Travel Guide: Kenya
Kenya Travel Guide: Places to See and Things to Do While in Kenya
This is a concise travel guide for Kenya. We have written this travel guide on Kenya to help you to develop an understanding for Kenya and all of the beautiful points to travel. We also want you to understand the nuances of traveling to Kenya such as how to be safe, what places to see, and much more. We assure you that our travel guide to Kenya will be a very helpful tool when visiting this beautiful country. We also offer interpreters in Kenya whenever you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need an interpreter in Kenya or assistance in any way.
As a special service to our clients and readers, we at World Interpreting are working hard to offer you something different aside from our language translation and interpretation services. As we actively pursue excellence in our services, we also want you to experience what it will be like to travel to other countries by providing you with concise country and city profiles and other interesting tidbits of information about each country. Travel Guide Kenya is just one of these innovations we are introducing. We will be coming up with more.
Travel Guide Kenya is one of our initial offerings to you. It will take you to different fantastic places in Kenya as well as some of the famous landmarks and notable cities, so you will already have a general idea about Kenya if and when you decide to actually travel and explore this fascinating and laid-back country in Africa.
Travel Guide Kenya will assist you in getting a bird’s eye view of the country’s geography, language, the places of interest, landmarks and things you can do in Kenya as well as give you travel safety tips. We do hope you will come back often to travel with us to other destinations around the world.
:: Introducing Kenya ::
Kenya beckons to many travelers because of its majestic scenery, vibrant culture and the amazing and exotic wildlife in the country. For those who want a true glimpse of nature, Kenya is the place to be.
Travelers going to Kenya will find that our Kenya pocket travel guide is a useful and handy tool to have. It offers a thorough overview of what the country is all about. You’ll learn all about the places that you should not miss and learn about things to see in Kenya. This conveniently allows travelers to plan the best travel itinerary based on their preferences and the options available. As an added bonus, our Kenya pocket travel guide also includes practical travel safety tips to ensure a safe and an enjoyable stay in the country. Finally, we included some common useful words and phrases in Swahili, which is the official language in Kenya. Our Kenya pocket travel guide is written in concise sections so that the busy traveler can easily access the information you need.
Where is Kenya? The Republic of Kenya is located in the Eastern portion of Africa and lies on the equator. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean and lies between Somalia and Tanzania. The countries that border Kenya are Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
It has a total area of 580,367 square kilometers, making it only about twice the size of the US State of Nevada. This also places Kenya as the 47th largest country in the world in terms of size. Its land area is 569,140 square kilometers and a water area of only 11,227 square kilometers. Kenya’s coastline is only 536 kilometers long, giving the country a water percentage that is only 2.3% the size of the total area.
Kenya is named after Mount Kenya, which is the highest point of the country at 5,199 meters or 17,057 feet above sea level. Mount Kenya is also the second tallest African mountain. This is now considered an extinct volcanic mountain and is today home to many glaciers. Travelers to Kenya can see a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro from Kenya’s highest point.
The word Kenya is derived from the names used by the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba people to refer to Mount Kenya – Kiinyaa, Kirinyaa or Kirinyaga. The mountain is described as black and white spotted due to its black rocks and white capped peaks, resembling an ostrich. It was in the 19th century when a German explorer logged in the name as Kenia or Kegnia, derived from the Kamba term for the mountain.
The terrain of the country is varied. It is blessed with low plains, which give rise to central highlands and a fertile plateau in the western portion of the country. The country is bisected by the Great Rift Valley.
This varied terrain and location on the equator gives Kenya its tropical climate. It is cooler along the coast and higher inland while quite arid in the northern regions. The evening and early morning hours are cooler than the daytime hours. Kenya enjoys a lot of sunshine during the day, as much as 8 to 12 hours a day, with an average temperature of about 30 °C or about 86 °F all year round. February and March are the hottest months of the year, while July and August are considered as the coolest. The long rainy season is sometime between March to June, while the short rainy season is from October to December.
Travelers to Kenya should be prepared for warm weather. Cool lightweight clothing in natural fabrics is the best option. There’s no need to bring heavy wool or winter clothing even when going up to the higher areas since the temperatures stay within the low 20s. A wide brimmed hat, cap and high SPF sunscreen lotion are must haves. Also, travelers to Kenya should pack along an effective mosquito repellant. The tropic climate is perfect for a number of insect-borne diseases, especially malaria. Long-sleeved tops and long pants are advisable to help repel mosquitoes as well.
Kenya is home to an estimated 41.1 million people as of 2011, making it the 33rd most populous nation in the world. The most populated city of Kenya is Nairobi with 3.4 million people, followed by Mombasa at a little under a million people. These people are from various ethnic groups, including various African tribes, as well as non-African people, such as Asians, Europeans and Arabs. The population density of the country is only at 62.2 individuals per square kilometer or 174.1 people per square mile. This ranks Kenya as 140th in terms of population density in the world.
The official language in Kenya is Swahili, although English is widely spoken. Kenyans are mostly Christians, with some Muslims, mostly along the Coast Province. About 85% of the population is considered literate. Over half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. At the same time, starvation is a common incidence and people are largely dependent on food aid.
The population of Kenya is largely young, below 30 years of age and has a high population growth. The average median age is 18.9 years old. The average Kenyan woman will have about 4.5 children in a given lifetime, with a population growth rate of 2.4% annually. The life expectancy is only at 55 years of age, due to high mortality, maternal and infant death rates and the spread of a number of preventable diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea and malnutrition.
In spite of these health issues, the country is able to produce Olympic middle distance and long distance athletes. Some of these famous long distance runners are David Rudisha, Kipchoge Keino, Catherine Ndereba and Paul Tergat. In the 2008 Olympics, it was the African nation with the most number of Olympic medals with 14 medals.
Kenya also has many wildlife habitats. Most famous of these is the Masai Mara National Reserve. Every year, scientists and travelers witness the Blue Wildebeest migration of over 11 million animals during the months of June to September, as the animals make their way from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya. This annual animal activity that spans a distance of 1,800 miles is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. Aside from the many animals, reptiles and various birds, Kenya is home to the Big Five animals of Africa. These are the elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.
Kenya’s history dates back to prehistoric times. Giant crocodile fossils, which date back to the Mesozoic Era or over 200 million years ago, have been found near Lake Turkana. Fossils of primates have also been discovered, which date back more than 20 million years old, indicating that these are the direct possible ancestors of Homo sapiens. This means that the country of Kenya has been home to people ever since the start of human history.
Hunter-gatherer groups later evolved as the first inhabitants of Kenya. Tribes from various parts of Africa settled in Kenya, including people from the Horn of Africa, Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Kelenjin, Luos and Bantu. By the first century AD, Arab traders began interacting with the tribes at the Kenyan coast. The Arabs later developed Mombasa as a major port city. By the 8th century, there were Persian colonies in the country. It was the Persians who built many mosques around the area and introduced the use of copper coins. These early people survived by developing agriculture, fishery, metal production and trade. Goods traded with other Arabs and Indians included ivory and slaves. This resulted in the slavery of over 90% of the population of those people living along the Kenyan coast.
It was in 1885 when Kenya’s colonial history began. This started when Germany became a protectorate of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Three years later, the Imperial British East Africa Company arrived, resulting in the shift of power from the Germans to the British by 1890.
It was the British that built the Kenya-Uganda railway and who also brought in massive Indian immigrants to the region to act as workers. These people became the base of the Indian communities in the country.
By the 20th century, many British and European settlers made their wealth from the farming of coffee and tea. White settlers numbered over 30,000 by the 1930s and they controlled much of the economy and thus had the political clout, compared to the over one million Kikuyu people who were mostly farmers.
By the mid 1950s, the country came under siege with protests from the Mau Mau Rebellion, since the natives were taxed and not given any land. Close to 4,700 Mau Mau people perished during this time, although many government changes also occurred as a result of the rebellion.
Kenya obtained its independence from the United Kingdom on December 12, 1963 and was officially declared a republic a year later. The first president of Kenya is Daniel arap Moi. The current president of Kenya is Mwai Kibaki.
Kenya’s government is a semi-presidential republic system, which is headed by a president, vice president and prime minister. The country is divided into 47 counties, which are semi-autonomous and headed by elected governors. These semi-autonomous regions are independent of the central government, which is based in the country’s capital of Nairobi.
The official currency used in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). However, travelers will find that the US dollar is widely accepted. The Euro and British Pound can also be used by some traders, as these currencies are considered more stable than the KES. The GDP (PPP) of the country is estimated in 2011 to be about $71.5 billion USD, which translates to a per capita GDP of $1,725. The nominal GDP of the country is a total of $35.79 billion, or a per capita nominal GDP of US$875. The economy of Kenya grows at a modest 4% to 5% annually.
The economy of Kenya has seen some growth in the recent years, especially in the service sector, which accounts for 62% of the country’s GDP. On the other hand, agriculture accounts for 22% of the total GDP, which also employs a quarter of the total labor force. Tea, coffee and flowers are some of the major products and exports of the country. The country is also known for being the most successful region in Africa for agriculture, thanks to the fertile highlands of the country where tea, coffee, corn and wheat are grown.
Kenya is considered the most industrially-developed nation in all of East Africa. Industry and manufacturing make up 16% of the country’s GDP. Tourism, higher education and telecommunications have also played a key role in the economy of Kenya. This has made Kenya the largest economy among all East and Central African countries. At the same time, the Nairobi Securities Exchange is the fourth largest stock exchange in Africa based on market capitalization.
Tourism is the driving force behind Kenya’s service sector. Thanks to the booming tourism industry, it has become the country’s number one source of foreign exchange and generated up to $803 million USD in income in 2009. Most tourists come from Germany and the United Kingdom. Many travelers go to Kenya to see the Tsavo National Park, which is a 20,000-square kilometer nature reserve park that is home to many wildlife animals.
However, the country faces some issues. It still has not attained food security. Also, it ranked poorly on the Transparency International corruption perception index, making foreign investors wary of doing business in Kenya.
Overall, travelers to Kenya can expect the unexpected. The Maasai culture is one of the many fascinating things to see in Kenya. Travelers can also enjoy the sounds of Kenyan folk music, which features Congolese cavacha rhythm on guitars or Benga music, which is Kenyan pop music.
Travelers to Kenya will enjoy a variety of fresh cuisine. Kenyan cuisine is simple to make and utilizes fresh vegetables and meats such as beef and goat roasted and cooked as nyama choma. Travelers must try ingoho, which is a chicken dish popularized by the Luhya tribe found in Western Kenya. Karanga is a Kenyan meat and potato beef stew. Those who want a taste of exotic game meat can try some crocodile or even ostrich. Dishes are often served with ugali, which is a type of cake made from corn flour, or sometimes pilau, which is rice pilaf. For a tasty twist on rice, try wali, which is rice cooked in coconut milk. A popular vegetable stew is sukuma wiki, while a refreshing vegetable dish with avocados is kachumbari. Travelers can also get a taste of many tropical fruits such as sweet mangoes, oranges, pineapples, papaws and pears. To cool down from the hot sun, travelers would relish a cold mug of Tusker, which is a Kenyan beer. A cup of chai tea is a way to start the day or end a meal.
Many famous and distinguished people call Kenya their home. The first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize is environmentalist and professor, Wangari Muta Mary Jo Maathai. East Africa’s most influential writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, as well as one of the best marathon runners in the world, Olympic medalist Catherine Ndereba are also from Kenya.
Travelers will find that our Travel Guide Kenya is an excellent pocket guidebook that is very useful when visiting this African nation. It is loaded with pertinent information on things to do and places to see, many facts and figures as well as other insight not commonly found in other travel guides.
Our Travel Guide Kenya is the perfect travel companion to take with you as you explore this fascinating African country. Travelers are often pleasantly surprised at the wealth of culture, tradition, history and diversity in the country. Although Kenya is a developing nation, its very beauty and charm lies in its untouched nature. Discover our Travel Guide Kenya to learn more about the culture, history and dynamic changes in the country of Kenya.
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