, pyrethrum, fruits and vegetables, beef and dairy cattle.

The livestock industry comprises mainly of dairy, meat production and hides and skins from cows, sheep, goats and poultry. It accounts for about 7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. The sector is also dominated by small scale producers.

The horticultural sector is one of the fastest growing sectors. The main export products are cut-flowers, French beans, pineapples, mushrooms, asparagus, mangoes, avocados, passion fruits, melons etc.

A number of tour operators offer agricultural tours, according visitors the opportunity to visit production areas, see the activities at all the stages of production as well as sample the final product. For more information, please contact those of our Members who offer such tours.

Culture:
Kenya has over 42 different tribes with distinct languages and several dialects. Each ethnic group has a diverse and contrasting way of life such that as you travel within Kenya, you will find different and fascinating cultures such as the Maasai to the South, the Swahili along the Coast, the Samburu to the North and many others.

For those with a strong interest in cultural tourism, it is possible to arrange village or home-stays in many parts of Kenya.

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